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Weekly Thoughts

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

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Weep Holes

I recently started a remodel project in our master bathroom. Whom ever decided that it was a good idea to lay down carpet in bathrooms should be put on trial. Sure, carpet feels nice on your feet in the morning, but think for a minute about the combination of carpet, water and other bodily discharges that find their way onto a bathroom floor. Like I said…bad idea..

My wife and I moved into our house four years ago and it was an exciting day when I was finally able to rip out the carpet in our bathrooms and replace it with flooring. Tearing out the carpet, I came to the area in front of the shower and low and behold, underneath that comfy carpet, was a mold covered sub-floor. Ugh.

My planned weekend-long project took on a life of its own as I wound up replacing sub-floor and drying out the walls that were affected by years of water moisture buried by carpet.

Finally, with the flooring project complete, I resealed the shower and added the final trim along the baseboard. But we still had a moisture problem!

Water was leaking next to the wall and no matter how much silicone I added inside and out of the shower, water was still finding its way out and onto my new floor. Looking for answers, I consulted the ultimate resource for any problem- Google.

After several hours of researching the problem on-line, I learned of these little things called ‘weep-holes’ that they add to the bottom shower rail and in the shower pan to essentially keep water from building up inside the rail and wall. Attacking the problem with my utility knife, I found five weep-holes in the shower rail buried behind a goop of silicone. Cutting them out one at a time, the water that was previously making its way out of the shower onto my floor drained right back into my shower pan. Problem solved.

All this amateur hour construction work got me thinking a lot about my own life. How much gunk do I cover up with nice carpet without addressing the core issue? Bitterness, pain, addiction and unaddressed personal issues that I literally sweep under the rug and pretend it’s okay. The answer to expressing my deep emotions involve just adding more silicone sealant to keep them in.

The real problem with this approach is that the emotion will make its way out into the world around you. In the end, this will cause more damage than allowing the ‘weep-holes’ of genuine and vulnerable emotion to work every day. Forcing out a good cry every now and then isn’t such a bad thing.

I’m working hard lately on being less prideful and reaching out for help when it makes sense. Pulling back the carpet and replacing the subfloor of my heart is something that I will have to continually work on and be aware of. If I don’t, it’ll turn black with mold and damage the rest of the house.

What are you covering up in your life? Perhaps it’s time to let it breathe.

———-

1 Corinthians 4:5 // Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts

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DNA on the Whiteboard

Call me old school, but I am a huge fan of whiteboards. Brainstorming ideas and content in a myriad of colors is one of the favorite components of my job. If the idea doesn’t make sense, we can simply erase it and start fresh. While I should use an eraser, I often come home at night with different colored fingers and hands from the ink. When my son picks up my phone and looks through my photos, he must scroll through a mix of personal photos and whiteboard brainstorm sessions. Sitting in a room of peers that are talking through solutions and approaches that come to life on a whiteboard is my happy place at work.

I found myself in another brainstorming meeting earlier this week. Taking some photos of the session afterwards, I stopped to look the beauty in what others could see as chaos. Arrows, colors, words, cross-sections and sketches of shapes created a masterpiece of thought.

Driving home that night, I was still thinking about the whiteboard approaches my team came up with for the pursuit that we are working on. What is it about the whiteboard that I love so much? Could it be that in some simple way it captures the DNA of how we are created?

A Longing for Community: One thing I am a huge fan of, is seeing the excitement that comes out of my teammates when we are able to interact and brainstorm in person. In a world, where we fall back on Skype calls, video conferencing, email, and text messages, most will agree that the most meaningful connections happen in person. When we are working together as a team of individuals with different strengths and flaws, the ideas get stronger and more exciting.

Seeking Restoration: Who doesn’t love coming up with ideas to make things better? I believe that we are all hard-wired to develop ideas that will help restore things that are broken. Whether you are a janitor that is cleaning things that are dirty, or a software developer finding a better way to do something, we are all working to help restore our world.

The Drive to Create: The organic nature of creating things is beautiful. While my team is creating ideas on a white board that we bring to life in the field of construction, a chef may be developing a recipe for their next meal. In both instances, the creative process by itself is a source of joy.

Embracing the messy: Just like my whiteboard, life is full of messy. The ideal path to restoration is never linear, but the process to get to the destination is what makes life beautiful. While we can appreciate a perfect end-product, the satisfaction and pride in that product will never be the same as it is for the people that created it.

So as I enter my next whiteboard session, I’ll enter it with a humble respect and joy in knowing the activity itself is a reflection of how we can live out our Calling in the simple things.

Headlamps in the Forest

Exhausted, tired and barely moving, I called again into the blackness of the night, “how much further do we have?

Somewhere in the darkness my pacer’s voice responded, “I don’t know. Another mile or two to the next aid station?

A deep sigh escaped from my mouth, a puff of steam rose into the cold atmosphere, reflecting off my headlamp’s illumination of the forest floor.

I had run for close to 15 hours and the sun had gone down over an hour ago. My legs had already climbed over 13,000 feet over mountain passes and valleys. In addition to the fire which took over where my quads used to be, the mental and physical exhaustion was getting the best of me.

Just get to the next aid station,” became my mantra.

What felt like a year later, we arrived at a small table set up in the middle of nowhere that was set up for a feast. Hot ramen soup, potatoes, watermelon, candy and soda were set out buffet style just for us. We hadn’t seen another runner for at least an hour and I was happy to see some new faces.

What can we get you? You’re doing great!” the aid station volunteers graciously said. “Just keep going, you are almost there!

Grabbing some warm potatoes, my pacer and I were off again with one more aid station between me and the 65-mile finish line.

These moments are the moments that define us.

I find it somewhat ironic that I will go out and punish myself in an ultramarathon or endurance event, but when life gets tough, I feel like quitting or taking an easier road down.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. One friend of mine told me that in life we don’t necessarily ‘choose’ to run a tough course the same way we do in a race. The difficulty often comes in the form of other people, a surprise situation, or things outside our control. Nevertheless, the difficulty inevitably comes and we must keep moving forward.

I pushed back a little on this idea that we don’t have any control over life. Just like racing, even though the pain is real, we can respond negatively and quit or we can focus on shorter goals and keep moving. The point here is that we have a choice in how we RESPOND and what we FOCUS ON.

I’m currently in a season of life where I feel like I’m just focused on the next aid station, but I’m embracing that idea. How can I grow through this segment of my life journey? How can I embrace both the beauty and the hardship around me and make some forward progress. While the night sky may be dark, headlamps in the trees create a whole new landscape that many never get to see. Fears can equally give birth to excitement and thrill. We need to decide where to spend our mental energy.

The one thing I’m sure of through all this is that I WILL make a positive impact in my community and give birth to positivity as often as possible. One aid station at a time I’ll move closer to that finish line.

Spin the Black Circle

It’s no secret that I am a music lover. There is not a single category you can pin me down to in terms of my musical tastes. I have an appreciation for it all. As I child, I remember listening to the radio and recording my favorite songs on to cassette tape so I could listen to them over and over. Over the years, I amassed a collection of cassette tapes, CD’s and MP3s.  I saved up each paycheck just to go blow it all at the music store.

We are in a new era of music. With Spotify streaming, the entire world of digital music is at our fingertips and on demand whenever we want it. There are podcasts, music TV channels, streaming radio and live feeds. We can turn it on and off with a click of a button.

While I enjoy being able to access whatever I music want at any time, several months ago, I hooked up my Techniques 1200 turntable and set out to build my vinyl record collection. The resurgence of record collecting is bringing many of us music lovers back to our youth and to a simpler time. There is something about dropping the needle down on a vinyl record and listening to the pure sound as it was originally recorded. Each song was carefully put in order as the artist intended, and after 20 minutes, you have to flip the record over to hear the closing tracks. Listening to vinyl involves all the senses besides taste. It’s a reconnection to pure sound.

As I build my vinyl record collection, I am discovering a new love for older records I have long forgotten or heard many times before. As I listen with intent, my appreciation for the artists, the lyrics and the music is at an all-time high. I close my eyes and picture the artist in the studio 40 years-ago recording that track just to connect with me so many years later.

I started thinking about my love for music as it relates to our spiritual journey. How often do we overcomplicate our faith or have it spoon fed to us as background noise? What if we took more of an effort to dust off that Bible, sit on the couch for 30 minutes and read the text as it was originally written. What new sounds would we hear? Would you see the transcript with new color? Would flipping the pages bring you closer to God?

In the world of Christian radio, energetic sermons, streaming podcasts, and religious TV, there is something to be said for putting all the noise aside, and spending some time reconnecting with God Himself. Like an old Vinyl record, the quality never fades.

———–
1 Peter 1:24-25

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

Identity

Micah, what do you want to be when you grow up?

My 4-year-old son looked at the tile floor deep in thought. Suddenly, he looked up with his eyes bright with anticipation. “A Jedi daddy. When I get bigger, I’m going to be a Jedi just like Luke Skywalker!”

I love the conversations I have with Micah. It is refreshing to see the world through his unjaded eyes and to get a glimpse into a soul where the whole world is ahead and dreams are alive with vivid color.

Thinking back to my own childhood, I answered that same question several times. A fireman, a doctor, a jet pilot, an architect, and a surfer were just a few of my dream professions. What child would have said ‘a director of business development and marketing’ anyway?

Outside of my lofty career goals, I strived through my youth to latch on to other activities to define who I was as a person. In junior high, most everyone is defined by some sort of activity. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the stoners, the nerds were just a few groups.  As we all looked to find our place, I locked on to what I thought the coolest people in school were…the skaters. I loved skateboarding from an early age. I was fascinated with surfing as a small kid, and living in Colorado, skateboarding was the next best thing. Skateboarders were counter-culture but still friends with all the other social groups. They did cool tricks and had cool hair. That’s what I wanted to be.

I was a skateboarder through junior high and transitioned to being a snowboarder in high school and college. I moved to California and became a surfer, and then became a triathlete. When being a triathlete wasn’t doing it for me anymore, I became a competitive cyclist, shaved my legs and started racing with 200 other shaved legged adult males. I moved to Colorado and became a runner, no… a trail runner, no…an ultra-runner…well…you get the idea.

Through all my various ‘identities’ I’ve had over the years, one place I have struggled is latching on to what it means to have an identity in Christ. What does it mean to be a ‘Christian’? It seems like such a small thing, but one area that I have struggled with is the stigma of some other Christian people and not wanting to be put in the same bucket as them. From the people holding up “You’re going to Hell” signs at football games to a few encounters with other Christians I have known over the years, I have struggled with embracing the identity.

But God is showing me something different. Hypocrisy and imperfection are results of the broken human condition. All of us have sinned, and part of my problem was putting too much stock in other people – specifically ‘Christians’- to do it right. I know full-well the extent of my own sin, and thank God for the grace He gives to cover it. Grace I should extend to others as well.

I’m beginning to realize three things:

  1. Having an identity in Christ means that I am a work in progress. I am an imperfect person pursuing a perfect God, and that’s okay.
  2. I have an opportunity to learn from my own past experiences and try and show the grace of Christ where I feel others have fallen short.
  3. Just because another person identifies with the title of ‘Christian’ and preaches hate does not mean I am like that person. It is like someone that calls themselves a runner but sits on the couch all day, eats junk food and does one 5K per year. That person can claim the title, but their actions don’t reflect the identity.

I’m starting to ‘own’ my identity and have more confidence in bearing the image of Christ, and that’s a good thing. I can be defined by what I do by being selfless, showing love, and embracing truth. I’m not perfect by the world’s standards, but thanks to grace, in God’s eyes I am. It’s pretty liberating and I’m humbled to be called a ‘Christian’. I’m an imperfect person pursuing a perfect God who loves us.

So next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up my answer is, “I’m a Christian, regardless of what I do professionally or recreationally, that’s all that matters most.” My prayer is that my son can say the same thing someday.

————————–

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here

Achieving More

I had a business lunch with a gentleman this week that has done multiple endurance races. For this post, I’ll call him “Joe.” Joe calls himself an ‘adventurer’ and is always searching for that next thing to stretch his own level of comfort. He recently started a company to take business executives out on adventures and to teach them about living life to the fullest and reaching new goals that may seem impossible.

Joe talked about very successful business leaders he knows that ‘have it all’. One guy he talked about makes $20M/year and has achieved the peak of his professional dreams. He went on to tell me, “But something is missing. Deep down inside of each of these guys, there is a hole they are trying to fill. Even though they ‘have it all’, they can’t figure out what’s missing. It’s my job to help them find that missing piece through adventures. After they have achieved it all, I help them achieve more.”

More”, I thought to myself. More.

What I found interesting in the conversation is that Joe is starting to associate fulfillment with ‘more’ accomplishments. These accomplishments are physical in nature rather than business related, but it is still in the vain of more accolades. I can’t keep from coming back to the root of his original statement, “Deep down inside of each of these guys, there is a hole they are trying to fill. Even though they ‘have it all’, they can’t figure out what’s missing.

I personally know people that achieved amazing physical feats of endurance. I know people that have completed dozens of Ironman races and ultra-races. What is interesting is that even a lot of these people are wondering what is next. There is a hole they are also trying to fill, and it’s never enough.

Stop for a second and think. What if there is truly a deep longing and desire in us that we are trying to fill? What if we are all trying to fill that desire with MORE? More work, more money, more athletic accomplishments, more charity work, more being better parents, spouses or whatever it is you pour yourself into?

What if that desire and longing was divinely placed in you to connect to God, the creator of the universe? A God who will give you purpose and acceptance no matter what job title you have or how many medals are on the wall? A God who hard wired you for relationship and a perspective that the things of this world don’t matter as much as we think they do?

In the mist of all the things I personally strive for at work and athletically, I am already complete. I love a good challenge, but I don’t need more. I personally don’t have a deep need or longing to find out what’s next in order to feel peace. Sure, I had to die to placing huge importance on the things most of the world values the most, but the freedom I have is unexplainable. God has stamped my heart with grace.

I think Joe is right in saying “Deep down inside of each of these guys, there is a hole they are trying to fill.” Where he has it wrong is in thinking more accomplishments will fill the gap. What fills the gap is feeding the spirit.

When I look at the sunrise, I have joy in my heart and amazement that I know the creator of this beauty.

When I finish a race, I praise God for crafting such an amazing matrix of nerves, blood, muscle and skin that is capable of amazing things.

When I look at the world and politics, I have a peace in knowing that no matter what happens in the world while I am here, I am still in God’s hands and I will live eternally in His presence.

When I look at my bank account, no matter the balance, I know it is enough.

I have a joy that surpasses circumstance and a peace that is indescribable.

I don’t have all the answers, but one thing I believe is true– the only path to true fulfillment is relationship with Christ. With that, you will never need anything more.

—————————————————–
Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

The Bald Eagle

I called and spoke to my mom this morning. I told her that on the drive into town two days ago we saw a bald eagle fly over our car. It was the first time I had ever seen a bald eagle in the wild and it was one of the coolest things to see on the drive in. She went on to tell me a story about this last fall when she also saw a bald eagle fly over her house one afternoon. She has been battling Leukemia for a while now and she was having a really bad day when the eagle flew over.

God brought the following verse to her mind:

Isaiah 40:31
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

She told me that she knew at that point she knew it would all be OK.

My eagle sighting gave my mom chills, her story gave me chills, and God’s way of talking to us brings us all chills. God was telling us it would all be OK. We need to continue to have faith that this will all work out.

Micah Lee Barr was born on March 2nd. God answered our lifelong prayer this last week. Not always the way you think God would answer a prayer, but looking back I see His plan.

It will all be OK. I thank each of my readers for your prayers.

Tim

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For full journal head to: http://TimBarr.blogspot.com

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Seasons

As I shoved the last winter sweater in my bag, I looked up to realize I still had to make room for my toiletries that were sitting in the bathroom. Somehow I always seem to underestimate the amount of baggage space I need when we go home for the holidays. The long sleeve shirts, pants and jackets try to jockey for the most comfortable position in my check-on luggage before I mash the fabric together around the bag zipper to get it shut. Like a seatbelt on a fat person, my bag zipper groans as it clenches its teeth around my precious contents.

I look forward to my trips back home for the holidays. Colorado is a beautiful state, and the opportunity to change things up for some cooler weather in December is always welcome. I get excited to grab my jackets out of the closet and wear the gloves that sit dormant 11.5 months out of the year.

I have lived in Southern California for 12 years now, and while it is one of the best places to live, the lack of seasons is still hard for me to get used to. Every day runs into the next like water colors dripping from a painting. It is the same day in and day out. Our winters consist of shorter days and a little rain. The summers consist of longer days and a warmer ocean. Even the Facebook posts of people who live here are the most predictable posts on the planet. “Enjoying another morning bike ride before work” and “San Diego is awesome” posts only outnumber the “I can’t believe I’m stuck here at work while my friends are surfing” posts by a small margin.

Granted I can’t complain to live in San Diego. I love it here, but sometimes I miss the seasons.

Just like the Colorado weather, life is full of seasons. As I look back on the hard times, the good times, life-changing times, warm times and cold times I am reminded of periods in my life that define me as a person. I know that there are definitely times I long for a life-long forecast of ‘65 degrees and sunny’, but deep down I know that the seasons are what I look back on and make me understand what life is really all about. Sometimes I have to wear a winter coat and get snowed on to appreciate the warm summer days even more.

No matter what the weather is like where I live, embracing the seasons in my everyday life is an art I must continue to work on. I need to look forward to the winters, soak up the summers, and appreciate everything in between. Trust that no matter what the weather looks like, God is painting a picture, and He will keep his children close.

As I am slowly stepping into my next season of life, I am excited to step outside. I am once again packing up a suitcase to prepare, but this will be a trip that lasts a lifetime. Like the Colorado seasons, I am ready for the change. How about you?

——————————

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace

Short Sighted

“Schedules slip one day at a time, not a month at a time”

Our operations manager has this written on his whiteboard in his office right above our list of current projects and their respective scheduled completion dates. It is a simple reminder to our staff that each decision we make ultimately affects the project outcome somewhere down the road.

It goes without saying that the decisions we make each day define us as people and set our direction. This is true for both good and bad decisions. When I look back on my life so far, I can easily see how choices I have made through my past have shaped my career, my place of residence, my health, and my spiritual growth. While hindsight is 20-20, I also find myself questioning my future direction and wondering how decisions I make today will shape that future. I try hard not to get so buried in the details that I fail to see the goal which lies ahead…and the schedule slips yet another day.

There are people in the world right now that look at their lives and wonder how they ended up there. While not everything is in our control, I would wager to say that decisions made, both good and bad, have shaped their own current situations.

I think the next step in this equation of thought is the realization that the decisions we make each day shape OTHER people’s direction as well. Are we building people up or tearing them down? Are we breathing light into the dark worked around us, or are we so bitter that we can’t see the light ourselves?

Sometimes it is a word of encouragement or just saying ‘good morning’. Sometimes a random act of kindness is all it will take to change someone else’s future course for eternity.

Taking it back to my operations manager’s whiteboard, I wonder what I can do one day at a time to help shape the World around me into something more beautiful. I’d love to look back at it all someday and see something amazing. I do know that it will take one day and one decision at a time to make that happen.
———————

Titus 3:14
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.

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