Do you really know?

We never see everything as it truly is. As much clarity and understanding as we think we have, we still only see the world from a limited understanding.

Human connection is probably the best example. We are a complex result of our biology, spirit, mind, and experiences. As much as we may become familiar with another human, we are only scratching the surface of who they are. Here is an example. My wife Kristine and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary a few weeks ago. We had three nights away. By the second evening, we struck up a conversation using an app that asks different, progressively deeper questions. We both learned a lot about each other even after only ten questions. Tastes, opinions, phobias, and outlooks we never knew about each other. It helped us realize how much we still had to learn.

We can’t stop looking for new perspectives on the difficult situations, problems to solve or conflicts to resolve. No, instead we work harder to understand other points of views, read history and travel to widen our perspectives. We stay curious asking the right questions.

I think humility and confidence play important roles in this quest. We need humility to realize how little we do understand. We need confidence in our abilities to learn and grow.

We may never see each other, or the world truly as it is this side of eternity, but it is sure a great experience coming as close as we can in the meantime.

The app we used is called Let’s Talk check it out and let me know what you think on Twitter.

A life of #FearHunting

I just finished the book #Fearhunters by Noah Elias. I have read many books on calling over the years and given dozens of talks on the topic. It is a great treatment on the topic as well as a deeper dive into helping people seek out what fears are keeping them from living the life they were meant to live.

After reading and reflecting on my own fears I have seen that, while I have gone after and overcome many fears in my life, there continue to be ones that emerge over time and still need attention. I used to be terrified of conflict. Another was failing. I think it is a lifelong journey, being a fear hunter. The great thing is that the more we go after them the smaller the fears become and the less hold they have on us living free and loving others.

Here is a short film Noah did as part of the project. In the film, he acts out some of his own fear hunting that got him to the successes he enjoys today. Check it out. As you watch, take an inventory of the fears that haunt you. Pay close attention to the ones that keep you isolated from others.

I have also listed a great resource on finding freedom and healing:

Restoration of the Heart Conference Recording

Through thick and thin

There is so much need in the world. The cool part is we get to be part of the solution. If we are willing, we can begin right in front of us with those nearest and closest and work out from there.

My oldest sister was about 11 when I was born. That is a big gap in birth order. It wasn’t very long after I was born that my mother and father split leaving my mom to raise the five of us (including me as a toddler). Many teens would resent having to take care of and spend time with a sibling so young. My sister instead, even though suffering from the pains of a broken family, chose to spend endless hours with me. She was my friend, protector, and hero.

My wife and I recently saw the new Wonder Woman movie. It reminded me so much of my sister’s caring and fierce heart. I was five when Linda Carter started playing Wonder Woman in the tv series. I could not help but relate her looks and character to my own wonder woman, my sister.

What was it that caused her to help me and others even in a time of crisis? The other option is to isolate and hide our strength, saving us from being hurt and vulnerable.

We were made to help. Helping activates a hope in us that reminds us that things will change. John Eldredge in Sacred Romance says “hope looks ahead and keeps desire alive.” In hardship, life changes or any struggle, if we step out and choose to help someone, or shift from isolation to an outward act we are brought back as if from a suffocating deep dive into the depths of pain to the surface where we can breathe again.


hidingWhere are you hiding?

As children, we all loved the game hide and seek. But what if we stayed hidden so well no one ever found us? The game would lose appeal fast. We didn’t really want to hide so well that nobody could ever find us.

As we grow older things happen to us. People are betrayed, passed over, and sometimes even traumatized. Through these experiences, we learn to hide. Our hiding places are many: Screens, food, work, charities, hobbies. None of these are bad. Only when they become our hiding place do they end up being shelters against risk, relationship, and (most of all) connectedness.

What will it take to once again playfully sing out “come and get me”.

Friends help friends

helpFriends help friends. This seems like a simple and true statement, right? But it can be complex. And true? As we use technology to hide, buffer relationships and in many ways medicate our many stresses, one of the first things to fall to the side is our connectedness to each other. When we fall out of connection, we also lose touch with each other’s needs, desires, and dreams. In or disconnected state we lose that twinge, that inner voice calling us to lend a hand, offer a referral, cook a meal, give encouragement.

It only takes small corrections to counter these tendencies. Who will help today?

Encouragement is ours to give

encourageAs we have been preparing to make our big move as a family (you can read more about that here: We are leaving the country) we have been having phone calls and visits with friends to share with them what our move is all about. These have all been so fun. Often it has been a chance to catch up after a long time of being disconnected. Just about the time all the details of moving a family to the other side of the world seems so overwhelming, we have a call with friends that more than makes it all worth it. We had a call like that last night. They (you know who you are and thanks so much) were so excited for us. Thier enthusiasm, encouragement, and care was just the fuel to stoke our resolve.

We have that power. All of us do. We possess just what it takes to encourage someone. In most cases it cost us nothing at all. The benefits to us are that it turns even our largest troubles around in the moment of gratitude and lifts our spirits as we lift theirs.
We don’t have to look far for someone to encourage. Who will you delight today?

Who are you?

rocksThe security line was not that long considering it was the regular commuting time. Travel for me is easy having in the past four years flown dozens of times. This time, I had my 15-year-old son in tow for an international trip. All the details of getting us both to our destination had my head spinning. Passports? Check. Tickets? Check. Was this the right day we were traveling? Check. It is funny all the things that were running through my head.

There was one detail that had slipped my attention. And it was the most important one of all.

Several years ago my friend started a tradition. We had experienced something remarkable together. To signify that moment he had taken a rock from a high mountain top from where we had climbed together and at a critical time handed it to me and said, “don’t forget who you are.” At crucial times he has continued to return to that same spot, finding more of those rocks. He gives them to me right at the moments I need to remember. About a month ago he handed me another one as I was about to speak to a large group of men. The topic was all about identity, knowing who they truly are.

As my son and I neared the body scanner, the TSA agent asked me if I had anything in my pockets. Checking my pockets was instinctual. “Of course, I don’t have anything in my pockets,” I thought. But teaching my son always to check I patted my pockets down and instructed him to as well. In my side pocket was something about the size of a walnut. What in the world could it be? Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the rock my friend had given me. I had not worn these pants since that day. The agent, seeing the rock said “that’s ok, just hold it in your hand as you are scanned.” So there I was in the body scanner holding my rock high above my head, remebering of who I was.

None of the other details mattered now. And what my son needed most from me was for me to be myself. He needed me to be present and attentive. He needed me to be his dad.

The stories we tell

Stove in roomPeople have sat around open fires, hearths, tables and pubs telling each other stories for millennia.

There are two types of stories that are prevalent, the inspirational and the cautionary. The first one, on purpose or not, gets people dreaming. They may have never even thought of doing something, traveling, or stepping out of their comfort zone. On hearing another person recount something extravagant can be the beginning, giving them the energy to step out on their own.

The cautionary tale, while sometimes serving a purpose, usually stops people from venturing beyond the ordinary. These are where the old fairy tales fall. They were told to keep children in line, by warning of imaginary ogres and phantasms lurking in the woods. We have modern versions of these as well. Failures or false starts can find us telling others that something can’t be done, or a dream isn’t attainable. Warning others of real danger is necessary, but more often we are passing on our unfounded fears.

What kind of stories will we choose to tell?

The worst memory

climbConnection means we will continually put ourselves at risk. Time and time again we will have to reach out, extend, take a chance at rejection.

I’ve always been fascinated with world class climbers. Recently I watched the film about Jimi Chin, Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk’s climb of the Meru a legendary peak in the Himalayas. The film is way more than a climbing documentary. It is about mentor ship, marriage, loss, and endurance. What struck me most about the story is the relationships.

At one point Chin quotes a climber saying “the best alpinists are the ones with the worst memory”. Alpine climbing is a brutal but rewarding sport. The stakes are so hi. I think in the quote “alpinists” could be replaced with friends, lovers, and relatives. Yes, we all get hurt. Along the path of connection, much of it comes with both pain and joy.

My question (and I pose this to myself as well) is not what you will do with the loss or pain but will you risk it all again? We will face trials. But best of all, no matter our age, we will continue to have the chance to connect with amazing people who will forever change our lives. And we will change theirs.

Why we act in friendship

person helping someone upIs it duty or obligation that compels us to act in a relationship?

What motivates us to help someone without receiving something in return?

As I explore the concept of connections (guanxi) in Chinese culture, I have started to think about my gestures of kindness in my relationships and where they originate. As a westerner, like many, the reply “it is my duty”, in return to a “thank you” for a gift or favor granted could leave me confused or even offended. But if duty is a way of showing honor as well as your status as a friend, then it is something to cherish.

In the west, we would just say you are welcome and move on. In China, I can only relate this as almost an unspoken relational contract between people. Western society in many ways lacks etiquette, protocol, and decorum. Certain formalities seem archaic, but help ensure a social structure around friendship. Duty then in this context means something entirely different. It is an action done because it is the right thing to do. It is what moves the friendship forward and continues the process. If someone disrupts this, many things will fall apart.

If it is our duty to love, care, help and listen then doesn’t it motivate us toward more? If we begin at duty, maybe we end up at commitment?

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