God Is Our Fortress [Psalm 46 Personalized]

God is my refuge and strength,
a very present help in trou­ble.“
There­fore I will not fear though my life crum­bles before my eyes,
though I lose every­thing I once held dear.
whether it’s my fam­ily or friends,
or my job and all my possessions.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habi­ta­tion of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morn­ing dawns.“
Friends may mock, they may try to shake my foun­da­tions;
“he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought des­o­la­tions on the earth;“
He fights for me, and gives me the strength of 10,000;
He will silence my ene­mies tongues and deaden their actions;
He will destroy what they hold onto for strength.

‘Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!‘
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress”

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.

how to change the world using social networking

YES WE CAN”…an inspi­ra­tional slo­gan from the 2008 Obama cam­paign that inspired mil­lions and put Obama into the pres­i­den­tial office. The Mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion (those born 1980–2000) is defined by a few key ele­ments, one of which is the indi­vid­ual drive to make a dif­fer­ence in this world. The Mil­len­ni­als don’t care about being pres­i­dent or becom­ing a mil­lion­aire and single-​​handedly chang­ing the world, they just want to do some­thing that makes a dif­fer­ence in this world (and it’s happening). So, this is my appeal to the Mil­len­ni­als and any­one else out there who wants to make a difference.

The rise of the inter­net in our gen­er­a­tion has become one of the most pow­er­ful influ­enc­ing tools in his­tory. There are so many exam­ples of peo­ple who have unin­ten­tion­ally impacted the world through things they’ve put up on web­sites, blogs and videos. Just think what we can do if we inten­tion­ally use the free media out­let at our fin­ger­tips. There’s so many ways to make your voice heard, but I want to focus on social networking.

Face­book is some­what restric­tive as far as how many peo­ple are exposed to what you post. How­ever, Twit­ter and Google+ are, by default, view­able by the entire world. We hear about those who post their every move from when they’re tak­ing a shower to what condi­ment they decided to use on their sand­wich for lunch. I think that kind of use of social net­work­ing is friv­o­lous and a poor use of one’s time. Most of us aren’t that bad, but I think it’s fair to say that we can all admit to some extent of friv­o­lous posting.

This is a call to become more inten­tional with the way we use social net­work­ing. More inten­tional to make a dif­fer­ence in this world. Here’s the stan­dards I’ve set for myself and some ideas that you can implement.

  1. Make peo­ple pause. I want to post things that will cause peo­ple to stop, ques­tion, reeval­u­ate, reflect, learn, etc. Chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo and, if relevent, try­ing to inspire action. This includes quotes, videos and links to arti­cles and organizations.
  2. Shar­ing your life. One of the great­est things about social net­work­ing is that it has added an ele­ment to rela­tion­ships that no other gen­er­a­tion has had. There’s a bal­ance between post­ing about tak­ing a shower and let­ting peo­ple know I got the job I’ve wanted. I try to post things about myself that define my life story. A good indi­ca­tor is ask­ing your­self what your mom would want to hear about your week if you called her?
  3. Inten­tional inter­ac­tion. Social net­work­ing is an aspect of mod­ern rela­tion­ships and like any rela­tion­ship it requires inter­ac­tions on both sides. I want to inter­act, though, in an inten­tional way that encour­ages, chal­lenges and sup­ports. The ideal inten­tional rela­tion­ship doesn’t just stop online, it should be fol­lowed up with a phone call or get­ting together.
If you want more thoughts on inten­tional social net­work­ing and how to make a dif­fer­ence, read “why you’re not my ‘friend’ on face­book any­more”.

why you’re not my “friend” on facebook anymore

Face­book has been in my life for a long time. I was one of the few who had an account when it was only open to those with school email addresses. I watched as it went pub­lic and the social net­work­ing world boomed. Regard­less of the social realm, I was a born net­worker and thrived on con­nect­ing with as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. By 2011 I had nearly 1300 friends which isn’t as many as some have but dou­ble of the aver­age user.

As I’m get­ting older, the value of friend­ships is being impressed heav­ily on me. I rec­og­nize the need for solid friends that encour­age and sup­port each other. I’ve been seek­ing out ways to become more inten­tional in my rela­tion­ships. When it came to social net­work­ing, a prob­lem pre­sented itself because it was impos­si­ble to be inten­tional with 1300 friends. Many of those so called friends I hadn’t talked to in years, and all they did was clut­ter my news feed with info that hid those I truly cared about.

If I was truly going to be inten­tional with my true friends, I needed to be able to con­sis­tently fol­low what was going on in their lives. Beyond that, I needed to take my inten­tion­al­ity a step fur­ther and only use Face­book as a cat­a­lyst to reach deeper into the lives of my friends by fol­low­ing through with phone calls, emails, and meet­ing in per­son. If I have no inten­tion of doing one of those 3 things, then they’re truly not “friends”, they fall more under the cat­e­gory of “acquain­tance” (though at one time they may have been more of a friend).

How do I net­work with those who don’t fall under “friend” but I want some vir­tual con­nec­tion? I use other social net­work avenues such as LinkedIn (for busi­ness) and Twit­ter (though I can’t define how I use it dif­fer­ently than fb, but I do).

Let me empha­size, though, that even if you elim­i­nate peo­ple on your social net­works, that doesn’t auto­mat­i­cally mean you get more qual­ity out of your rela­tion­ships. It takes dili­gence to go beyond press­ing the “Like” but­ton and using what peo­ple post on Face­book to spur con­ver­sa­tion on a deeper level. The most impor­tant of all is to “con­sider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24).

To date, I’ve gone from 1300 friends to 134. My name is Andrew Ran­dazzo and I’m more than just an avatar online, and I choose to be intentional.

Friends, Travel, Retail, and Hexes

Random title? I know, but I promise it all ties in.

I was hanging out with my brother and some friends and someone commented on how I’m always meeting new people. It’s true, I meet and hang out with someone new every week. I’m just really friendly and put myself out there a lot. It’s such an awesome life because I meet some really cool people. True, some turn out to be duds but you’ll never know unless you try.

My over zealous friend making skills come from my reckless abandonment that I’ve cultivated over the years. I’ve traveled internationally and grown up in a multi-ethnic home. Implications and benefits of travel include:

  • Seeing what you take for granted and appreciating more what you have
  • Breaking down your box and stepping into another breaks down pride and in turn cultivates humility
  • It broadens your perceptive and approach on all aspects of life
  • A greater understanding, appreciation, and general kindness towards people
  • A breakdown of inhibitions

On that note, that breakdown of inhibitions is what leads to discovering and creating some amazing relationships. When you fly to a foreign land with all your possessions on your back, it creates a whole new sense of confidence. So, introducing yourself to random new people is nothing in comparison.

Seeing things outside your box gives you a whole new perspective and priority on life. I was in a store the other day buying a last minute gift. They weren’t that busy but there were a few people in line at customer service and the 2 girls working that area were becoming frantic. Something about retail creates a sense of urgency in employees (I know because I was there at one point). I was apologized to on multiple occassions and I kept reassuring them that waiting a few minutes is no big deal and anybody that can’t spare a few minutes needs a reality check because they’ve gotten too comfortable and thereby a snob.

What can I say? I have a funky view of life. My parents put it in this light. There’s squares and circles, and then a few people who’ve seen the bigger picture and are hex shaped. They really don’t fit in any spot. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s like the Matrix, I’ve been woken up from a fake alternate reality and I see things for how they really are, but on the down side there aren’t many who see through the same lenses.

When I find those kind of people, it’s so refreshing. One such person I hung out with last week. We had a blast just sitting on the front porch having conversations on life and the philosophy thereof. We totally understood each other and levitated to this conversational euphoria.

To all you hexes out there, you know what I’m talking about. I’d love to hear from you, I’m always looking to meet others who are on the same wave length. Leave a comment below, us hexes need to stick together.

For those of you circles and squares, you have the choice of the red or blue pill. If you take the red, and choose to pursue the life of the hex, there’s no going back. Take the plunge, though, it’s totally worth it. Your life will go from ordinary to extraordinary.

Stop Calling Me a Minimalist

I just finished reading Everett’s latest blog post “F*** Minimalism“. He’s come to some realizations that minimalism isn’t the end all. It’s a good reminder to those of us who’ve claimed the hip tag of “minimalist”. I specifically chose Live [Simply] Free because my life isn’t just about minimalism. That was just one part of living free through simplistic means.

Unfortunately, something about the reckless abandonment of minimalism attracts the most attention. Well, minimalism is part of who I am, but I’m done minimizing. I can’t go any further. I’d like to think there’s a lot more to my life than just getting rid of stuff. That reputation needs to change.

My blog’s name is Live [Simply] Free. If we’re to be known as anything, let it be this.

Live. I’m a Christian and therefore am compelled to live by a different set of standards found in the Bible.

Simply. To keep my eyes on the cross, it takes getting rid of distractions (material and mental)

Free. True freedom is found in Christ. And freedom equals happiness. And when living for Christ, life’s adventures are limitless, and the mundane becomes extraordinary.

True Underdog Story

As most of you know, I went to Kenya a couple months ago. On my return flight I briefly met a young guy in his mid 20s, I don’t even know his name, but for sake of this post we’ll call him Phil. Let me help paint the picture of Phil. He’s tall and lanky. Not homely but not dashingly handsome. He doesn’t really have a sense of fashion, he’s the type to throw on whatever’s practical and comfortable. He’s very friendly and likes to talk but he’s no smooth talker with the ladies. Getting the picture?

Well, we got into a conversation after getting off our flight about what he had been doing in Africa. He told me that he was there because for the past couple years he’s been watching Man vs Wild and thought what Bear Grylls does on that show is so cool. Now, most guys would agree that Man vs Wild is a cool show and as men, most would want to experience a “manly” adventure like that. Unlike most guys, though, Phil actually acted on that impulse and decided to take his own trip across the world and have the adventure of a lifetime.

As he was telling me his stories, I couldn’t help but smile. Here’s a guy who probably wasn’t the coolest guy growing up and he doesn’t have a prestigious job or much of a career. However, he just went and travelled throughout a number of countries in Africa and did some amazing things like going to remote tribes, scuba diving, and visiting ancient ruins. I can only imagine how fulfilling this made Phil feel having grown up with his background.

I don’t care how uncool or dorky people think Phil might be, he has some of my highest respect. This guy has grown up being the underdog, and like all underdogs, Phil had a dream. But unlike most people, underdogs and non-underdogs alike, Phil made his dream a reality. To me, that’s cooler than the best dressed, best looking, and smoothest talking guy on the block.

Phil broke free of his inhibitions. I hope his story challenges you to do the same.

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?