Beginning is hard

Beginning is always the difficult thing to do. Especially when you haven’t done something in a long time.  I have been in this constant cycle recently of working out.  Starting and then stopping.  Only to restart a routine a few days/weeks later.  It has been quite frustrating.  But the thing I have realized is that I need to press in that much more when it becomes easy to just quit to start over at some future time.  I need to will myself to continue when it gets tough.

And I know that most of you know what this is because it should be common sense by now.  But I have learned that it is just as difficult to do in spiritual terms as in everyday terms.  I have come to realize this truth.

The reason it is hard to hear God at first is because we’ve been ignoring Him for so long.

We have only called upon His name when things didn’t go our way.  We honestly weren’t too thrilled about doing what He wants us to do, unless things went south quickly.  And this is sad because we could learn so much if we just dive in for these moments.

So let’s make a pack for whatever it is that you wish to do.  Just dive in and maybe then you’ll be able to reach the other side and obtain that which you seek.

My extraordinary woman

“That’s the funny thing about marriage. You fall in love with this extraordinary person and over time, they begin to seem ordinary…I think it’s all the nagging.” – Phil Dunphy #ModernFamily

I have cherished being married to my wife. There are definitely days where it is harder than normal but overall, marriage is great. I suggest everyone tries it at least once.

Of course, I kid. But marriage is truly worth fighting for. Especially when you have someone as beautiful as my wife, both in her gorgeous looks and in her awesome personality that is relentless in its pursuit. She astounds me every day with the sacrifices that she makes. She has always been sacrificial to me and I am very happy that we are at this place in life where I don’t know what I want to pursue exactly and she is in a place of complete focus. She knows what she wants right now and has a clear plan to pursue it. So I’m going to do all I can and give her the most support that I can right now.

I have heard that in marriage, it is always an alternating shift between one person who needs support and the other who is supposed to give it. And right now, I am proud to support her in her dreams. It is this time that makes me feel most happy to be her husband. And also I feel that it is a great time to be humble because without giving completely of yourself, it is hard to see great things come about.

I disagree with the great quote at the top of this post. At least in my own experience because when I first met this ordinary girl I never knew how extraordinary she would become. Become is not even the right word because she was extraordinary the whole time. I just had to have my eyes checked to see it clearly.

I love you baby.

Charlie & the magazines

A few years ago, when I first met my father-in-law, I was super intimidated by him. I knew that I wanted to marry his daughter at the point that we started dating. Vickie and I had known each other for a long time before dating ever came up and I didn’t want to spend that amount of time with someone if I didn’t see it going toward marriage and she felt the same. And when I met her dad, it was just a matter of time before I asked him for his blessing. But he was an intimidating guy. Retired Marine. Stern demeanor. Hardcore Republican. More patriotic than most I’ve ever met. Blunt. Great guy.

And then one of the first times I hung out with her family, we went to Books-A-Million in Jacksonville while the ladies went out shopping. Apparently, every Sunday he would go there and get his weekly magazines and maybe a coffee or something. And this particular weekend, he invited me to join him. Which I felt honored.

While in the store, we said nothing and just looked around. Then he said that he was going to go get coffee and suggested for me to grab a magazine or two. So I did what I do at bookstores and grabbed a few magazines (like 6 or so) because I have a short attention span and get bored with them. Then I went to find Charlie and he was in line so I stood up there and waited with him. And he purchased his coffee, my coffee, and all the magazines. Yes, all of them.

He did buy them and give me a look like “you’re gonna read all that. Ok, here we go.” It was pretty embarrassing to have him get 6 magazines that I just wanted to browse through but it makes for a great story. I simply misunderstood what we were doing. To him, we were just stopping in and I was ready to lounge around for a while.

I am not sure why this story popped to my mind but it is just another great example of Charlie and of accepting someone for who they are and supporting them. Even when they’re dumb and may take advantage of your kindness because they truly don’t understand social clues. It was a funny time in my life and I will truly cherish my time with him.

Listening better

I have always loved the phrase, marching to the beat of a different drummer.

In some ways, this is a great thing to attain but in other ways, it is dumb.  In marching band, it would have been quite hilarious if I was marching to the beat of a different drummer, especially if many of us were doing that very same thing.  In fact, our drum section had people playing many different beats but that’s not what I’m talking about.  They were just horrible.  I’m talking about going down different paths.

I studied Jazz music in college.  It was one of my great passions and I still love to devour those songs on Spotify at times. But I was always fascinated by my friend, Lynn, who had this uncanny ability to hear things I didn’t hear.  In some ways, I couldn’t even hear them.  I remember this one solo on this one song that he heard something I had simply missed.

There is an album I have called the Marsalis Family Celebration where Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason join together to celebrate their father, Ellis, retiring from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.  They perform one of my favorite jazz standards called Struttin’ for Some Barbeque (an old Louis Armstrong tune) and Branford Marsalis has this great soprano sax solo that I played for Lynn.  Honestly, I didn’t play just that solo.  I played the whole ten minute song for him but when Branford came in for his part, Lynn rewound the song like 10 times.

Yes, he hit multiple digits before saying a word.  He simply made a “woah” sound and then hit rewind.  I made a dumb Chris Tucker joke saying that he shouldn’t touch a black man’s radio but he ignored me and kept rewinding this one part.

First off, he should have laughed at my joke.  Second off, he did not rewind the song for the whole Branford solo but just the first 6 notes.  Just the first 6.  And Lynn was fascinated because in those 6 quick notes that are easy to miss, he heard something that I had not.  And I love him for that.  I’m also jealous for him having that insane ability.  (If you want to see what I’m referring to, click here and watch this.  Fast forward to 4:15 and stop at 4:18.  Yes, it is like 2 seconds of a solo.  Then go watch the whole thing because it is so awesome and your ears will thank you).

I still listen to this solo on occasion because it is so incredible and every time that solo starts, I remember driving home with Lynn in my car rewinding it over and over to soak it all in.

Because I realized in that moment that some people are just flat out miles ahead of me and I’m not going to catch up.  Running a marathon with Vickie and trying to keep up would be a disaster for me and for her.  Because we are not on the same level and that is okay.  But I did realize that I need to slow down and pay more attention to those things because that may be the main difference between those farther along than us.  They are just hearing better because they have more practice than us.  They are more attuned to what is going on.  So take notes and do what they do and you’ll be greatly enhanced because of it.

My friend Lynn pays attention much better than I do when it comes to notes being played and I’m glad I witnessed it firsthand because it greatly enhanced every other song I heard going forward.  I was never the same after that experience and you can ask some of my friends, I have the tendency to rewind and make sure others catch the things I’m hearing or at least get annoyed by what I’m doing.  Either way is fine with me.

The sad thing about this story is that since that time, Lynn and I have not kept in touch but I know he is doing awesome things.  I have heard he is playing with Prince these days.  Yes, that Prince.  Here is a clip I have found of Lynn playing in case you’re interested.

I know that there is a spiritual principle to this listening but I don’t want to Jesus juke you into it so you can do itself but thanks for reading.  And I hope this finds you, Lynn.  Miss you buddy.

Creative Responsibility

What stopped winter from coming?  Winterfell and it can’t get up. (Found here).

One of the biggest shows on TV right now is Game of Thrones.  I myself have watched Season 1 and was fascinated.  I could have done without all the needless nudity but I kind of expected it (because it is on HBO) and I just prepared myself to close my eyes when I saw it coming (which was actually pretty easy) so I got through it.

George R.R. Martin seems like a genesis but an odd one at that.  He has been known to kill a ton of his characters and does not leave any stone unturned because his books are like 1,000 pages each.  You deserve a degree if you make it through one. But they are great books if not obnoxiously long.

Mr. Martin was on the Nerdist podcast awhile back (you can find it here or on iTunes), Side note: the Nerdist Podcast with Chris Hardwick is one podcast you should definitely check out.  I feel that it is still one of the best podcasts out there.  I listen to it regularly and even go back through and listen again almost every week. But Mr. Martin was on this great podcast discussing a ton of different things and they got on the topic of why he went back to writing books, because he used to be a successful TV writer for shows in the 80s.  And he said it was because he kept getting told that he couldn’t do certain things because they were a) too expensive, b) filled with too many characters, or whatever else.  And he said he wanted creative control so he created his own world from scratch.  But he didn’t realize how true it was that with great power comes great responsibility.

Here is what he said that got me: “Creative control is awesome but we need to have creative responsibility just as much.  We’re the ones to blame when we have complete control.  We can’t blame anyone else after that.”

Sometimes going out all on your own is the thing to do but remember that just because someone is over you now doesn’t mean you have complete freedom on your own later.  You have an even greater responsibility on your own.  Recently, Jon Acuff wrote (Read it here) about being wrong because of how naive he was about being an entrepreneur and he said that he had no idea of the amount of help he would need along the way.

I love this concept because it makes me realize how much something costs.  If you want to strike it out on your own, you can do great things and be in the thick of it all but you will also take the full responsibility and you must ask yourself, are you ready?  Ready to take on everything.  Because if not, it may be better to wait for someone else to catapult you to the next level.

Free Comics!!! and a great lesson

People in costumes have always fascinated me.  To be more specific, I mean people dressed up in Superhero outfits or something of that nature.  Spending the time it takes on something that others may not understand or care about is a worthy endeavor.  And likely I hold it in such high regards because I will never do such a thing.  I just don’t like that kind of thing and likely never will.

I have never been one to dress up on Halloween other than something like Three Hole Punch Bunch, or writing Book on my face (yeah I basically want to be Jim Halpert but so should you, after all who wouldn’t want to be him) or have a cool jacket on and surrender before a storm trooper and then call myself Han Solo (true story).  That sincerely is the equivalent of the amount of time I have spent on costumes. And that will likely never change.

But after attending, Free Comic Book Day this past Saturday, I have a new perspective on this hobby people have.  And it started while waiting in line 2 hours before the opening of Acme Comics for Free Comic Book Day.  Let me preface by saying that you have to get there 2 hours early so that you can stand at the end of the block in line because you are stuck behind nerds who do fascinate me but honestly have way too much time on their hands since they can start lining up on Thursday afternoon for an event Saturday morning (especially when you can get said comics Saturday evening if you want to avoid lines but miss some cool things).

I digress.  Here’s the scene.  Me and my three year old son who wanted to get a costume change from his Batman cape to his Ninja outfit (which entails oddly enough, a Batman beanie hat, a pink headband that my wife used to run with, and a TMNT sword).  We get back to the line after having to go to the car and we get to meet a guy who dresses as Nick Fury on a full time basis.  His words, not mine.

I asked him, “So you do this regularly?  Like how often?”  He replied that it was “full time.”  My thoughts immediately went to “you get paid to do this.”  And he read my mind and said, “unfortunately this is not something I get paid to do.  I do get perks like free access to fun events and stuff like that but I do it so much because I love it.  I’ve always done it and I’ll probably always do it even if I don’t ever get paid to do it.”

Wow, Nick Fury, this answer floored me.  Here I was just making presumptions about you being a bigger nerd than I am, even though we were both nerding out at Free Comic Book day.  I at least wasn’t dressed up and had my son there at least as an excuse if someone asked why.  But you, and your fury, showed me what true passion really is.  It is going all out for whatever it is you love and not expecting anything else in return.  Because just doing what you love is reward enough.

So today shift your focus from asking yourself when am I gonna get paid to do this (whatever this is for you) to why can’t I do this more.  You may end up getting paid to do what you love, at least in some small way.  But if not, who cares, you like my new bud Nick Fury, would probably be doing it anyways.

Fearing God’s will

There is a side of me that doesn’t want to hear the will of God.  I’m sure that I am not the only one to feel this way but if I am, that’s okay.  Don’t get me wrong, I do want God to move in my life but part of me doesn’t want to know where I have to go to do it.  And honestly, one thing I fear is that I will have to stay where I am at.

Sometimes God calls us to go somewhere new.  Somewhere far off.  But I believe the harder one for us to hear is when God tells us to stay.  To face the obstacles in front of us and just buckle in for the long ride ahead.

Too many pastors I know have left their jobs.  Too many people leave their jobs trying to pursue a dream job that ultimately never happens because they never use the place they’re at to catapult them forward.

I have yet to meet a pastor who has left his church for a smaller church.  It is always some place bigger and usually with more stuff and a lot of times, it has more money.  I am not trying to bash people who move up in the world.  It is fine but I do find it odd that God “would call” that many people (essentially everyone) to larger and better things, worldly-wise, when He talks about using the foolish and the small things of this world to shame the wise.

The only example I know off hand is Francis Chan but he admittedly had some type of breakdown and wanted to get away from all of that celebrity stuff he was facing.  Guess that is what it is like at a million books sold.  Hopefully I can know that struggle someday.  Or at least hit a million books sold before facing that kind of trial.

But there is a side of me that fears knowing the will of God.  What if He calls me to do the thing that I don’t want to do?  What if getting to where I desire to be costs me too much?  What if I knew how much it was gonna take to find out my dream and then accomplish it?

Maybe I shouldn’t be in that place if I’m not willing to put in the time and effort it takes to get there.

Thanks for listening to these thoughts going through my head.