Friday, September 17, 2010

Run for the DR

It's interesting how often Scripture describes our lives as being short and fleeting. Our lives are described as "blades of grass, surely fading fast"; or, a "mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." It really makes you think about how you spend your time on this earth. If we only have one life to live, how will we live the best way possible? Or, think about this: what if you knew you only had one year, or even just one month left to live?  Would that change how you viewed each day? Would that change how you spent your time on this earth? Kris Allen, winner of American Idol a few years back, has a song called Live Like We’re Dying. It’s a catchy song, but also has a profound message: Would our lives look different if we lived each and every day like it was our last? We asked our youth group a similar question this fall: How can we live the best lives possible for God? We came up with a few ideas.

This October, our youth group, The BURN, is raising funds for the Dominican Republic. This past summer we met a missionary named Andrew Butz. Andrew is traveling to the Dominican Republic to build a Christian camp with the Eastern Dominican Mission ( We thought that was awesome. We love going to camps in the summer and think kids in the DR should have the same opportunity. So, we decided we would do something to help. Our plan is to run. Now, we are not necessarily a youth group of runners or superb athletes; however, we feel that anyone can walk or run and that this simple activity can be used for a greater purpose. On October 23, we are participating in the Huntington Beach Distance Derby. We will run, walk, and crawl either 5 or 10 miles. Each student and leader is collecting sponsorship from family and friends to support the Eastern Dominican Mission.

For many of us, this will be a challenge. The last time I ran even close to 10 miles was in high school. That was a while ago. That was a time when I didn’t have any aches or pains, or a full-time job. Needless to say, this will not be easy for most of us. We are sacrificing our time. Some of us are changing our diets to help accomplish this goal. Nevertheless, we are doing this because it is going to make a difference. We know that partnering with Andrew and the Eastern Dominican Mission is going to bless God’s people. This is a small, simple thing we can do to make a difference in someone’s life.

I'm sharing this on my blog becasue I'd like to invite you to partner with us in ministry this fall. Perhaps you want to join us in this run. My doctor tells me exercise is good for me, so maybe you want to train with us and collect sponsorships as well. We would love to have you! Or, maybe you don't want to run, but want to partner with us financially. You can choose to sponsor one of us per mile we complete, or make a one time donation. I assure you, any amount will help the DR! I will be updating my blog (weekly I hope) with insights that we’re learning as we train together as well as the progress were making financially.

This fall, we are attempting to live like we’re dying. We’re running for the DR. Ole!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Memorable Scenes

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am kind of cheesy. Don’t worry. It’s cool… I’m over it. I realized long ago that I like corny jokes and the occasional pun. Plus, I am still a fan of Disney movies, happy endings, and idealism. Yep, I am inherently cheesy and corny. I often think of my “cheesiness” in relation to how others may view it. Whenever something momentous happens, I feel like I have to make a speech. Or, when saying goodbye to a friend or loved one, I have the strange urge to write them a poem or a sonnet of some kind that reveals my love for them. I can’t say I’ve ever done this, for fear of their reaction to such a grandiose gesture, but I have certainly thought about it. I’m trying to work on not caring so much about what other people think. It’s like what Bon Jovi said, “It’s my life. It’s now or never...I just want to live while I’m alive.” I guess I’m starting to realize that the moments that make up my life are worth remembering. Further, I don’t want to be the kind of person that lets a significant moment pass me by. Life is too short for that and I want to live while I’m alive… even if it means that I get labeled as “cheesy” once in awhile.

In his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller talks about creating memorable scenes in your life. These are the events in life that you make a point to remember. Moreover, these are the ordinary, every day happenings that you choose to make memorable. I remember a buddy of mine in college asked me one day what God thinks when we say, “I’m bored.” He wondered if saying, “I’m bored” frustrated God, and God was confused Maybe God said, “How could my kids feel bored when they’ve been given so much life to live? How could they not enjoy the creation of another day of life?” I, too, wonder how I get bored at times when there are so many scenes to create.

This past Labor Day weekend, my wife and I were at a family camp near Yosemite. We had a wonderful time there with some great people. On our final day of camp we took out a paddle boat and were enjoying a relaxing time in the water. We paddled about the lake watching kid’s splash around and picked blackberries near the water’s edge. As we were making our way around the lake, something on the other side caught my eye—the flume. It was a giant water slide that launched its passengers several feet in the air, before they crashed into the water below. It was probably the coolest thing I’d ever seen. My cousin happened to be standing next to shore and suggested I give it a try. I didn’t have my swimsuit on or even a towel with me. This bit of information, however, didn’t seem to stop him from encouraging me to ride the flume. “After all,” he said, “if you try it, then you won’t have any regrets.” No regrets. That was all the motivation I needed. I was ready for the flume.

A few minutes later I was handing over my cell phone and wallet to my wife and climbing the hill for the flume slide. I rode the flume, screaming the whole way down at the top of my lungs. I made a sound, actually, a screech, that I’m sure will be similar to the sound of Justin Bieber’s voice when he hits puberty. It was thrilling and it was definitely memorable. I’m not going to forget the giant flume slide, in my clothes, and the ability of my vocal chords to hit such high notes. It was a scene worth creating.

I had another moment happen recently that I wanted to capture as well. The other night, I said goodbye to some of our friends who were leaving. It was a surreal moment, the kind where you think, “This is not happening. Life is not about transitions and change, which sometimes require people to leave—you’re kidding me, right?” It’s the same kind of moment we all experience when we realize that we can’t change something or someone for that matter, and we have to accept the outcome for the way it is. It’s a reminder to relish in those moments because they are gone as soon as they appear.

Life tends to be full of moments to be experienced and memorable scenes to create. I’m pursuing what I feel is the best way to live. This means that I have to be cheesy sometimes. I have to be that guy who dances at weddings when no one else is on the dance floor, and the guy who goes down giant water slides with his clothes on. I need to speak what is on my heart and say what I want others to know. If my life is a story that I’m writing daily, then I want to create as many memorable scenes as possible. After all, I have to be true to myself. In the words of the great philosopher, Popeye, “I yam what I yam”; that seems to be enough motivation for now to keep creating memories.