Update on Seizing Nostalgia

Coincidentally, I was at the Farragut Chamber of Commerce Christmas Party. It was coincidental because I ran into an acquaintance who spoke some truth and light into my previous post about the Good Old Days. For the record, his name is John Haney.

John was talking about his daughters. He told me that one day I would be just like him talking to someone younger than me with a kid and telling them how fast they grow up. He said that before you know it, you start sounding like that “old guy”.

What was so profound was when he said that “That’s why people love Christmas so much.” John said that it reminds people of their past. As I thought about that, the truth sank deeper and deeper. Christmas (and other holidays/traditions) hold so many memories and layers.

You remember Christmas as a kid with your family. Then you become a single adult and the holiday takes a different form. Then you get married, have a kid(s), family grows, etc. It constantly evolves. And each year you reflect on your past and traditions. Christmas holds a special place in your heart.

It’s one of the few times during our lives when we get to experience the “golden days” as opposed to reflecting back on the “golden days”. This sparked a thought that I wanted to capitalize on. Traditions help us value “golden days” while still in the present.

However, if they are held too frequently such as Sunday dinners, they will be taken for granted. If they are too infrequent such as an annual holiday, they will not be valued respectively.

So what is the magic number of days to hold these traditions? I don’t know.

What should these traditions look like and how can we draw out the nostalgia? I don’t know.

But what I do know is that we are getting closer, and closer to the answer. Life doesn’t have to be a sad reflection. It can/should be filled with adventures and a present mind that appreciates what is happening without having to look back in appreciation.


you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s over.

I heard it said once that you should attend at least one funeral and one wedding each year to keep life in perspective. I’ve had more than my fair share of weddings since then but it wasn’t until this evening that I went to a funeral for the first time in over a decade.

There was connection with someone special from my childhood that drew me to a seat in the pew. With tears welling in my eyes, I was thrust back into memories that most days are so far away that they seem as only a dream.

Today is a sad day. I’m reminded of the brevity of life and good old days that you can’t get back or recreate. I reflect on two things. One is a sobering quote from the TV show, The Office. It was said,

I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you left them……Someone should write a song about that.

Well they did and here it is. “Good Old Days” by Macklemore (ft. Kesha)

Today is a day to reflect and be reminded. Tomorrow I will take these thoughts and commit once more to a life with no reserves, no retreats, and no regrets. I’ve loved my life and lived it well, but the older I get, the more ‘good old days’ I have behind me.

I think being content in the moment is one level, but harnessing the nostalgia while it is still the present is the next level. I think we’ve all found ourselves in those out-of-body experiences at some point in life. I want more of them.

Life is what you make it to be, and I choose to live extraordinarily. YOLO

exposing the lie of careers

Amer­ica is the land of oppor­tu­nity. If you work hard enough, you can be any­thing you want to be. There’s a lot of truth to that. When we boil it down, our soci­ety has 3 gen­eral cat­e­gories of suc­cess­ful careers. You have lawyers, doc­tors, and busi­ness exec­u­tives. I hap­pen to per­son­ally know one such person…it’s my dad.

Ya, he worked his way all the way up from low­est man on the totem pole, to a suit-​​wearing exec­u­tive who was president/​VP of mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies, trav­elled the world, went to fancy par­ties in tuxe­dos, and made six fig­ures. He had it made. He had arrived to a spot only most dream about. Well, he doesn’t do that any­more. Now he owns his own win­dow clean­ing com­pany and offers his ser­vices as a quad-​​lingual interpreter.

I was on the path to busi­ness exec­u­tive. I’m very early in the jour­ney but it was clear to many that I’d attain it. It didn’t take me long to real­ize that with advance­ment came a lot of respon­si­bil­ity and worst of all, STRESS! I work for the best and biggest com­pany in my field, and even then there’s a lot of flaws. I began ask­ing around to see what oth­ers thought who were climb­ing the lad­der and all at dif­fer­ent lev­els. The answers were all pretty much the same. “Yes, it’s a lot respon­si­bil­ity.“
“Yes, there’s more stress.” “If I can only reach a cer­tain rung, then it’ll be smooth sail­ing.” “It’s just busy for this sea­son, things will slow down in such and such time.”

Those answers might be ok if these peo­ple were just get­ting started with their careers, but the real­ity is they’ve been at it for 10, 15, 20yr and they’re all at dif­fer­ent rungs and all say­ing the same thing. So what am I to think? That my cir­cum­stance is going to turn out dif­fer­ently? That every­one with­out excep­tion is say­ing the same thing, but I’m going to be the excep­tion!? I’m not naïve, my fate will be no different.

So, back to my dad. We talked about how careers are over­rated and my idea of start­ing my own com­pany. Here’s what my dad had to say. “You’re right.” Being a busi­ness exec­u­tive, my dad had lots of busi­ness exec­u­tive friends. He told me that most of them finally fig­ured out the same thing I had, and now they all run their own busi­nesses. Do they all have the same lux­u­ries they use to? Not all of them, but they’re all a lot happier.

Careers give us a false sense of secu­rity. It’s no more secure than run­ning your own busi­ness. If any­thing, you have more con­trol over your secu­rity when you run the show. Life is a lot sim­pler. Careers are over­rated. If you know some­one that can prove me oth­er­wise, let me know.

the power of a touch

Touch is a pow­er­ful thing. As an Ital­ian, touch is woven into my DNA. Not every­one is so inclined. Here’s a few exam­ples of the power of a sim­ple touch, and how it can change the very essence of who you are and how peo­ple per­ceive you.

Encour­ages — A sim­ple hi-​​five or pat on the back. You know’ve got­ten one and it felt good.

Com­forts — An arm around your shoul­der, or a hand on your arm. With­out say­ing any­thing, it can say a lot.

Cor­rects — The firm grip of a father’s hand on your shoul­der. It strikes fear in every young, and not so young, man’s heart.

Calms — The ten­der rest­ing of a hand on your knee or the reas­sur­ing grip of your hand. It gives peace to those with a rag­ing storm within.

Romances — Those early stages in a bud­ding rela­tion­ship where ever so slight and dis­creet touches are made. Whether touch­ing a shoul­der while laugh­ing or brush­ing some­thing off someone’s face. Seem­ingly minus­cule, yet core to our species’ way of courtship.

Iden­ti­fies — A bold hand­shake, a slap on the back. Often sub­lim­i­nal, but com­mu­ni­cates a level of sta­tus via confidence.

Gen­uine­ness — The hug that makes you feel like you are known. It’s what we all crave and imme­di­ately attracts us to the one who has given it.

Recalls — That sim­ple touch or kiss that floods our minds full of mem­o­ries. It brings us back to a place that can feel so real and just like yesterday.

The power of a sim­ple touch. How under­es­ti­mated it often is. Peo­ple cry for change in this world. Poverty, war, greed. Could not a touch be the cat­a­lyst for much of this needed change?

To add a spir­i­tual note, Chris­tian­ity should be pre­sented with a touch. It allows oth­ers a glimpse into our souls to see the truth of what we speak. Chris­tian­ity given at an arms length is not Chris­tian­ity at all.

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.

the benefit of athletics in christianity

I just fin­ished run­ning an Olympic Triathlon. “Olympic” clas­si­fies the dis­tance of the triathlon. It involves swim­ming 1500m (.93mi), bik­ing 40k (24mi), and run­ning 10k (6.2mi). It’s pretty intense and takes a fair amount of ath­letic abil­ity (which I never knew I had in me til this summer).

One of my friends who I train and run triathlons with came along for the ride just to watch my race. On the ride home we talked about the inten­sity, fatigue, and moti­va­tion that came with this race. We then began point­ing out all the par­al­lels that these races have to the Chris­t­ian life.

There’s obvi­ous par­ralells that you could think of:

  • Press­ing on towards the mark
  • Not being dis­tracted, but focus­ing ahead
  • The pain and suf­fer­ing that comes through the journey
  • Ups and downs. Some­times feel­ing like you can’t go on and other times get­ting the 2ndwind and feel­ing good

There’s a more prac­ti­cal par­al­lel, though, that I’d like to point out. Triathlon (and races in gen­eral) take a con­sid­er­able amount of dis­ci­pline to pre­pare. I’ve had to dili­gently get out and train (even when I don’t feel like it), I’ve changed my diet and cut out things I really like, and in gen­eral I’ve invested a lot of time and money into this.

By dis­ci­plin­ing my mind and body in this way, I’ve seen it carry over to my spir­i­tual life. There’s a dili­gence to talk to God and let him talk to me, even when I don’t feel it. My will power to say “no” to sin has increased. My mind is sharp­ened and on edge towards spir­i­tual things.

Per­haps this dis­ci­pline can be achieved through alter­na­tive means, but I’ve found ath­let­ics to be one of the most effec­tive tac­tics among many things I’ve tested and tried in the past. As a bonus, I’m liv­ing health­ier and feel great because I’m in the best shape of my life.

For those of you “over the hill” who say that your days of ath­leti­cism have passed, I don’t want to hear it. I’ve been beat mul­ti­ple in pre­vi­ous races by men and women in their 60s and 70s. So you see, there’s hope even for the older!

Seri­ously, though, our down­fall in Chris­tian­ity often comes down to our lazi­ness which is inbred in us by the lazi­ness of this cul­ture. Hav­ing a high work ethic in your job doesn’t always count because it’s moti­vated by money and advance­ment. Out­side of work, if we were hon­est, most of us aren’t as hard work­ers as we are in the work place.

How­ever, ath­let­ics require self-​​motivation. So does the Chris­t­ian life. There you go, my thoughts on why being involved in ath­let­ics can be/​is ben­e­fi­cial to the spir­i­tual life.

how to live life and be a christian too

You can’t!

There’s no dichotomy. There is no room for liv­ing life and try­ing to fit Chris­tian­ity into it. Chris­tian­ity demands every­thing and is the whole of your life. It was never promised to be fun or easy. It is a road of many sac­ri­fices. There is a cost, but the eter­nal rewards far out­weigh the tem­po­ral ful­fill­ment that this life offers.

…that’s what I keep try­ing to remind myself of any­way. It’s hard to find ful­fill­ment in Christ rather than the idea of Christ. The lat­ter leaves us dis­ap­pointed and search­ing elsewhere.

In the words of a dear friend tonight, he says, “I’m not say­ing you can’t have fun. I’m say­ing fun isn’t a bib­li­cal con­cept. What is a bib­li­cal con­cept is life and death.”

That’s heavy. That’s truth. That’s reality.

a psychology of modern prayer

Let it be known from the start that this is not a the­ol­ogy of prayer, nor is it even an objec­tive stance on the sub­ject. These are merely obser­va­tions and con­sid­er­a­tions that I’d like to leave with you on the tra­di­tional and some­what mod­ern approaches to prayer.

Prayer preach­ing. This goes out to those pas­tors who went over their unof­fi­cial allot­ted preach­ing time. In an effort to get a few last words in and drive the point home, they take the oppor­tu­nity of their clos­ing prayer to do so. It ends up they’re not really pray­ing to God, they’re con­tin­u­ing to preach to the peo­ple with their eyes closed. The prayer goes some­thing like this:

Dear Father, thank you for the mes­sage we heard this morn­ing. I ask that we would com­mit to liv­ing by these prin­ci­ples. Our hearts are prone to wan­der, but your Word says we need to stay in prayer to fight this war. We can­not let the desires of this world to pull us from doing what’s right. We must stay in com­mu­nity, call each other, and encour­age one another to stay strong through­out the week. Thank you for the strength you offer, but we must rely on it daily and ask for it daily. Etcetera, etcetera. Amen.

Group prayers. These are becom­ing less pop­u­lar, but still found in many tra­di­tional churches often on Wednes­day nights. A time is set aside for the entire church (no mat­ter the size) to pray out loud. In these prayer meet­ings, there’s always the reg­u­lars who pray. Usu­ally one of them starts it off, often after a few moments of awk­ward silence (espe­cially for vis­i­tors who are unac­cus­tomed to this prayer format).

There tends to be a con­sid­er­able amount of peer pres­sure in these groups. Depend­ing on the spir­i­tual matu­rity of the indi­vid­ual, there’s an expected time to pray and a cer­tain level of elo­quence. Though no Chris­t­ian would say there’s an expec­ta­tion, each indi­vid­ual tends to self-​​impose the expec­ta­tion upon them­selves. In between prayers, there can be lengthy times of silence as the group waits for some­one else to pray. In the mean time, peo­ple are count­ing down how many more reg­u­lars are left to pray.

Peo­ple tend to be very dis­en­gaged which you can eas­ily tell by sit­ting in the back and watch­ing as you see the over­whelm­ing major­ity with their eyes open, look­ing around, check­ing their phones, inter­act­ing with their kids, or some other obvi­ous action of dis­en­gage­ment from the main event.

Per­son­ally, my obser­va­tion has been that 8 out 10 times, smaller groups tend to be more pas­sion­ate, engag­ing, and deep in their prayers over­all. Also, I’m not sure how spirit led the prayers are or how help­ful they are if most peo­ple are dis­en­gaged. It seems like peo­ple pray some­times just to pass the time and con­tribute to the prayer time end­ing. How can we make these more engag­ing, spirit led, “flow­ing”? I have some thoughts (but that’s a dif­fer­ent post), but I don’t think we should rel­e­gate to fault­ing only the indi­vid­u­als for being dis­en­gaged. There’s also a respon­si­bil­ity of the lead­ers to…LEAD…people into engagement.

“Cap­tain obvi­ous” prayers. I’m not really sure the psy­chol­ogy behind these prayers. They’re some­what bib­li­cal as we can see by look­ing at exam­ples in the Psalms. Pos­si­bly it’s peo­ple who haven’t devel­oped a higher prayer matu­rity and this is a safe fall back. These prayers are those when a per­son states truths about God. That in itself isn’t bad because David does that a lot, but in restat­ing truths, he typ­i­cally had an agenda and pur­pose that he was lead­ing up to. Some peo­ple state truths and just leave it at that. Not nec­es­sar­ily wrong…this is just an obser­va­tion that stands out to me.

List prayers. These prayers often are pre­ceded by prayer requests. We store all the requests in our mind and then pray through them while men­tally check­ing them off. Here are some of the pit­falls. When there’s a list, it becomes goal ori­ented, and the goal is to get through the list. Usu­ally each item on the list is allot­ted the same amount of time. They’re very cookie-​​cutter and typ­i­cal words included with each request are: give them peace/​comfort/​strength, in Your time, may Your will be done, help them to trust You, etc.

Fer­vent prayers. This is some­thing that is not psy­cho­log­i­cal but entirely spir­i­tual, but lack­ing in most prayers. I’m a firm believer that God answers prayers, but he hears the prayers of the earnest and fer­vent per­son. Both of those char­ac­ter­is­tics can­not be fab­ri­cated. It’s a state of being direc­tion­ally pro­por­tional to our walk with God. If the fervency/​relationship is miss­ing, we default to psy­cho­log­i­cal ruts as men­tioned above.

church fellowships are as bad as facebook

Most churches have “fel­low­ships”. No, it has noth­ing to do with Lord of the Rings. It’s the Chris­t­ian term for “hang­ing out”. Some churches have fel­low­ships weekly, monthly, quar­terly. Every­one gets together, brings some food, and they sit around and talk while the kids play hide and go seek in the church building.

As time goes on, peo­ple make their way from group to group and hop in on dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tions as pre­vi­ous con­ver­sa­tions become unin­ter­est­ing. As peo­ple leave, every­one smiles and wave good­bye, and the church lead­er­ship con­grat­u­late them­selves for another suc­cess­ful ful­fill­ment of Acts 2:42 (they devoted them­selves to the apostles’ teaching and the fel­low­ship, to the break­ing of bread and the prayers.).

How­ever, in the grand sceme of things, very lit­tle was accom­plished. No one knew Jenny had an unex­pected bill that she’s strug­gling to pay. Or Dean who is strug­gling with how to be a strong spir­i­tual leader in his home. And cer­tainly no one knows that Susan just lost her vir­gin­ity last night. Peo­ple don’t talk about that, fel­low­ships are happy times. Besides, between peo­ple pop­ping in and out of con­ver­sa­tions, no one ask­ing Susan insight­ful ques­tions about her life, and Dean not feel­ing com­fort­able pos­ing his ques­tion to 12 other peo­ple, noth­ing is ever said.

Peo­ple crit­i­cize Face­book for being the essence of fake friend­ships. Really, these church fel­low­ships have been rel­e­gated to noth­ing more than Face­book rela­tion­ships. Brows­ing sta­tus updates, being enter­tained by funny quotes and pic­tures, and then mov­ing on to the next pro­file page. Sorry, but that’s not true fel­low­ship. That’s not liv­ing life out with the body. Those aren’t qual­ity relationships.

Did you know most peo­ple can only main­tain 6–8 close rela­tion­ships. Yet we hang out with 70, 150, 1000 peo­ple at these fel­low­ships and walk away think­ing a very spe­cial rela­tional bond­ing occurred. It’s ok if you don’t talk to every­one in your church. That doesn’t mean you have any less com­mu­nity. Try­ing to talk to every­one and main­tain some con­nec­tion only takes away time from delv­ing deeper into a few lives.

So what does true fel­low­ship look like? Well I call it authen­tic com­mu­nity, and it hap­pens every day. Peo­ple call­ing each other, going out to watch a foot­ball game, see­ing a movie, com­ing over for din­ner, work­ing on a hobby. It’s peo­ple liv­ing reg­u­lar life…together.

5 reasons why commitment and responsibility trump the independent life

Most young peo­ple (and even older adults) run from things that might tie them down. A full time job, buy­ing a house, mar­riage, etc. They want to live a life that’s free. A life where if their desires change, there’s noth­ing hold­ing them back from fol­low­ing through on them. At a quick glance, peo­ple might say that inde­pen­dence is the sim­pler life. There’s less respon­si­bil­ity and there­fore more joy (after all, that’s what this blog is about, get­ting the most out of life through simplicity).

How­ever, I’m going to argue against that premise and lay out 5 rea­sons why hav­ing com­mit­ment and respon­si­bil­ity are more free­ing and enjoyable.

1. In order to build a life of sub­stance, there needs to be a solid foun­da­tion. You can’t build a sky­scraper on sand, nei­ther can you move up in life if you never set­tle down and take on respon­si­bil­ity. I’m not speak­ing of only mov­ing up finan­cially. In all areas of life, there’s room to grow, and growth requires a firm foun­da­tion (phys­i­cally and emotionally).

2. Per­ma­nence allows for you to invest. Whether it’s invest­ing in rela­tion­ships, the com­mu­nity, your church, etc. Not that you can’t make a dif­fer­ence in a person’s life in a short time period, but some of the most reward­ing moments in life are see­ing your hard work and invest­ments grow and mature over time.

3. Rou­tine takes away the stress of the unknown. Some could argue that hav­ing bills, a fam­ily, and a full time job can be stress­ful. On the other hand, it can be just as stress­ful when you’re always won­der­ing if you’ll get enough hours this week or if the you’ll have enough free­lance projects, your retire­ment, when that spe­cial some­one is going to come into your life, and liv­ing pay check to pay check can be rough when your car unex­pect­edly dies.

4. Sta­bil­ity and reg­u­lar­ity build cred­i­bil­ity. As you invest in those rela­tion­ships, your net­work grows, and assum­ing you’re a per­son of char­ac­ter, so does your rep­u­ta­tion. This is another aspect of mov­ing up (from point 1). A good name is to be more desired than pre­cious met­als (that’s what the Bible says). And as a Chris­t­ian, a good name is what you want because it implies an abil­ity to more effec­tively min­is­ter to other peo­ple and have influ­ence in their lives.

5. Per­ma­nence in the begin­ning allows for more inde­pen­dence in the long run. As you work that full time job, as you put in the years in one place, and as you build your sav­ings account, the oppor­tu­ni­ties abound. Per­haps you can’t take week­end road trips all the time in the begin­ning, and maybe you can’t spend the sum­mer back­pack­ing through Europe, but a well planned and invested life will give you more oppor­tu­ni­ties in the long run to do just as many, if not more, amaz­ing things that your friends did in the first few years of their young adult­hood. Because when you reach your 30s and you find your­self well estab­lished, your friends who didn’t want to set­tle will find them­selves fac­ing a harsh real­ity that they’re 10yr behind the eight ball hav­ing to start a career, and their days of inde­pen­dence will for the most part have ended, while yours are just beginning.


*Side note: If God’s called you to live a life as a missionary, evangelist, or mil­i­tary per­son­nel, that’s a dif­fer­ent story. I’m talk­ing about the peo­ple who aren’t nec­es­sar­ily look­ing to God’s leading.