Where the air is thin…

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I’ve been pretty blessed in my life. Blessings can come in the form of things we would not associate with “good” feelings and they can come in the form of things we would. But, both are blessings. One way I have been blessed has been through people. People have been intentionally put in and along my path. Sometimes they have been smack in the middle of the road, so as to almost hit them in order to hear them, see them or feel their comforting touch. Others have been along the paths edge so I wouldn’t go off too far or slide into the ditch. Intentionally put- there are no coincidences.
     I’ve also had the privilege for many experiences where the lies and untruths placed on me or that I accepted as true, could be stripped away so that I may totally understand and see who I really am. That has been a life long journey that seems to pick up steam as I get older. Stripping something away is never a “good” feeling. Sometimes these lies and untruths have been with me for so long that they have almost melded into the very core of me. That kind of stripping away is more of a ripping apart. Think of trying to remove a tumor…difficult and painful. Yet, when that process is done, we are much better for it, much healthier, much more aware of the blessing within the pain.
     One of those experiences I was privileged to be apart of five years or so ago. And one of those people I have been blessed with in my life was standing there in the middle of the road. Brenda was a leadership partner for a program I was a part of. Her role in this program was to really be a vessel for the God to speak into my life. The two years I was in the program were two of the darkest times of my life. This dark time had nothing to do with the program, it was simply a season I was in. A desert season I would call it. A desert season is a time when you feel as though you are wandering around, no direction, no nourishment. It’s when you are unclear as to where to go and how to get there. God isn’t speaking and therefore feel as though you are in a desert. Those times can be blessings though painful.
     I was in one of those deserts. No direction, not sure how to get there, and very, very unsure of who I was. This is where the Enliven, Bring Freedom, Equip part of me came from…out of this desert. Brenda was there to not only provide direction, but was there to remove untruths that people had placed on me. Untruths and lies that I had accepted about who I really was…and was to become. I believe God is sovereign. That means that whatever His purpose and will is for this world will happen no matter whether I agree to be a part of it or not. So, I can’t say no matter what,  without Brenda’s voice, without her standing in the middle of the road, that I wouldn’t be who I am today. But, I’m fairly confident I wouldn’t be the person, man, husband, brother, leader I would be, without her.
     A few long days ago she succumbed to a disease that had been plaguing her the past 18 months. She passed on into eternity with her family at her side. The blog posts I’ve read from her husband, sons and daughters and comments I’ve read on Facebook, show me that she left and incredible legacy- an incredibly large imprint on this earth. I was part of that and there are thousands of others that were as well.
     Her husband talks about how in Celtic theology there are places in this world where the “air is thin.” It’s a place so sacred, it’s a little closer to Heaven than other places. In the last post, I mentioned about engaging with people….humanizing them, honoring them simply by your presence. When you were around Brenda, you were in the presence of someone who constantly was in one of those thin places-she was one of those thin places.  It’s something I have come to strive and desire to be. Engaging with people, being present, simply being you around them and giving freedom for them to be them around you. This is creating places where the air is a little thinner. She will be remembered as modeling this to me.
     One simple note of encouragement as way of honoring her-allow yourself the blessing of becoming who you really are. Painful as it may be, leave a legacy of allowing untruths to be removed, becoming who you really are and sharing that story with others. Leaving a legacy of vulnerability and honesty.
     In the words of one of Brenda’s close friends, she is “too well loved to be forgotten.” May we live in such a way that it be said of us all.

Present

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     Iris and I have been married for over 13 years now. No this isn’t an anniversary post (though that may have to come). In those 13 years we have had three awesomely unique and creative kids. We’ve lived in seven different cities, in two countries, on three different continents. The end of this week, we will move to a new city in a new country.
     Thirteen years of marriage….and this will be our 13th move. Transition and change have been an underlying current in our relationship before we even knew it. When we had nothing as newly weds, it was a little easier. With each child and as we have all gotten older, it’s become more difficult, harder and sadder. The excitement of moving to a new house, city or country is still there, but, it’s the realization of saying goodbye to people is hard, that’s become more difficult.
     Until recently, and by that I mean up until about two years ago, I would pretty easily emotionally cut people off and move on. No grieving, no mourning, just simply move onto the next “thing” without ever taking time to reflect on what has been. But these last three months especially have been different.  As we knew we were leaving a place we’ve lived for five years, in a country we’ve lived for ten, I was challenged several times by coaches and mentors of mine to really fully engage in the present and engage in the goodbyes.
     This is a hard thing for me. The present has never been something I’ve ever been comfortable with. To live in my dreams or even to live in the future (composed of my dreams) is where I usually like to live. But engaging in the present has been hard. It’s been hard to intentionally choose to engage with people as we say goodbye, potentially for the last time on this earth. It’s been hard to have those “last meals” and “last cups of coffee” with people that I love, have poured into and who have poured into me.
     But, and thankfully there is a “but,” it has been quite possibly the most rewarding time in my life. To leave knowing that I have made an impact into someone else’s life, that they actually valued me and my friendship, and that they are sad to see me go because there is so much more we can give each other has been so worth the pain and hurt.
     As a person who is fairly new to the way of life of engaging and living in the present, I have to say that this is the way we were meant to live. I love to plan ahead, strategize and have my goals and vision lined out for the next several decades. There is nothing wrong with that. My problem is that that was my focus, never focusing on what was in front of me-especially when life got hard. You can’t get much harder than saying goodbye or never having the chance to say goodbye. Engaging in the present is how we were meant to live. To be fully here, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, whatever you’re doing. It may not be the easiest thing, but it is worth it. No regrets when you engage fully, only rewards of being human and humanizing those around you. And, becoming a leader who honors people.

Castles and Pallets

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      I’m sure over the course of time, themes will pop up in my writing. I’m not sure of it, I know they will. Depending on what situation I’m going through, what book I’m reading, or perhaps a series of conversations I’ve been having with someone, there will be common threads and categories that will be present.
     One of those, at least from my last post to this one is the idea that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. Which leads me to creating. I love to create. I love to dream, research, obsess and then create. Ok, I don’t like the obsessing part, and I know Iris doesn’t either (she hears about whatever little project I have at the moment, a lot….A LOT). But I love to create.
     I’ve made furniture out of pallets, drawings in my journal, built sand castles, ramps for my kids to jump their toys, bikes or longboards off of and pieces of “art,” as well as many other things. But none of the things I have ever made look perfect.  I think that’s why I like creating these kinds and types of things…because it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to fit my personality and comfort level. And, I need the outlet and freedom to create. I need a pace where I can let that piece of me show. I need to do something simply for the sake of doing it and seeing what happens on the other side.
     It’s never gotten dangerous…well for the most part. Usually I end up with a cut finger or sometimes the ramp was a little too steep and the kids might get a skinned knee. Oh, speaking of which, One of the things I’ve tinkered with on and off for several years has been a rocket powered radio control car (that got a little dicey when we lit it off, lost control and it headed for the nieces and nephews at a family get together). But, even if it is a little dangerous, it’s the story that comes along with it. The fact that I can create something, that I have the ability to make something and the story of how I got from point A to point B, is one of the most fulfilling things for me.
     Allowing yourself to create, to do something simply for the sake of doing it, is allowing parts of yourself to shine, to see the world and to be as surprised as I was…and continue to be with each new venture! free, even if for a little while. I know this can sound silly and maybe even frightening as you allow yourself to be this vulnerable…even if you are the only one seeing it. But, in it’s silliest form, your enabling you to be more fully you than you were before. That is something pretty incredible…something sacred…something perhaps even holy. But it is something that is giving yourself worth and value and honor.
     Pick up a pen, a paint brush, drill, lump of clay, scissors, chisel, garden shovel or whatever your heart is yearning and try it! You might be as surprised as I was…and continue to be with each new venture!

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

Author G.K. Chesterton said, “A man must love a thing very much, if he not only practices it without hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.” Chesterton later used this belief to create his famous spin on a traditional proverb by saying “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”
     I think that’s a good way to start off my first
                                                                           ever
                                                                                   blog.
Not that I “love” blogging, but I do love writing. I have a journal (now several in a box and on book shelves) that I write in most days. Usually in the morning, but sometimes at night, and always after or during a conversation with someone I admire and respect. I don’t ever publish each entry. And I rarely, rarely share them with Iris as these are more my wrestlings of life, faith, vision and the make up of who I am and who I am becoming. But, my conversations with Iris, friends, my children and those I lead are flavored with those inner wrestlings.
     Though I love hiking, backpacking, cycling, mountain biking, coffee roasting and tasting and playing sports, I would much rather have a cold or hot beverage, sitting on a deck with 3-4 people talking about the deeper aspects of life. I’ve noticed that people who tend to go deep and vulnerable with one another being honest, also tend to laugh from a much deeper, fuller place.
     So, though I’m slightly on the extrovert scale, I’d rather not blog for the world to see, in fear that it won’t be “perfect” or even “agreeable.” But, I have also come to understand that if I love to see people come to a point of understanding and belief of their passions, if I love help people become free from who they are not, if I love to equip people for life’s journey…then I must write….because it’s worth doing badly for the sake of myself and for the sake of others! That being said, welcome to, well, me!