After spending last week in Southern California and have some extra time to reflect, this week before a busy season. I found myself thinking about things that are good, and things I’m not okay with.
After freezing for the last two months in some crazy cold temperatures, it was definitely okay to be sitting on the cliffs above Dana Point mesmerized by the ocean.
It was okay to have a morning run on the beach, to have time with my wife by an ocean-side fire pit at sunset, to soak in the sun for extended periods of time, and to take in a yoga lesson while a huge school of dolphins passed by.
It was not okay to leave the airport on Saturday when it was 70 degrees and touch down in Omaha with a windchill of minus 27… yeah, that’s about a 100 degree swing. Definitely not okay!
Good things: working through the selection process of our next RHYTHMinTWENTY group. We waded through almost 100 applications that we were considering, and we’re really excited about the 20 new leaders from all over the country who will start this journey. I just can’t believe it has been five years since we launched the first RHYTHM group for Harbor Ministry. What an incredible ride it has been, and this next group has got me really excited about what God is up to.
Not okay: sending out all these emails this morning to people we were not able to get in this group. Everybody deserves an experience like this, but we are very committed to deeply investing in just 20 at a time. But it was hard to push send this morning
Good things: the Huskers playing Sunday for their first NCAA appearance in basketball in like 15 years. That stirs a basketball memory or two for me. My dad loved basketball, and I remember him taking me to a Nebraska game when I was a kid. It was in a classic old coliseum, it was loud and rowdy and Nebraska , with its star Jerry Fort, was playing for a similar prize against Kansas. To tell you the truth, I don’t even remember the outcome, but I sure remember the road trip and the great memory with my dad all those years ago.
Not okay: that my dad left us way too early. He died before he could see my kids play basketball and develop a similar love for the sport that he had.
I guess this week has been a random mix of highs and lows, struggles and successes, adventure and mundane moments, difficult things and exciting things. It’s been a pretty good snapshot of life
The last few weeks I have been bogged down, indecisive, struggling, hating the cold, and in a generally lousy mood. I have struggled with the easy decisions, and have repeatedly been stressed out by insignificant events.
So this week I changed the scenery and sought some higher ground. Granted, most anyone’s outlook will brighten if you’re staring at the ocean from the cliffs above Dana Point, California. But the scene reminded me again that when I have searched out higher ground–I mean literally higher ground–it has helped my perspective and given me the needed push to keep moving. Nothing mind blowing today, no huge revelations, but this change of scenery really helped.
It is part of why I have always hiked up to higher ground. It is why I did it again today. Things don’t seem as stressful. I seem to think more clearly and it is so much easier to see the bigger picture. In two days, it’s back to the cold but it has been great to be reminded again that a change of view–and a change of about seventy degrees–has provided some needed inspiration and a change in perspective. So next time I feel myself sliding toward anger and frustration, or stuck in indecision, I am going to do my best to change my view and move to some higher ground.
Maybe it is because I am aching for some warm temps, and I find myself daydreaming about a ride in my favorite spot on the planet.
But in this season of looking back and remembering when God has spoken, I was drawn back to something I wrote a few months ago.
I’m often reminded of a devotional I read a long time ago by Oswald Chambers. He talked about the importance of learning to live in the ordinary gray days according to what we saw on the mountain.
That’s a great challenge for me because I love the mountains. For some reason, I think more clearly there. It is a great thing for me to leave business and stress behind and head to Colorado for the solitude, the silence, the fantastic beauty, and a great ride on the trail.
For many years I have biked down the No. 401 trail in Crested Butte, Colorado. It is a wild, remote, crazy beautiful spot between Crested Butte and Aspen. Right above Gothic pass, you have to push your bike up this single-track trail. After an aggressive stretch through a meadow, you emerge through some trees and you can see for miles down the valley to Crested Butte. On the other side, if you climb a little higher, you can see the Maroon Belle Mountain Range.
I’ve had many great moments at the top of that trail. I came to somewhat of a peace with the loss of my parents there. I have found needed clarity, wrestled with anger and dissappointment, and caught ideas and thoughts on my future up there. For whatever reason, I just feel closer to God there.
But I know i have to find a way to live the day to day in the flatlands, with the inspiration that I find there.
One thing I have to do, especially this time of year, is remind myself often about the whispers I heard from God in the mountains. It really helps me on these long, gray, and quiet, flat…winter days.
But come this summer, I am heading back to the 401.
So I continue to feel nudged to read some of my old journals, and it is crazy how encouraging, inspiring, and challenging it has been. Several years ago, I was meeting with a mentor of mine, Dan Webster. It was long before we launched Harbor Ministry, and the RHYTHMinTWENTY events that we now do. At that time Dan asked me this: ” What is it that you are passionate about? What do you uniquely bring to the table? What is it that God has put on your heart, that if you do not do it won’t get done?”
So that night, Feb 6, 2006, I journaled this:
- I think I need to create a experience for people. Not just an event, but a experience that can inspire and encourage other leaders.
- I think I need to create a pathway of sorts, to help leaders stay the course with their families, to leave a legacy, to enjoy the journey, to finish well.
- I hope I can help lay a foundation for younger leaders, and encourage the older ones to keep going.
(As I sit here in Feb of 2014, it is crazy how what I am doing now with Harbor Ministry is nearly identical to what I laid out in 2006.)Then later that spring in 2006, I come across something I wrote about a passage In Acts 26:16-18. The verse says, “Arise, I appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things you have seen. I am delivering you form the people and from the gentiles, to whom I send you… to open their eyes.” It was then that I knew I needed to start to put some of this Harbor stuff into action.
This was a time in my life when I was thinking about some pretty big decisions, and wondering if I should launch this new ministry. Looking back has really encouraged me to keep going, to keep taking chances, to keep taking the steps that I sense God is leading me toward.
So today I am reminded again, that is really is helpful to look back, and see the ways He has spoken and led me. I am challenged as well to keep journaling, keep capturing the thoughts, moments, and impressions along the journey. Take a look back, you may be amazed at how He has led you.
Last week I wrote some from this coffee house I was hanging out in about an hour from my house. Even though it was close, it did take some effort to get there, and I about talked myself out of going. I’m too busy. I can just do it here. This will be a waste of time. You know… that stuff we all struggle with.
I talked about looking back and re-engaging with the steps, the direction, and the leading I have felt in the past. It continues to ring true that it makes no sense for God to give me more until I have taken some of the steps I am already aware of.
Last week was a great reminder again that it is so important to create some “space” for some extended times of quiet and solitude. It is just a lot easier to to see, listen, hear, and experience God when we step away from the regular routine and pace of life. It seems so simple, yet profound to me, but until we unplug and shut off the noise, how are we ever going to hear and get the perspective we need? This practice has always been important to me. I have done some form of this ever since I was little. Back then, I would seek the pasture behind our house, sit by the pond to fish, play, dream. And this practice of shutting off the noise remains critical for me to this day.
Last week, as I was re-reading some of my old journals, I came across something I wrote several years ago when I was perched on this mountain pass at one of my favorite places on the planet, Gothic pass above Crested Butte Colorado: “What an incredible hike and bike ride. I sit atop this pass in total peace; the first real peace I have had in several weeks. I’m surrounded by a 360-degree view of incredible awe and beauty. So important to find these places to separate and get a bigger and a wider perspective to life. Things just seem different up here. It’s so important to create this kind of space so I can more clearly hear, and experience God this way”
So on this gray, cold January day in Nebraska… here is to figuring that out… here is to finding a place to turn down the noise… a place to look back, and to finding a place to listen…