Friday, April 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday

If you have spent any time on facebook in the past couple of months you have probably stumbled across the hashtag #tbt. Some (like myself) may not have fully understood what it meant, until you were tagged in a picture from quite a few years ago! As I sit down to reflect on my past week, I feel like the term "throwback" is very appropriate for this week.
It is a bit odd, because nothing significant happened, but within the past seven days I have had numerous conversations and email exchanges with students from Sonne, and students I coached while in Germany.  I'm not sure why they have all taken place this past week, but it has truly been a great week because of that. It has been great to catch up on life, exchange stories of successes and failures, and share life.
One conversation stuck out more than the others - he and I had been playing phone-tag for a week or so until we finally connected. It had been a while since we talked, but within seconds it felt as though just yesterday we were goofing around in the dorm. The laughter was great, but I could tell there was something on his heart and the conversation soon turned more serious. While on the phone, I sat down in my room and closed my eyes (a trick to sometimes help me think more clearly, and to be less distracted) - with my eyes closed, as I heard his voice, I felt as though we were back in Sonne - sitting in my first floor room after lights out talking about life. It didn't feel like there were hundreds of miles between us, it didn't feel like it had been two years since we last saw each other. It felt like we were sitting in the same room talking like we had always done. There were moments of sharing from both of us, deep and difficult questions to be asked, and processed through.
Simply put, it was a phenomenal 'throwback' day. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 21st mile

Five days ago I completed my eighth marathon. It was a beautiful day for a race, a great course, and a lot of fun. As I started to approach the 21st mile, I could definitely feel the toll of the race. The legs were getting a little heavy, I was starting to feel out of breath, and my mind was growing increasingly fatigued. I had looked at the course map and elevation chart prior to the race and knew there was a steep hill to climb at mile 21, and a long gradual climb at mile 23.

As I rounded the corner and started to stare down the hill at mile 21, I said to myself, "You have put in a great effort so far. You haven't walked at all, and are a bit ahead of your goal pace. Take a little break and walk up the hill." I didn't want to walk, but was coming up with different reasons to justify being able to walk. A few moments before I turned my run into a walk, I took one last glance up the daunting hill in front of me. This time as I looked up, I could see my friends at the top of the hill. I quickly took out my headphones so I could hear their cheering. Once I saw them, I knew there was no way I was going to walk. I could hear them from 400 meters away. They were cheering loud, cheering by my name, encouraging and pushing me. As a result, I wanted to push myself and continue to go as strong as I could. They had come out to encourage and support me, and I wanted to make sure I gave them something to cheer about.

After the race I met up with my friends and they said to me, "we were at the top of the hill watching runners for close to twenty minutes, and you were the only one who didn't walk up the hill." As I heard this comment, and spent more time with them in the afternoon and evening, I began to develop a great picture of the friendship I have in these two: In my moment of difficulty where I felt like giving up was the best option, they were present. It wasn't by accident that they were at the hill near mile 21. They knew the race, they knew where I would need them, and they were there. When I felt like I didn't have more to give, or couldn't keep going, I heard their voices and their cheers. Their excitement for me and what I was doing, provided me with greater enthusiasm and strength to conquer what was ahead of me. They helped me accomplish something I was not capable of doing on my own. As a result of their presence, I kept going and tackled the task at hand.

Mile 21 was one of the most difficult miles of the race for me. Yet, at the same time, it was one of my favorite miles. Sometimes the path you're on takes you up a daunting and difficult hill, and in those times it is good to know that you are not alone. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Some ask why. Others ask why not.

Recently I have been giving some close friends a homework assignment I made up. I have been encouraging them to, ‘take 30 seconds to sit back and take mental pictures of everything that is happening around you. Remove yourself from the noise, from the event, and take a step back and soak it all in.’ This past weekend I took my own advice as I watched my dad begin his new adventure.
Partnering with a close friend, my dad is opening a new restaurant chain in Florida. This past weekend was the grand opening and I was able to travel down for the weekend and witness some of the ins and outs of the happenings surrounding the opening. At different times, I found myself simply sitting alone, taking everything in. I walked away with a few conclusions:

Some ask, ‘why’ others ask, ‘why not’?
Looking at my dad’s career path, this would not have been the typical next step. Recognizing this, many may be asking, “why are you doing this?” His confident answer is a simple, “why not?” It is not an attitude of defiance, but a spirit of adventure and challenge. A heart that doesn’t want to settle, but wants to continue to learn, is striving to grow, is excited to take on an adventure. The courage to step into the unknown, knowing failure is possible.

-       People are going to have fun
I sat in the restaurant watching everyone buzz around with an absurd amount of energy. There were people of all different ages and backgrounds, all taking on a variety of tasks. Yet, there was one unifying thing among everyone there; they were all smiling. It takes something special to create an atmosphere where high school students are eagerly looking forward to going to work. It takes a certain leader to create an environment that makes everyone feel valued as an essential part of the team. It takes a leader to demand those around him work extremely hard, yet thoroughly enjoy it. A rare yet possible combination.  I have no doubts that those who visit the restaurant, both workers and customers, are going to be smiling while they are there.

-       I am proud and excited
     Walking through the restaurant I found myself telling strangers, “That’s my dad.” Throughout the past months, I have continually shared with others what is happening and the adventure that is now beginning. I am proud of the insane amount of work it has taken to get this up and running. I am excited because of the vision that has been cast, the ministry that is involved, the work that is being done.  The journey did not start this morning as the doors opened to the first customers, the journey started a while ago. Today is simply a new chapter in a journey that has been ongoing. A journey marked with excitement and pride.