life

A Letter To My Kids: I am thankful for the adventurous journey we've been living.

Photo Credit: Chris Brignola via Unsplash  

Dear Angelica, Thomas, and Elle,

I'm writing this to you so you know that I am thankful for the life I've been able to live with all of you. I know my life isn't over yet. Well at least not at this moment. And when I do pass on from this world, I trust the real adventurous journey will begin. When you say yes to God you have no idea the adventure you're in for.

My life has been an adventure.

I've been able to live in some of the most beautiful places on earth. I've been able to form friendships and community with people from all over the world—relationships that will last an eternity. We have friends or I should say family all over the world, and we are fortunate to have these people in our lives. Never take your relationships for granted.

And that's another thing. I've been able to travel on this adventurous journey with the people I love most—you guys, your mom, and the three of you! There is no one I'd rather be on this roadtrip with than with you.

Adventures are always better with friends and people you love.

Photo Credit: Greg Shield via Unsplash

Sure on this journey we have seen storms, disasters, flat tires, stranger-dangers, and our own self-imposed mishaps all of which help define a successful roadtrip—both literally and figuratively. It hasn't always been easy and there have been times I wanted to throw in the towel.

But I wouldn't trade any of it in for anything. We've been able to taste new foods like white sausage gravy and biscuits, sweet tea, deep-fried pickles, Cheba Hut sandwiches, Marion Berry pie, and all the amazing craft beers from Colorado and Oregon. We have experienced the diverse cultures, geographical landscapes of the U.S., and all their cultural idioms and quirks—is it soda, coke, or pop...

We have had the precious gift of seeing Christianity lived out in unique expressions throughout the U.S. and from people of other countries.

My kids, I hope you continue to live a life full of adventure with your families, and teach your kids to do the same. Whether it's planting roots and staying in one place or traveling the world, I hope you choose an adventurous life.

I want to share with you Thomas' poem about our family's journey. You can read the whole blog post here: "Adventure Beckons: My son’s thoughts on our big move."

 

“Adventure Beckons.” by Thomas Puentes

Moving here or there is a treat rarely savored by everybody involved.

For those left behind they long for the piece gone, and those gone wish to be made whole again.

However something beckons us, calling us.

It is adventure.

Explore the unknown and when you return, you shall share riches to those who waited.

 

Photo Credit: Mullermarc, Unsplash

I am thankful for the life I've been able to live up to this point. I trust the adventure will continue.

Overcoming The Slow Death of Negativity

I did it again. Something we all let happen to us. I let negativity rob me of joy. It never fails to amaze me. How I can allow something like the darkness of negativity affect me in such a way, which allows death to enter into my soul. No matter how big or how small the negativity is.

If allowed to overrun us, negativity can kill—albeit slowly.

And I think thats what really happens. When we allow negativity to enter into our hearts, we in fact are allowing death to creep it's way into our hearts and wrap its cold and lifeless fingers around our souls. We inch closer to what God never wanted for us to experience—a life dominated with worry, fear, anxiety, drought, emptiness and without hope.

Death Was Never Intended For Us

Death is something God never intended. God wants us to live an abundant life—one that is full of faith, love, compassion, peace, hope, and rest. One that chooses life instead of death.

When I allow criticism to make me question if I'm good enough or make me feel unliked, or someone else's success determine my value as a person or equating I'm a failure—I am allowing death to steal from me the abundant life that is mine in Jesus.

If you want to overcome the darkness of negativity in your life, then let joy overwhelm it.

Overcoming The Slow Death of Negativity

When we allow joy to infiltrate our hearts, we are choosing to follow the way of Jesus. One that builds up instead of tearing down. We are choosing compassion over indifference, healing instead of wounding, love over animosity, and sacrifice over survival.

Everyday we are confronted with the choice of practicing an abundant life or practicing one that is gripped by scarcity and death. It's not a matter of positive thinking as if you can think good thoughts and it will go away. This is shallow, and unrealistic mumbo jumbo—meaningless. It lends no dignity to the human experience.

No. To live and practice an abundant life requires action and faith. Action that puts hands to work and feet to the pavement—it requires you to truly forgive, handout mercy, and love unconditionally. It's a trust that believes no matter what happens and not matter how much it hurts, you will make it through—you can and will overcome the slow death of negativity. There is always hope.

I know what will happen once I publish this blog post. Negativity's darkness will creep its way into my heart and try to steal from me the life God wants me to experience and manifest—an abundant life full of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

And so it is. Who will I allow to reign in my heart? Who will dictate the outcome of my day?

That time when no one but a homeless man said hello to me...

Photo Credit: Pixabay I have this set route that I take when I walk to the office in the morning (Occasionally, I add some diversity to my route for zombie apocalypse reasons...).

Sometimes there are people along the way, and sometimes no one is within eyesight This morning the path was especially full—people were everywhere.

As I walked by them, no one said hi in response to my good morning and almost no one made eye contact.

I believe in many ways that I'm an unassuming fellow. So there should have been no sense of them being threatened by me when I said a pleasant, "how do you do."

I even tried the universal how's it going meaning I don't really want to have a lengthy conversation, but want to be polite sort of greeting.

No.

Most of the people I walked by were looking at the cell phones, listening to music, or just completely ignored me—not even a head-nod.

Except for this one guy. He's a homeless guy who I pass by occasionally—sometimes he's not there in his spot... He said hello to me and commented on what a nice morning it was.

 

The video below has been making it's way around the internet. I know many of you have seen it—I felt it was applicable for the situation I experienced the other day.

http://youtu.be/Z7dLU6fk9QY

Look Up

Happy National Coffee Day

National Coffee Day

I must first apologize. I haven't written a blog post in sometime. If you didn't know, the area in Northern Colorado where I live was hit hard by flood waters about two weeks ago... The church I am on staff at took a huge role of serving as an evacuation center and now we are in full recovery mode, and I have been fully involved in helping lead some of the work being done.

In saying all this, I really haven't had any time to blog.

My hope is to write a post about all we are experiencing and learning as we served our community as an evacuation center and now as a leader in the recovery phase of the natural disaster, to which the National Weather Service called, "a flood of biblical proportions..."

And now to the reason for this blog post and something dear to my heart...

It's National Coffee Day!

I am not a coffee expert, but I love coffee. I love strong black coffee. No cream. No sugar. No foo-foo stuff. In fact I do not consider foo-foo coffee to be coffee at all. Sorry, but it is not coffee. They have other names for it; like Latte, Mocha, and etc.

What I consider coffee is something that is brewed, poured over, dripped, French pressed, Chemex Brewed, expresso, Moka Pot, and I'm sure there is a couple of other ways that I am not mentioning. One of my favorite ways is to brew it over an open fire.

My favorite coffee shop in Astoria, OR.

I just want to take a blog post and share some of my favorite coffee beans with you as we celebrate a gift from God.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Peet's Gaia Organic Blend - A bounteous world blend of certified organic coffees from Africa, Indonesia, and the Americas.

Flavor Notes: Naturally complex — vibrant, earthy, and juicy, with blossom and cacao notes.

This is my favorite bean! I really like the way it leaves a chocolate coding at the back of your tongue.

Peet's Major Dickason's Blend - Conceived by one of the first Peetniks, a loyal customer of their original Berkeley store, retired army officer Key Dickason brought the idea to Mr. Peet in 1969. Mr. Peet refined it and this premier blend is one of their all-time bestseller.

Flavor Notes: Rich, smooth, and complex, with a very full body and multi-layered character.

This coffee bean is a staple in my house. It is my default bean when I run out of the Gaia Organic blend and can't make it to Peet's for more beans.

Starbucks PIKE PLACE ROAST - In 2008 Starbuck's master blenders and roasters created a blend so consistent and harmonious that no single characteristic dominates—or disappears.

Flavor Notes: A smooth, well-rounded medium blend of Latin American coffees with subtly rich flavors of cocoa and toasted nuts.

When I go to Starbuck's this is what I get. On occasion I might get an Americano, but Pike Place is my coffee of choice, in a mug not in a paper cup.

gaia coffee beanThere are other beans that I enjoy. Some are obscure that you probably never heard. One is the bean that my friend Mike Packer and I used to roast, well he did the roasting and I did the drinking and talking...

I hope you have an amazing day of drinking coffee.

Happy National Coffee Day!

Just Be You...

IMG_3970Take a look at the photo at top-center in this blog post... I'm the kid in the yellow tank top, blue shorts, and the tube socks. Yes, AND the shaggy hair cut. *Side-note: I find it funny that my cousin Mark has his name on his shirt to remind himself of his name. I guess it was just indicative of the times to come...

In many ways I am still that little kid with the tube socks and shaggy hair, albeit, much older and note quite as skinny as I was back then and a little less hair. Appearances aside, much of the things I liked to do then, I still like to do now.

I am avid reader, I love to write and journal, I love to talk and meet new people, but yet I'm really an introvert, and I love being around a small group of people I love and trust. I love to run, this photo was taken around the time that Mark, my sister and I went on a five mile run with my dad and I was the only one who finished the run along with my dad...

I still like to just sit outside and think about life, and I still like to play with toy soldiers and create historical mock battles... But for those closest to me, know that there are times I struggle with trying to fit in or be someone I am not.

All this to say I am just me...

The Struggle With Authenticity...

We live in a very complex world. With complex ideas and complex people. What comes with all this complexity is the desire to match up, keep up, live up, and one up the people that we do life with. Sometimes I think we do this with conscious intentionality, but I believe most of the time we are unaware that we are playing to the crowd so to speak.

We unconsciously fall into the bondage of trying to be what everyone wants us to be or at least what we think everyone wants us to be.

social-media-iconsIn this digital age or more precisely the influence of social media in our everyday lives, we have built mini-imposter empires that make it quick and easy to be inauthentic, which doesn't allow us to be who we really are and who we really want to become.

The problem is most people are more perceptive than we think they are or give them credit for. Most people can see through our facade or false persona. And the greatest temptation with social media is to be someone you're not - an inauthentic you, but in reality people just want you to be you, so be you.

I heard this quote the other day and it struck me:

Be yourself. Authenticity trumps cool every time. – Craig Groeschel

Being authentic doesn't mean your goal is to be likable. It's being comfortable in your un-photoshopped self, whether people like you or not. Being one's self provides a sense of freedom and contentment.

I am not saying that you or I have arrived to exactly where we need be or that we are in any way shape or form perfect. We are all or all should be striving to be the best "me" we can be.

Being who you are is acknowledging that you are an imperfect creature journeying, learning, and growing your way through life all the while being the authentic you.

Christine Caine sometime back on her facebook page posted this comment,

"There’s beauty in imperfection. When something becomes too polished, it loses its soul. Authenticity trumps professionalism! – Christine Caine

What God Desires For You...

Jesus came to make all things new (Revelation 21:5) and he came to provide us with a new life, where the old is passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:14-17). The thing of it is that this is a now and not yet process.

In God we are immediately seen as a new creation, but through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are in the process of being transformed into what God has desired and destined us to be.

Being authentic is realizing that we are growing and learning as we journey to become all that God intends for us to be, but at the same time being content with who God has made us to be and called us to be.

Four Ways That Help Me Cultivate Authenticity In My Life:

  • Exercise self-awareness. Wrestle with who you are and with who you're becoming. Don't be afraid to question yourself. Ask yourself if your are the person you want to be and who God wants you too be? Are they one in the same? Ask what it is you don't like about yourself and what it is you do like about yourself? Then seek to work-on or build on those things.
  • Have mentors and accountability partners. Surround yourself with wise and honest people. People that can speak into your life and help you stay on course. You want people that can be real and speak truth to you even when you don't want to hear it. They can tell you when your being an idiot and straying off course.
  • Combat the urge to create an alter ego on social media. Be healthily and appropriately transparent, be honest, and be yourself. As I stated previously, being authentic doesn't mean your goal is to be likable. It's being comfortable in your un-photoshopped self, whether people like you or not. So be un-photoshopped and just be you.
  • Don't be preoccupied with yourself. This is a hard one for me... Seek to know others as much or more than you want to be known. When interacting with others, be present and listen to them. Be more concerned with listening instead of talking. I list three questions I use to be a better listener in a previous blog post, which you can read here: How To Listen Well...

In the end lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself.

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How to listen well...

Listening One of the things I daily strive to work on is the art of listening. Having been married to my wife for 19 years, I am very aware of my deficiencies in this skill. However, being a Pastor, one of my job requirements is to listen to people and to listen to God.

As a pastoral and biblical counselor, I have found three questions that help me listen to the people that I am trying to help navigate through this thing we call life.

Thanks to Brian Mavis, one of my coworkers, he simplified and put clear language to these three questions and I want to share them with you. I know there is more that can be done to help you listen to people, but these three questions are a great place to start.

3 Questions on Listening

1. How do you feel? (Explore it a bit... They need to name it and we need to reiterate it to them... Don't tell them they shouldn't feel that way...)

2. What do you need? (This helps people see a solution to their situation... Have them explore it - they need to do it themselves...)

3. How can this need be met? (We are not helping them answer this... They need to come up with the solution... It helps them come up with a path out of their pain...)

What methods or ways you recommend to be a better listener?