bachelors traversing the status quo

What first comes to mind when you think of a bach­e­lor pad? Per­haps some­thing along the lines of the pic­ture below?

messy bachelor pad

 

 

 

 

 

How­ever, if you stop by my apart­ment (which is shared with a room­mate), you’re sure to find a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence. With touches from wall art, to orga­ni­za­tion sys­tems, to an always clean kitchen and fridge, our bach­e­lor pad doesn’t fit the sta­tus quo. In fact, more than likely if you come around the din­ner hour you’ll find one of us cook­ing a meal. When I say meal, I don’t mean ramen. We don’t even have a microwave.

We’re two totally dif­fer­ent guys with extremely oppo­site per­son­al­i­ties, careers, and hob­bies. I’m in the med­ical field and my room­mate is in the film indus­try. About the only sim­i­lar­ity is that we’re both Chris­tians and we both run small busi­ness out of our apartment.

So what’s the secret to keep a clean house? It’s an incen­tive pro­gram. It basi­cally works like this. We have iden­ti­fied 4 areas in the apart­ment that we have to keep clean. If my room­mate makes a mess and leaves the apart­ment or leaves it overnight, and I clean it up for him, then I place a hash mark on our white­board. For every hash mark, I get to take $5 off my half of the rent, and vice versa for my room­mate. It’s a pretty good incen­tive that is keep­ing our place spot­less and ready for guests at any­time. So, if you’ve got a room­mate, it’s worth giv­ing it a try. You may end up sav­ing some money this month.

Since we’re talk­ing about room­mates and apart­ments, here’s a project that my room­mate and I are going to start work­ing on this week to give us a lit­tle more space and orga­ni­za­tion. See pic­ture below.

fridge pantry

making the most of rest

It’s been a blur of a year. I started out teach­ing classes dur­ing the Spring semes­ter almost every­day. I also met my dream girl the begin­ning of the year. As the semes­ter ended, the triathlon sea­son started and I was aver­ag­ing 2 races a month. Throw in some wed­dings and a cou­ple other road trips, and it was a very time con­sum­ing sum­mer. Oh, I for­got to men­tion I also started my own teach­ing company.…AHH!!!

I just fin­ished my last race which hap­pened to be the Nation­als 2 weeks ago, and the dust has finally set­tled. I was just star­ing at my cal­en­dar and it is com­pletely empty. After 8 months of busi­ness, I hon­estly feel uncom­fort­able with all this free time. I don’t want to fill it with another reg­i­ment of projects. So, the ques­tion is raised, how do I make the most of this sea­son of rest?

Well, busy lives equate to dis­trac­tion. Dis­trac­tion from God, other rela­tion­ships, good habits, etc. A focus on spir­i­tual things should always be the fore­most thing. Dig­ging in a lit­tle deeper with the church, amp­ing up daily devo­tional time, and seek­ing dis­ci­ple­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties. Sec­ond is strength­en­ing rela­tion­ships with a core group of friends (includ­ing your sig­nif­i­cant other if applic­a­ble) which sta­tis­tics say we can’t main­tain more than 6 close friend­ships. Third would be tak­ing up some gen­eral good habits like read­ing, writ­ing, inten­tional solitude/​mediation, and so forth.

So, if you find your­self in one of these rare sea­sons as well. Resist the urge to fill the void. Embrace the empti­ness, attempt to pro­long it as long as pos­si­ble, and use the time to focus on the fun­da­men­tals of your life.

What would you enjoy doing if money were no object?

I watched a video tonight that cut deep. The ques­tion was asked, “How would you enjoy spend­ing your life if money were no object?” Watch the video for yourself.

Peo­ple have dreams but get jobs to make money to live those dreams. Young peo­ple get a good career and get wrapped up in it, then buy a house, have a fam­ily, and become so depen­dent and com­fort­able with where they’re at. They never break the cycle to do what they really wanted.

Why do peo­ple get full time jobs and take pro­mo­tions? It’s for the money. Why not try liv­ing your dream even if you don’t think you’re ready? No one ever thinks they’re finan­cially or emo­tion­ally ready for mar­riage or kids but these are accepted “risks”. Could liv­ing your dream be one of those “risks” that end up turn­ing out alright? I read once that “Fears are often only paper thin. All you have to do is walk through it.”

Wouldn’t it be bet­ter to live life to the fullest for 5yr and have some­thing to remem­ber than live a mun­dane life for 50yr? And hon­estly, I’ve seen a few close fam­i­lies to me go through bank­ruptcy and some­how today they seem no worse off for it than me. Money holds far too strong of a grip on us.

Full time jobs pro­vide insur­ance, and it’s thought to be fool­ish not to have insur­ance espe­cially if we have kids. Well is it not just as wise to put away money each month for emer­gen­cies and scrap insur­ance? Besides, if some­thing cat­a­strophic hap­pens, insur­ance gives up and you’ll end up with some­thing you can’t pay anyway.

Insur­ance is so we can give our kids a bet­ter chance at a future. But what kind of future are they really going to have with us set­ting the exam­ple that they’ll fol­low of get­ting a job and work­ing our lives away doing some­thing we really don’t enjoy?

Take the plunge. Don’t set­tle for this society’s phe­sod of free­dom. Free­dom lies among a select few who are brave enough to go after it. I use to be one of them and I plan on join­ing the ranks again.

simple productivity tips

Some­times though we wish life were sim­pler, it just isn’t. For those of us with com­plex and busy lifestyles in the pro­longed process of sim­pli­fy­ing our lives, there’s a few pro­duc­tiv­ity tips to help.

  • Take sup­ple­ments. Most of us don’t get all the nutri­ents we need, and nutri­ents play a big role in our energy level and sleep qual­ity. Here’s a few of the things I’ve been tak­ing that I’ve noticed mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence. Juice Plus+Opti­mum Nutri­tion, Omega 3 Fish Oils.
  • Wake up early. I like to get up between 5–5:30am (I feel great now that I’m on those sup­ple­ments). There’s no sci­en­tific research, but I always seem to get more done when I wake up early. By 10am I can have most things done that would oth­er­wise usu­ally take all day.
  • Use a to-​​do list. To-​​do lists aren’t just for peo­ple with bad mem­o­ries. When you have some­thing writ­ten down to accom­plish for the day, there’s an instinc­tive nature to want to check off those items. I use Things, but there’s plenty of other free appli­ca­tions out there. Try to find one that has a com­puter and phone app that sync.
  • Exer­cise. This will help get the blood flow­ing, release those endor­phines, and make you more focused. 20min of ele­vated heart rate is all it takes. Swim, bike, run, yoga, hike, rock climb, lift weights, etc. You can’t say you don’t have options.
  • Plan ahead. To-​​do lists are good for the daily details, but you also need to map out the big pic­ture. Take one day a week to jot out your next week’s sched­ule. I put down work appoint­ments, exer­cises and their times, recre­ational blocks of times, and per­sonal study times (because I always want to be learn­ing). Per­son­ally, cer­tain cat­e­gories I plan for the upcom­ing week and some I plan 2wk in advance due to my sched­ule fill­ing if I don’t plan far enough out. Once you make your sched­ule, decide to stick to your guns (like exer­cise) if some­thing else comes up (friend want­ing to get coffee)…there will be other days.

The Simple Guide to Finding God’s Will

So the end of the mat­ter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scrip­tures. Think of oth­ers before your­self. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do what­ever else you like, with whomever you like, wher­ever you like, and you’ll be walk­ing in the will of God.

Occa­sion­ally I like to read through the whole book of Eccle­si­astes in one sit­ting. At first it’s pretty depress­ing as you read about how every­thing we do is all in vain, but at the very end of the book, the author brings it all around and leaves the reader with a very sim­ple and some­what inspir­ing (depend­ing how you look at it) mes­sage. In Eccle­si­astes I believe I have found an answer to the age old ques­tion of find­ing God’s will for our lives.

Life is pointless.

Van­ity of van­i­ties, says the Preacher,
van­ity of van­i­ties! All is van­ity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A gen­er­a­tion goes, and a gen­er­a­tion comes,
but the earth remains for­ever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and has­tens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its cir­cuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weari­ness;
a man can­not utter it;
the eye is not sat­is­fied with see­ing,
nor the ear filled with hear­ing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is noth­ing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
There is no remem­brance of for­mer things,
nor will there be any remem­brance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
(Eccle­si­astes 1:2–11 ESV)

Your life sit­u­a­tion is not unique.

Did you see that part in the pre­vi­ous pas­sage where it says “there’s noth­ing new under the sun?” So often we like to think we’ve got a prob­lem that no one else can relate to. The truth is, all prob­lems can be cat­e­go­rized and boil down to a few things. Stop think­ing your prob­lem is this huge thing that can’t be solved. When you think your prob­lem is unique, we tend to down­play the advice we receive, even of those who are much older and wiser.

The first step in find­ing God’s will is rec­og­niz­ing that His will is sim­ple and so is your prob­lem (in one sense). Don’t over think.

Do what­ever you love.

So every­thing is point­less and noth­ing we do is new. We just keep rein­vent­ing the wheel and think we’re doing some­thing novel when in real­ity we’re not. So, the author boils his con­clu­sion of life down to this.

I per­ceived that there is noth­ing bet­ter for them than to be joy­ful and to do good as long as they live; also that every­one should eat and drink and take plea­sure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (Ecc 3:12–13)

The author con­tin­ues to say this:

There is a van­ity that takes place on earth, that there are right­eous peo­ple to whom it hap­pens accord­ing to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked peo­ple to whom it hap­pens accord­ing to the deeds of the right­eous. I said that this also is van­ity. (Ecc 8:14)

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. (Ecc 11:9)

Basi­cally it’s knock­ing the idea of karma. Good peo­ple some­times suf­fer what we think bad peo­ple deserve and some­times bad peo­ple enjoy the ben­e­fits that we think are befit­ting of good peo­ple. There­fore, the sec­ond quotes con­cludes that the whole mat­ter is van­ity and there­fore we should just do what­ever we enjoy doing. Whether it’s morally good or bad, it doesn’t humanly matter.

You will be held accountable.

Chris­tians might freak a lit­tle bit at the thought the Bible would tell us we can do what­ever we want. Don’t get too hung up on that. The point is that it’s all van­ity. In real­ity, the author says in the very last sen­tence of the book, “For God will bring every deed into judg­ment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Here on earth, what you do doesn’t hold much weight, but that’s not to say it doesn’t count for some­thing in eternity.

The bot­tom line is to fear God and keep His commandments.

The end of the mat­ter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his com­mand­ments, for this is the whole duty of man.” That’s it, that’s all there is to say. You can share your story with me and make out your life sit­u­a­tion to be as com­plex as you think it is, but my response will always con­clude the same way. Are you fear­ing God and keep­ing his commandments?

What are the commandments?

Let me gen­er­ally list off the com­mand­ments for our life.

  1. Live/​pursue a life that mir­rors God’s holi­ness (Look at Exo­dus 20 and Gala­tians 5)
  2. Be involved and actively serv­ing in a local body of believ­ers. (Hebrews 10:25)
  3. Evan­ge­lize and dis­ci­ple peo­ple around you. (Matt 28:19)

Bring­ing it all together.

As an exam­ple, you may ques­tion if cos­me­tol­ogy is some­thing you can jus­tify doing as a Chris­t­ian for a liv­ing and how that fits into God’s plan. Well, my first ques­tion is if you ‘re actively being faith­ful in keep­ing the 3 com­mand­ments above? If you are and your desire to do what­ever it may be isn’t sin­ful, then that’s all I want to know. In fact, I encour­age peo­ple to be inte­rior design­ers or cos­me­tol­o­gist (often thought of as vain occu­pa­tions when in real­ity every­thing is vain) because you have an oppor­tu­nity to relate and there­fore min­is­ter to other peo­ple in those occu­pa­tions whereas it may not be as easy for me.

Fear God, keep his com­mand­ments, and do what­ever you desire. This is the chief end of man. You don’t need a writ­ing on the wall. God has given us the lib­erty to do what we love and it doesn’t have to be directly spir­i­tual, we just have to be inten­tion­ally spir­i­tual wher­ever we are, doing what­ever we’re doing.

John Flavel on Finding God’s Will

John Flavel:

If there­fore in doubt­ful cases you would dis­cover God’s will, gov­ern your­selves in your search after it by the fol­low­ing rules:

  1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts. Be really afraid of offend­ing him. God will not hide his mind from such a soul. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
  2. Study the Word more, and the con­cerns and inter­ests of the world less. The Word is light to your feet (Psalm 119:105), that is, it has a dis­cov­er­ing and direct­ing use­ful­ness as to all duties to be done and dan­gers to be avoided…
  3. Reduce what you know into prac­tice, and you shall know what is your duty to prac­tice. “If any man do his will he shall know of the doc­trine” (John 7:17). “A good under­stand­ing have all they that do his com­mand­ments” (Psalm 111:10).
  4. Pray for illu­mi­na­tion and direc­tion in the way that you should go.Beg the Lord to guide you in straits and that he would not per­mit you to fall into sin…
  5. And this being done, fol­low Prov­i­dence so far as it agrees with the Word and no fur­ther. There is no use to be made of Prov­i­dence against the Word, but in sub­servience to it.

The Mys­tery of Prov­i­dence, 1678, (Carlisle, PA: Ban­ner of Truth Trust, 2006), 188–9, empha­sis mine.

HTJonathan Par­nell

live simply, live radically: making friends

All of you are prob­a­bly famil­iar with the hit work­out pro­gram P90X. Well they’ve come out with a new pro­gram called P90X+ for those who are ready to go beyond the orig­i­nal pro­gram for a greater chal­lenge. Liv­ing sim­ply is a stretch for some peo­ple but if liv­ing sim­ply isn’t rad­i­cal enough, I have some more chal­lenges for the “élite”.

Remem­ber, every­thing on this site is to help you live more ful­fill­ing lives that are extra­or­di­nary, break­ing the sta­tus quo. Do I have life fig­ured out? No, but do what you read, and it is guar­an­teed to work.

Meet strangers

I hear it all the time from friends that they strug­gle with mak­ing friends, find­ing peo­ple to do things with. Plain and sim­ple, they’re lonely. These are cool peo­ple, they’re not socially inept, but social­iz­ing just isn’t work­ing for them. It’s almost as if they expect rela­tion­ships to just hap­pen. Here’s the truth, 9 out of 10 times it’s up to you to make rela­tion­ships happen.

The major­ity of our rela­tion­ships are formed through com­mon activ­i­ties such as church, school and sports teams. The prob­lem with those rela­tion­ships is they’re usu­ally formed around one par­tic­u­lar inter­est, and those peo­ple you meet in those venues don’t usu­ally have much more in com­mon than that one interest.

So, get out there and start meet­ing peo­ple out­side your nor­mal venues. Wher­ever you go (ie gas sta­tions, cof­fee houses, restau­rants, etc) seek to engage peo­ple on a deeper level than the typ­i­cal transaction.

Peo­ple are wired to be self-​​centered (if you don’t believe me, than you’ve obvi­ously never spent much time around a 2yr old). To make friends you need to view oth­ers as more impor­tant than your­self and look at oth­ers inter­ests as more impor­tant than your own. I know you want a friend but you first need to be a friend before you can have a friend. When I meet some­one and engage with them, I treat them like we’ve been best friends. It’s not the cul­tural norm how fast and aggres­sively I pur­sue rela­tion­ships, but it works.

Take risks with strangers

When I meet some­one that I think has poten­tial, I make sure to get a num­ber, send them a quick text so I’m in their phone, and within a cou­ple days try to set up a lunch date or activ­ity. I love being gen­er­ous, so I always pay at our first meet up. It may or may not go any­where from there, but that’s ok. Some friend­ships last a week and oth­ers for years. It’s impor­tant to take life one day at a time and squeeze the most out of it. Don’t try to live a ful­fill­ing life for 10yr, strive just for today.

Remem­ber, treat strangers like they’re your best friend. To me that seems like how Jesus would’ve treated peo­ple. So share what you have freely with every­one, it’s not yours any­way. God gave it to you and he can take it away just as fast.

Don’t be afraid to invite strangers over to your house. Lis­ten, if you really want to be used by God and you say that you’re will­ing to be sent any­where, then this shouldn’t be an issue. How do you expect to be will­ing to be sent to the Mid­dle East with your fam­ily to preach the Gospel if you’re afraid of hav­ing strangers around your home and fam­ily here in the US?

Be con­sis­tent

Meet­ing strangers is a good prac­tice, but some­times hav­ing famil­iar­ity is good also. After all, one way to meet strangers is for friends to intro­duce you to their friends. So, become a reg­u­lar. Even if it’s 2mi out of the way, go to the same gas sta­tion. Even if you don’t feel like cof­fee one week, hit up a local cof­fee shop regularly.

Be con­sis­tent with ini­ti­at­ing activ­i­ties. Don’t invite some­one you just met out to lunch once and then expect them to ini­ti­ate the next activ­ity. With social media on the rise, it’s an undis­puted fact that peo­ple are get­ting worse at know­ing how to social­ize. Some­times we need to give peo­ple a lit­tle help.

Here’s the for­mula for mak­ing a best friend. Treat the per­son like they are your best friend, inter­act reg­u­larly and serve them.

Don’t be picky

I’m the worst at this. I want friends but I’m super picky about who I want to be friends with. You have to have the right looks, be on my “level”, be well con­nected, etc. I know, sounds pretty super­fi­cial, right? I’m just being hon­est and work­ing on it.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons from my brother, Jonathan. He is the man. Peo­ple flock around my brother, and it’s almost like he doesn’t even try. Here’s my the­ory about him. He shows no par­tial­ity to peo­ple. He’s kind to every­one (which I am too) but he goes beyond that and includes/​hangs out with the “unpop­u­lar” kids even though my bro ranks high on the cool kids meter. That says a lot about his char­ac­ter and I think other peo­ple notice and it makes him a very attrac­tive person.

This is an off the cuff blog post. It’s not meant to rank high on Google, but I hope it at least gives you some things to chew on. Set goals. Meet 1 new per­son a week, fig­ure out where you’re going to hang, etc. Now get out there and make some friends.

On Spontaneity and Having Fun

Living simple is suppose to create happiness and freedom but sometimes that’s not enough. In my case I’m living more simple than ever before and yet I’ve noticed a significant diminish in my “cheeriness” level. If you asked me what’s wrong, I couldn’t tell you. Everything had actually been going in my favor. Yet something was missing in my simplistic lifestyle.

Even though I’ve set up my life to where everything I do is something I enjoy doing, it still can become an enjoyable routine. Every once in awhile there’s a need for spontanaity. Notice I said spontanaity and not just having fun. Because in my life everything I do is fun but there’s a certain level of normalcy about it and it’s all penciled into my schedule. I had a New Year’s Eve party at my house which was fun but it was still run of the mill because I had to plan it.

New Year’s Eve differs from last night when I just went out to eat with some friends, kicked back, and shot the breeze. Then after that a group of us got wind of place with a local band and went there for awhile. It was so relaxing and I felt that it being short notice made it more special than something being planned and thought over.

So what am I trying to say? Just don’t get caught in the tracks of your life. Every once in awhile leave space in your schedule not to be a couch potato at home but to text some friends and see who wants go to do something. What’s fun for you is probably different than what’s fun for me, but the point isn’t what you do but that you take the initiative to do something. After all, isn’t that part of why we’re trying to be simplistic so that it frees us up to live more of life? What good are those efforts if we don’t take advantage of those new found freedoms?

The Rule of 3s

I’m really excited about this post.  The Rule of 3s is one of those life changing philosophies for me.  I’ve been mulling over it for over 30 days which is significant as you’ll come to find out.

I’ve been trying to figure out a general rule of thumb to live my life out by.  Through trial and error I’ve come to find out that my life areas work best in groups of 3.

History

There are certain numbers in the Bible that are considered special. They are: 3, 7, and 40. The number 3 denotes “divine perfection.” Examples of the number 3 are: Christ was buried and rose in 3 days; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and there’s a lot more.

How it’s applied.

How ironic is it that 3 denotes perfection and we’re looking for the perfect balance in our lives.  So, this is how it all comes together.

1. I use “3″ to define tasks in my life. For example, I’m an EMT, student, and intern in my church. My hobbies consist of swimming, blogging, and wakeboarding. I keep my to-do list to 3 things.

2. Making decisions. 3 days, 30 days, or 3 months. Depending on what kind of decision needs to be made will determine how long to wait but it’s pretty self explanatory. When asked to take on a new responsibility, wait 3 days. When deciding to purchase something, wait 30 days. When making a big/life changing decision (ie getting in a relationship, moving out, etc), wait 3 months.

3. Exceptions. Some decisions have to be made split second, but those are few and far between (like 1 in 100). I’m not saying don’t do anything more than 3 things.  I can volunteer at the soup kitchen or go running with a friend, but it’s not part of my regular routine.

My experience.

July and August were absolutely miserable months for me. I had overcommitted to numerous things and made some rash decisions.  There was nothing I could do about it once it was set in motion but wait for it to be over.  Now it’s September and my life has resumed to it’s normal pace.  All because I’ve incorporated the rule of 3.

Keeping things simple and staying focused on only a few things makes a huge difference. Try it for yourself and see how far you can group your life into 3s.

Love What You Do

If you’re so excited about the weekend and you’re dreading Monday morning, you better start rethinking your life cuz it doesn’t have to be that way. I love every day of the week. Life can be that good.”

For most people, their job is what everything revolves around (including emotions).  If I suggest you find something else to do, you’d probably freak.  So, I’ll let someone else suggest and let you freak at them.