“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
At some point in between building magnificent cities with Legos and playing a little hide-and-go-seek with the neighborhood kids, a well-meaning adult or more likely dozens of grown-ups posed the aforementioned question to us.
If we had not felt the subtle and not-so-subtle push to move past childish things, maybe we should have responded by asking a similar question:
“What made you come alive when you were just a kid?”
Instead, most of us have been in such a rush to find the end game of what we’re supposed to do when we “grow up” that we have forgotten our first loves.
You know, catching fireflies in the backyard and making them our glass-jar pets for two days until they died from grass poisoning and a lack of oxygen. Playing sandlot baseball, where I usually wanted to be both the umpire and the catcher because both got to wear an awesome mask for a whole nine innings. Exploring the narrow path in the woods, hoping it would lead to buried treasure or at least some really cool, yet-to-be discovered hideaway where you could claim to be the first English settler.
Why do we shove aside what we once loved (and probably still love) to do because we think we will find happiness in ONE career? Why not live each day as an adventure?
Take a moment and ask yourself, “What made me come alive as a child? What things did I do when time just seemed to disappear?”
Adventure doesn’t have to take a back seat to “being responsible.” In fact, it’s irresponsible to not spend time doing what you love.
Consider implementing some of the following ideas to add adventure to your daily life and rekindle those past loves:
- If you are an outdoorsman, regularly seek out new trails and parks. Find a new spot to watch the sunset.
- Make it your quest to regularly discover an out-of-the-way restaurant, coffee shop, or ice cream shop (no chains allowed).
- Drive down a new road and get lost on purpose.
- Go geocaching and look for the hidden treasure.
- Take a day trip to a nearby local town or city without a preconceived agenda.
- Take a class doing something you loved as a child – music, art, photography, etc.
- Go on a photo safari in a city or in nature.
It is a conscious choice to live each day as an adventure, and when you make the choice, adventure can be found everywhere you go.
What ways do you make each day your own adventure?
Photo Courtesy: bionicteaching
The average American watches nearly five hours of TV per day.
That’s 35 hours per week.
A little over six days per month.
A full 75 days per year.
Turn off the TV.
Photo Courtesy: DJOtaku
Last year, I wrote Ten Things You May or May Not Know About Me. In an effort for us to continue to build intentional community, allow me to offer up five additional things you may not know about me:
What are few things we don’t know about you?
For some reason unbeknownst to me, Justin Bieber has millions of followers, but he obviously does not have a personal relationship with most of the fanatics who follow his every Tweet and juicy gossip.
LeBron James is adored by the legions of NBA fans, but those fans are simply people who follow his career. They don’t know him personally; they are often living vicariously through him.
Both entertainers have two main goals: keep their current followers entertained and bring more followers into their fandom.
Just because a famous individual has a strong following does not make him a leader. Somewhere in this fame-driven culture, the term “follower” has become entrenched in our mindset as the end goal of our pursuits. We even utilize the term “follow” to quantify our Twitter connections.
“Follower” signifies an impenetrable wall that keeps a “leader” shielded from a personal investment in another person. It’s not about relationship, but rather about increasing nameless numbers.
“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” -Tom Peters
Leaders do just the opposite – they pursue meaningful relationships first and foremost. True leaders do not seek to create a mass following. They serve, model, and teach with a desire to create even stronger leaders than themselves.
What is your goal: more followers or more leaders?
Photo Courtesy: AJC1
It has been several months since I’ve written an update on my hiking challenge. My goal is pretty straightforward – hike a major trail in each state (typically the high point) over the next five years. There hasn’t been much progress to report because of the weather and schedule availability. Since January, I’ve been itching to get back at it. Unfortunately, winter has become that uninvited guest who overstayed his welcome two months ago.
Saturday was supposed to be the spring relaunch in pursuit of this lofty and somewhat insane goal. The plan involved driving over from my home in Virgina Beach to the western part of the state to tackle the 5,729 foot Mount Rogers. In fact, my mom grew up in the shadow of Virginia’s high point, and she still owns farmland in the area. It makes for a perfect weekend mountain retreat and launching pad for a hike to Mt. Rogers.
The weather forecast called for sunny skies and temperatures hovering in the low 60′s. Factoring in the elevation change, I figured we were in for a pleasant hike in the 50′s. By mid-morning, my Dad and I headed up twisting and turning Whitetop Road toward Grayson Highlands State Park. As we continued our ascent, I glanced over at the temperature gauge on Dad’s SUV. 45…42…40…38. White fog slowly blanketed the landscape and eventually overtook it completely. What was once an overcast day was gone, as we were unable to see the road ten feet ahead.
“Hopefully this will clear out,” as I allowed my optimism to overtake my rationale. I didn’t want to get this close, only to turn around empty-handed. I thought, “We can handle this.”
Upon arrival at the Grayson Highlands Park Office, the “Closed for the season” sign provided a foreboding signal that we had attempted our hike a bit too early this spring. Never one to give up, we had to give it a shot. At least I still had gloves in my backpack. Hopping out of the car, I knew we were unprepared for the near 30-degree wind chill and the constant whipping wind that sent chills down my spine and sprayed a slight mist into my frozen face, like we were vegetables on display in the produce section. Surely I would warm up as I walked uphill, even if I was only wearing a t-shirt and thin fleece. (Note to self: always pack a heavy coat and something to keep my head warm in upper elevations, no matter the season or weather forecast.)
As we trekked up the Rhododendron Trail, the wind at our backs, I didn’t want to turn back, but I also didn’t want to hike all the way the Virginia’s pinnacle in misery. For me, hiking is about the journey, not just the destination. And this journey had been a sheer 1/2 mile of misery, as we stared at another 3.4 wind-burnt miles to the top (plus 3.9 back). Upon reaching the intersection with the Appalachian Trail, we made the decision to live to fight another day and turn around.
Maybe some people would have pressed on, but that’s not the point of my hiking challenge. It’s more about the story…the journey…than getting frostbite.
Yet, I didn’t want the trip to be in vain, and so we developed plan B. Coming down about 1,500 feet in elevation made all the difference in the world. The fog gave way to a mix of sun and clouds, and the temperature rose into the mid 50′s.
After two visitor center stops, we headed over to Hungry Mother State Park and settled on climbing Molly’s Knob. It wasn’t an overly strenuous hike until the final 0.4 miles. As we reached the summit, it’s like the clouds lifted and the heavens opened. Two benches were perfectly positioned in front of the vast expanse of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. It was the clearest of clear views, stretching for miles and miles.
I even came across a Geocache box, filled with random objects, such as an empty water bottle, rubber frogs, and a plaid shirt. I took the notebook out and scribbled a quick message: “Tried to hike Mount Rogers today, but the wind was howling and the wind chill was near 30 degrees. This spectacular view made up for it.”
No matter what journey we take or what goals we set, there will always be times when things don’t go as planned. I’ve planned a few hikes this summer, and I know that not all of them will go according to my plan. But the key is to take the unexpected journey. Sometimes, it will lead you to spectacular and unexpected places, just like my trip to Molly’s Knob. Mount Rogers is still waiting for me, and I will return.
Whenever I stop by a local grocery store, I can always count on Barbara to be standing behind her register, offering an infectious smile and warmly engaging each customer. Instead of the no eye contact, forced mumble, monotone “How are you?”, she waves and sincerely asks me how I’ve been. We make small talk. I ask about her recent vacation or chat about the never-ending chilly weather. “See you next time,” she warmly affirms at the end of each shopping trip.
She has that grandmotherly way of making you feel like you’re the most important person in the world in that moment. Even though she probably interacts with hundreds of people each day, in her life’s calling, she simply loves people right where they are.
Calling and Our Effect on People
A calling encompasses all aspects of our life, not just the job we perform or a familial role. It’s the effect of our entire life. Obviously, our calling includes a vast array of areas, but nothing is more important than the direct influence it has on the people who cross our paths.
Think about the specific individuals you encounter in a given week – family, friends, coworkers, the clerk at the grocery store, the waitress at the restaurant, social media friends. You have a wide-ranging effect (either positive, negative, or neutral) on dozens, if not hundreds of people, each week.
To consider our God-given calling apart from our effect on others is a pointless endeavor. No matter if we are designed to be more task oriented or people focused, our primary reason for doing what we’re doing ought to be to serve others.
Whatever sphere of influence we may have, we cannot expect other individuals to be in the same season of life we are in. Instead, we must meet people where they are.
Some people are unsure of their life’s direction. Others are more sure than I am of mine. Some people fail to even recognize that their life has a call on it. Each story is different. The call remains the same: love people where they are.
“Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you. You’ll be surprised at the results.” - John Wooden
It’s tempting to believe we are something special because we are pursuing meaning in our life. In reality, we can’t love people where they are when our thoughts are constantly fixated on self, when we are focused on how our calling will benefit us personally, and when we fail to walk in humility.
Additionally, our culture has engrained in us that calling matters solely in the context of how well-known we are or how famous we can become, speaking nothing about self-sacrifice and loving people where they are.
Jesus said just the opposite: “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34
We build relationships in order to serve first. We pursue our calling because it’s about people – loving people where they are.
In the context of your calling, how do you love people where they are?
Photo Courtesy: Nisha A
A couple of months ago, I contacted a friend about meeting up for lunch. I apologized for it having been so long since when we last connected. He responded by saying, “No issue. We are all busy.”
And it’s true. Think about it for a moment. When we ask coworkers and friends how they are doing, without hesitation they often respond, “I’ve just been so busy!”
For me, Monday through Saturday is typically pedal to the metal. It’s go, go, go time. From my full-time job to writing, exercising to maintaining and building relationships, helping around the house to doing freelance work, there’s not a great deal of time remaining. Sunday is a day to worship, attend church, rest, and reflect. During the warm months on weekend afternoons, you can often find Karen and me relaxing and catching some rays by the Atlantic ocean.
But I’ll be honest – in those moments of rest and reflection, when I’m not rushing from one thing to the next, I have a hard time sitting still without doing anything “productive.” In reality, busyness is just a means to mask the uncertainty, the pain, and the questions. There’s the uncertainty found in the slow progress from where I am to where I want to be. There’s pain in areas of life that are unfulfilled. There are deep, lingering questions about where all of this thing called life is going.
One of my favorite authors, John Eldredge, shared his thoughts on the enemy’s utilization of busyness in Waking the Dead: “The deadly scheme is this: keep them running. That way, they will never take care of their hearts. We’ll burn them out and take them out.”
Being eternally busy means we will never have to confront the deep questions buried within our souls. Sometimes, our hearts need to stop and simply experience those moments of loneliness and dissatisfaction. For it’s in those silent times that God may be using our dissatisfaction to redirect us, the loneliness to get our eyes off of self, and the pain to shape our character.
Do you ever say to yourself, “Enough with the busyness”? If you have taken some time recently to reflect, what deep questions and/or longings have been on your heart?
It almost seems like I awoke one day, and people everywhere were sporting a mixture of glasses straight out of The Dick van Dyke Show or the late 1980′s frames with thick round rims. 99.9% of the time, I wear contacts when I’m in public. To let you in on a little secret, I’m still sporting my 2002 frames while I type this blog from the comfort of my home. They continue to work for me, and I’m too cheep to look fashionable when styling my frames at home. Consider me a tad uncool in the glasses-wearing department, but fortunately the generic look of my glasses still makes them passable.
Yet the glasses fashion industry (Is there such a thing?) has left me with a few questions: Why did the masses decide we needed a return to styles of the past? And who is in charge of making sure we wear cool frames and that suddenly yesterday’s models aren’t cool anymore? Why do we have this inner tug measuring our cool factor?
Now I’m not knocking those of you who like your throwback frames. You probably love them and look cool in them, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just wondering out loud why fashion changes so readily and we are so eager to spend our money on it.
So that I’m an equal-opportunity offender today, why does everyone on House Hunters “need” stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops? Why are my popcorn ceilings outdated according to these sophisticated home buyers?
The Altar of Cool
We worship at the altar of the cool, even though “cool” cannot be clearly defined. We know it when we see it. We buy it to bring temporary fulfillment. We wear it to fit in with our peers. We want to be seen as “cool” by those around us, so we make sure to have the right clothes, the up-to-date home, the latest gadgets.
How soon we forget that what is trendy today will be relegated to the landfill tomorrow. There’s got to be something deeper to this need to be cool, an issue of the heart.
Searching for Authenticity
Author and pastor Mark Sayers puts it this way, “Behind the idea of cool is a deep desire to discover or rediscover personal authenticity.”
Cool is a futile search for fulfillment, calling, and meaning in all the wrong places. In fact, the search is never-ending. But isn’t that what many of us do, whether in life, career, or even in our online worlds? We trade authenticity in exchange for a freshly pressed, all together self that we present to the world. We craft this image while barely giving attention to what God says matters to Him – the heart.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7
We are created to take meaningful action upon the desires God has written on our hearts. Unfortunately, when we get distracted by trying to be fresh, relevant, and cool, we lose sight of tending to matters of the heart.
What do you think about the culture of cool and its impact on the heart?
Photo Courtesy: jimmywayne