Tag Archives: God

Popularity that isn’t

Since who knows when the thing a lot of people have wanted was to be popular, to be liked, to feel like they belong.  To know what they say and think is important and heard.  There is nothing like going to school and quickly learning where you stand in the order of the world.

Popularity is something I struggled with growing up and is something I have and will continue work through with my kids.  There is something appealing about being part of the “in-crowd”.  It is glamorized particularly by Hollywood but in so many other realms as well.  If you are not hip, up on all the latest, part of what’s going on right now then obviously you are not cool.

My oldest daughter who just started high school struggled with this in middle school.  She saw the allure of being part of the in crowd and being popular.  After having been through this myself my advice to her was to find some solid, good friends and enjoy the time with them, make memories that will last.  Don’t worry about trying to fit in, once you are out in the real world and living your life it does become less about being popular and more about being comfortable with who you are and how you want to live your life.  Good advice right?

I’ve been contemplating the advice I gave her and our discussions about it.  To some degree I believe there’s a lot of truth in it.  To a degree I wonder if it really never ends.  For me I see this happen at work, ladder climbers who will step on others to get to the top. Always trying to be the best and do things to get them recognized.  There’s always a group of folks who are living it up and seem to be the “in crowd” who have an edge on everyone else.  The neighbors to keep up with the latest toys and gadgets that my kids think are totally awesome.  Trips, parties and the ones who everyone seems to talk about as if they are royalty.   Even in church there seems to be an élite crowd.  I’ve had experiences in churches where I had to compete and prove myself worthy to them.  They won’t talk or acknowledge you on Sundays even when you pass by them, you can come close to touching them and they look right through you.

I feel like that transcends to the online world and social media that I take part in.  If you are a writer or blogger you are trying to promote yourself.  For those that aren’t but engage in it, we project an image.  If you write and write well you get lots of comments, feedback and people will promote you as well as tell others they should read what you have written.   It can be intoxicating, you can feel like a celebrity who is incredibly popular – having a lot of followers and friends can also reinforce this.  The drawback is when you try to engage or take part and feel like you are not part of the conversation or what you had to say or share was completely ignored.

In many realms of life there is always going to be the in-crowd, those who are at the top of the game and seem to gain attention and notoriety.  The are the ones who everyone else talks about, wants to emulate and drops their name whenever theirs an opportunity.  Does all of this matter; I guess that depends on how you look at it.

I believe we are all valuable.  God created and designed us all by his very hands.  He gave purpose and value to us when he brought us into this world.  We all have gifts and talents we can use to impact the world.  No two people were created the same and for good reason.  We are all important and no one is more important than anyone else even though it may seem that way.  Just as a parent looks at each of their children with tremendous love and doesn’t choose favorites instead realizes the uniqueness of each of their children.  I believe God looks at all of us the same way.  While the world may try to tell us that some or more important or valuable than others it’s important to remember as quickly as the latest fad passes is as soon as the person passes.  We are not fads we are God’s handiwork and we matter.

Popularity is a man-made thing and one day that will end.  In the end I come back to having true and lasting friendships.  Using my gifts, talents and the story of my life to reflect what God has done in my life.  I don’t need to worry if I am not the most popular for the things I do have are more valuable than being the “it” person.


Love after September 11, 2001

There was no one I knew personally who lost his or her life today in those tragic and horrific events.  In my life, I have seen tragic events.  The attempted assassination of President Regan when I was in the 3rd grade, the Space shuttle Challenger exploding as a freshman in high school.  However, nothing has quite shaken me to my core like the events of September 11, 2001.  I attribute this event to what it was for your grandparents when John Kennedy was assassinated and it devastated the world.

That year I woke up just like any other day and went off to work.  Mom was home with Ashleigh, Reece, and Sophie.  I had picked up folks and was headed out to the farm to start the day.  I was out by the Wood Village exit when I turned the station and heard the news.  They did not have enough information so we were just getting breaking news.  I called your mom and woke her up, none of you were awake yet, and I told her to go and turn on the TV and find out what was going on.  I made it to work, turned on the radio, and listened off and on throughout the day to hear more, but because of our jobs, we had to focus on the clients.  The events sounded horrific and like nothing, I could even begin to imagine.  After work was over, I took clients home.  Traffic was really horrible and it took me an extra hour just to finish.  I was going to head to my men’s group, but due to traffic decided I was going to head home.  When I got home none of you were there, mom had taken you to visit your grandparents and I was home by myself.

I turned on the TV and watched repeatedly the events that I had heard described through the radio all day.  I sat there motionless staring, unable to move, tears pouring down my face, sobbing at what was happening before my eyes.  I was shaken to my core in a way I do not know that I can even begin to explain.  To this very day any time I talk about it, close my eyes and see those images I am moved to tears.  Why I have no idea, but there is nothing else I have ever experienced in my life that has had the effect this does.

Here it is 10 years later, so much has changed.  Three more children have joined our family, we have moved, we have international students living with us, we have changed churches twice, you 3 older kids have all been through grade school and are now in middle school and high school.  Life has changed for so many people.

As the days unfolded after the events, for the very first time in my life I was actually proud to be an American.  I saw our country come together, support, love, aid, and comfort and turn back to God, looking for answers to questions that appeared to have no answers for many people.

One thing to be sure of, since that day, much has changed for many people.  I think it made people realize EVIL really is in this world.  EVIL seeks to destroy whatever it can get it hands on.  Bad things happen because sin entered the world years ago when Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God.  Bad things happen to good people and bad people alike.  No one in this world is immune to the effects of sin.  It is hard to accept and understand many times, but you do not have to live very long to fully understand it.

While I wish, I could protect you from the evils of this world I cannot.  I can tell you it is not fun and on some occasions, it feels like a living hell.  From my experiences, you cannot always make it better.  Time will pass and soon life with throw something else at you that will shake your life.  My hope is that you know and experience love.  Your mom and I love you more than anything in this world.  You were loved and wanted from the beginning and you will be loved and wanted until my dying breath.

Hate is horrible and can destroy people, worlds and nations.  If left unchecked, it has the power to take the very life God breathed into folks.  Hate is all around us, waiting to get its grip on us, to squash the love inside us and motivate us to see and treat people in ways you would never think of.  Hate can taint your view of others, it can cause you to want to lash out and react.  Hate can destroy the very life God distinct hands created for a purpose.  Whatever you do, rid your life of hate.  See all people in the light of God’s eyes.  See them as unique, gifted, talented, and full of hope and purpose; see them as something special to enhance the world in which we live.  Love them with all your might; love them when they are unlovely and despicable.  Love them even harder when you feel even the slightest bit of anger or bitterness creeping up inside.

Your love for another person may be the one thing that changes his or her life forever.  As I reflect back on this day, I am still moved.  I am sorry men held onto hatred so bitter and wicked they took the lives of others.  I am sorry they believed in and followed hatred so strong, the ripple effects of it is still felt today.  Love each other, because after your mom and I are gone, you are all you have of our family.  Take the love your mom and I have for each of you and spread it everywhere.









Tired, lonely and …

I’m not sure if it’s the time of year or something larger.  Last year at this time I went through some very painful and tumultuous times.  I disconnected from all forms of connecting with others.   A handful of people I was closest too, ended up not being the support system I thought and had hoped for.  It was as though I wrapped myself in an old quilt and stayed wrapped up.  I passed a significant milestone in my life, it seemed as though things were beginning to change.

Life is truly never what you expect.  The highways we travel along don’t always bring us to some sun drenched golden valley.  Some roads take us to dead ends and take us on a detour.  If feels as though I have been left stranded along the roadside with no one in sight.  The journey I thought I was on has gone awry and I no longer have the internal compass I once believed I did.

I find myself standing here looking all around, holding on to memories in my mind of faces and people I once held firm to and treasured.  Reflecting back I remember feeling a sense of hope, new life being breathed into my soul as we walking and experienced life together.  Traveling down life’s terrain with a companion was much sweeter.  How happy I had become with my new companions, really beginning to feel and experience life.  They would be for me what I would be for them.    I am brought back to the reality it didn’t quite work out that way, those people and relationships left me cold, lonely and longing for more.  The memories weren’t reality; they were a bitter reminder of the reality of it.

I walk for a very long time and look up to the heaven and cry out to God. Hoping the one to whom I have run to in the past when I have been lost will speak.  The clouds will part, the sky will open up and his voice will ring so loudly it will shake my very soul. I continue to walk, feeling once again all alone.  I need him, I know I don’t follow him like I should, I forget the very truths I know.  More times than I can count I choose my own roads believing they will bring me a sense of fulfillment. Along my roads I find the sting of poison, working its way through my entire body.  Each time I venture down these roads the poison hurts less and less.

I remember feeling and being alive at one point, experiencing God in ways word fail me to describe.  That time too has long since passed and for many seasons of life I have manufactured a relationship with him based on what I was told would bring me true joy and happiness, yet has left me feeling empty and alone.   I pass a stream, seeing my reflection, but it isn’t really the man I recognize.  The face I see is dirty, tear-stained, swollen from poisons and toxins, weathered and worn.  Not the face of young boy any more, and not yet like the face of my Grandfather, worn and leathery but full of love, life and wisdom.  For that is the face I hope to see reflected back one day.

I am unsure about which path to take, the path that leads guides and directs my steps is the one northern star I have always been able to return to when I have been lost on my path. The path I long for most leads me to the one who will embrace me in his loving arms, just like my Grandfather did when I was a young boy.  His love will be like a torrential downpour that will wash away all the poison, dirty and pain and when the storm is over, breathe new life into this parched and dry soul.

Camping with my girls

A few years ago, I took my oldest son camping at a state campground on the beach along the Washington coast.  We enjoyed our time together.  After returning, my older three daughters wanted to know when I was planning to take them for a weekend camping trip.  I was a bit surprised they wanted to but I was up for it.  Camping is something we have enjoyed as a family over the years and something I hoped and my children would want to do, so I was extremely happy to know my girls wanted to go.  For the last year, we have had it on the calendar and planning on this weekend.

Most of the state campgrounds in the PACNW (Pacific Northwest) fill up fast.  Early in the year, you have to call and make reservations.  You can plan to be on hold anywhere up to an hour to place your reservations.  It is a bit on the insane side.  Most places are booked by April for the entire summer, so if you want one you better be up and going the day the phone lines open.  I chose not to do this but take a risk.  I actually took my son in September after school was back in session so it was not a problem.  I did call and check to see if I might get lucky but there was not anything available.

I knew my Aunt owns property up near this area and she was fine with letting us use her property.  The property is strictly that property, neighbors on either side have developed their property, but her property has a lot that could be done with it still.  She told me she would inform her neighbors of our coming.  The night before we leave she calls to tell me when speaking with her neighbors they said they’ve seen a male black bear roaming around on her property and reminded me of it having no facilities (bathrooms/showers).  She was not sure if I still wanted to go, but I assured her we would be fine.  With my West Coast Hipster Dad Ninja Skills and growing up in Montana, I was not afraid of any bears bothering us.

Friday morning we loaded up the van, placed my I pod on shuffle and took off.  The drive takes around 2 hours and I had planned to stop along the way and do some site seeing and show my daughters different sites.  We stopped and visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory, which is always a cool place to visit, get some great samples of cheese, and eat some delicious ice cream.  Continuing north up the coast, stopping at one of our family favorite places – Mo’s Chowder House in Cannon Beach, the weather was gorgeous and we sat outside right off the beach and ate a delicious lunch.  We got to see a guy surf using a very large kite he had attached to himself.  After lunch, I drove until we made it to our destination.

We got camp set up, unfortunately, my girls forgot to pack their camping chairs, and there was not anything to use for a fire pit.  We drove back into town, purchased a shovel and a few other supplies, went back to our site and I dug a very large pit in the ground.  As we explored a bit, we found a couple of larger trees that were down and had been cut, these were used as our chairs, just like I remembered watching Grizzly Adams used.  I got the fire going, we had dinner, and the girls went to bed.  I began thinking about the black bear and that took me to a scene from the movie “Never Cry Wolf” so I marked our territory and stayed up for awhile with shovel in hand.  Having camped out in the forest before I know it is not wise to leave food out as it not only can attract bears but other little friends, so I cleaned up camp, locked everything back up in our van and spend some time just being quiet and talking to God.

The next day I got up, made the girl’s breakfast, we got dressed and headed out for a day of adventure.  We explored Oysterville and up walking out on the bogs.  I always find it is most beautiful in the early morning to walk around there as the sun comes up on the bay.  Walking around we had some great conversations and commented on how it reminded them of Sarah Plain and Tall.

We continued exploring other little towns went on a walk on a trail to the “Metal Tree” which is where Lewis and Clark ended their expedition and marks the spot of that once they had reached the West Coast.  The tree is completely metal and stands about 8 feet tall.  Next up was Long Beach and exploring the little town, doing some shopping and checking out all the little stores along the main street.

We made our way to the state park where my son and I had stayed.  It has two Lighthouses, one on each end of the park that I wanted to show my daughters.  We drove up to the first area and as I drove up I began seeing signs that you were now required to purchase a pass to park their.  I could see the Park Ranger engaged in a heated discussion with some very frustrated women and I saw other folks walking towards the sign to pay for the parking.  As I was walking back to our van a man was standing in a parking space, another man was in his car, and trying to park in the space, only he was not patient enough to wait for the guy to move and bumped into him.  They began yelling at each other and the man in the car continued to try to inch his way forward.  The man standing in the spot had some friends with him who ran over and started yelling at the guy in the car and some guy leaned inside the window of the car.  At this point, the Park Ranger who was near my van talking to one of the upset women, dropped his clipboard, yelled he was a police officer, and ran over to the situation.  As he approached, he pulled out his Billy club and began hitting the guy who was leaning into the car in his calf area.  He ordered him to lie down on the ground with his hands behind his head, to which the guy complied.  The Park Ranger began yelling at everyone to back up and was radioing for backup.  It was at this time I decided I was not going to stick around for any more drama, I got in my van and left.  As we drove away, back up began arriving.

We ended up going to the main park entrance, purchased a park pass, and then ventured onto the other lighthouse.  We got to go on a great hike and explore the area and then hiked down to a small cove.  This cove is one of the absolute best areas all along the coast.  I could spend hours just sitting there.  As we made our way back from the hike and to our van, we decided to head to the main beach area in the campground.  We ate lunch, swam and played around for quite a few areas and then made our way back to the lighthouse we had not gotten to see.  Thankfully, there was no drama this time and we got to go check it out.  We left and headed back to our campsite.

We ate dinner, hung out, had S’mores and the girls went to bed.  In the morning, we packed up and headed out.  On our way back, we crossed the 4-mile Astoria Bridge, which can be a bit nerve-racking to drive across.  My oldest daughter kept her eyes close the entire time.  Once in Astoria we went to the Astoria Column, climbed all the way to the top, and looked out over the entire town.  Once we made it down, we began looking for the house filmed in the movie Goonies; the address I found and plugged into my GPS did not take us to it, but rather a museum.  Although we did not find the house, we continued on our way back home.  As we drove home, I asked my daughters what they wanted to do next year and they all agreed they would prefer to go to the beach house.  So much for the love of camping being passed on.

Reflecting back over the weekend with my girls reminded me of a couple of things –

1 – I love these girls with all my heart and I would go to any level to protect and take care of them and I always will.

2 Even though I can protect them and as a loving father should, it is limited and I have to trust God on the rest.

3 – Somehow I feel safer in my house protecting them, than out in the woods camping.

4 – Driving along the coast I was reminded of many camping trips we had taken on the coast over the years, but when I asked my oldest if she remembered our trips, she couldn’t recall them.

5 – The coast was one of the main reasons I moved to Oregon, it has always rejuvenated me.

6 – Apparently I have watched a lot of movies and they tie into my being outdoors

7 – There is nothing like getting away from life, disconnecting, and focusing on those things that mean the most to you.

Silent Sound

Growing up and being rejected I tried hard to get used to the fact that no one wanted me around and to learn to be content with just me.  I was never one who enjoyed the silence.  Left alone with my thoughts my brain never stopped.  I was and have always been my own worst enemy.  The things I dislike most about myself and the things I ruminated on.  Being told you don’t fit or belong time and time again only played into this.  I have never been one of those people who are very comfortable in my own skin.  If people didn’t want to be around me, my Dad didn’t want to be around me, clearly I wasn’t all that desirable.   I kept to myself, my thoughts and my world, I shut down and shut out the world, crying wasn’t any use because that would only make me a target for people to mock.  So I would walk around fearful of people, trying hard to blend in, not be noticed and just left alone.

I believe this is where my first love of music came into place.  I didn’t want the silence, that was deafening and a reminder of all the rejection.  So, I found music to be a place I could lose myself.  Since that time music has always been a place I could find solace.  The lyrics of many songs often identified with how I was feeling.   I don’t remember at what point but I used to make tapes of music I loved to listen to and depending on my mood a lot of the times my way of coping with being alone was to make tapes of really sad and lonely songs and then listen to them over and over.  As I listened to the words blasting from the stereo it would bring me to the point where I could actually cry and feel emotion.

Over the years music has always remained the one thing I carry with me.  I’ve had my headphones, Diskman, iPod and my phone.  I’ve always got music on the radio, computer or laptop.  Music is with me from the time I wake up in the morning till I fall asleep at night.  It’s been there more than anything else and I can always count on it.

I have never grown comfortable with silence.  Even as an adult I hate conversations that don’t flow easily, gaps of time where no one is speaking.  It is always awkward riding in a vehicle when the conversation comes to a halt and no one is talking.  My mind begins racing about what should we talk about next so there isn’t a lull in the conversation.

In my adult life it’s been odd, I have periods of time where I have a lot of friends that I do a lot of things with and then somehow through circumstances those friends move, change jobs or churches and the relationship is not the same and the communication fizzles out.  I end up going back to feelings of being alone with no one to talk to.  Even though I do have friends and really good friends it is still remains difficult and sometimes I harsh reminder of my past.  More times than not I feel like I put all the energy into most of my friendships. When it’s not reciprocated or I get nothing  for a long time I go back to feeling all alone, it’s then I just pull back completely and return to music.

Even in my walk with God I have struggled with this.  There are times I have purposely made it so I did have quiet time and could shut out the world to focus on God.  I don’t practice this as much as I should, I do believe it should be a regular practice.  The world and the things of this world drowned out God so we can’t stay focused on him.  All part of Satan’s plan I believe.  I do try to make it a priority first thing in the morning either going for a walk or on my way to work, just spending time alone with God praying, listening and waiting for him to speak to me.

Maybe that’s why I had a large family and a house full of people.  I don’t want to be in a place where something isn’t going on or happening.  I want to be in a place where someone talks to you.   My house is always full and our house in our neighborhood is the spot to be.  People are constantly going in and out, and there are times where I do need a break and just need some silence and I try to take it, but give me 5 minutes of silence and it immediately takes me back to being alone and I hate that.

The struggle of silence will most likely be a battle I face all my life.  Taking time out and just being silent is healthy, listening to your heart, your mind and your body will tell you a lot.  Most importantly taking time out and spending it with God is what I need for to center and give myself direction.  Silence has a place; it’s just a hard place to be for me.

Values of Manhood Defined

Growing up I had a father, but he was not around and when he was, he was not interested in me.  Conversations around becoming a man didn’t occur in my home.  The only nugget of wisdom passed onto me was if I wanted a large family I better get a good job to support them.  The concept and ideas of what it meant to be a real man were somewhat foreign to me.  I really had no good male role models; those around me did not discuss it or consistently demonstrated through their actions and words how something I would not describe as being manly.  The small country town, white is right, there is only one-way to do it culture I lived it shoved worldly ideas in my face about being a man and I was repeatedly reminded of how I never measured up.

As I left my family, began establishing who I am as a man and what I was about, I began looking at the world around me, observing the ideas and concepts that most men used to define themselves as men – someone who does it all on his own, has no need for anyone else and lives a life filled with money, cars and women. Many of the men I knew were not living their lives the way I thought it would look like.  I observed men not discussing their thoughts or feelings, used women in unhealthy ways and could only relate to one another through sports or drinking.  None of which appealed to me and it certainly was not how I was going to define myself as a man.

As someone who has been a follower of Jesus since I was 7 years old. I began looking at examples in the church of what it meant to be a man.  I discovered morals preached and rigid guidelines followed. Few men in the church discussed what it meant to be a real man.  Most of the men I saw in church did not want to be there, were unhappy and appeared to be living their lives,  just existing, but never having much passion or desire.  Once again, I found it hard to find what it meant to be a real man.  There are plenty of examples in the Bible of regular men who God has used to do amazing things.  For myself the one person I most admire and look towards in being a man is Jesus.  Granted I am by no means Jesus, but his life and how he lived it demonstrates so many characteristics of what a man can and should do.

When my wife and I got married the first things that actually made me feel like a man was finding out I was going to be a father.  When it was confirmed, something inside of me said, “You’re the man.”  Prior to that, every time I looked in the mirror all I could see was a 16-year-old boy who was lost and had no clue what it meant to be a man.  Finally, I felt like I was joining the ranks of others and becoming an official man.

As I closed out my 30’s and start my 40’s I finally am beginning to feel like I am fully a man.  My journey into this has been a long and difficult one.  It has taken me going from not allowing other guys to be a part of my life to finding amazing men who have spoken volumes into my life.  Evaluating events that have shaped who I am today, seeking out, and understanding God’s purpose in my life.  I can tell you as someone who is a deep processor and thinker; there have been many days where my brain just never turned off.

A few years ago after reading a couple of books and completing some profile tests I took a week and came up with what I believe defines me as a man.  To me a real man means you are honest and true about who you are and where you have come from.  A man is not afraid to share his feelings, admits when he needs help and someone who takes care of his family and not just through monetary means.  It also includes spending time with each person, getting to know who they are and what you can do to build them up and influence their lives. Having other men in your life you can go to and talk with, men who will hold you accountable.

For myself being a real man is defined by my core values:

Knowledgecontinually striving to be better than I am, through various means, which allows my words to be honest and wise, and my actions filled with insight and discernment

Honorliving a loyal life of commitment to God, my wife, kids, family and friends that includes faithfulness, commitment, responsibility and integrity

Fulfillmentliving a courageous life filled with passion that allows me to serve others out of love and devotion

Impact all that I do I do for the legacy I will be leaving behind me

Truth seeking to live a life that stands up for what is right and just and using my voice to silence injustice, evil and wickedness in the world

For whatever reason men still today do not feel the need to talk about this.  It greatly saddens me to see men in church who are walled off, hurting and do not know who they are or what they are about.  Men who have been so wounded and hurt they do not even know which way to turn.  It is for this very reason I write about these things and use the gifts I have been given to try to build relationships with other men.  For me I strive to live an authentic life, which includes being a real man to everyone I meet.  Pouring my life into other men and asking the questions that need to be asked.  In doing this I hope I not only will be the example but it will help other men in their own journey.

What about yourself, what values define you as a person?  How long has it taken you to feel like a fully grown man?  How do you see yourself today?

Designed by God to connect

I have been likened to George Washington, Mike Wallace and Vince Lombardi.  I have also been told I resemble Joseph in the Bible.  You could also characterize me as being a lion.  I am an activist, caregiver, naturalist and sensate.  After taking a test I was told I was ESTJ (extroverted, sensing, thinking and judging).  Where am I going with this, what does this have to do with anything? 

Psalm 139:113-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

As reflected in this passage I believe God created each one of us uniquely and only he knows the specifics.  He didn’t make a mistake when he created us and I would be bold to say anything God makes should never be considered garbage.  Look around and take a look at the beauty all around.  Now go take a look in the mirror, you are truly an amazing work of the master craftsman.

In creating us he designed us all with gifts, if you want to read more about our gifting I suggest reading 1 Corinthians 12.   In these passages of scripture it talks about the gifts he has placed in us.  Our purpose is to take these gifts and use them to bring him glory. 

I also believe in creating us differently we relate back to God in different ways.  I love taking  various kinds of personality tests.  As a supervisor at work, leader in church and working with different groups of people it fascinates me how putting people together, the dynamics play out in that.  When you put a group of folks together you never know what is going to happen.  Sometimes everyone clicks and things go smoothly, other times folks don’t jive and it can be difficult to work together.  Personality tests are a great tool to use in understanding and relating to one another. 

A few years back I went through leadership training at church and we went through a session on discovering your spiritual temperaments.  As I went through the class it helped me understand more of how I was wired and how God has designed me.  For years I had been told just read your Bible and pray and you will connect with God.  Maybe I wasn’t going about it correctly, but I felt like it was forced and didn’t come naturally.  Through this class I discovered  I best connect with God when I was outdoors.  Since I was a boy growing up out in the country I always loved looking around and marveling at God’s creation.  I have always had deeper and significant God experiences when I am outdoors.  Taking this class helped me see that while I can grow and develop and incorporate other aspects into my life, there are very clear ways I draw nearer to him.

Here are the examples:

Activist – Loving God through confrontation with evil

Ascetic – Loving God through solitude and simplicity

Caregiver – Loving God through serving others

Contemplative – Loving God through adoration

Enthusiast – Loving God through mystery and Celebration

Intellectual – Loving God through the Mind

Naturalist – Loving God through experiencing him in nature

Sensate – Loving God through the senses

Traditionalist – Living God through ritual and symbol

So what about you – where would you fall under these categories and if you have taken a personality test, what were you told about yourself?

In search of a Pearls

Today I am very excited.  This is the first time someone has ever done a guest post on my blog.  Today’s post if from Seiji Yamashita.  He and his wife are expecting their first child and currently in the process of purchasing a house.   Please say some prayers for them.

I encourage you to follow him on Twitter @JustaPen and definitely check out his Blog – The Ignition Point – http://justapen.wordpress.com/


My favorite line from Star Trek: Generations is early on in the movie before Captain Kirk “dies” for the first time.  He has just found out that his pilot, Hikaru Sulu, had a family and a daughter who was now serving in Starfleet.  For all you non-nerd types out there, let me translate: a career military man had a family.

Kirk is astonished of course and asks “when did he have time?”  Now the smart aleck in me has to try really hard to keep my mouth shut on that one but the script writers put in a very good answer here.  “You told us Captain, that if something is important, you make time for it.”

I like that.  I can handle that.  I can take that and put it into my context and understanding of the world and apply it to my life.  Family is important therefore I make time for it.  Relationships are important so I make time for it.  Career is…reasonably important so I’ll make time for that too.

Lucky for me however, or maybe unlucky depending on your perspective, I don’t model my life after James Tiberius Kirk.  I model my life after Jesus.  And Jesus said something very different.

Matthew 6:33 “First seek the Kingdom of God in all its righteousness.”

Ok, so instead of family and relationships the Kingdom of God comes first and I make time for that. Ok I can still handle that.

Matthew 13:45-46 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls.  When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.”

This one makes me stop.  This is like Elisha burning his plow and sacrificing his oxen to follow Elijah.  This is the moment where the disciples dropped everything without a thought to follow Jesus.  This is what Jesus means when he says “follow me.” He’s saying, forget all that stupid stuff you think is important, because here is the pearl of great price, and it’s worth everything.

Even my dreams, Jesus?

Even my hopes?

John Wimber tells the story of how he first heard this parable and what it meant to him.  Arguably one can say that the Christian must be WILLING to give up everything for the sake of the Kingdom, but what happens on D-day when you have to get out of the boat and leave it all behind you?

Could you do it?

I’m not sure I could.  Jesus has been talking to me, some days more sternly than others, about my dreams and visions and I’m having a really hard time with it.  These are dreams I’ve had since I was a kid and they’re really all I can hold onto when things get tough and I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  On those days when I’m just tired of the people I deal with on a daily basis, when I don’t want to think about the next bill coming in, or someone else putting more demands on my time, I can carve out a couple of hours for me and my dream.

And now I’m supposed to give it up not because I’m supposed to, but because the Kingdom is worth it.

If God asked you to give it up, could you do it?


Meeting someone famous

This last Friday I had the opportunity to meet some men who are relatively famous, depending on what circles you are in.  I follow both men on Twitter and have read books both published.  These are the first two people I have ever met that one would consider as famous.   If for whatever reason you aren’t familiar with them, check out the links

Twitter – @jonacuff /http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/

Twitter – @daveramsey/http://www.daveramsey.com

My family was not one to do much entertaining when I was growing up.  We had family over but really no one else came over.  So it was rare to have people in our house.  When I was in the 5th grade I started going through a Catechism class at the Lutheran Church we attended.  For whatever reason my mom agreed to let the class participants and their parents come to our house.  You would have thought someone famous was coming to our house, we cleaned like we had never cleaned before, we scrubbed walls, bleached anything possible and had our humble little single wide trailer looking as good as it could get. 

As a young kid growing up in Montana we didn’t see a lot of famous people coming through our state.  In fact the university we lived closest to wasn’t set up to handle large concerts.  The first concert I ever went to was Amy Grant and Kenny Loggins.  I never got to meet either one.  The only real band I ever wanted to see was Def Leppard and I never got to do that. Later in college I took my mom to see Reba McEntire, Brooks &Dunn and Clint Black (in case you don’t know who they are – it country music artists).  I asked my mom while we were at the concert what she would do if we could meet them and she said she would be shocked and not know what to do or say.  That always struck me as odd.

We tend to glamorize and make folks into celebrities.  Hollywood does a great job of thrusting folks into stardom, building them up and making them larger than life.  People idolize them and put them up on a pedestal.  I will admit I have been star struck a few times in my life.  However in thinking about it, when we strip all the glamour and Hollywood from a person, they are still a person, they still have struggles just like you and me and there is no guarantees for their life.  God may be using them in different ways than me, but it’s still a person and not God. 

I enjoy all types of people from all walks of life.  I love just talking to others and getting to know them.  Despite being famous or semi-famous I a still going to treat you the same.  I would welcome you into my home as if you were family, feed you, see if there were any other needs I could help with and enjoy the time talking with you.  My wife and I do a lot of entertaining and have people over all the time.  When I am sitting there talking with you, I don’t care if you’re the President of the United States or my neighbor.   You mean the same to me no matter what.

I really enjoyed meeting both Dave Ramsey and Jonathan Acuff.  I had a great time hanging out and listening to them and engaging in conversation with them.  When I found out they were both coming to Portland and I could meet them I took advantage of the opportunity.  I actually have a friend who lives in Nashville and goes to the same church as Jonathan and his family and is in a small group with him.  He didn’t tell me this until I old him I was going to get to meet him and how much I would really enjoy talking to him and he was right. 

Living in Portland we have a number of  folks considered to be famous.  One of those I would most enjoy meeting, sharing food and spending an evening talking to is Donald Miller.  I have yet to run into him, but hope some day I will. Given the size of Portland I shouldn’t be shocked at the amount of folks on Twitter and those who are blogging.  I have tweeted with  a few of them.  To my surprise I got to meet someone I follow and exchanging Tweets with, Matt was there with his family and it was a great honor for me to talk with him.

What about you, what would you do if you met someone famous?  Who would you most like meet?

Real Authentic Men- Leads with love and destroys parasites

As men, we should be leading our families in all areas.  This isn’t to say your wife doesn’t have any say, in fact she should be sought out and asked her input and feedback on all decisions, the difference being you as the leader make the final decisions.  Please don’t misunderstand this is not about power and control, it’s about doing the very best for your family.  Putting the needs of your wife and children first and ensuring their needs are taken care of prior to worrying about yourself.


As the husband I believe that you need to have an idea of what your life is about or your mission.  I also believe that you are living out your values and beliefs in everything you do and you children are picking up on this in more ways than you can imagine.  I wonder if your kids really know what your values are, do they fully understand why you do all that you do? In our home we have a mission statement posted up in our dining room.  We use this as a point of reference for our children so they understand why we live our life the way we do and what makes us run.  Here’s what ours looks like.


The mission of our family is…

to create a place of truth, love, happiness, and acceptance

to provide opportunities for each person to take chances in order to achieve worthwhile purposes.

to wisely use our time, talents, and resources to bless others…

We will…Put our relationship with Christ above all things in our home
We will…Look to God’s word for the answers tough questions
We will…Honor mom and dad
We will…Respect mom and dad’s time alone
We will…Love and protect each other, to the death if need be
We will…Obey the Lord and mom and dad
We will…Honor God with sound money decisions
We will…Put God and our family before any other activities
We will…Worship together as a family
We will…Be available; Be affectionate; Give affirmation; And accept one another

Deuteronomy 6:5-9
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk with them when you sit at home and when you walk along side the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates”


We came to this by sitting down as a family, discussing key values and my wife and I sharing our values as parents and what we are trying to impart into our children.  This ended up being a fantastic discussion and we were able to have our kids express what was important to them.  Based on the response from my family I was able to put our mission statement together.  In doing so this has given our family something to stand for.  This document is a living and breathing document and can change over the course of time.  My wife and I feel like it’s a solid statement about what our family stands for and are extremely proud of what we came up with together.


As the leader of my family I am called to many things.  Being responsible for my wife and children, their welfare, safety and many other needs.  Because I dearly love each one of them, I want to give them the best of myself and everything else that I can.  Each one is unique, different and because of this they each have needs that I need to be aware, so I can do my best to meet those needs.  I am not able to do this if I am not tuned in and making them a priority in my life.


I do this by engaging them in conversations. I am purposeful in my questions and discussions so that I know what is really going on inside their head and most importantly their heart.  As with all of my relationships I don’t ever want to know just surface type things I want to know what’s at someone’s heart.  When something comes up, I continue talking with them so this process is always going and I can help through what’s going on. Do I do this perfectly all the time, no I mess up and I have to go back and ask forgiveness from my wife and kids.  That’s also part of the process.


I have always been one to treat my kids as if they have important things to say and make sure their voice is important.  We have family meetings where we talk about different issues and everyone gets a say.  They have input in what is going on and I want feedback from them.  As a family we discuss everything and my wife and I do our part to educate our children so they can make informed decisions.  Often it’s been during these times I find out from their perspective if something is bothering them, offending them or hurting them.  Upon finding out these things I move into action.


If something is an obstacle, offensive or is blocking anyone in my family from moving forward then I am going to do my part to remove it.  Anything that will take away from our family and cause it to move us away from our target is something that needs to be destroyed.  This has taken on many forms over the years.  Things like unhealthy family members, poor boundaries, peers who can’t respect our family or children.  Believe me the list is lengthy and it will continue to grow.  At the heart of all of it, my family is my #1 priority and whatever it takes to keep them in that spot is what I will do.  I refer to my family as an empire.  I am the knight in battle protecting my empire and dynasty.  If you try to destroy a part of that I will take you out and not look back.  I do all that I do because I love my family and even though I don’t always speak or act in a loving way at home, my wife and kids know that I would lay down my life to protect them.


As a man, you have a lot resting on your shoulders, especially as a husband and father.  We wear many hats and in doing so, at the core of who we are; love for our family should be at the center of all of it.  This is a high calling, but one worth more than anyone really ever talks about.  A battle is never easy, but it’s a battle that is worth laying your life down.  When all is said and done, a husband and father who will do whatever it takes to take care of his family is someone worthy of great admiration and respect.  Step up and take your spot, time waits for no man.


As a husband and father – How well do you love your family?  Are you motives and actions done out of love for them?  Does your family have a mission?  Do you look at the larger picture when it comes to them? What are you doing to make sure that you are removing all obstacles that will take your family off course?