clickI was thinking the other day of some of the stupid not so smart things I did in my youth. Sometimes I have fond memories of my youthful antics and the crazy times I had with my family and friends. There are some memories however that I would like to forget. That’s normal. In life there are times we wish we could have a do over, or a reset button.  Ah that glorious reset button on my original Nintendo. You know when you got mad at the game because you messed up so you just hit that button.  It unfortunately doesn’t work that way in real life. We all make mistakes in life, (Spoiler Alert!) and unfortunately it isn’t something that we outgrow.  Hopefully as we age and our brains develop we befriend wisdom and make better choices. As adults we can all look back and say “what were we thinking?!” Truth is the adolescent brain isn’t fully developed.  One of the last areas to fully mature is the part that has to do with reason.  So when asking a teen “what were you thinking?!” they truthfully may answer “I don’t know”. This isn’t to absolve teens from responsibility. It just might explain some of our more painful choices in our own past. 

I am truly thankful I wasn’t a teen in the social media age.  Most of my mistakes, failures, poor choices etc were only known by a few close people in my life.  Literally the people who were in physical proximity to us. Today our culture lives every single moment online. I mean you can actually see a picture of what dessert your friend is having at a swanky restaurant half way around the world. Sometimes it can be way TMI (too much information). Do we need to know every thought, action, meal, and on and on from all of our acquaintances friends?  I have actually seen pictures of peoples BM’s on social media.  That’s “bowel movement”, poop.  I’m not making that up. #IDon’tWantToSeeYourFeces 

So here is where this all gets complicated for those of us living our lives online.  Once it is posted online it is always out there.  This has huge ramifications for all of us.   That is why it is wise to think before you post. Being in close proximity to youth culture I have the pleasure of being connected with many teens on social media.  Sometime it is great fun, other times I am shaking my head.  Honestly not much shocks me anymore on social media.  I have developed sort of a numbness to the insanity that is social media. This is why I am thankful I didn’t grow up in the social media age.  When I had a “moment” it was just those in proximity to me that knew. Today when a teen has a moment it is plastered all over the entire world.  Yes, the whole world has access to the hot mess that was posted by ourselves, or by a loving, or not so loving friend. I am truly thankful that I didn’t live moment to moment on social media.  I mean lets be honest.  I can’t believe some of the emotions, thoughts, and actions that I had in my teenage years. I cringe to even go there. I am thankful that there isn’t a digital archive floating around for anyone to access at anytime. 

I encourage teens to really think about what they post on social media.  Sometimes being an open book isn’t the wisest choice.  I know of people who have lost out on jobs because of what they had posted on social media.  News Flash: Employers will check your social media accounts. I wouldn’t even be surprised if colleges aren’t doing the same. I mean can you hold it against them.  You can learn a whole lot about someone from what they are willing to broadcast out to the entire world.  Life is difficult enough without having to deal with a online persona that has been created over years. Even as adults we should think twice before we shoot off that angry tweet, or that questionable picture, or bitter Facebook post.  There is nothing wrong with being real but does it really need to be plastered all over cyberspace from now till whenever?

I’m sure some will disagree or feel that I am overreacting.  However I have seen enough in the last 8 years on social media to know that there will be some regrets.  I don’t think this completely trumps all of the good that can come from social media.  I love the TimeHop app.  It is so cool to see the good memories from years gone by in my feed. However my TimeHop experience would be totally different if it were full of negative, complaining, bitter, and questionable content. Once again think twice before you post it online.  Make a choice to contribute to the collective good of social media.  Decide to be real, vent, and so on with those close to you.  I know, an actual face to face conversation, it’s so retro.  The good news? Retro is in!  

Life has taken me through some crazy places.  Even the poor choices we make collectively make us who we are today.  I am just glad I didn’t have social media in the height of the “what was I thinking” portion of my life.  If you are an adult what do you think? Can you imagine some of the things you would have posted on social media when you were a teen that you would now regret?  If you are a teen do you think you are up to the challenge to think twice?  Have you noticed the trend in our culture to expose too much online?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

NYLC 2015

March 31, 2015 — Leave a comment

NYLC15

This week I had the pleasure of attending Jeanne Mayo’s National Youth Leader’s Coach conference. (NYLC)  I connected with Jeanne over 7 years ago through The Cadre, which is a mentoring program for youth pastors.  To say it has had a impact on my personal life and ministry would be an understatement. If you are in youth ministry you really need to check it out. It has been an honor to stay connected over the years with the other men and women who are also in the trenches of youth ministry.

NYLC has traditionally been held every 3 years.  This is the second one I was able to attend. This year it was in Dallas, Texas.  The warm southern Spring weather was a delight to visit. I was able to bring one of our adult leaders from RSM and two students who are upperclassmen in high school.  Our local school system was on Spring break this week and it hindered many of our other leaders from being able to attend. I am thankful for the opportunity to connect with with our group, we had more than a few laughs.  It is also a huge win to invest into the lives of those who are continually giving themselves away. 

There are so many takeaways from this years conference.  I could probably write a few more posts on each of the sessions and break outs. This year the main session speakers were Jeanne Mayo, Mark Batterson, Christine Caine, Heath Adamson, and Craig Groeschel. Each of them had so much to bring to the table.  I was most impressed with their hearts for Jesus.  It is great in such a self centered culture to hear those who are all in with their pursuit of God. While each had very different speaking styles and topics in the end they all pointed towards Christ.  I am thankful to each of them for their investment and that they take the time to speak to a room full of youth leaders. 

The theme this year was “Anthem”.  We were reminded of the multiplying impact of our faithfulness and obedience.  One of my favorite quotes was “Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” It really brought into focus the eternal implications of what we are doing here with our time on earth.  What made this particular quote even more powerful was who said it.  Jeanne brought her very own volunteer youth leaders from the 1960’s, Dick & Barbara Williams (pictured below).  They were now in their late 70’s. They both shared memories of Jeanne as a teen. They also recounted their story as volunteer youth leaders at a small local church in Indianapolis. They shared how blessed they were to see the fruit of the small seed they planted so many years ago.  Getting to attend a conference with thousands of youth leaders and recognizing that their willingness to serve played a part. It was an incredibly powerful image and they were about the sweetest couple you have ever seen.  

As I head home on the plane my heart and head are full. So many practical ideas and steps to take, and with so much inspiration for what is next. I am thankful that after all these years I am still in the game. There have been many times where the exit ramp was strongly calling my name.  It is amazing how being reminded of what we already know can make such a big impact. I tell our leaders that will never fully know the impact we will have on this side of eternity. It is stunning how one moment, act, or conversation can have such a profound impact. I am thankful to be reminded of that this week. 

If you are ever looking for a great student ministry conference I would highly recommend it.  I have friends who are no longer in youth ministry and they still attend because it is just that good. I am thankful to the many who contributed to create an event to invest in the lives of youth leaders. It goes to show that people still love Jesus, and love teenagers. My heart is full seeing leaders from all over the country gather to invest in themselves and become better at what they do.  I am also continually thankful for the friendship and impact Jeanne has had on my life. One day it will truly be amazing to see just how many apples came from that one small seed. 

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Treasure

 

It’s always something during the bedtime routine; if you have kids you know this is true. Last night our eldest daughter Braelyn who is 6 was adamant that we had to set a leprechaun trap before she could go to bed. She was proceeding to tell my wife Kristi that leprechauns are real like elves, and therefore we needed a trap to catch one. 6 year old logic, just go with it. To hurry lovingly encourage the bedtime process I told her I would help build a trap so she and her sister would go to bed. She quickly snatched her younger sister Lillie’s change purse off her nightstand. After some short protests from the younger child Braelyn assured her it was needed for bate. Lillie not to be unreasonable realized that this was indeed a worthy cause and was willing to sacrifice the change purse in exchange for catching said mythical creature. I found a small pink fabric tote, relocated the contents within and set it upside down with the bate underneath. We were looking for a stick to hold the box up until it was triggered by the small green gold hoarding man(not creepy at all). Braelyn suggested a fairy wand but was unable to locate it, then Lillie who is 4 by the way offered up a head band. As she explained it looked like a rainbow and the leprechaun would be sure to be fooled by the loot under the rainbow, which was under the not so suspicious pink box.

The trap was set and the girls were off to bed. Rejoice. Soon after they were in bed I though that I would have to come up with something to put under that box for the morning. I’m for holidays as much as the next guy, but this whole magical surprise for Saint Patrick’s Day is a new one for me. But this is coming from the guy who was exhausted after moving elf on the shelf twice. I delayed the inevitable and set out in our small town to find something like a stuffed leprechaun toy to trigger the trap. By the time I psyched my self up to go, and after my wife told me that laying on the couch wasn’t going to get it done I left after 10PM. At this point my open store options were Wal-Mart, our local grocery store, and the gas station. I visited all in that order.

My suspicions were confirmed that Saint Patrick’s Day is not a child-celebrated holiday with all the trappings like, Easter, Christmas, or Halloween. In fact besides a few green colored cookies at the door there was not a single thing at the store that would work. And yes, I looked for the gold chocolate coins that are usually in the Easter candy. I was only able to locate blue and green coins, and that clearly would not work for leprechaun loot to say the least. I mean come on; I wasn’t that desperate yet. I left the first store defeated and then on to the grocery.

The grocery had even less than the first store. I must have looked great on the security camera’s scouring the grocery store at night. After a thorough store search I finally settled upon a bag of Rolos. They are wrapped in gold, and they are chocolate, win-win. At that moment I decided I would look like a crazy person if I came to the store late at night to only procure a bag of cylinder shaped chocolates filled with caramel goodness. We always need cereal so I grabbed a box of Raisin Bran, yup living large. When I got to the cashier to check out she quickly blew my cover. “So how does this work? You put the Rolos in the Raisin Bran?” She was on to me. After I sarcastically told her yes that how we do in the Henry house I quickly recanted and told her the whole story. She laughed and thought it was awesome. She then asked why I didn’t get the gold chocolate coins from Easter. Ah ha! I already thought of that and proceeded to tell her that blue and green coins would not make a pot of “gold”. I told her, yes we are those crazy parents. She said it was cute and that I would miss doing small crazy things like this when they get older. This grocery has a local bank branch counter by the door. Conveniently it was decorated for this green festive holiday. I’m not going to lie, I thought about “borrowing” a few to stage this awesome display of leprechaun lunacy. I resisted and made my way home.

But before I got home I was feeling low that my hunt resulted in such a lame find, so I stopped at the gas station. It must have been getting late for this to seem like a viable option. Once again the gas station had even less to choose from, a dismal selection of Easter candy, and a few Valentine confections that were clearly not showed love last month. Sorry Cupid. Once again security probably looks great with me walking around the store looking at every shelf as if there will be leprechaun paraphernalia neatly tucked away in between the chips and beef jerky, maybe by the roller dogs or tobacco products! I hesitated and thought I better buy something to make it look like I didn’t come in to commit thievery. Luckily a few other people came in (probably also looking for little green men) so I was able to make a beeline for the door.

I returned home and searched for something to use as a pot. I thought perhaps I could be crafty and whip one up, who am I kidding, I’m no Clayton Eley Martha Stewart. I found a small bowl shaped toy and loaded it with Rolos. I even resisted the urge to eat one, only because I ate a egg shaped peppermint patty (my fav!) before I left to fuel my journey. I found a leftover green clover shaped piece of paper from a craft and wrote a note from the leprechaun. “Dear Braelyn & Lillie, good try but I am too tricky to get caught. Enjoy me pot of Gold” – Mr. Leprechaun I placed them under the box and removed the highly advanced rainbow shaped trigger mechanism. I then crawled into bed, success.

The next morning at 5 AM I heard my wife telling Braelyn that it was 5 AM and that she needed to get back in bed. Braelyn told her she heard noises coming from the box and needed to check the trap. She reluctantly went back to bed but not for long. She soon woke up her younger sister. I mean this was like Christmas morning after all, but in March!  They discovered the loot and note and proceeded to come yell in my face about it all as I was still trying to sleep. All morning they were a buzz about it. I mean you would think the really truly believed it all.

Today I couldn’t help but think how ridiculous it all was. I mean after all my 6 year old wanted to trap a leprechaun in her room and in reality ended up sending me on a late night leprechaun hunt. I thought about what the cashier said and the many other people that have told me how fast children grow up. Honestly my wife is usually the one who plays along with the little fantasies like this. Truthfully I blame her and the whole stupid Elf on a Shelf for the entire ordeal. In the end I didn’t find a leprechaun, just some diabetes educing treasure to tuck away. The real treasure was something so much greater. Something seemingly so small was such a big deal for my daughters. I doubt they will remember it years from now, but that’s not the point. The real treasure in life is the small things.

I so easily get so busy in the day to day that if I’m not careful I miss out all the small joys that come from parenting. It is easy to feel like I’m a failure if I don’t provide some over the top family experiences, vacations, or monumental moments. The reality is the small stuff is huge to them. Just taking a few moments out of my long and busy day to do something so silly created a moment that was better than most anything I could have planned for. At the end of the day the small things really are the greatest treasure. I know one day they will be grown and If I were to recount this story they would probably think I was crazy. But for now I’ll be looking for small moments where I can win their heart for that truly is the greatest treasure of all.

A common occurrence around our home is asking each other “what are you hungry for” or “what are you in the mood for”? We are blessed to live in a bountiful country.  More variety of foods are easily obtainable now than in any time in history.  Even exotic foods shipped from the far corners of the world can be picked up at a reasonable price at our local grocery store.  With so many choices it is easy to ask “what are you hungry for?” If you are like us sometimes it is an easy answer, and other times we go back and forth as we really don’t have a specific craving and therefore don’t really know what we want to eat. In some strange twist of creation (that I will one day no doubt take up face to face with our creator) for some reason unhealthy food options tend to be the most pleasing to our human pallets. Though the family dog isn’t far behind on our rationale. Developing an appetite for healthy and nutritional foods isn’t always the easiest of things to do.   I especially know this to be true as my wife has a masters degree in nutrition.  Most people have the perception that it would be incredibly easy for us to eat healthy.   My favorite reply is to simply state “would you like to guess how many flavors of ice cream the dietitian has in the freezer?”  The most intriguing part of it all is that we know that eating healthy is good for us.  All at the same time knowing the poor food choices have an adverse affect on our health and quality of life. No one with sound thinking would argue that reality.

So where are we headed with all of this. You are thinking, “if I wanted a health talk I would listen to your wife’s radio talk”. It is amazing to see how so many natural principles can be transferred to spiritual lessons.  See we know that what we have an appetite for will ultimately affect what sort of spiritual life we will have.  If we never feed our spirit man and instead only gorge our flesh then it is easy to see that we will have a weak and puny spirit man, inept to deal with even the most simple of problems in life. As Christ followers we know that spending time with God in payer, bible reading,  worship, serving, and in Christian fellowship are key ingredients to a relationship with God that will thrive.  When we feed our spirit man we are able to face life issues, and we all know that life can throw more than a few sucker punches.

Why then is it so hard to develop an appetite for spiritual disciplines.  Not an attitude that I “have to”, but I “want to”.  Just like the unhealthy food options it becomes so easy to develop and appetite for those things that consume our lives in such a way that we have no time for God.  I think Jesus said it best in Matthew 5:6  “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

When we begin to physical eat healthy we are enabling our body to function better.  We provide it with the basic nutrition we need to live, fight off disease and infection, and live longer fuller lives. In addition to a wealth of other health benefits. In the very same way when we develop an appetite for godly things it equips our spirit man to thrive.  We are able to grow deeper in our faith.  We are less shaken by the calamity that befalls us. We become “healthier” Christ followers. It is time to evaluate your spiritual diet. Are you starving your spiritual man by filling your days with other passions and desires. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the occasional dessert and sweet as much if not more than the next guy. Don’t even get me started on dark chocolate. Manna from heaven…. Okay focus Brian. In the same manner it is okay to have other passions. We can have other interests and spend our time on things we enjoy.  However when these things take the place of a regular healthy spiritual appetite then it becomes a problem.  Grandma probably knew best when she wouldn’t let you eat the cookies before dinner, why?  “You’ll ruin your appetite!” When we get our fill of everything the world has to offer us we have little room or desire to consume healthy spiritual options. So what are you hungry for?

Every year we have an amazing opportunity to take our students to an event called CDYC.  This year the theme was Inscribed, and it comes from Isaiah 49:16 that says, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” As in years past our group had an amazing time and really connected with each other and God.  There is just something about disconnecting from the daily grind and pressures of life and making some time to really take inventory of where we are in life.  I am so pleased that we can offer such a quality opportunity for the students at RSM. As usual it is best to hear directly from the students on what exactly CDYC means to them and how it has impacted their lives.  My only regret is that you can only hear from a few of our students.  There are so many amazing stories to share.

Sacred Cows

April 18, 2012 — 1 Comment

In several eastern religions the cow is revered and honored. Not quite in the same we Americans revere steak, hamburger, and every other food adorned with beef. No these cows are given a place of honor, they are distinguished and carry incredible significance.  To our western eyes it would seem silly and at times ridiculous to hold a “pre big mac” in such regards.  I mean after all it is just a cow, right? We slice ‘em and dice ‘em, and cook them every which way. Though the practice may seem odd to us, in some cultures these exalted cattle hold a very high place in society and people will go out of their way to bring honor to said steer.

The Hindu religion holds the highest reverence for these sacred cows.  In some states in India it is illegal to kill a cow, and punishable by life in prison. Several yeas ago, five men were beaten to death in a north Indian state by an angry mob on suspicion of killing a cow for its skin.  Even Gandhi the highly regarded religious leader from India known for his non-violent protests that led to the liberation of India had incredibly high views of the cow.  He is quoted to have said “I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world. “ and he believed in may ways the “mother cow” was better than our mothers that gave us birth.

So maybe about now you are thinking, thanks for the world religion and history lesson on cattle.  What exactly does any of this have to do with me?  So glad you asked. You see a literal sacred cow is an actual cow that is treated with sincere reverence. A figurative sacred cow is something else that is considered immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so. Okay have you figured out where we are headed?

The plain fact of the matter is we all have sacred cows in our lives. Go ahead and read that last statement again. Be it unintentional or even intentional we all have things in our lives that we bring sincere reverence to just like Hindu’s do to the cow. Before you check out and decide that you don’t in fact have anything in your life that you hold so sacred you may want to take a closer look.  You see the key issue with a figurative sacred cow is that it is above questioning, or criticism.  Anytime anyone trounces anywhere near our glorified herd we tend to either vehemently defend it, or are so blinded by our devotion that we don’t even realize it.

These sacred cows can take many forms. Most of the time they become a road block or a hindrance to our walk with God, our relationships, and our families.  They most certainly affect our ability and willingness to serve others, and to fully live a Godly and simple lifestyle that our creator desires for us. It is all too easy to start looking at other people and pointing out the sacred cows in their life.  It is challenging at best to become introspective and really discover what is holding us back. Even as a few things are starting to come to mind you quickly have 100 reasons why you “need” this object, relationship, event, hobby, ritual, ideal, media, lifestyle, career, and the list goes on.  Just as Gandhi was ready to defend the worship of cows to the world, we are ready to defend our blind devotion and worship to the sacred cows in our lives.

It is time to ask our selves why? I mean really why do we “need” these things? It begins with prayer and talking to God. Ask him to point those things out in your life. Another step is to seek out wise council from those whom you trust and will tell you the truth in love. Friends it is time to bust out the grill and have a BBQ. We are serving up sacred cow burgers and steak. Are you willing to really take a look at how you live your life and decide what things you really need to let go of? What is it that is holding you back from really following after God with all that you have got? What is it that keeps you from following after Him with reckless abandon? For too long we have gone to extreme measures to bring honor to the sacred cows in our lives. It is time as Christ followers that we give God our undivided devotion and worship. We bring worship and honor to God with our lifestyle, the way we live. It is about serving others as Christ did while on this earth. Do you hear that sizzle?  That is the sound of the sacred cow taking it’s rightful place. Don’t hold back or be afraid to bring those things before God to the alter, or in this case the BBQ. For with this cookout comes a new level of freedom and a deeper walk with our Savior.  After all it is He who has given us direction on how to BBQ that sacred cow when He said,  “well done my good and faithful servant.” (Sorry I couldn’t resist.)

 

Learning When to Say No

February 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

For some of us learning to say no is a difficult thing. I know not everyone has this issue, but for me it is a reality.  The issue becomes even worse when you have to say no to a great opportunity.  The truth is that every time we say yes to something, we are in return saying no to something else. We only have so many hours in the day, and so many days in the week.  As I see it the real danger comes as we keep saying yes to more and more.  When we do this we typically end up saying no to things that should really be a priority in our life.  We only have this one life to live.  We can’t go back and redeem the time.  This is why it is so important to learn to say no, but even more important than that is setting priorities.  When we are asked what our priorities are in our life, or even what we want to be known for we can give a list of what we deem to be important.  Our relationship with our spouses, our children, and family members usually top the list.  Also our relationship with God (if you are into that kind of thing) also makes the list.  We say we want to give back and contribute to society and help those in need. Yet in the mix of all that we say yes to why does it seem that the very things we set as a priority are the very first things that get cut from our schedule.

Now I’m not making a case for being lazy.  We shouldn’t say no to everything. In fact sometimes we need to say yes and get off our butt and go do something. This is more about taking the time to understand what our priorities are in life and then saying yes to making time for them. There are moments and situations when we do say yes to something but understand that something else will need to be said no to. What we must not say no to are our families and relationships.  We can’t say no to our relationship with God either (once again if you are into that sort of thing). We can’t say no to serving and giving back. Living a disciplined life means saying no to really great opportunities.  There is no way we can do it all, though at times we try. We end up burned out and have no time for the things that are really important in life.  This is something I must constantly remind myself about. At the end of my time here on earth I want to look back and know that I did the best I could with my time.  It is easy to identify the things we waste our time on, but it takes diligence to identify the good things we sometimes need to let go of. This is not so we can have more leisure time for TV, internet, vacations, sports and all the other things we fill our days with. Not that those are bad things. Rather it is about having the time to give to those things we say are a priority in our lives.

 

3 Weeks in Haiti

November 15, 2011 — Leave a comment

I had the privilege a few years back to meet Michael Andrew.  I met Michael for the first time at a photography workshop that he was teaching.  I originally came to know about him from his training videos and blog.  At the time I was very much interested in photography and as is typical for me I was all in.  I love to learn and to know as much as I can about the things I enjoy to do.  I am by no means a professional photographer or even a semi pro.  I enjoy taking pictures.  I have received many complements over the years on some of my pictures.  That is in part due to what I have learned from Michael. He is a good teacher.  Beyond some casual interactions we don’t have a deep relationship.  In January of 2010 the nation of Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake.  Michael had announced on his blog that he intended to go to Haiti to help with the aftermath.  He asked for any possible leads or connections to Haiti.  I had a friend Casey from college  that grew up in Haiti.  His parents were missionaries there.  His father and sisters still run a medical clinic there.  I contacted Casey and gave Michael his contact information.  They were able to connect and Casey was able to share with Michael about what he knew and his families operation there.  Michael did indeed end up going to Haiti. He recently wrote a book about his experience titled “3 Weeks in Haiti”.  He contacted me when the book was complete as I had been mentioned in it a few times.  I was familiar with some of the story as some of it was published to his blog while it was taking place.  As I read the book I found it very difficult to put it down.  It is a very compelling story and one thing leads to another and this keeps you in anticipation for the next part of the journey.  The book is incredibly inspiring and is filled with honest to goodness wisdom.  I don’t think Michael would spin it that way but I had several big takeaways personally after reading it.  The more I read the more it almost seemed unbelievable.  You either have to choose to believe in huge coincidence over and over or believe that maybe just maybe they were guided by something divine.  It is amazing story how one person can truly make a difference.  Michael made some incredible friends and alliances on his mission to help.  I have no doubt there are people that are alive in Haiti because of the efforts of those who worked together in this book. Everyone from those stateside that provided intelligence and communication, to the team on the ground that put it all together.  I highly recommend reading it.  I know it will inspire you and challenge you.  I am honored to have played and incredibly small part of the story.  I was deeply touched by the story, and the lives that were impacted.

The book is currently available at:
Amazon’s Kindle Store and
Apple’s iBookstore
Barnes and Nobles Nook Store
Sony’s E-Book Store
A printed version is in the works.

9/11 We Will Never Forget

September 11, 2011 — Leave a comment

It is hard to believe that ten years have passed since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. We have all heard it said that we never forget where we are or what we were doing when such tragic historical events take place.  I was a senior in college at ORU. My friend James called me and told me to turn on the television.  I asked him what channel and he said, any.  I watched alone in my room as tragedy unfolded live on television. For the first time in my lifetime America was under attack on our own soil, and it was live on TV. It was more horrific than any movie or TV show.  I remember weeping a lot. It really affected me.  Seeing the World Trade Center towers collapse was almost unbearable.  First there was a lot of fear and panic. Later that turned to resolve and a sense of renewed patriotism was birthed in our nation.  As I think back on the entire event it almost seems surreal.

The other night I watched a news special on Dateline.  They replayed highlights of the footage from that day.  They highlighted many of the humanitarian stories that took place. They interviewed survivors with firsthand accounts of that sheer terror that unfolded on that day. They were so incredibly thankful to be alive, yet so torn for the colleagues, friends, and family that were lost.  Family members, widows, and children also shared the great loss that had taken place that fateful day.  Hearing the account from first responders and their incredible heroics was simply breathtaking.  As I watched the video and saw the images I instantly felt sick to my stomach.  I honestly felt such a wide range of emotions.  It is very difficult to put into words.

Ten years later I feel an even deeper hurt for those who lost love ones.  Now I am married with two beautiful daughters.  The thought of losing spouses, parents, and children to such an incredible and deplorable act of selfishness and hate is hard to come to terms with.  I honestly think I still have more questions than we have answers for.   I have found myself deeply affected by the events that took place so long ago. I appreciate life even more, and I am exceedingly grateful for the time I have here with my family.

I know that one day I will share this unfortunate part of our history with my children.  I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure they understand the depth of what took place.  I know this is a defining moment in my generation.  The proof of pure evil within the world we live. There is so much worth living for. I want so much for my girls to grow up in a world absent of this terror.  The reality is that it will proceed. Yet our resolve stays firm. We continue forward.  Life is worth living, and the fight is worth fighting. Our hearts are with those families who feel a deeper loss than I could ever convey. We truly will never forget.

Learning from Goldfish

September 1, 2011 — 1 Comment

The other night my two daughters (age 2 and 1) were snacking on some goldfish crackers. My wife gave them each a handful. Quickly our youngest noticed her older sisters pile of goldfish.  She was no longer interested in her own stash, she wanted her sisters.  The funny thing besides that they were the exact same thing is that upon closer look our youngest actually had more in her pile.  As my eldest valiantly defended her stash from being poached I couldn’t help but chuckle at the situation. A moment later I realized how we often do the same thing.

Even as adults we have the tendency to focus on what others have. We do this even to the detriment of realizing the things we have going for us. Whether it’s someone else’s possessions, talents, gifts, relationships, or goldfish crackers it is easy to become envious.  We become so determined that we are lacking and need what they have. We become completely blind to the fact that we have some great things going for us. We should be thankful for what we do have, but we so quickly get focused on what we do not.

What do you think? Is it easy to fall into the trap of comparing and wanting that what we honestly don’t really need?  Why even from childhood are we so obsessed with what others have?