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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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Called to be….

I’ve been wrestling with some big concepts over the last couple of months related to life. Obviously working with a new company and going through change makes you evaluate things, but I think there is something bigger at work. The 5280 Fellowship program has helped to challenge some of my thinking when it comes to calling and career. While my thoughts below are a work in progress, I have finally settled in on a few definitions that seem to make sense to me.

  1. Calling. Your calling isn’t what you do, it’s who you are. 
    If you have ever taken an EQI or Myers Briggs test, you understand that all of us are hard-wired with certain strengths and viewpoints. While some people are gifted with analytic capabilities, others are gifted with more social/emotional views and empathy. Others show signs of leadership and big-picture views. Whatever your strengths, these all add up to make you who you are. Calling is simply tapping into these strengths and using them in everyday life.
  2. Profession. You can use your calling in ANY profession. 
    Calling is not synonymous with profession, although profession can support calling. Since your calling is leveraging your strengths, you can use those strengths in ANY organization or profession. Professions many times are just a knowledge base that specify a role or function within an organizational environment.
  3. Platform. This is your position of maximum impact where your calling is leveraged in your profession or life. 
    I met with a colleague several weeks ago and he asked me if I ever considered doing something different or working in another industry. I told him that I have considered it many times in the past. I’ve been interested in sports marketing for a number of years, but while I think I’d love that industry, it would require starting over again from the bottom and building up that professional knowledge base. Given that I’ve been working in the AEC environment for 21 years now, my professional network and industry understanding allow me to operate with efficiency and provide greater value to the organizations I work for. Committing to the field I am in now allows me the ability to have a high platform to use my calling in my profession. For this reason, I am going to stay in my current field and work to be a knowledge expert as my calling comes to fruit.
  4. God’s will. God’s will has more to do with restoration and the fruits we all know as holy, than it has to do with a linear ‘perfect path’ of decisions and profession.
    About 10-or-so years ago, I had lunch with an architect friend and mentor of mine. He had been practicing architecture his whole life and owned his own firm. He was also a leader in a small little church I went to and I wanted to pick his brain about my career. I went on to tell him how unhappy I was with my current situation at work and asked him where he thought God wanted to lead me. I told him that I had two other job offers on the table and I needed discernment on where God wanted me.

    “It doesn’t matter. You can’t make a bad decision either way. They are just different options”

    I admit that I was a little frustrated with his response as I was looking for some discernment as to what he felt God’s will was for my decision. What I’ve come to realize as I’ve matured in my profession is that he was really saying, “God has given you the FREEDOM to choose.” If my calling is truly separate from my profession, I can use my calling in ANY job.

Career decisions are tough and I understand that we must continue to pray and ask for guidance as we move about our world. What can be truly freeing however is realizing that our true calling can be used in any area of life and in any career. At the same time, I believe that we should work towards professions and jobs that give us the biggest platform to impact our world. That is where our calling can be most effective.

What about you? Are you leveraging your calling? Comments and observations welcome in the comments!

#complexity

I’m a tech geek. I’ll admit it. Friends have told me I’m an early adopter of technology and I’m always interested in the next upgraded tech gadget or toy. I upgrade my phone every two years without exception, sometimes just to get an upgraded camera or faster processor. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been like this. Totally geeking out about the next revolution in technology. When Macs first introduced their air transfer technology in the 90’s, me and my buddy sat in my living room staring at two computers transfer a file through thin air. It took over 5 minutes to transfer a 256K file. We were in awe.

Fast forward to just this past week. I was surfing through my Instagram feed on my new iPhone 8 and scrolled past a political post with over 20 hashtags bashing the opposing view.

When did humanity and stories get dumbed down to hashtags? A domino cascade of events gets simplified to #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter or #guncontrol and #secondammendment. Depending on your hashtag, you either suck or are embraced as a friend (absent the rest of your humanity).

Meditating on this over the past week, I concluded that while the hashtag technology that fuels search engines is not without merit, there is a great danger in simplifying people, process and systems down to hashtags. The complexities in people and the depth of love and emotion are slowly eroding from our vocabulary and thought process.

Take the hashtag #Christian and what comes to mind? Crowds of people picketing Target over gender neutral bathrooms or servants volunteering time at the food bank?

There is nothing in nature that is as simple as a hashtag or 144-character tweet. Even the new technologies we all embrace are built on a platform of increasingly complicated infrastructure. If we learn anything from the divine complexity of creation, we must understand that the world is incredibly complex and requires perspective that we may or may not have. God’s master design is so intricate that it gets infinitely larger and smaller the more we study it.

What makes us think we can simplify any issue or person down to a one-word stereotype and even worse think that is okay? How often do I do this to people I interact with in this world? I am as guilty as the next person and must break free.

As I geek out over my newest and latest tech gadget, I must fight and not let my mind reduce humanity down to a collection of one-word buckets. We are so much more beautiful than that.

 

Busy.. busy.. busy..

I just started a new job a little over a week ago. Like any new job, the first month is a barrage of paperwork, forms, online surveys, meeting new people, and deciphering roles and responsibilities. Starting a new job is like running down the tracks and hopping on a freight train that is moving full speed. Once you hop on, you must orient yourself to your new surroundings and discover the destination all while dealing with your existing baggage.

With my new position comes a host of new responsibility, but one thing that remains consistent is the enormous about of time I spend meeting with people both inside and outside my office. There is a common thread to almost every meeting I have had with people recently.

“How are you?” –“Busy”

“How’s your work?” –“Oh man, it’s so busy”

“How’s your family?” –“Busy running around with the kids all weekend”

“How’s your life, church, hobbies, etc?” – “Busy, busy busy”

“I’m too busy to work out”

“I’m too busy to spend time meditating”

“I’m too busy to _________________”

I even saw an old friend of mine the other day and told him we should get together soon. “Yeah once things slow down and it’s not so busy we should put something on the calendar.” This is a friend I have reached out to multiple times over the last two years to hang out with no luck. I finally realized, that it’s not that he is too busy, it is just that he is too busy for me

A funny thing happens when you sit down and evaluate your life and your ‘busy’ schedule. Somehow, you always find time to do the important things. You’re never too busy to eat food. You’re never too busy to take a shower and drive yourself to school or work. You’re never too busy for things that really matter.

As I’m on this new freight train moving forward, I am really examining my world of ‘busy’. Does my ‘busy’ have any lasting eternal value or is it just stuff that fills my time?

Things I’m doing to try and cut the busy:

  1. Determine your anchors.
    What are the things you absolutely must do or should be doing? How can we maximize the value in those activities? God commanded us to treat our bodies as his temple. This means we need to eat, sleep and exercise as good stewards of His gift. In addition, meditation, prayer and spiritual formation should be anchors that are nonnegotiable do to their eternal value.
  2. Re-prioritize what’s important.
    Make a list of all the things you do during the day or week. For me, it is typically work meetings and activities. Looking at all the things I have going on, asking myself if all these activities are necessary is an important reflection. Can I combine things? What is the point of each activity, and how can I be mentally present at each one. This also includes making sure I’m spending time with the people I love, and friends that edify my life.
  3. Cut the fluff. There can be too much of a good thing.
    There is a term in endurance sports called Hyponatremia. This is a condition in which an athlete typically drinks too much water during exercise and dilutes their sodium levels. The thing about Hyponatremia is that it is often deadly. Something as simple as drinking too much water (which is the building block of life) can literally kill you. I talk to people almost weekly that have overloaded their plates to a Hyponatremia level. Something good like volunteering in your community or even your church, can create a condition where you choke out everything else and break down. I’ve experienced this multiple times in terms of panic attacks and anxiety because I’ve had too much on my plate. Go back to re-prioritizing what’s important and focus on 1-2 activities you can succeed in and then back away from the rest. God designed us for balance and there can be too much of a good thing.
  4. Ask for help and delegate. 
    There are plenty of times when there really is a problem of ‘too-much’. This is where we need to swallow our pride and ask for help. You’d be surprised how many people are ready to jump in and lend a hand when life really is ‘too busy’. I hit these times often, and am slowly learning how to ask for help and prayer to get me through.

It is good…

I’m currently going through a nine month fellowship program run by an organization that studies the intersection of work and faith. I think a lot of people, including myself, struggle with the question of what intrinsic value our work brings to the world. As a sales professional, how I can be of value outside of just strictly driving profits to the bottom line? Is our work goal simply to make a bunch of money so we can retire and travel the globe?

The beginning of the program has been thought-provoking in many ways but nothing quite as impactful as studying the creation story in the first part of Genesis. Setting aside the literal scientific questions we all have when we read a seven-day creation story, there are many parallels behind God’s work ethic and things we can model in our own work.

There were four key things that stood out to me when reading Genesis Chapter 1 that I had not considered before. These key elements apply to our work as people and our approach to business.

  1. A planned and staged approach to work. If you were God and all powerful, wouldn’t you just create planet Earth and every single thing in it in one day? I think about it related to my own work and how I try to wrap up as much as I possibly can in the shortest amount of time. If we have a proposal due, the faster we can get the thing done and out the door the better. Yet God himself took six full days to build creation. In business I’m always talking about the importance of a plan and strategic approach to everything that we do. Even my own athletic goals have a very strategic and staged approach to training. If we look at how God spaced out his creation efforts, we can learn that this is also how we need to approach projects in our every day lives.
  2. Pause to evaluate work at each stage. The next observation really struck me. You know how I mentioned trying to get through projects as quickly as we can and get them out the door? Well, In Genesis, God paused each day paused to evaluate His work. He doesn’t wait until the end of the project but he evaluates his work at every step of the way. To take time to reflect on work product and evaluate its goodness is something that’s in God’s nature. It’s something that I need to take more time to do.
  3. Celebrate a job well done, even when it’s not finished. In addition to evaluating work product at every step of the way, God also takes the time to celebrate his work. “It is good”. He blesses each day’s work and moves to the next step. This is something I find extremely hard to do when drafts of proposals and deliverables aren’t complete. To pause and celebrate work when it’s not yet completed is something that I plan to work on over the next year.
  4. Rest and recover. Last but certainly and certainly not least is taking the time to rest. How often do we rest after we complete a task? I definitely don’t have that gift! I finish one thing and move to the next as quick as I can. Rarely do I take the time to rest after a project is done. With rest built into the seventh day of the creation story, it is apparent that God built into us the need to recuperate and recover after goals have been met. Whether it’s a race that I have just completed or a project that I just got out the door, I need to take the personal time to rest and hit the “reset button” and recover for the next job.

I’m excited for the revelations that I received so far. Looking forward to this next nine month journey through the fellowship program and how I can improve me as a professional and help me reflect more of him in everything I do.


Genesis 1:3
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day”

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

If you know me, you know that one thing that makes me tic is my pure desire to help people succeed. Whether it is at work, at school, at church or on the trail, nothing really excites me more than watching people achieve what they previously thought impossible.

I’ve been working through an idea to start up another blog that focuses in on business skills, goal setting and marketing topics. I have brainstormed a bunch of content and even put together some outlines. Thinking through the implementation of this idea, I have been drawn back to this Weekly Thoughts blog and how I’ve let it go dormant over the last few years. What started as a weekly devotional for me, has turned into something that I don’t invest time into anymore. In it’s place, I have invested time into my running blog and race reports as a way to capture memories of physical accomplishments. I’ve failed to keep up with a forum that challenges me to think deeper spiritually and grow closer to God.

And here I am ready to start yet ANOTHER blog.

I went for a run this morning, and a stark reality hit me square in the face. Without realizing it, I have divided my life into quadrants resembling stacks of quarters, pennies and dimes. “Work life” Spiritual Life” “Athletic Life” Family Life” have all staked claim to my heart and I have fought to keep them all separate. I’ve resisted bringing all but a few work and industry colleagues into my personal circle of friends. My church-going believer friends are separate from my running and college buddies.

I had a realization today that my work life, personal life, spiritual life and epic running adventures all intersect in the reality that makes me who I am. By placing everything into silos and stacks, I am in turn only offering a piece of each truth and revelation.

No more.

I’m taking a different direction with Weekly Thoughts where I will seek to highlight the intersection of sport, life, spirituality and work. I appreciate all the massive support I’ve had over the years and look forward to see how God will use this blog moving forward.

Hopefully, in the end, this reaches and inspires someone out there to break down their own silos. I hope it helps someone set some goals that make the impossible come into view. I hope that someone realizes that the spiritual strength that God brings will fill in some of the gaps. It all works together to make us who we are.

Please continue to comment on my posts and interact. Without conversation, this blog is flat.

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.

It is Finished

I feel more and more like a stranger in this world

A traveler in a foreign land

While everything seems familiar and people speak my language

The buildings are crumbling into sand

Darkness and light fight deep within my soul

While I know that the victor has already been decided

The war rages on in the network of my mind

The eclectic emotions of life have all beautifully collided

I walk down the streets and wish I was in the mountains

Hitting the dirt I long for the familiar footing of home

Am I breathing toxic air through the network of society?

Can unplug from the mania that lights up the screen on my phone?

Like looking through the wrong side of the telescope

The things I thought were so far off are now blinding me

Wrinkles are no longer a stranger in the mirror

But, yet I know deep down that I am free

It is finished. Time to step out and live in that reality

It is finished. Balance love and justice in my soul

It is finished. Take my doubts and spread their ashes

It is finished. Through grace I’ve been made whole

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