Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Living Selflessly in a "Me, I, Mine, My" World

How do we live selflessly in a world filled with so much selfishness?

Don't misunderstand me. I have encountered numerous people in my life exhibiting selfless behavior, with my mother being high on that list. And I have witnessed selflessness in random situations in life, like in the 2013 Boston Marathon when many runners continued past the finish line and to the hospital to donate blood for those impacted by the bombings. In fact, I often comment on how kind and generous the Costa Rican culture is in general, with one of the most common questions heard here being, "¿En que puedo servirle?" which means "How can I serve you?" And it's not just empty words; they mean it.

But let's be honest, we see and experience a lot of selfishness in this world too. Just watch a video of people shopping on Black Friday, tackling people as they fight for the same toy. Or pay attention in traffic as people cut others off, at times traveling illegally to do so. Or just see how often people are "too busy" to help others in need. I believe that selfishness exists because sin exists in this broken world. We tend to think of ourselves first. Many times, I'm as guilty or even more guilty than the next. And this is precisely why I was so moved by the example of selflessness I witnessed this past weekend.

Ángel is Maleku, one of the indigenous tribes in Costa Rica. He pastors a church on the reservation. We spent the weekend with him and his family at their home on the Maleku reservation near San Rafael de Guatuso. We were there for ministry, planning for a missions trip there next year, and passing time with friends.

On Saturday, we visited a number of spots that would be nice for the team to have a chance to see some of the local beauty, which included a trip to a national park and its beautiful light blue river (Río Celeste) and gorgeous waterfall (among other attractions).

I can't share all the selflessness I witnessed from Ángel that day, but allow me to share a few.

Not Inconvenienced

We went to the spot where he normally enters the park, but that entrance was recently closed. As we were getting ready to leave, Polly noticed an American trying to talk to a hotel owner to no avail. As it turned out she was looking for the entrance to the park to see the waterfall. I told her that her and her friend could follow us as that's where we were headed. I told Ángel and he took it a step further. He invited them to hike with us as it's easier and more informative with a tour guide, which he essentially is as he knows the trails very well. They did join us and we had a good time making new friends.

Hop on My Back, Part 1

The hike was an hour or so, mostly through pouring rain and with many inclines. At one point, Genevieve's little 4 year old legs couldn't take it any more. I was already carrying Jonah on my back so I couldn't help her. Without hesitation, Ángel got down and offered her to jump on his back.

Hop on My Back, Part 2

Nearing the park entrance after a long hike, we came across some hikers stopped along the path. We learned that a woman had injured her ankle and could not continue on. Her husband asked if we could let the park rangers know. Instead, Ángel once again offered his back to a complete stranger. He carried her until we came across a park ranger on a 4 wheeler.

Do You Need Help?

As we were driving away from the park we encountered a woman with a flat tire on the side of the road. A man had already stopped to help, but inspired by the selflessness I had witnessed, I decided to stop and offer help. Good thing too because the man was struggling due to the terrain. I couldn't move fast enough to help as much as intended because Ángel was that much faster. He came up with the idea to get the car up and retightened the bolts.

Shirt off his Back, Part 1

Notice how Ángel was shirtless in those last couple photos? Well that was because back in the park, his daughter was cold and wet. So he literally gave her the shirt off his back, completing the remainder of the cold, wet hike shirtless.

Shirt off his Back, Part 2

When we arrived back at Ángel's house, he told me to pull in front of the house. I didn't know why until I saw him with the hose and that very same shirt, cleaning all the mud off my car. I helped as much as I could but he was determined. He did help me clean my boots when he saw me rinsing those off too.

These were more than a few selfless acts. These were examples of the way my friend choosing to live his life: selflessly. The way I believe God wants us to live our lives. It's a Christlike mentality. I learned a lot from my friend. Hopefully rather than just being moved internally I can lead a more selfless life too. Not just occasionally offer selfless acts, but truly live a selfless lifestyle.

What does the Bible say?

Mark 12:29-31 (ESV, emphasis mine)
Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV, emphasis mine)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Romans 12:9, 10 (ESV)
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Words Hurt Worse than Sticks and Stones

  • Good job.
  • I'm proud of you.
  • You look beautiful.
  • You are a great [insert noun here].
Compliments. Words of encouragement. We all love to hear them, don't we? I know I do. It not only makes me feel good when people make positive comments about me, but it inspires me to continue improving and doing well in those areas. And it makes me want to encourage others.
  • I'm so sick of you.
  • Why do you always have to [insert negative action here]?
  • Why are you always so [insert negative characteristic here]?
  • You are stupid.
Negative criticisms. Words of discouragement. We don't love these so much, do we? I know I don't. Not only does it make me feel bad when people make negative comments about me, but it makes me either want to "show them" (with impure motives) or just discourages me. Worse than that, however, I find it makes me more negative too.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not blaming others for my own poor attitude or decisions. I am responsible for my own decisions. But as imperfect people, I am speaking of the reality that these things tend to impact us. As the saying goes, "Hurt people hurt people."

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will ever hurt me." Have you ever heard this old saying? Sorry to be negative for a moment, but I totally disagree with it. Words absolutely can and often do hurt us, much deeper than any physical injury sticks and stones could cause.

Perhaps you're a positive person always looking to compliment. If you are, that's awesome. Please keep being you. But if you're like me, then you struggle with this sometimes.

I sometimes find it so much easier to see the negative than the positive. Not only in others, but also in myself. But there's no benefit in such negativity.

Proverbs 18:21 says:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,   and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Words can hurt. But words can heal too. Let's be honest with ourselves. There are enough people speaking death over the people in our lives that they can use some words of life from us. It may be difficult because of the negativity we hear in our own lives. But we must be intentional and push through the negativity and choose to be people who speak life today.

Hurt people do tend to hurt people. But hurt people who find the grace and mercy Christ offers to empower them to lay their hurt at His feet can overcome and help heal (love, encourage) people.

So let's be intentional today and remember the following:

It's better to compliment than criticize.
It's better to encourage than enrage.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

7 Reasons I Love to Run

There are basically 2 types of runners: Those who love it and those who tolerate it. I fall into that first category...I love running!

It's funny because every time I start on a run, I don't enjoy it. My legs don't want to keep moving. But after about a mile or so I find my groove and can run for miles and miles. This morning I began thinking of why I enjoy running so much.

Disclaimer: The thoughts shared here are my personal thoughts from my personal experience. I am not a medical doctor, psychologist or professional health expert. 

1. Running gives me energy
It seems so paradoxical doesn't it? Running takes a lot of energy, so how can it give it? Well, this is not a scientific article looking to answer the technicalities of that question. You can look up metabolism and all other relevant factors on your own. What I do want to say is that on the days that I run, I am less lethargic and more ready to conquer the world.
2. Running helps me eat better
While running makes me hungrier, it doesn't tend to make me hungrier for bad stuff. My body craves a healthy balance of carbs, protein, etc. to replenish itself. I tend to make healthier choices. There's also a psychological component at play for me. The thought of eating super unhealthy makes me feel like I would be wasting the time and effort investing in my running. Since I don't want to run for nothing, I tend to compliment my running with healthier eating.
3. Running makes me feel better
Along with the benefit of added energy and healthier eating, there are other aspects of running that help me feel better. Running helps me lose and/or maintain my weight. Running helps me build stronger muscles. I feel better all around on days that I run.
4. Running helps me spiritually
When I'm not faithfully running, because I love it so much, it's a good gauge of where I'm at spiritually. It generally means that I'm not doing well in the area of self-control. This means I'm probably eating poorly, my devotional time may not be as strong, my prayer life may not be as consistent and my decision making may be more me-centered. It's not a guarantee of those things, but it's a good indicator for me. On the flip-side, when I am running those other areas are generally stronger in my life as well.
5. God speaks to me when I run
I don't know why but running is a good thinking time and prayer time for me. And this is also the time when I generally feel like God puts things on my heart. During my run this morning, I felt like God put the idea for a 3 week series for Chicos on my heart. Last week, He put another idea for Chicos on my heart. In 2010 it was during a run that I felt like God told me we were pregnant. I told Polly. A few days later when she checked, it turned out we were. There's something about running that brings harmony to my conversations with God. (No I don't hear His audible voice, but I know He puts things in my heart.)
6. Running helps me enjoy God's creation
I love being in nature. I love fresh air (I try to avoid the congested city streets as best as I can). I love looking at mountains with the sunlight shining on them. I love seeing trees and flowers. I love seeing people and saying good morning to them. All of these things are part of God's beautiful creation. And I love to enjoy them all.
7. Running gives me fun, new experiences
Whether it's running in a race or going for a run with friends or running through a new part of town or meeting people along the way, I love the fun, new experiences running offers me.
So all this begs a simple question: If I love running so much and it makes my life so much better, why do I get out of the habit of doing it sometimes? The answer: I have no idea.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Our Sweet, Precious Genevieve

Of the many things that blessed me this weekend, one was a little more personal and closer to my heart than the others. It had to do with Genevieve. There are 3 things which really stand out with regard to her.
1. The Missionary Kid

The church who hosted the children's ministry retreat we helped with this past weekend is the same church where Genevieve shared the story of David and Goliath in Spanish in front of the who church back in April. If you missed that, you can view the video here.

At the end of the video she says, "No importa si es pequeño porque Dios es grande y nos ayuda." This translates to, "It doesn't matter if you are small because God is big and He helps us." The children's ministry leader was there that morning and heard that mini sermon. She said that she felt like God used that to come up with the motto for the retreat this year, which was, "Soy pequeño pero camino con Jesús." In English this says, "I am small but I walk with Jesus."

Knowing that God used our little 4 year old MK (missionary kid) to speak into the heart of a leader showed/reminded me of something important: a missionary kid is not necessarily simply a kid of a missionary but a missionary who is a kid. When God called our family to Costa Rica, He had Genevieve and Jonah in mind too. They are such a blessing, generally bringing a smile to people's faces but in this case, God used her through her words when she shared. We are so proud of her and humbled by her all at the same time.
2. The Kid

During a special prayer time at the church on the night before the retreat, God really impressed Genevieve on my heart. It struck me that she had such an opportunity to participate as one of the kids. As much as she is a missionary kid, during this retreat she was allowed to just be one of the kids. She was going to be ministered to in the same way the rest of the kids were. The last time she was at this church she shared as a missionary. This time she participated as a kid.

Polly and I were praying that God would do a work in her heart and life this past weekend. We prayed that she would have a genuine encounter with God and be anointed/empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We don't know how much impact the weekend had on her. We know that she listened to at least some of it and that she prayed and that she was prayed over. I believe it was a positive experience for her. We are so grateful that this church thought of her and invited her to be a kid who got to participate.
3. The Big Kid

Genevieve is growing up so fast. The fact that she was comfortable leaving us (even though we were at the same campground) and staying with her group and even sleeping in a room with her friends reminded us how big she's getting. She's not a little baby anymore. We loved watching her having fun and making new friends. We loved watching her take little steps of independence which will serve her well in the future...a LONG, LONG time from now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

God Calls Kids Too

I don't remember how old I was when I first felt the call of God on my life. My earliest memory of feeling at least some semblance of that call was from back in the 90s. I believe I was 9 years old, but it's possible I was older. Missionaries Neil & Kathy Vanaria, who are now dear friends, came to my church one night to share about what God was doing in Papua New Guinea. I remember feeling like that's what I wanted to do. Even though I don't remember every specific and detail, the point remains the same: God can/does call children too (see the story of Samuel from 1 Samuel 3)! The theme from the weekend was "I'm small but I walk with Jesus" (I'll share more about that theme tomorrow).

Polly and I had the privilege of leading the teaching about missions/evangelism to all the kids. The leader Adriana put together the lesson but thought it would be nice/fitting for missionaries to teach it. We shared the importance of going and making disciples as mandated in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). After we were finished with the teaching, we had a special time of reflection and prayer. We gave each of the kids an electric candle and shared how we were to carry the light into the darkness.
Adriana had also mentioned the desire for us to have a specific call for those feeling a specific call on their lives, as she was called at the age of 8. After some time of general prayer for all who were ready to bring that light into their world around them, we made that call. Nobody came forward. We just let it be. If nobody was going to respond to that specific call, we were still going to have a nice time of prayer for the general call.
After some time, however, one girl came forward. Our missionary friend Caitlin had already been pouring into that girls life that day so we had her come up and pray over her. Then a group leader grabbed my attention as she came up with 3 little boys who said they were going to be pastors. One in particular seemed very sure about that and was more than ready to pray about it. Finally, Adriana brought me another girl who said she felt God's calling on her life. I prayed over her and really sensed that God had plans for her life.
It was a beautiful time of prayer as we were privileged to have the opportunity to pray over these children responding to the call of God on their lives. How awesome that this church saw the value in this and made it a priority! And we're grateful that they allowed us to be a small part of it.

God has some big plans in store for these kids lives. I can't wait to hear what they're doing years from now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Fatherly Embrace

God, Our Heavenly Father

During one of the teachings at the children's ministry retreat we were blessed to participate in this past weekend, Polly and I were asked to go with the 4-6 year olds during the prayer time. The lesson was on fatherhood. There were a number of kids at the retreat without a father so this was a very important and special lesson time. The kids were taught how God is the heavenly father and how He will never leave or abandon them. After the lesson was over, I prayed over a couple kids. I thought we were done, but I was then asked to do the sweetest thing I've ever been asked to do in my life.

A Fatherly Embrace

I was asked to give each precious kid a fatherly hug and pray over them. They brought me the first kid who was clearly touched by the lesson and he clung to me. I clung to him to. I hugged him and prayed over him as he held me tight and wept. I asked God to let him feel the loving embrace of his heavenly Father and that he was always know that God will never abandon him. After a few minutes of hugging and praying over him, the leaders tried to pull him away so they could bring another kid. He wouldn't let go of me. It was one of the most precious experiences of my life.

After that little boy finally let go, I continued to hug and pray over each of the kids, including Genevieve who was with this group. The last kid brought to me was a sweet little 3 (almost 4) year old boy who was brought to the retreat by his aunt and uncle who were helping. As soon as his aunt handed him to me, he clung to me and hugged me tight. I just stood there with him in my arms for a few minutes praying over him. Meanwhile his aunt immediately began to bawl after handing him to me. Polly had the opportunity to pray over her. Afterward I discovered that this adorable little boy was abandoned by his father very early on in life and struggles with it.

While I know that those little kids without fathers still went back to homes without fathers, I was still blessed with the privilege of hugging them as a father would. I didn't deserve that opportunity. More than that, I pray that they had a real encounter with their heavenly Father and that He continues to heal their hurts as they put their trust in Him.


I am thankful that God is our heavenly Father and that He will never abandon us. Even as someone who grew up with my dad, I still need the warm embrace of my heavenly Father. And I need to teach my children the value of the same for their lives.

I am thankful that I have 2 precious little ones who I get to hug and pray over regularly. Reflecting back on this special moment, I am challenged to do this even more and to be the best dad that I can be to my children.

I am thankful that I grew up with both parents and didn't have to go through what so many children go through. I don't want to ever take this blessing for granted.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Prayer Requests - June 2015

A huge component to our success in Costa Rica is the prayers of our family, friends and other ministry partners (though if you're praying for us I'd like to think of you as a friend). Sometimes people ask us how they can be praying for us specifically. So, every month I will try to share updated prayer needs and also share when we hear an answer to a specific prayer. Thank you so much for praying!

I will break this down into two areas: Personal and Ministry. I will also subdivide each of those areas as best as I can think to.


1. Spiritual
  • Continued growth in our intimacy with God.
  • Protection from any spiritual attacks of the enemy.
  • Genevieve understands so much more now and asks lots of questions and has told us that she has asked Jesus into her heart. We pray that she will continue to seek Him out all the days of her life. And that we will lead her and Jonah in the ways of the Lord.
2. Physical
  • We seem to be running through colds or allergies one after the other since rainy season started.
  • My knee has been bothering me off and on lately which has kept me from doing a lot of intensive exercise. The last few times playing soccer, it's been significantly better, but it's not 100%.
  • The kids as they continue to grow and develop (i.e. Jonah's teething, etc.).
3. Relational
  • Continued friendships with both Christians and non-Christians among both Americans and Costa Ricans for all of us.
  • That we will have opportunities to share Jesus in the context of our friendships with non-Christians.
  • For a strengthened marriage, parent-children relationships and sibling relationships
4. Emotional
  • As we miss family in the States.
  • As we say good bye to friends returning to the States or their mission field (for those from the language school).
  • Anything else that comes us through culture shock or life in general.
5. Mental
  • Continued growth in our ability with the Spanish language.
  • Continued growth in my ability to interpret.
  • For the kids to continue to grow and develop mentally (i.e. Genevieve as she learns to read, etc.).
6. Financial
  • Among other things, we miscalculated our personal budget in December and are still in the process of working our way out of the slight debt incurred as a result.
  • God provides for our monthly ministry need every month through various means. We are still looking for monthly financial partners
7. Practical
  • Polly and I need to get our Costa Rica driver's licenses very soon.
  • We need to finish up with Genevieve's residency.


1. Chicos/Chicas
  • For favor as Polly helps with the Chicas ministry and as my friend and I continue to pioneer the Chicos ministry in the community of Linda Vista. We have been meeting with the Chicos for about a month now and have really been able to start building good relationships and have had some great discussions and such.
  • We also are still praying for the ability to purchase a house attached to the school for Chicos to meet in. We already have money to purchase it (our missionary mentor and area directors have worked all this out) but need the seller to agree to sell it to us and at the right price.
  • One of the girls in Chicas, her parents, 3 brothers and sister lost their home to a fire a little over a week ago. We have been helping to get things together for the family and will hopefully be helping to rebuild their home for them. The girl's name is Engel (pronounced like Angel).
2. OneHope Project
  • Traveling mercies as we travel throughout the country to distribute these books (they contain a basic plan of salvation and cover some age appropriate issues) to the churches.
  • That these books would be useful in young people and their families coming to and growing in Jesus.
3. Children's Ministry
  • We have been asked to help teach at a children's retreat for a church we have done ministry with in the past here.
  • Other opportunities we have to teach children or train leaders.
4. Bible School
  • I have been asked to help with the Children's Ministry track at the local Bible school, including teaching a couple classes a week likely starting in the Fall.
5. Missions Teams
  • We have a number of teams coming this summer to help in various projects. Please pray for favor in each of these situations.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Day in Our Life

A friend recently asked if we had a regular daily schedule for our ministry here in Costa Rica. The easy answer, no. While some days' schedules mostly repeat on a weekly basis, that is far from a hard rule. Sometimes things come up which change plans for that week. And sometimes they change as the day goes along. There is no "typical day" in Costa Rica for us. They vary quite a bit.

But I decided to write a blog following a random day in our life anyway. Knowing we had a number of items on the agenda for yesterday, I figured it would be a good day to follow. So I told Polly of my plan. Little did I know that yesterday was going to serve to prove my point of our daily inconsistency and flexibility I mentioned above. I almost decided against even going through with the blog, but I think it's a fair representation so I decided to go through with it anyway. Some days are calm and dare I say relaxing. Others are...well, you'll see.

Normal Wednesday

A "normal" Wednesday would consist of:
  • We have breakfast as a family
  • I go to Linda Vista for Chicos from 9a-3p while Polly stays home with the kids
  • I come home and play with the kids
  • We have dinner together as a family
As you can see, our Wednesday schedule is sort of like a normal work day.

Yesterday's Planned Schedule

With the need to work on our residency and a Children's ministry meeting planned, yesterday already wasn't supposed to be a normal Wednesday. Here's what we had planned:
  • Have breakfast together as a family
  • My meeting at the Caja to find out how much social security tax I will "voluntarily" pay Costa Rica to be a resident at 9:45
  • Polly's meeting at the Caja at 10:45
  • Drop Polly and the kids off at home and go to Linda Vista for the 2nd group of Chicos
  • After Chicos, come home and pick up the family and go to the Children's Ministry meeting
  • Let Genevieve play at the park with the other MKs
  • Return home and have dinner together as a family
So, yesterday was supposed to be a little more hectic and crazy than usual. But we would get a lot accomplished, both with our residency and our ministry.

Yesterday's Actual Schedule

Here's how yesterday really went:
  • We had breakfast together as a family
  • We left at 9:20a for my 9:45 meeting at the Caja
  • I went in for the meeting around 10:20
  • While in the meeting, they also called Polly back for her meeting
  • We discovered that we were supposed to make 3 separate payments to the government
  • They told us to make those payments and then come back next Tuesday when we would have to wait until they had an opening to fit us in
  • I asked if I could go and make the payment right away and return to finish things up yesterday; they agreed
  • Polly and Jonah stayed around the Caja while Genevieve and I went home to get some money, went to the ATM to take out more money, went into the bank to make the 3 payments for each Polly and me, and then returned to the Caja; all this took about an hour
  • When I went to the woman who had been helping me, she told me that it was really busy and that we should return after 2p. It was about noon, so we left and grabbed lunch nearby
  • While in Subway, it started pouring; we realized we didn't have umbrellas; of course we didn't have umbrellas
  • When the rain let up, we left and returned to the Caja
  • Finally, a little after 2:00, they took as back; everything went well
  • We got in our car at about 3:15, about 6 hours from when we had left the house earlier in the morning; the kids were amazing all things considered, but clearly had enough at that point; so did Polly and I
  • We swung by Piedad for the end of the Children's Ministry meeting; we got caught up on the OneHope project I've been working on
  • It was still rainy and wet so no park play time with other MKs for Genevieve
  • We had dinner together as a family
That's life here for us in a nutshell. Some days are calm, some crazy. Some weeks are extra calm, some are extra crazy. All are worth it in the end. We wouldn't trade any of this.

Thanks for spending a day in our life. And thanks for your prayers. They keep us sane in the moments of insanity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Start - Finish. The dash matters too!

We've all heard, "It's not how you start, but how you finish the race." While I understand its point I think it's a bit simplistic. How we start can have a huge impact on how we finish. And from start - finish, I believe the dash matters too.

Strong Start
When running a race, a good start can be critical. Especially for sprints. This is why runners start on the blocks and this is why false starts occur. Beyond that, there is a mental component to starting well. When I run a race, I want to start well. It puts me in a good mindset moving forward through the race.
Strong Finish
Our place in a race is defined by how we finish. There was one point late in this year's Boston Marathon when Americans were leading both the men's and women's races. Both were eventually passed by other runners. They ran a solid race. Yet who received all the attention? The winners. How you finish is incredibly important.
So which is more important: the start or the finish? I would pick finishing well over starting well...if I had to choose. But we shouldn't have to choose. We should seek both.

I believe that we usually spend so much time focusing on talking about the beginning and the end that we forget the biggest portion of the race - the middle. What happens in between the start and the finish matters too.

Strong Middle
This is where I think the real battle often lies. This is when you really need perseverance and mental fortitude and focus. Let's face it, it's easy to start well because you're body is releasing so much adrenaline and you're fresh and ready to go. You're usually surrounded by many other runners and fans. And it's easy to end well because you can clearly see the finish line and generally there are so many people cheering you on, giving you the extra motivation. I have run two marathons. The start and the finish of each were relatively easy. What I found most difficult was the middle.
What happens when the initial adrenaline wears off? What happens when the pains kicks in and you realize uphill the battle is? What happens when nobody is standing around and cheering you on? This is where you really need to bear down and fight. The finish may be the most important part but you can never make it to the finish if you don't fight through the middle. The start might be important to build momentum and a positive attitude, but it's irrelevant if you allow yourself to lose the momentum you've built when you hit a rough patch in the middle.
It's easy to focus at the beginning and at the end. The difficulty lies in the middle.
My friend Matt and I are about to start Chicos on a weekly basis. We're fired up and excited to get going. We've planned and prepped. Tomorrow (May 12) will be the first day. I have no doubt it will go well. But we feel that the biggest key will be maintaining our focus and not losing that excitement as the weeks go on. We don't want to get lazy in the middle. We want to treat every week with the same intention and intensity as we do the first.

So, please pray for a great start, middle and end to Chicos this school year.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Happily Ever After

Every romantic movie follows the same basic story: a couple meeting and falling in love. The pursuit of the relationship is given all the attention and is completely romanticized. However, I argue that it is far from the most important part of the story.

The pursuit.

I was attracted to Polly the first moment I laid my eyes on her. I had butterflies in my stomach every time we talked. I replayed every conversation through my head over and over again. I wanted to be around her as much as I could. I pulled out all the stops, using every ounce of creativity God gave me to romance and woo her. Every time we held hands, my heart skipped a beat.

Our pursuit had all the makings of a romantic movie:
  • Boy meets girl
  • Boy falls for girl
  • Girl falls for boy
  • Boy woos girl
  • Obstacles and drama are overcome
  • Boy and girl end up together
  • More obstacles and drama are overcome
  • Boy marries girl
  • Boy and girl live happily ever after
The happily ever after.

This is where movies leave off, "And they lived happily ever after." This is where Hollywood has it all wrong. The happily ever after is the real story! It appears not to be as romantic. I used to believe that was true. Then I realized that was based on a skewed definition of romance.

Men and women can say nice things and sound sweet but I want to deal with reality for a moment so let's be honest, the butterflies wear off.

I still love waking up next to the love of my life and seeing her beautiful face each morning, but at the same time I have grown accustomed to her being beside me. This doesn't mean that I love her any less. In fact, I love her significantly more. It just means that the credits have rolled on the romantic movie and reality has begun!

Now don't get me wrong, there are still sparks:
  • My heart still skips a beat sometimes
  • I still smile EVERY time she smiles
  • I still get butterflies from time to time
But some things change with time.

A while back a single friend asked Polly and me how to keep that initial feeling of falling in love alive. The easy answer is that while you do work hard to remember that first love and even fall in love all over again, you really don't. The happily ever after is just simply different.

There are new things that I look forward to each day. New little things that Polly does. The romance isn't gone just because the butterflies aren't as prevalent...it's just different.

I love my wife more now than I ever did before. I am in love. It's a matter of accepting the new face of love.

I think many relationships/marriages that fail do so because people get bored and want the adrenaline rush of falling in love again. This is because they have bought into the Hollywood lie and thought that the pursuit is the romantic part of the story. In reality it's not even close.

Crying together, praying together, changing poopy diapers together, experiencing life together (the good and bad), laughing together, snoring together...these are part of the beautiful part of the real story.

In short, romantic movies need more poopy diapers.

A friend of mine always says, "You don't date to marry; you marry to date." The story is not about the chase, it's about the "happily ever after." That's why I love dates with my wife more now than I did back then.