Prone to move: “Go west, young man…”

Let’s get right down to business: I’m moving to Denver.
Lookout
Specifically, I’m moving to the northwest Denver suburb of Arvada to help with a church-plant project called Storyline Fellowship. Though this may seem like a sudden change, it’s been in the works for a while.

Sometime late last year, I heard about a new church planting project that my church in Orlando was preparing to sponsor. It sounded like a nice idea at the time, but I honestly didn’t give it a second though. That all changed when Ben and Lynley brought their family to Orlando early this year.

After a few weeks of having them around and hearing more about Storyline Fellowship and my church’s participation with it, a friend challenged me to give it some serious thought and prayer because she thought it could be a great opportunity, and she felt like God was bringing me to mind when she was praying about it.

What she didn’t know at the time was that I was in the early rounds of interviews for what would have likely been a Dream Job in Orlando. I told her that I would think about Denver once I knew what was happening with the Dream Job.

Nothing happened with the Dream Job, as it turns out, and true to my word, a long process of contemplation and prayer about a move to Denver commenced. Over the next several months, I connected with Ben and Lynley and their family and several other friends who were also in the process of figuring this out. I talked with my parents and with friends near and far, and began to think that this could actually be a reality. My emotions were going in two very different directions: growing excitement at the possibility, and growing hesitation about leaving the familiarity of family and friends and community. (Full disclosure: this is still the case.)

Before they left Orlando, Ben and Lynley and I picked out a weekend in June for a visit. Leading up to it, I tried not to put too much pressure on this one weekend as any sort of confirmation, but by Sunday night during the trip, sitting on the deck looking over the Denver skyline, I knew that a move to Arvada was my next step.

I listed my house for sale the day before I left for Colorado in late June. After 13 days on the market, I had an offer. It’s now under contract, and as of this writing, the plan is to move shortly after closing in mid-September.

There are still plenty of unknowns, namely where I’ll live and what I’ll do for a living. But God has been apparent and faithful in this so far, and I have no reason to think that will change.

I’m excited about the road ahead. I have no doubt there will be plenty of other blog posts leading up to and after the move. But for now, I’ve got a growing list of things to do for a cross-country move and a shrinking amount of time.

Let the adventure begin!

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Prone to reflect: A year on the list

30 before 30I celebrated the end of my 20s a week and a half ago, and consequently, the formal end of my “30 before 30” pursuit.

Though I didn’t complete everything I set out to accomplish, there were some lessons learned along the way. Here are my three main takeaways, followed by a run-down of the completed items.

  • People want to help you reach your goals, which is good, since one of the reasons I put the list together in the first place was to bring others along with me and spending intentional, quality time with people.
  • I’m OK with incomplete items, as much as I love checking off everything on any particular list.
  • My ambitions often outweigh my abilities, and this list was no exception. But you would think I would have learned that by now.

Now, here’s a recap of this past year…

Completed items

St. Augustine “You didn’t visit that while you were in grade school?!” No, gentle reader, I didn’t, and that’s why I put it on the list in the first place. Evidently my plucky little elementary school was one of the few that didn’t take an obligatory trip to the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States, and as a Florida native, I had never been there. Even still, it was a great day spent with friends!

sunrise It wasn’t until after spending a few hours on the road making our pilgrimage from Cocoa Beach to Clearwater Beach that someone had the bright idea to do this in the Florida Keys next time, only requiring a jaunt across the island and not the entire width of the state. You know what they say about hindsight…

HP Count me among the Harry Potter nerds. I really enjoyed these books, and it was a great fiction distraction for someone who always prefers nonfiction.

Grand Canyon Unlike the hike in Colorado that wasn’t meant to be, this one actually happened, and it was fantastic!

#15–Do something generous for someone
I did this one, but saying anything more about it makes me feel like a tool, so we’ll let this one be.

Disneyland A weekend trip to the original happiest place on earth in early April with my best friend from college was an awesome way to start the birthday festivities!

Amadeus Interesting movie. I watched this one with my friend, Mariah, as she was healing from foot surgery. She got some company, I got an item on the list marked off. I love being efficient.

#22–Teach a class or speak somewhere
I’m counting this as my time spent with my seventh grade guys this year at church.

Bucket List #24 It doesn’t get much better than Sir Paul McCartney, even if the air was a bit thinner from way up top.

#25–Volunteer for 30 hours
Like #22 above, this one is covered by my time with these special snowflakes called middle school boys. I honestly don’t care of you disagree with my decision on these two completed items. It’s my list and I’ll do what I want!

2014-04-21 22.26.28 Did this one with my friend, Mariah, as well last fall. While the education and the sessions were excellent, my biggest takeaway from the event was all the great FOOD.

#27 from the 30 list The first completed item way back in April 2013!

Partially completed items

San Sebastian This one may be a stretch. I had high hopes of making it out to Napa Valley sometime during the year of the list, but alas, that wasn’t in the cards. So, on our day trip to St. Augustine, we stopped into a winery. There are no grapes grown at this facility, so I guess it doesn’t technically count as a vineyard, but they do make wine here, so that counts for something.

Canning While I watched my friend do this (and she makes some GREAT stuff), I didn’t actually participate. Even still, I could probably make a decent go of it just from my crash course with her, so if they gave out “partially completed” ribbons, this one would be a winner!

Honorable mention

Hike It literally took an act of God to keep this one from happening, so I’m counting this one as “E for effort.”

Counting the “partially completed items” and the “honorable mention,” I accomplished half of what I set out to do over the year. Considering all the places that this took me and the people I got to bring along, I’m calling this a success.

Thanks for sticking with me through this year.

Prone to learn: 5 lessons from a weekend with 7th grade boys

I’ve written before about my current stint as a 7th grade boys Sunday school teacher at my church. Today, I present to you the second installment in this ongoing series.

While most of my involvement with the student ministry is confined to Sunday mornings, I signed up to work our Surge Weekend this past Friday through Sunday. It’s been a while since I’ve done a weekend church retreat event with my youth group, and that was from the perspective of an attendee–not student ministry staff. I told friends that these students were the tool that God was using for my sanctification, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Surge Weekend 2014

The low point over the three days was having to ask a student to move and sit by me during one of the sessions because the "chatting" was just a wee bit distracting for the students around him. I officially became THAT chaperone, and I secretly wondered what they would write about me in the bathroom stalls. Do kids still do that?

But lest you think that this whole blog post is a rant, please know that the weekend was actually rather enjoyable and successful. I call it successful because no one was hurt, no one cried, and we returned the same number of students that we left with. But as one of three chaperones against 11 strong-willed 7th grade boys, that’s about as much success as I can claim.

As I look back over the weekend, there are a few highlights that come to mind…

“Please put your phone away.”
“Gentlemen, if you don’t wake up and get up, you don’t eat.”
“Where’s Travis*?”
“Yes, you have to wear shoes.”
“Please put your phone away.”
“Have you brushed your teeth?”
“Where’s Travis?”
“Please stop pinning him to the pew.”
“You want to go to the bathroom now? What exactly were you doing during the 15 minute break that ended 2 minutes ago?”
“Seriously…where’s Travis?”

*–Names have been changed to protect the absent-minded.

For the uninitiated, I thought I would pass along some tips I learned in the trenches. If you ever find yourself responsible for the lives of 11 middle school boys over the course of a weekend, please refer to this cheat sheet as much as possible. It’s my gift to you…

1. If something can be a distraction, it WILL be a distraction. I’ve never seen people so eager to explore the wonders of the pew rack in front of them. Pens, pencils, and tithing envelopes have never seemed so enticing. I saw one of them reading a hymnal voluntarily, and I’m fairly confident one of them may have chewed on his name tag, though I can’t be too sure.

2. The latest app du jour seems to be some iPhone game called Flappy Birds. Even after a full weekend with the younguns, I still have no idea what this is.

3. Some of these students could negotiate themselves out of a hostage situation. Seriously, I’ve never encountered a group so quick to bargain at the first sign of a request.

4. NEVER bring out chicken nuggets in the middle of a devotion time. That discussion will be off the rails faster than Amtrak. You want a heartfelt discussion about grace? Good luck, because the only things they have on their mind are the baked and breaded “chicken” chunks.

5. Despite the less-than-stellar sleep schedule, policing bathroom breaks, and a disproportionate amount of carbs over the course of the weekend, it’s possible to endure a fair bit of discomfort when students from your group are making decisions to commit their lives to Christ. It’s great to be a part of a ministry like that.

If you’re the parent of one of our students from this past weekend, thanks for entrusting your students with us. I pray that it was as much of a weekend of growth for them as it was for me.

Prone to remember: May in review

Inspired by bloggers far more gifted than I am, I thought a little month-in-review post would be fun. This includes links to some previous posts, as well as some life events that didn’t make the blog, and things I’m looking forward to in the coming months. I did my best to stick to the pattern, but as you’ll see, it’s definitely not perfect…

  • Attempting some craft projects
  • Buying more things for the office as incentive to use it as a creative space
    May birthdays
  • Celebrating a slew of birthdays in May
  • Dreaming about future trips
  • Eating at new places
  • Filing all that fun paperwork that comes with being an adult that I’ve pushed out of the way for far too long
  • Getting up early and working on being more of a morning person
  • Hoping to launch a new blog idea next month
    EPCOT
  • Indulging in some food at the Flower & Garden Festival
  • Joining fellow bloggers for an event in September
  • Keeping a restaurant wish list
  • Laughing at the bathhouse story
    Harley
  • Meeting the newest member of the family and celebrating Mom
  • Nabbing tickets to see Paul McCartney!
  • Organizing the office to make it more usable
  • Preparing for an overseas trip next month
  • Quizzing friends on Harry Potter (currently on book 4!)
  • Remembering a life well lived
  • Stalling out on the hundred push-up challenge
    peanut butter pie
  • Trying new things, like chocolate-making and a new peanut butter pie recipe
  • Understanding the complexities of a corporate web project
  • Visiting with friends
  • Working on plans for the 30 before 30 list
  • X (I’ve got nothing, and I don’t care that it’s incomplete; I’m an adult and I do what I want.)
  • Yearning for pie
  • Zooming toward another half marathon in December

What did you make of May?

The 30 Project: Go to a concert

Bucket List #24Paul McCartney is incredible.

When I assembled my “30 before 30” bucket list, I knew that I wanted to attend a big concert as part of the project. I like concerts, though I don’t attend many of them. I wanted to see a legend, or at least someone I considered legendary.

As luck would have it, Paul McCartney announced a tour stop around the time my list was finalized. He definitely fit the requirement of being a legend, and he rarely comes to Orlando. With little hesitation, I decided that this would fulfill item #24 and purchased two tickets, because reaching goals is more fun with people (more on that later).

To be honest, I’m not a huge McCartney fan. Don’t get me wrong: I like the Beatles, and I like his solo music and material from his time with Wings. But I don’t own much of his music. I can pick out the tunes and recognize the songs and I know many of the stories, but I’m definitely not “fanatical” about Paul. This was more about the rare opportunity to see a musical legend.

So my friend and I met up and started the evening with a terrible dinner experience: yay! But after eating only part of the food we ordered, we walked to the Amway Center where we were among the lucky concert goers that got to ride TWO escalators up to their section! It was at this point that I made the astute observation to my friend that on the Titanic, the peasants were at the bottom of the ship; at concerts, we’re shipped to the top.

Paul McCartney Orlando

And our seats…let’s just say it’s not possible to sit any higher in the Amway Center than we did. They should advertise these seats based on this benefit: “Hey look! No one sits behind you! No bumps on your chair!”

We had a good laugh about the seats, and the fact that the audience wasn’t exactly…diverse. And that’s saying a lot, considering I’ve seen Neil Diamond in concert. Twice. (Don’t judge: he has great music and the tickets were a gift. You’d go, too.)

The show starts. No opening act. No fanfare or flashy entrance. Sir Paul walks out to a cheering crowd and serenades us with “Eight Days a Week” and 36 other songs for more than 2 hours and 2 encores. He performed many of his hits to the sold out show. The staging was beautiful and the effects were excellent.

Simply put, it was incredible.

I’m extremely glad that I added this to the bucket list, and that it turned out to be a Paul McCartney show. If you ever have a chance to see him in concert, do it. You won’t regret it.

Now it’s on to tackle the other 28 items still left to do in the next 320 days. Who’s with me?

What’s the last concert you saw? Or maybe the best one? Who’s on your “concert bucket list” that you’d like to see sometime? Let’s hear it in the comments.