Thursday, May 30, 2013

Early Birds?


I have learned over the years that getting up sooner versus later in the morning is an awesome gift to myself. I have a difficult time sleeping beyond 6-6:30am. I struggle with those who stay in bed until noon or even later. I know that everyone isn’t a morning person. Yet, I have learned from being  a night owl that getting up early has its benefits.

I was shocked that I was able to rouse a group of teens a few days ago to say goodbye to our Jenessa. I texted at 4am and I got responses from a dozen youth. Incredible that some would actually be able to make their way out of bed! The challenge for most is how do I make a commitment to be in better physical and spiritual condition? Does this mean that I have to rise early in order to be a better person?

I got to my Starbucks early this morning to do some thinking and writing. I wasn’t surprised to see a group of young moms meeting for a Bible Study before their kids are up and making noise! I know that my friends at this Starbucks have to rise more like 3am to be to work at 4am. I do have memories from my youth of doing a paper route; this wasn’t on my bike, where I delivered 300 papers during the week and over 400 on Sunday. We did this for the 3 years we were in college together. This provided the means for us to live and finish school. It worked and taught us the blessing of being an early riser!

I can remember hiking up Mt. Whitney and having to be on the trail at 3am. This provided our small group the means to hike to the top in one day. It was a long day that would have been hiking back in the dark if we hadn’t risen really early! Jesus seemed to have a tendency to get up early to spend time alone and with his Father.

I’m doing something bold in the summer and asking a few in our group to get up early and exercise and think of a verse for the day. We will do this twice a week to see if after doing this for 6 weeks or so in a row that it will change everyone’s lives. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chlling


I know one of the most difficult things for type A workaholic types is to just chill. Yes, just sit, relax and do almost nothing! I know that I get guilt pangs at times if I’m not being productive and have something to show for my time. The last week or so has been a transition from a busy spring with a large painting blitz and graduations that finished well before our summer program starts. I just got into a text duel with someone about sleeping in when you could go hiking with us in the morning.

I know that my mom was always a proponent of not putting off something that you could actual do in the present tense. My challenge is that I’m learning to work in reverse. Instead I now am thinking what has to be done today and what can I do tomorrow that will allow me to focus on quality and not quantity? I know that speed and accuracy don’t always go together. It is so easy to be in a rush to get something done only to have to pick up the pieces. I’m also figuring out it is better to do like things together instead of being a scatterbrain.

I laughed because over the weekend we actually did some chilling at a nice resort. We were able to do an incredible hike up a rather step incline on two of the mornings. I know that the first time you do a hike you are somewhat walking in the dark not knowing what to expect and how long it will actually take. The second day it becomes so much easier and more fun because your focus isn’t on finishing but enjoying the incredible panoramic sites.

I actually laid in my bed and listened to one of favorite bands from the 60’s while I digested a rather interesting book written by an Indian, not Native American, about how Christian Culture had impacted India and other places in a very positive way that produced excellent education and business growth. What was funny for me was that this author used examples of 60-70’s music to get his point across.

Yes, there is a balance between chilling too much and working too much. I know that most think that God created long weekends to avoid during real work. I read a book by one of my professors in grad school that talked about the relationship between work, play and worship. His point, which I totally understood, was that too often we worship playing, play at worship and work is left somewhere in-between. The reality is that we need a holistic balance in our lives that sees our spiritual lives being enriched, our recreational lives being nurtured and then our careers or jobs taking the proper place in our lives. (This doesn’t mean that work is what we live for!)

One of the learning curves of living in under resourced neighborhoods is that too many of our teens and young adults have never worked hard, exercised to such an extent that they were exhausted and then learned how to have fun and enjoyment without electronic ‘stuff’. I hear the phrase too often, ‘I’m BORED’. This always ticks me off because usually we are doing something which I perceive as being fun, entertaining and out of this world. Yet, for someone that is hyperactive it is very difficult to sit still long enough to read more than a page of two from a great book.

I’m laughing because my Anne is listening to 100 different versions of the Lord’s Prayer to find just the right one for her chapel service in a few days. She’s hadn’t figured out iTunes until now and is now able to preview songs without buying. It takes time to figure out something new and then all of a sudden you are the expert who can train someone else how to search the web for some different type of music.

I know that writing for me becomes a form of chilling where I can express my heart, thoughts and better understand myself, the world around me, my neighborhood and my God. 

When It Rains It Pours


I know that old clich├ęs sometimes sound rather ‘corny’ but do aptly describe real life. I know that the unexpected happens when we don’t make plans and don’t have the resources. We had a glorious weekend with getting away at a local resort that had holiday specials. We were able to host a grad party for our High School graduates. We had some special friends come over to swim and go out to dinner. It was a very awesome time to share a little of our resources to show our love and friendship.

The following morning I get a text from a good friend saying that his cousin and family were just killed in a car accident where a truck crossed over the divide in the road and tragedy happens again. I know this friend has had more then his fair share of problems which all of us can understand. Yet, I know his mom is hurting because of her brother’s huge loss. I just got a text from a teen that asks for some help with food. During the next text she shares that she is pregnant.

It is amazing how difficult circumstances force us to communicate and hopefully work better together. I had another teen, who is also pregnant; ask for some help in paying for her visit to the doctor. I know that it is difficult to trust someone enough to ask for help and advice. Yet, this is happening because we have been around our neighborhood for a long time and have built trust.

I have a couple of guys that have gotten in some trouble and will end up in juvenile court soon. I will be there with them and have told them both it is time to listen, be respectful and learn. The time to grow up is today no more joking or messing around. The reality is that what we do today does count forever! It is eye opening to all of a sudden receive a summons in the mail and realize that mommy or daddy can’t rescue you or pay off something.

I know that one of the key ingredients in making a difference in a neighborhood is being able to adapt to change. This is difficult when you have been raised around an unhealthy community where few understand the importance of following through, building healthy relationships and getting that hard work does pay out and helps you when life goes south. The challenge for many is it is easy to believe that taking short cuts is the preferred way of life and that as long as I don’t get caught bending the rules doesn’t matter. (Aren’t rules made to be broken?)

The reality is that bad things happen at times to good people and sometimes good things happen to bad people. My hope is to teach that living a grace centered life will ultimately impact the way people view each other and treat each other. If I live in a totally conditionally context where I only help those who have helped me or I choose to be indifferent to those around me that are indifferent to me than nothing will change for the better. It takes one person to step up and show that yes at times life will have a thunder storm where it seems that everything collapses but I can learn how to work through the bad times as I better understand that each day is new with an opportunity to make life better.

Yes, it has been raining a lot lately but the good news is that being a community helps each other face both the good times and bad times with the right perspective!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Change?


I know that one of the most important lessons in life is to adapt to change. Regardless of whether it is perceived as something good or even horrible change is a part of life. I know that as a kid growing up I didn’t really understand that most people didn’t move every couple of years. I was an Air Force Brat that moved and always had new houses. My guess is that I lived in over 20 different houses during my 17 years with my parents.

I was blessed to have a mom who didn’t give me any choice but to adapt to new places and was too quick to knock on the neighbor’s door and introduce her sons. I never lacked friends or a sense of belonging even though my parents never owned their own house until I was a 10th grader. As an adult I haven’t changed the pattern of living from my military parents. Anne and I have lived in over 20 houses in our 40 years of marriage. This isn’t necessarily something to brag about when it comes to stability and a sense of home for your kids who at some point grow up and become adults.

The challenge with change is to learn how to use it for your own advantage, new day, new life and new opportunities. I know this sounds rather trite but it does add an adventurous side to life. I know that I will have many friends in life that will be there for a short time because of our culture’s transitory tendency. I also know that life brings changes that aren’t necessarily our choice but happens. I have some best friends that now seem almost like acquaintances. I also have the experience almost on a weekly basis of hooking up with new friends that seem to fill in where other friends had been. (This is still a sad experience.)

I know this last week as we were pulling into my Starbucks, yes I call it mine because I go there everyday, yet I know that the Baristas will change and even the manager, who is a good friend could also be gone. Yet, I’m learning to continue to let my mom’s voice of the past be my guide, ‘Go make new friends and be quick to talk to someone you don’t know!’ As I’m getting out of our truck with the dogs and Anne I see a sign on the Super Cut’s door, we are closing this location please drive to this other location. (The sad fact was that this other location was a 30-minute drive.) I was just told that my stylist for the last 5 years was gone. I was going to have to find another place to get my gray locks trimmed.

I was bent out of shape over the closing of Super Cuts because I don’t like having someone different do my hair with the chance they might mess it up. I admit that as a kid then teen growing up I dreaded getting my hair cut because I didn’t like the crew cut thing and wanted my hair to not look like it had not been cut. So after our staycation I will have to find another place to do my hair, make a new friend and hopefully my hair will be the better for this change. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Yes, Dave Cries on Occasion!


I just received a text from one of my moms who loves to cook and provide food for any event that we are doing. She also has a teenage daughter who is growing up too fast for her. This good friend texted back, after my thank you for her amazing nachos, that our babies are growing up too fast. I had to confess that as I was writing an update about our group of High School graduates that I started to cry. It was the happy cry where you are overwhelmed that something has happened which you thought would never come to be.

We have been involved with our neighborhood over the last 6 years. We have watched little kids become 8th graders, Jr. Highers become High School students and now High Schooler become college students. I love to take photos, especially with my IPhone, so it was easy to look at some pictures of my kids when they really were little kids and now realize that they have grown up, graduated, gotten jobs and now will be Freshmen in College.

After surviving six graduations over the last week I can remember the common theme in all of the ceremonies was to thank those who helped get you through this phase in life, thanks mom and dad, which is very important but also to realize that life is just beginning. (My 60’s backdrop brought to mind a song, ‘We’ve Only Just  Begun’.) Yes our babies can do so much more than crawl, walk and now drive. I echo most parent’s sentiment that it’s too soon and I’m not ready for this!

I have cried often during my mom’s long battle with cancer with the normal expressions of why God, this isn’t fair and why my mom. This type of emotion is still something that can overwhelm me on occasions when I think about my mom and how special she was to all of us. Just in a similar fashion my emotions about my kids and teens is rather similar. I know that one of the greatest gifts God has given us is the ability to remember our histories. So as I wrote out a grad card to all of our graduates it struck that I’m blessed to be like a parent to these kids and teens.

I know that I have a tendency to hold back my feelings. It is too difficult to express myself when I’m afraid others won’t understand or will make fun of me. Yet, I know that one of the most important aspects of life is to be able to share our stories. I totally get why most people don’t want to be vulnerable and let their guard down only to get shredded or have someone laugh at them. Yet, the more I allow my emotions to have a part in my life the more I can sense a peace and contentment that God is doing something rather amazing.

I know that one of the unwritten codes of youth, especially for boys, was never to cry and if you did make sure few saw you in tears. I know that it is unmasculine to show feelings or actually to cry. It is so important in today’s world to maintain composure regardless of where you are from. I can remember a movie with Tom Hanks who played a softball coach. He let out on many occasions that Baseball player don’t cry. So poor little Tommy was made fun of if something happened to him without mom, dad or brother or sister to protect him.

I know that most of my guys won’t express themselves unless they get into some type of big trouble. Then it is okay to show emotions because they might actually help someone deal better with the mess before them that is called life. So I know that I cried when our little parrot, Joey, died. The strange about this was that both Anne and I didn’t like Joey at all because he was a mean little bird. Yet, when our two little dogs were hit by cars, on the same night, this was truly one of the saddest moments in our family history.

I know that there is a time to laugh, make jokes and be totally wild and even lazy. Much as I also know that there is a time to be serious, focus and step up and do something amazing that is outside the box.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Grandpas and High Tech Gadgets


I will be quick to admit that I’m a high tech junkie that loves the latest and greatest iPad, iPhone or MacBook pro that has come out. I also know that not everyone is as tech savvy as the younger generation growing up that has helped birth social media and it’s addictive powers on most but not typically the older generation. I know that most baby boomers probably live or die by their iPhones or androids. Yet, I know that for some 80 somethings plus it can be very frustrating when your e-mail doesn’t work or you can’t figure out why the Internet isn’t working.

I have spent the last week with my in-laws who are truly amazing people. My father in-law is a quasi high tech guy who has been a computer person since the pc clones came out in the middle 80’s just as he was retiring. I know that my bias for Apple products is something, which he doesn’t get. The sad thing for him is that he has 3 different types of high tech surrounding him that all work very differently and it is rather confusing to get your iPad to have multiple e-mail addresses, get e-mail from your droid and then figure out why the internet isn’t working on your dinasourish PC that is more than 6 years old. So I can understand why he doesn’t want to do anything like Facebook or LinkedIn regardless of what I or others say.

I know that anyone in their 80’s probably isn’t going to get it with smart phones, tablets and laptops. I can’t fathom someone taking the time and making it work for non-high tech seniors. My father in-law just jumped out of a plane a few days ago for his birthday present. He got this awesome video from the company that did the jump. The challenge is that he wants to copy it and share it with the rest of his family. I seriously doubt I will be able to walk him through what needs to be done for this to work. I had also done a different video of him landing on my iPhone. It turned out awesome but I explained that I couldn’t add it to his other video and he wasn’t sure why that wasn’t possible.

I know it is easy for those that are high tech to treat those that aren’t as high tech in a rather demeaning fashion. I have to apologize because at times I get furious with my wife who has been a computer person for over 30 years but at times can’t figure out the most basic things. She has an iPhone, iPad and MacBook, yet continues to confuse hardware with software. I know that I’m not always the most patient especially with family members.

I truly attempted to get my father in-law’s driod to get his latest e-mail and for some odd reason it wasn’t receiving it. He had added another e-mail address and it seemed like it was only turned on for his Gmail account but he wasn’t using it. I had walked him through updating his iPad for more than one e-mail account and it worked just fine. I’m afraid the solution for my father in-law is to get him an iPhone that works just like his iPad and avoid the confusion. Next, I will have to get him a MacBook pro and get rid of his ancient PC desktop that takes forever to come on and function.

I know it will be very humbling for me when my grandkids attempt to console me when I can’t figure out the latest apple products in another 20 years. So I do want to repent from being arrogant at times with those closest to me who don’t get high tech ‘stuff’.