Influence

Your friends determine the direction and quality of your life.

This is a phrase I heard over and over again from our pastor, Andy.  I think about it often and will never forget it because it was drilled into my head.  Last night I experienced a great example of this from my friend, Mandee.

Me (as we sit down at a Mexican restaurant): This is the kind of place where I really want a coke.

Mandee:  I know what you mean.

Me:  I’m surprised that you are drinking water.  I thought for sure you would get a coke.

Mandee:  I am trying not to drink it as much.

Me: Yeah, I have been off of it for three weeks, but I would like to get to the point where I could have one occasionally and it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Mandee:  Three weeks is pretty good.  You could probably have one.

Me:  What the heck?  You are supposed to be supporting me.

Mandee:  I am, I’m just saying that you have done a good job and you could have one.

Me:  What are you trying to do?  You are the worst friend ever!

Mandee:  No, seriously, three weeks is great!

Me:  Oh my word!  What are you trying to do?!

Mandee:  I’M JUST SAYING THAT IF YOU WANTED TO HAVE ONE I WOULD DRINK ONE WITH YOU!

Me:  That’s what I thought. Worst friend ever.  OK I’ll have one.

Mandee to the waiter:  We would like 2 cokes please.

Running

While I was on my run today, my source of entertainment was thinking about the humor in my running routine.  It goes a little something like this:

I put on my Nike running clothes (I am pretty particular about it being Nike because I am of the opinion that theirDriFit system is superior to all other dry systems and never leads to chafing) and lace up my Mizunos as I mentally prepare to run farther than I did last time.  That’s always my goal: Run farther.

I start out slow and all of my gremlins take their places.  I call them gremlins because it seems like little men-creatures that live inside me and come out for the first mile of my run with little ice picks in hands.  There is one on each shin that work their way up and down meticulously chipping away at my shins with their little ice picks.  Then there is my old faithful gremlin that does his ice picking job on the bottom of my right knee.  And then there are the new gremlins.  They just showed up in this new round of training and have taken camp in my left achilles and left hip flexor.  They may be young gremlins, but they are fierce. The first gremlin showed up about the time I turned 25 and they are gradually multiplying their army.  They stay with me for about the first mile, while at the same time my lungs gasp and struggle as they try to get used to my running breathing.  I hate this part of the run.  Really really hate it.  It’s when I tell myself repeatedly “Running is supposed to be hard.  Just finish.  You have already run farther than the average American can run.”  It’s my pep talk.

My running breathing pattern is something that I came up with about 4 years ago.  It is the one that works best for me.  We all need to find our own rhythm and this is mine:  In in in, out out out.  Three in’s and three outs, always planting my left foot on the first exhale to avoid the dreaded stitch cramps that can be debilitating on a run.

After about the first mile, something magical happens.  My body stops hurting (or goes numb) and my lungs calm down.  Once that happens I relax into my running mix on my ipod, always checking my stride rate and my breathing in between songs.  I love that part of the run.  Right after my body stops hurting and before it starts hurting again (ha!).  I just run. I think about life, God, friends, family, everything.

Once I have completed my distance, I then feel the need to run sprints.  10×200 ft with a 200 ft walk in between each one.  Then the high knees: 5×40 ft with a 40 ft walk in between each one. It hurts.  It hurts bad.  But I love it.

Love Is Waiting

I put in a Brooke Fraser CD today that I hadn’t listened to in a long time and I thought the lyrics to this song were beautiful.  I know I’ve heard this song a ton of times, but for some reason I had never heard the lyrics before.  I recommend buying this one!

Love Is Waiting by Brooke Fraser

In the autumn on the ground, between the traffic and the ordinary sounds
I am thinking signs and seasons while a north wind blows through
I watch as lovers pass me by
Walking stories – whos and hows and whys
Musing lazily on love
Pondering you
I’ll give it time, give it space and be still for a spell
When it’s time to walk that way, we wanna walk it well

I’ll be waiting for you baby
I’ll be holding back the darkest night
Love is waiting til we’re ready, til it’s right
Love is waiting

It’s my caution not the cold
there’s no other hand that I would rather hold
the climate changes, i’m singing for the strangers, about you
dont keep time, slow the pace
Honey hold on if you can
the bets are getting surer now that you’re my man

I’ll be waiting for you baby
I’ll be holding back the darkest night
Love is waiting til we’re ready, til it’s right
Love is waiting

I could write a million songs about the way you say my name
I could live a lifetime with you and then do it all again
and like I can’t force the sun to rise or hasten summer’s start,
neither should I rush my way into your heart

A Lesson From Napoleon Bonaparte

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently struggling my way through the writings of Thomas Jefferson.  Most of the time I don’t know what he is talking about, but every once in awhile, my brain begins to comprehend and I find some great piece of wisdom.  The first time this happened was about 50 pages into the autobiography section.

In that particular section he was talking about the discussions and time spent with the Continental Congress and what he considered to be a waste of time and a lack of efficiency.  I can relate as I have been a part of many meanings that spent an hour discussing something that could have been covered in five minutes.  While I totally support debating issues and figuring out the best solution, it may also be a good idea to consider the thoughts below (if it’s too painful to read the whole thing, though I recommend it, at least read the last sentence!):

Our body was little numerous, but very contentious.  Day after day was wasted on the most unimportant questions.  My colleague, Mercer was one of those afflicted with the morbid rage of debate, of an ardent mind, prompt imagination, and copious flow of words, he heard with impatience any logic which was not his own.  Sitting near me on some occasion of a trifling but wordy debate, he asked how I could sit in silence hearing so much false reasoning which a word should refute?  I observed to him that to refute indeed was easy, but to silence impossible.  That in measures brought forward by myself, I took the laboring oar, as was incumbent on me; but that in general I was willing to listen.  If every sound argument or objection was used by some one or other of the numerous debaters, it was enough: if not, I thought it sufficient to suggest the omission, without going into a repetition of what had been already said by others.  That this was a waste and abuse of the time and patience of the house which could not be justified.  And I believe that if the members of deliberative bodies were to observe this course generally, they would do in a day what takes them a week, and it is really more questionable, than may at first be thought, whether Bonaparte’s dumb legislature which said nothing and did much, may not be preferable to one which talks much and does nothing.

A few questions to consider from these thoughts:

  1. What are the important questions that you should be discussing?  Are you wasting time on the unimportant ones?
  2. Do you, like Jefferson’s colleague Mercer, hear with impatience any logic that is not your own?
  3. Do you feel the need to comment on every thought on the table, or do you take the time to just listen?
  4. Do your hour long meetings produce an hour’s worth of results?
  5. Does all of your talking/meeting produce action, or just more talking?

Why I Am Still Choosing Life

…and no, this post is not about abortion.

I got back yesterday from a fun week at Disney with my family and my long-time friend, Brian.  It was a great time hanging out and experiencing all that is Disney!  On Thursday I was walking through Epcot with Brian and we were talking about the Bible and our favorite verse.  Ever since then I have been thinking about my  verse and how over the past few months I have forgotten to apply it.  The verse, which I talked about here, is Deuteronomy 30:19-12, which says:

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.

Since that day I have realized that I haven’t been choosing life the past few months and I am suffering for it.  God says specifically that he is giving me the options.  He is setting before me life and death, blessings and curses…so pick one!  I choose life.  I choose not do dwell on the past.  The pain, the bad choices, the missed opportunities, the failures.  I choose the life that is in front of me.  The blessings that he is handing me.  Will it be without pain, failure, bad choices, and missed opportunities?  Probably not.  But there is a lot less chance of looking back with regret when I am running towards the life that God is offering me.

So what does that mean for me?  Well, I’m not really sure, but you can bet I am going to try and figure it out.  Maybe it means honest conversations, maybe it means taking a few risks that are uncomfortable.  But, I think it would be better to fail while choosing life than look back and have regret.