… because I might change my mind.

friends

Welcome to 2011 Friends

National Blog Posting Month (i.e., NaBloPoMo) has a theme for January regarding “Friends.” Friends have played an important role in my life over the years. Admittedly, I do not make new friends easily. Generally, people don’t become more than acquaintances until there is some shared experience. My closest friends remain my closest friends from high school and college. I shared many experiences with the friends I hold from those times. I even count some from those periods as “friends” having not really spent much time since the respective graduations.

To make friends now requires something different. At this stage in life, I have to choose to be friends with someone. That is, I have to want to invest in their lives and want to give them access to my life on some deeper level. Making friends requires energy. I don’t generate energy by being with others. That tends to sap my energy. Thus, I tend to limit those situations that require energy expenditure. What’s the point if I can’t truly engage?
I’ve discovered that as I age — and I am definitely aging — my circumstances or my life does not provide me with as many situations that make “friend-making” easy. If I want to develop a new friendship, I have to make a positive step in that direction. Generally, I find that step to be a positive one, but I tend to be cautious in extending my friendship web because I know that I have somewhat limited energy resources. And why bother if I’m not going to really invest in the relationship?
I don’t share this for anyone to believe that I think they should think it special if I count them my friend. I know that I am lucky to have the friends that I have. I hope not to ruin any potential new friendships that I am developing. I’ve just noticed that developing friendships is far harder than it was when life forced me into proximity with others that I wanted/needed as friends.
Here’s to deepening relationships in 2011. Here’s to you developing real friendships in the coming months. (I plan to share what I believe to be the earmarks of a “real friendship” in future posts.)
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NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 25 — Giving Thanks

It’s been a good day. We celebrated the day at my parents’ house with a truckload of family! K-Man loved running around all day playing with “the cousins.” He and his cousin, Jonathan, ran around playing with their nerf guns until they were sweaty messes. He should sleep incredibly soundly tonight!

When you have a blog, you are almost obligated to write a post today about the things for which you are thankful. Far be it from me to ignore that responsibility. I am thankful for much. Much more than I will capture here today, but this is a good representation.
My wife — who has walked beside me for a long time encouraging me along the way and occasionally kicking me in the behind when I need it.
My son — who reminds me regularly to see the joy in life. To laugh. To be silly.
My family — that has supported and shaped me.
My in-laws — who raised one heckuva daughter and who are incredible grandparents to K-Man.
My friends — (too many to name individually) who have picked me up when I’m down and with whom I have made some great memories over the last four decades!
My church — that challenges me to grow deeper in my relationship with the Lord and seek opportunities to live a life reflective of that relationship
I’m also thankful for a lot of “lesser” things too:
Tivo — stopping live television to use the lavatory is epic
Mike and Ikes — fruity, chewy morsels … if only you were sugar-free!
Plungers — no details necessary. Just thankful.
Smyrna Soccer Club — really enjoyed getting Keegan involved in that this year. Great organization for the community of kids in the area.
Facebook — when used for good, it really can be a great way to keep up and reconnect with friends and family scattered across the globe.
24-hour gyms — it’s great to have the freedom to go to the gym at 2:00 a.m. if I can’t sleep! (Wouldn’t have to go so often if those dastardly Mike and Ikes weren’t so delicious!)
Happy Thanksgiving!!

NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 19 — Thoughts from coffee with a friend

It’s hard to watch people we love live through the consequences of their actions. Sometimes it’s a one-time action and sometimes it’s a chronic dysfunction that showers their lives with unwanted results. Even when we have no real role in their predicament, the outcome can affect us in a variety of ways. Maybe if we’d been more involved, we could’ve saved them the pain of this. Now that they’re in this situation, it’s going to require more of our time or resources to help them. It’s their problem, but it impacts us as well. Can’t get away from it. We’re connected.

I was having coffee with a friend the other day. He had something on his mind that he wanted to talk about, so we’d scheduled some time to meet. He wanted to talk about a loved one of his who is dealing with some consequences at the moment. My friend was dealing with a myriad of emotions about the situation. There was a little guilt. There was some helplessness because he wasn’t in a position where his assistance was welcome — and part of him really wanted to help.
As we were talking, I tried to reassure him that he had nothing to feel guilty about. The choices made by his loved one were their choices. So the consequences were the loved one’s to own. The helplessness that he felt was understandable, but again, it wasn’t his situation to correct or unwind or put back in the bottle.
In some ways he had to come to grips with the fact that there was going to be pain for his loved one. They may not be aware of the full scope of that at the moment, but they likely will down the road. He wanted his loved one to realize the full impact of his actions now — not in a “you get what you deserve way” but more to deal with it now and get started on healing from the situation. But again, he was helpless to make his loved one understand that. I tried to encourage him that even if his loved one didn’t get it now and suffered some lingering pain from the circumstances, the Lord can redeem that when they do come to terms with the full scope of what happened. I hope it was encouraging. I hope it eased his mind.
I try to have the same approach with Keegan. He’s going to make mistakes that have consequences. He has to learn that cause and effect. For now, those effects are relatively minor. At some point, he’ll be facing something bigger, and I’ll be struggling with wanting to protect him from the larger, maybe more painful, consequences. I’d do anything for that kid, but there may come a time — there probably will come a time — when the best thing I can do for him is to do nothing except love him and walk beside him through the mire of whatever he’s gotten himself into. That may sound detached or cold in a way, but for me, it’s more a statement of faith that I can trust the Lord to watch over him and see him through whatever he faces.
And maybe in letting him deal with the consequences of his actions without intervening to “save” him from himself, he’ll come to understand that there is nothing that he cannot overcome and that we’ll be there for him no matter what.

NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 16 — Day in the life

I cannot think of anything to write about today. Does that mean I’ve had a boring day? Live a boring life? Hardly.

The day started with a good time of prayer and worship. Really needed it. Our pastor challenged us on Sunday to make prayer a part of our daily life. That wasn’t really the impetus for today’s time, but I’m going to make it count for that if he asks me.
I changed the bulbs on my brake lights today. One of them had been out for months. The second one went out recently as well. A nice couple stopped us at a light the other day to tell us. It took me an hour. No lie. I am not mechanically gifted. It took me 10 minutes just to find an allen wrench that would work. I tore up my hands in the process as well. But those who follow me now will know when I’m slamming on my brakes. Lucky them.
I had lunch with a friend. Actually, he bought me lunch in exchange for a little advice on how to respond to a claim for unemployment benefits. Yes, I trade in kind. Legal advice in exchange for a nice burger and fries.
Tonight, we had a family dinner at our church. These quarterly get-togethers are always a nice time. A pot luck, church-wide time to share a meal, meet some others we may not know that well, and get the latest information about all that the church is doing and planning for the immediate and/or long-term future. I noticed tonight as we were waiting in line the large number of kids under 7 in the crowd. That cohort seems to have exploded over the last year. I think that bodes well for the future of the church. It also will require more generational investment on the part of everyone.
So it looks like my day wasn’t that boring. I’m not sure what it’s like for you to read about it. But thanks for indulging me. It’s better than a generic list, isn’t it? I hope so.
See you tomorrow.

NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 11 — Veterans Day

As most of you know, today is Veterans Day which is a time for our nation (at least) to celebrate and honor and thank all of the men and women in the armed forces who have protected the freedoms that we all enjoy.

Some of them were drafted. Some volunteered. But they all served.
Some saw action. Some worked behind the lines. But they all served.
Some left limbs behind. Some never returned. But no one was unharmed.
And yet they served. Today we honor that service.
My grandfather, who will be 90 in a few weeks, served. My other grandfather served. My father served. My father-in-law served. My uncles served. Cousins. Friends. Neighbors. Classmates. All of them served.
We all know, or know of, someone who served in the armed forces. That service is the backbone of this country. Those who fought over 200 years ago established the freedoms we enjoy. And every serviceman who has followed has defended them — even to the death.
Saying “thank you” seems insufficient. But what do I know? My grandfather thinks otherwise, as he said earlier today:
“Your thanks are for all of us; especially the fallen. They are the ones to whom I am beholden. That I survived …. is the luck of the draw.”

NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 8 — Dinner Guest

Tonight we had a single friends of ours over for dinner. It was a great time to share a meal and catch up with how she is doing. Jen and I do not fancy ourselves as matchmakers, so we enjoyed the time to just share a meal and catch up with how our friend is doing. As a married couple, we don’t always get a chance to spend time with our single friends, in part, because they think we don’t have time to spend with them because we are either changing diapers and/or spending time finding odd locales to share intimate moments. Neither of which are reality, by the way.

We dined on a great meal of tilapia and rice and a fresh salad. The better part was the conversation about life and where we are and where we are going. Jen and I both believe in investing in the generations. That’s why we’ve supported and been a part of our church’s mission trips to Scotland. But that also applies to the cohort that is a decade-plus behind us. While that requires us to admit our advancing age, it also permits us to devote time in the world of the 20-somethings we know. As we grow older, Jen and I appreciate those we know who have invested their time and energy in us individually and as a couple. It is humbling to think that others might benefit from something that we could share. I have no idea if our dinner guest tonight enjoyed any facet of dinner and/or the conversation we exchanged. I felt good about simply opening our home and making the time to listen to what our guest was dealing with and encouraging her in where she is and where she’s headed.
If you have folks in your life who are younger than you who could benefit from another perspective, I would encourage you to make the time for them. Not for you, but for them. As insignificant as you may seem, your life experience is likely more than them which gives you instantly more credibility than others. Don’t waste it, but don’t hide it either.

NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 7 — Uncertainty

Life is funny. The longer I live, the more I believe that the only thing about life that is certain is the uncertainty of life. We plan for things, and they don’t work out as planned. Some of us pray for certain results or opportunities or outcomes, and it doesn’t end up as we envisioned. Sometimes, we’re minding our own business and something falls into our lap.

I can look back on various times in my life before I was married and since. Before we had Keegan and since. I wanted things to turn out; I tried to set things up to work out as I wanted. And it didn’t come to fruition as I wanted or how I thought it would. I take solace in knowing that even when things didn’t work out as I might’ve hoped, I didn’t “miss out.” I enjoyed the times I had where I was and being used in the ways that I was used.
All of that sounds sort of vague. Maybe it is. The details aren’t really the important part.
Don’t get me wrong, I get disappointed when things don’t work out the way I hoped. It’s not like I’m sitting around hoping to win the lottery or some other outlandish possibility. We’re talking about job opportunities or relationships or financial situations. I tend to withhold my enthusiasm about things that I hope for. It’s nothing more than a defense mechanism to limit the pain of disappointment. But that’s a lie. You can’t limit your disappointment. You may limit the number of people who know about your disappointment, but you don’t limit your disappointment. Even when I don’t tell someone about my hopes or dreams or expectations, I still know what they are. I know what I hope for.
This isn’t the forum to share all of my hopes and dreams, but I can tell you that there are people who know what those things are. I will continue to share them with those people. I would encourage any of you to do the same. You’re going to dream and hope. I think part of being human is to dream for something different, better, grander, etc. Share those things with people who will breathe life into your hopes and dreams and who will walk along side you if certain things don’t come to be as you wanted.