I want to live life deeply and fully and to have grand adventures. So why is my default the couch? And why do my days of kayaking and camping, mission trips and girls' nights, road trips and exploring seem so far behind me? My inner life is deep and full, but not many would know it by my outward life. The reality is that if someone suggested an epic adventure (or even a mildly intriguing outing), I would say, "Yes! Let's do it!" in a heartbeat. But being the instigator of the out-of-the-ordinary has not been a role I've embraced for a long time.
Henry David Thoreau decided to head to the wilderness alone when he was feeling something similar - “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
My best adventures, on the other hand, have happened in community, not alone. Rafting on the Colorado River with a friend from college, climbing Half Dome while living and working in Yosemite for a summer, the worst beach camping experience ever with my family, the best Redwoods camping experience ever with Grace Church family-campers, the most idyllic 2-day kayak trip ever on the Tennessee River with friends from Life Community, walking the streets of Antigua, Guatemala and sipping drinks rooftop with my brother, snorkeling in the Bahamas with my husband, snow sledding with my family near the north rim of the Grand Canyon, cliff diving on Lake Powell with my friends in high school, donkey basketball with my husband, exploring big cities with anyone who will explore with me, swimming in the Merced with friends from work, serving at an orphanage in Mexico with college friends and exploring more of Mexico with my high school Spanish club (speaking only Espanol for a solid week), a weekend in Vegas with a high school chum (getting dolled up, seeing a show, drinking fruity drinks by the pool, and eating at fancy restaurants), a week in Alaska serving alongside our friends who are missionaries there. Sucking the marrow out of life.
It has been too long and I'm hungry for some marrow! Perhaps it is time to be the instigator. Who's with me? Got any good ideas?
Coinciding with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, I set-up an office Olympics where I work. We had three teams: Fiji, Jamaica, and Barbados. I chose tropical locales because, frankly, it has been a long cold winter here and we all needed a hint of the islands. Over the course of three weeks we had a variety of different events such as Recycling Basketball, Paper Airplane Javelin, Lemon Fencing, Synchronized Office Chair Swivel, Finger Skating, and Rubber Band Archery. Each activity only took about 15 minutes out of our day and it was well worth it. The resulting laughter and just the simple act of getting out of our individual offices and workstations and coming together for a few minutes every day around something other than work was refreshing. The closing ceremonies were this past Friday and included a photo slide show (set to the Olympic theme song, naturally) of the participants and spectators at each of the events.
What I found to be the most rewarding part of the whole experience was seeing how everyone in the office rallied around one of our co-workers in particular. She is a quiet lady who works hard and keeps busy. She hails from outside the United States, and has a lovely accent and a gentle spirit. During the office Olympics, her team needed someone to sign-up to compete in Rubber Band Archery and she agreed even though she admitted that she didn't know how to shoot a rubber band. She approached me in the hallway one day and I thanked her for volunteering and she said, she was nervous about it because she didn't know what rubber band archery was. I told her that it isn't a thing... that I just made it up as a fun activity...that nobody knows what it is. She was so relieved to hear that! Have you ever been sure that everyone else knows about something and you are the odd, clueless man out? I explained that I would be setting up some targets and that rubber bands would be given out and that the object was to shoot the rubber band with your fingers at the targets and try to hit them. Nothing to worry about!
The day of the event arrived and I set up a bunch of paper and plastic cups on the ledge of an empty cubicle and let the competitors from teams Jamaica, Fiji and Barbados have a few minutes to practice. She stepped up to the line and acted like she had been shooting rubber bands her whole life. It was like the heavens opened and shined down on her and her alone for those few moments. She knocked those cups off the ledge one right after the other like a sharp shooter, stretching each rubber band back nearly to its breaking point before letting them fly. The staff who were gathered around cheered and watched in awe, even those who weren't on her team. Turns out that someone on her team had sent her a link to a YouTube video of how to shoot rubber bands (Is there nothing you can't find on the internet these days?) and she had been practicing at home since she had signed-up! She ended up winning the gold medal without breaking a sweat and a conversation broke out around the office at how her approach to rubber band archery closely resembled her approach to everything that she does. Her colleagues raved about how if there was skill she didn't have or a program she didn't know how to use, she would pay close attention as it was taught and she would work at it diligently until she became as good or better at it than the person who taught her. Everyone in the office started seeing this quiet, sweet lady in a different light and by the time the closing ceremonies came around last week, when a photo of the rubber band archery champ came up on the screen, the whole office clapped and cheered.
It took stepping outside of the normal routine to be able to see her uniqueness for what it was. Now when we step back into the norm, we will have a new found respect and a clearer picture of who she is and what she is capable of.
How can you create opportunities in your family, your job, your church, your group of friends to shake off the old routine enough to give people a chance to let their uniqueness show and give yourself a chance to notice it? Give it a try! You'll be glad you did.
Today three delightful, hard-working ladies from the moving company are here packing up everything that we own. They have gone about their work pleasantly and with a sense of pride. While they were busy packing-away, a dear friend stopped by to chat and we stepped into one of the rooms that they were not working in for a lovely hour or so to catch up without getting in their way. When I bid my friend farewell, I walked through each room that they had completed and sighed... "This is real!" I thought. I joked with them that I guess there was no going back now and one of them insisted, "Nope, you are moving!"
I went upstairs to, ahem, use the facilities, and only after I'd committed to that act did I realize - THEY HAD PACKED THE TOILET PAPER. Wow. Talk about total commitment to the job. "You ARE moving!" Well, no kidding. We sure can't stay here without toilet paper!
As I reflect on that moment of shocking realization that the T.P. was in a box somewhere and not on the roll, I'm now laughing at myself... how often do I get ahead of myself in life... planning for what is coming a few steps down the road and inadvertently missing what is obviously important in the here and now? Answer: Too often.
Life lesson for the day - Don't neglect the needs of today while planning for the future... or if you prefer: pack the toilet paper last for Pete's sake!
This is Luke McMaster. He is a multiplatinum song-writer who recently launched a solo career with a billboard hit song - "Good Morning Beautiful." About a month ago, just before Christmas, a friend of mine from childhood was facing a heart surgery for her 3 year old daughter, Elouise. Prior to her surgery, Elouise's grandma introduced her to "Good Morning Beautiful" and it became her favorite song. They tweeted Luke McMaster (a stranger to them) a picture of Elouise listening to the song before going into surgery. He promised to record a special version just for her.
The thing is, he actually did it.
He chose to be delightful. He didn't have to. Elouise came through her surgery beautifully and would have lived a happy life without a personalized version of a billboard hit song. But he did it anyway. This isn't the first story or video to inspire this kind of attitude that I've come across lately: Jon Acuff wrote this blog post called Choose To Be Delightful about his experience at Trader Joe's, and if you haven't been watching the Kid President videos... well then you are missing out big time!
I guess the theme is, Why NOT be delightful?! It only takes a few extra moments of your time and makes a HUGE difference in the world around you.
P.S. You can get Luke McMaster's debut album, "All Roads," on iTunes or Amazon. (not a paid endorsement, I just think it is great to support artists who take the time to be delightful)
He walked in the door on Monday afternoon, fresh from a ride home on the school bus, dropped his things on the floor and started into his rant before he even had his jacket off... "They're on to me, Mom!" Well, that sure got my attention. He proceeded to tell us a story about a missing Agenda (aka: important middle school notebook that is a required tool for keeping track of assignments and info from teachers). The tale was lengthy and harrowing and passionately delivered and at its conclusion Tim stated emphatically that he was 99% certain it was not missing at all, but rather had been STOLEN. He then seemed perplexed that his father and I were not in a total state of outrage over this shocking revelation.
Meanwhile, Jason and I were trying to figure out what in the world he meant by the statement, "They're on to me." Jason was the first to sort through it. "Son, I think what you meant to say is that 'They have it out for you,' or 'They're out to get you.'" "Oh," he said. We went on to talk about how middle school is middle school and no one escapes unscathed, and how it also isn't wise to make accusations or get emotionally caught up in things that you can't control, but the real lesson that came out of that moment was, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY TO MOM AND DAD - THEY WILL USE IT TO MOCK YOU MERCILESSLY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Ever since Monday, "They're on to me," has become Jason and I's mantra. We use it frequently and with great delight on any given occasion, much to Timmy's chagrin. Give it a try sometime, it's fun! :)
On a serious note: The comparison of the two phrases is a great lesson for all of us. Are we tempted to assume the world is out to get us when things go wrong? Are we hiding anything that would cause us to be devastated to find out if someone was, in fact, on to us? Neither of these is any way to live! Honesty, integrity and perspective! May we all have them in abundance and strive to keep them all the days of our lives.
P.S. The agenda was located the next morning. All is well.
I laugh easily. Sometimes, I laugh a tad bit too loudly. I have learned not to be self conscious about my laughter because laughter is one of God's precious gifts.
A couple of days ago I wrote a post about some brain research that I have been doing, and I mentioned how when the brain senses a threat to our physical or social well-being the amygdala releases electro-chemicals that produce an instantaneous sense of dread and a readiness to act and defend/protect ourselves. This is a good thing... except when it isn't. We've all been there. Something bad ALMOST happens, then it doesn't yet we can't shake that heavy feeling of foreboding for a long time afterward even though the threat is gone. We want to! Logically we know there is nothing wrong, but it takes awhile for those electro-chemicals to dissipate. For me this happens whenever there is a close call on the road. When an accident ALMOST happens, but doesn't. It seems to take ages before I can feel light-hearted and relaxed again.
Guess what brain research has shown us? Laughter is the thing that can restore balance in the brain faster than anything else! Its almost like your brain hears you laughing and goes, "Hmmm, I guess this isn't the end of the world. If she can laugh about it, or during it, there must be hope! Guess I'll settle down."
The Bible alluded to this long before any MRI or CT Scan or EKG of brain activity appeared on the scene. Check it out:
Proverbs 17:22 ESV "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
In Pastor Rick Warren's article, "Learn to Laugh" in the Christian Post he says this: "Humor is an amazing thing. It’s a tension dissolver. It’s an antidote to anxiety. It’s just like a tranquilizer, but without any troublesome side effects. And it’s free! You don’t even need a prescription. Laughter is life’s shock absorber. If you want to have less stress in your life, learn to laugh at your circumstances. Somehow, you must find the fun in the frustrating." So true! The other day a friend texted me a picture of a bottle of RID and the bad news that lice had made an appearance in her family. Ugh. By God's grace, after commiserating with her misfortune, I immediately texted back something like this: "You can do this! Secret prize is in store for whoever in your family comes up with the funniest lice or nit joke. Go!" Our families, separated by more than half the country, spent the next several minutes texting made up jokes back and forth and giggling. My favorite was, "Why did the lice cross the road? To get to the hairier side." Hardee-har-har.
What a gift we have in laughter, let's not neglect to open up and use that gift often and well, avoiding finding humor in the crude or crass, yet fully appreciating the whimsical, silly, ironic, delightful things that God brings to mind and helping others to do the same.
Need a little help getting the giggles started, try these:
Seriously, my friends and family have kicked it into high gear lately with their status updates and tweets. I am laughing daily at all the funny stories and clever quips. As always, I must share! Names and incriminating data have been scrubbed from these posts to protect those who may not have been TRYING to be funny. *wink
1. 5 Year Old: "This book is full of nothing but good news." (She was holding up a New Testament)
Her 6 Year Old Sister: "Umm... Jesus getting killed cause I was naughty is NOT good news."
2. "I love cats! I just can't eat a whole one by myself."
3. "Going running after work, if anyone would like to join me. Warning: I have not run for years, I will be going slow and whining the whole time."
4. Five Year Old Boy: "Girls are all scared of scary stuff. All they like is princesses and beautiful flowers. That's no way to be."
5. "Confession: When your kids show up trick-or-treating in broad daylight, hours before dusk, I secretly judge you as helicopter parents.
6. I once told a teacher I wouldn't participate in an embarrassing Folkloric dance in Spanish class because I was Baptist.
7. Watching my daughter try and open a child-proofed bottle. "I am a grown-up" she shouts at it. Then looks up at me guiltily. "I lied to it. I just wanted it to open."
8. "Crawlspace" is such a poorly named part of my house. It's the last space I want to crawl. It should be called "Spidertown Jamboree."
9. ENOUGH WITH THE HOME REPAIRS. All I can guess is that our house was built in 1973, and almost 40 years later, it is tired. Come to think of it, I know exactly how the house feels. I can relate to it on many, many levels. (this wasn't from FB or Twitter, but rather from boomama.net, but I couldn't help but include it.)
10. Dad: "Not sure what I'll be for Halloween this year. I've never been anything scary." Son: "You were Justin Bieber two years ago.....THAT was pretty scary."
My day started off with a problem yesterday. Don't you just love it when that happens? Yeah, me neither.
Our family car has been on its last legs for awhile and its latest malfunction finally forced me to call a mechanic yesterday morning. The key has been getting stuck in the ignition for quite some time (this is the original problem), but we've always been able to eventually get it out, but lately getting it out hasn't been quite so easy. In fact, Monday night I couldn't get it to come out at all, so "Old Yeller" sat outside with the key in the ignition all night. The next morning when I went out to start-er-up, the battery was dead as a door nail. That was the first problem of the day. My son needed to get to school and the bus had already come by our house. That was problem number two. I called a dear friend and neighbor and she came over at once to take Tim to school for me (problem two solved). Then she came back with jumper cables and a can-do attitude. Only issue was - we couldn't get the hood latch to release on my car. You got it, problem numero three. She called her husband and he walked us through the process and before we knew it problem three was history and the hood was open! We got the car started in no time flat - and when I say WE, I mean SHE - (problem one alleviated) and she left to begin her day.
Problem four reared its ugly head when I realized that I had less than an eighth of a tank of gas and I couldn't leave the car idling for very long to get the battery fully charged. I attached a battery charger to it and hoped for the best. The best was not in the cards and the car refused to start when I needed to take it to a mechanic (Problem #5 - which is basically a do-over of problem #1). I called another good friend who came over with jumper cables and a "can you really do this?" attitude. I assured her I was capable (I had after all just watched friend #1 jump-start the car and had quickly watched a youtube video on how to go about it right before she showed up. I was practically a pro!). Thankfully I got the car started without anything blowing up (problem five solved) and my friend followed me to the mechanic's shop, because she's cool like that.
To continue making a long story longer - here is what happened after that:
So, what is the moral of this story? Take your pick:
1. It is good to have friends. It is VERY good to have friends.
2. Problems aren't always solved in the same order in which they arise. Tackle one thing at a time, but don't get hung up on the way it all comes together.
3. Sometimes your problems might make other people laugh - go with it, we could all use a good laugh. Getting bent out of shape only robs you of your own shot at joy in the middle of junk. (Shout-out to the windshield-wiper-horn-blowing friend, I do hope everything worked out!)
4. Don't assume the worst when a problem arises - you aren't God and you have no idea where your "stuck key" will lead you today, perhaps at the end of the day you'll still have a key that sticks, but you could also have a way to deal with it, a comforting knowledge of how far your friends are willing to go to help you, and a small glimpse at how much God truly loves you.
Every so often, things get a little too serious. Am I right? In those moments, I go back to Facebook and Twitter and look over the last several weeks and find the funniest things my friends, and family, (and strangers for that matter) have posted that made me laugh and I compile a top ten list here on the blog to share with this serious world. You never know when something YOU've posted might show up here! As always, names have been removed to protect the hilarious.
1. "When having a smackerel of something with a friend, don't eat so much that you get stuck in the doorway trying to get out." Winnie the Pooh
2. My 2nd grader just told me, "Mom, don't bother looking at my homework. You won't be able to understand it."
3. "Some folks don't deserve thumbs."
4. "If you ever got sick from playing a kazoo, it would be a humbug."
5. "You know you have issues when you don't want to use a GPS because you HATE being told what to do."
6. "History will someday explain how, early in the 21st century, all the pastors' wives suddenly became smokin' hot."
7. "I believe the children are our future" -Hopeful song lyric now made depressing because of that Honey Boo Boo show.
8. Mom to 4 of 5 kids: "What r u doing downstairs?" Kids: "Reading where it's quiet & there are no moms yelling at the football game."
9. "Teacher, you look like Britney Spears. But the good version, like before she went crazy and shaved her hair and stuff."
10. A first grader telling her Dad about her soccer game: "A grandma for the other team was yelling, "kick it in the goal!" And I was yelling, "DON'T LISTEN TO GRANDMA!!"
"YOU CAN COUNT ON DAD"
School i$ really great. I am making lot$ of friend$ and $tuding very hard. With all my $tuff, I $imply can't think of anything I need, $o if you would like, you can ju$t $end me a card, a$ I would love to hear from you.
Your Daughter, Chelsea
I kNOw that astroNOmy, ecoNOmics, and oceaNOgraphy are eNOugh to keep even an hoNOr student busy. Do NOt forget that the pursuit of kNOwledge is a NOble task, and you can never study eNOugh. Things have been NOticeably quiet NOwadays without you around. Looking forward to NOvember when you'll be home for a visit.
Your Father, Bill
I was going through a box of old papers today and I came across a stack of emails that I had printed out in 1998. At that time I was subscribing to a joke-a-day email service called Bill's Punch Line. I don't know if this came from that or if BPL was reprinting it, but it is down right funny and I had to share. It reminds me of something my Dad and I would have done when I was in college.
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!