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Turning 30

It seems appropriate that I’m turning thirty this year. I have to smirk as I write that, as if I had a say in the matter. What I mean is since my last birthday I’ve found myself in the midst of one major life event after another. Since turning 29 a year ago Kathy and I got married, we moved from Florida to Colorado, I started a new full-time job with The Navigators, and somewhere in there I launched my own small business. Going from one decade to the next? Yeah, that seems par for the course right now.

With all those recent changes you would think watching the odometer turn over wouldn’t feel all that momentous. Not so. In fact, I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around this new number. It’s like each January when you have to start writing the new year on everything. It just looks funny at first.

Usually in my annual birthday essay I try to reflect thoughtfully on the big themes of my life from the previous year, but this time I’ve decided to reflect on my twenties as a whole.

Years ago one of the men who discipled me in college told me that your twenties are for figuring out what you’re good at, to see what makes you come alive. I tend to agree. I found my twenties to be a decade characterized by impatient self-discovery. I just wanted answers; I didn’t want the process. But he told me one other thing, something that really stuck. During your twenties, as you’re trying to sort everything out, it’s okay to fail.

No one had ever told me something like that before. It’s okay to fail. Now, he didn’t mean to act recklessly and throw all caution to the wind. He was trying to impress upon me that I didn’t have to get it right the first time. He didn’t want me to live in fear, to choose not to act, waiting for all the planets had aligned and a can’t-miss opportunity. Those situations just don’t come around, not on your first trip out, at least not for most of us.

I took his advice as best I could through my early and mid twenties. Of course, I came to find out that just because it’s okay to fail doesn’t mean it feels okay to fail. By far, the hardest part of my twenties was each time I had to decide it was worth risking heartbreak all over again.

One of the elders at my church in Tallahassee had a particularly strong influence on me during my mid-to-late twenties, a very difficult time in my life. To keep things brief, let’s just say that by then I had grown sick of failing. Having permission to do so had become a moot point. This man read me like a book and cut right through my cynicism. He had a lot of poignant and challenging things to say to me through the years but one stands out in my mind. Over and over he urged me to live my life with curiosity and compassion, to engage with my own heart and the hearts of others. By the same token, he would nearly always pair that advice with Proverbs 4:23, to guard my heart above all else.

I look back now and realize my error. While I strove to find my future I was careless with my heart in the present and, as a result, I became paralyzed by my past failures and disappointments.

I’m happy to tell you that things took a turn for the better as I closed out my twenties. First, I had to become reacquainted with the Gospel. Fear and shame were speaking a lot louder than grace. It was a process to believe—really and truly believe—what I claimed to be true. From there I started paying better attention. This same elder counseled me to be the expert of myself and to stop trying to be the expert of everyone else. In other words, quit reading between the lines and figure out your own heart. I was surprised just how difficult it was to do this in real time.

It just so happened that I was learning these truths about the heart and putting them into practice right about the time I started dating Kathy. Funny how that worked out. God is good.

I listed earlier all the new beginnings that have entered my life in the past year. Each is a tremendous blessing and I’m incredibly thankful. But the start of my thirties brings something else too: new blind spots. I don’t know what I don’t know. I’m a total novice at how to do this next season well. It’s intimidating to say the least. I have to remind myself that I have a faithful God, a supportive wife, and a host of family and friends who want the best for me. Come what may, I already have what matters the most.

This post is part of an ongoing series of birthday essays. Each year since I began blogging I have written a reflective personal essay on April 3.

My Vision for the Campus Navs Web Presence

Campus NavsOn February 3 I became the Director of Collegiate Communications for The Navigators. The collegiate mission has had communication specialists in the past, but this particular position is brand new. One of the things I love about this role is that I’ve been tasked with coming up with the vision for the Campus Navs website and its accompanying social media presence. The Campus Navs website is the national-level online home for The Navigators collegiate mission. I was recently asked by a Nav field staff to detail some of my ideas and hopes for this online presence. Today I would like to share some of my response to him with you.

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When Consumerism Creeps In

Welcome back to Volume 2, Episode 2 of The Monday Monologue Podcast. In today’s episode I talk about the impact of consumerism on my faith and my relationships.

Links from this episode:

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The Return of the Monologue

After a ten-month hiatus I’m bringing back The Monday Monologue Podcast. In this episode I relay to you a personal and professional update on my life. Specifically, I’ll talk about getting married and starting a small business.

I realized after recording that I wasn’t very clear when I was talking about Kathy’s thoughts on where I might take her on our honeymoon. She didn’t think I’d take her to a beach because I’m not very fond of it. She loves the beach. Just wanted to clear that up. I’d hate for you to think I took her someplace that I knew she wouldn’t like.

Links from this episode:

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Westcott Fountain on a beautiful summer day

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Hey @Pressgram, I blogged here from the app! #GoPressgram #Nifty50 #Florida #FSU

Pressgram credits

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Yay! My tech blog “How Do It Know?!” is listed in the @Pressgram credits.

Facebook Official

Sure, Kathy and I got married on August 31, but the life event wasn’t posted on Facebook until today.

Free Jars of Clay EP Available on NoiseTrade

My favorite band Jars of Clay has released a free EP on NoiseTrade entitled NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions. These freebies are usually only available for a limited time so grab it while you can.

You can also watch the session on YouTube.

Watch the New FSU Navigators Promotional Video

I think what I love most about this video is I really don’t know any of these students. That sounds weird, but hear me out. That simple fact helps show that discipleship works. I didn’t directly influence any of these students (short of maybe a Nav Night message once or twice) but they’ve been trained up by students who my peers and I did impact. That’s exciting to me.

Thanks to Nastasia Humphries for creating another stellar video for the ministry.

Wax Seals on Wedding Invitations

My fiancee Kathy has had such an amazing vision for our wedding down to the smallest detail. Take for example these wax seals on our wedding invitations. They add a memorable touch of class to this part of our big day.

When she took them to the post office Kathy asked if she could cancel the stamps by hand so the wax seals wouldn’t be wrecked by the letter sorting machines. That was quite a task!

Wax Seals on Wedding Invitations

Here’s one word of warning to those who might like this idea. It turns out it costs an extra $0.20 in postage per invitation when you include a wax seal. I’m not sure if knowing that ahead of time would have changed our minds about adding them, but it did take an unexpected bite out of the margin we’ve tried to leave ourselves in wedding our budget.