In my sophomore year of college. My roommate Kory and I had a problem, it was was not poverty, world hunger or global climate change. The floor was dirty. After some consideration, we decided the best solution was to vacuum.
So Kory went to the Resident Advisor to get the vacuum. When we were finished vacuuming there was some discussion about who should return the vacuum, and like all great disucssions we agreed that it would be best if we waited rather than make a rash decision about returning the vacuum. The decision on who should return the vacuum was postponed.
There the vacuum sat in the middle of the room, people would come and borrow it, which was fine we just ask that it be returned back to the center of the room until we had agreed upon who should return the vacuum.
Now it might sound like this was a passive aggressive nuclear standoff, or a narcotic induced trip, which both cases are the furthest thing from the truth. It was entirely just us entering into the story to see where it would go.
So I spent some time researching the Vacuum manufacturer and purchased stock, it was an online stock trading game, but we treated it like it was real. I was pretty excited about the big reveal, that “Move that bus” moment when I got to share that I now held an equity position in the vacuum and to the best of my memory, this is how the story unfolds.
I returned to our room from a psychology class and there is my roommate Kory, practically glowing with excitement, I sit down to my desk to study. Something my roommate was already doing.
K- Paul, are you busy, I got you something
P- Yeah, what is it?
K –It is in your closet
I walk past old faithful vacuum on the way to the closet open my door and there are no less than three new vacuums in my closet. I start to tear up because this moment is spectacular.
P- There are three vacuums stuffed in my closet
K- I know, our vacuum made friends
P- They grow up so fast,
K. Look under your bed
P – There are two more vacuums under my bed Kory
K- and now look under my bed
P - There are two more vacuums there.
P – I guess now would be the right time to to tell you that I have done some research and discovered who makes the vacuums and purchased stock in the company.
K – How much stock
P- All of it
K- We are going to be Hundredaires
P- I know
P – We need to name the vacuums and create some sort of chore list for them.
K – Agreed
So it continued, now not just one vacuum in the middle of the room but three in the closet, two under my bed and two under Korys and all with name tags. Each day we would check on the vacuums to make sure that they were OK? Now please understand there were 10 floors in our dorm and we had the vacuums to 9 of the floors. We cared for our vacuum family for three full days.
I think that there was this naïve understanding that starting a vacuum family would bring us happiness, purpose. That this moment would bring me and my roommate closer together, when it fact it did none of those things. Once we agreed that it was over and it would be best for the vacuums if we found them a new home, we had the very real issue of disposal of the vacuum bodies. Moving that many vacuum cleaners presented a logistics challenge. How do you move so many vacuum without raising suspicion?
We agreed that this operation needed to be handled with the utmost of care.
So at 2 a.m. we piled into the elevator with 9 vacuums, nametags still attached and left them in the lobby.
K- I think the burger place is still open, you want something
P- Yeah, I do, I really do.
Things I learned about life from parenting vacuums for three days in college.
- Anyone can be a vacuum parent
- Investing in vacuum stock will not lead to the immediate riches you expect
- When its over, let it go and move on.
I was just drifting into memory lane with my friend Doug and I made the comment “Secretly I wished that we had the tradition of wearing the orange suit to basketball games instead of the tradition of being Arrogant Assholes”
We both went to the same college and he lived on the floor above me. It was a private Christian school and it was everything that comes with that moniker. Each floor had its own ethos, this is the “Study” floor, this is the the “athlete” floor and this is the “arrogant, brash, asshole floor”.
That was my floor.
It didn’t help that the last month of the year our Resident Advisor just stopped showing up. He got an apartment off campus, now to be fair, we were trying to sell his stuff and published his phone number in free publications around campus, signed him up for every free trial club membership and lead gen possible.
You can imagine that this group of guys needs some guidance if not just supervision and time passed. Lets call the RA ”Randy”, mostly because that was his name. Well you can’t take a group of guys who are gone from their Christian, republican home lives for the first time, who have self selected to live on this floor and remove all supervision and expect that this is going to go super well.
There was some manufactured concern that said things like “What are we going to do? Randy’s gone”, ”Randy’s never coming back” and “I’m scaired, Randy’s gone guys”
Which lead a disbelief in Randy. People were claiming that they didn’t even believe in Randy. Unless they could touch his hands and side, then they didn’t even believe he was real.
Naturally this grew and grew and the week before final when everyone was under great stress, someone “fake” comforted someone else with don’t worry about it, “Randy’s coming back!”, someone else emerged from their room in just their tighty wighties screaming “Randy’s coming back”, another person where a pantleg on their head and carrying a wiffle ball bat scream “RANDY’S COMING BACK”. Poor Christian Orejeudos says “Hey guys whats going on? WELL, RANDY’S COMING BACK, HES COMING BACK, HE IS REALLY COMING BACK! RANDY IS COMING BACK!!!” Pretty soon, a floor of 45 guys is in the hallway holding any possessions that they deem dying for to protect are in the hallways screaming “RANDYS COMING BACK”
I believe this is about the time that campus security showed up. Rest assured campus security, Randy is coming back, You don’t need to be here, our beloved Randy is coming back. Someone called Randy, because he showed up and poor Bobby.
The scene, Bobby, campus security most of the floor of 45 young men are cheering that Randy is coming back.
And then it happened, Randy came back, pretty uneventful, he walks on to the floor through all of the hub and bub, and walked up to Bobby and said, “what’s going on?” AND that is when Bobby took a deep breath, developed his poise, picked up the child’s inflatable pool he was standing in and said “You’re back!”, “Randy your back, I knew you were real” ”Randy’s Back”, “RANDY’S BACK”, and it began again.
There should be some regret for treating someone like this, but to be fair being a Resident Advisor is a paid position, and he was living off campus, and we were a bunch of juvenile thugs.
There is regret.
Sorry Randy. But we are glad you came back.
So I am up at 4 a.m. troubleshooting why I didn’t get a notification that an email campaign went out. The campaign went out, but no notification. And while I am checking values in one location and comparing them to another, I hear some whispers of two little boys downstairs and my first thought is, CRAP, I don’t want to be a parent right now, there is plenty going on already.
I come downstairs to check on what is going on and my 9 year old and 11 year old got up, so that they could make their 7 year old brother breakfast in bed. I tell them to go back to bed, and then, I have one of those moments when I realize that this is their way of living out compassion. So after their “wet kitten” faces of why do we have to go back to bed, I say, fine, make your brother breakfast in bed and I think to myself, “These kids are turning out to be some incredible human beings.” and then I tell them, “I love that you love your brother!”
We recently attended the wedding of my wife’s cousin and I wanted something different than a plane old knot for my tie. I know, sort of a “First world problem” I jumped on the “Internets” and solved my problem. I discovered the Trinity Knot ( http://timtyson.us/archives/2013/03/who-knew-knotting-a-tie-could-be-so-interesting/ ), and tied it up good. I liked looking in the mirror at my knot, I asked friends and family to respond casually to it, so that I didn’t get a big ego about my knot. But the ego was there.
This has cause me to ask the question, trinity knot, awesome? or pretentious/hasty?
I am reminded of the movie “The Secret of My Success” where Michael J. Fox plays the role of Brantley and Carlton Whitfield, who gets a pin on his lapel from his Aunt, and the pin gets him noticed, pretty soon everyone is wearing the pin, because the pin will get you noticed. Is a Trinity knot the same thing as a Carlton Whitfield lapel pin?
It is quite possible that it is not about the knot, and more about the person that can wear the knot. It is subtle, you may get noticed, and you may not, but the swagger that you bring to the discussion determines whether this is “awesome” or “pretentious/hasty”.
The company that we started (http://AudiencePoint.com ) allows you to personalize email to the individual, which has me ask the question, is this awesome, or desperate. After three long years of working on the answer to this question, I can absolutely say that this is not desperate. One customer we were working with saw 20% more revenue from their campaign simply by individualizing the send time. There is nothing desperate about 20% more revenue. More money makes business sense which answer this question with “pretensious or hasty, no way!”
Which brings me full circle back to the knot of the tie, standing out from the crowd is a good thing, unless you don’t want to, in which case you may want to consider a plain tie with the “simple” knot ( http://www.ties.com/how-to-tie-a-tie/a-visual-comparison-of-necktie-knots )
I coach soccer, the HEAD coach of the Jefferson County Boys U-8 soccer team. The Tigers, you may have heard of them. I coached them in the fall as well. This spring we are undefeated. They are pretty happy about that. In the fall, we were defeated, they were pretty unhappy about that,but sometimes you win and sometimes you lose AND we all play youth sports so we can learn how to do both. This season we are winning last season, we didn’t.
This spring, we had a new player, Dan. The first day we called him Dan, Dan the Delivery Man ( Nicknames make kids feel important). He is pretty small for his age, I asked if he was old enough to play, I thought that he might be five when we started the season, he informed me that he was one of the older kids on the team. He was small and was not one of the most athletic. He was sweet though and he tried his hardest the other kids noticed this. Not “rudy” from Notre Dame tried his hardest, but for an 8 year old, he came to practice most of the time and ran when asked to most of the time. Basically he put up an acceptable amount of effort.
Throughout the season EVERYONE on the team got a goal, some kids got a lot of them, there one was kid that didn’t have a goal. It was Dan. I talked to some of the better players about trying to set Dan up for a goal rather than scoring themselves. They totally thought this was a great Idea. So we camped Dan in front of the goal and passed to him. He would get yelled out if he moved out of position. Every time the ball went near him, everyone cheered.
The first week, I was so proud of the advanced players that they were playing selflessly. The next week I was proud of them for their determination to get Dan a goal. But there was no goal. After the games, the other coaches and the referee would come up to me and say “We almost got him a goal.” and I was like your right but there was still a famine in Dan Goal Land.
This week was the last week of the season and I started Dan at the front, his mom, who always comes was there and his dad, who I haven’t seen at a game yet, was there. So I started Dan at forward, by the middle of the first half we were ahead 2-0, so when the boys came to me and suggested that they pass to Dan I thought it was a great idea. Every time down the field, pass to Dan, Every time down the field. Miss.
By the middle of the second half, the other team had gotten a roller into our goal (Score now, 2-1) and I talked to our players about adding an insurance goal to protect the win, and they agreed to it, but they just kept passing to Dan. I thought about being the heavy coach that says. “DO THIS” and “DO THAT” but instead I just kept cheering for Dan. Then with just about a minute and half left in the game it happened. The ball dropped to Dan, and he kicked it in. Our whole team erupted in cheers, the parents erupted in cheers, if there had been a jug of Gatorade it would have been dumped on Dan at this point by the players on his team. The other team was cheering for Dan, The referee even cheered for Dan. The referees in other games noticed and cheered for Dan. I yelled at Dan to get off the field and to give his mom a hug, to which he was very happy to do. It was the last goal of the game, it was the last goal to a season that taught me a lot about the integrity of little people and how they care for each other. These kids know what it feels like to go home having lost and lost a lot, so when they had the chance to brighten the day for Dan, Dan the Delivery Man, they jumped at it.
It was the perfect end to a perfect season.
As a Christian, there is a lot of “Christianizing” I would like to do, but instead, we are just going to celebrate a group of kids acting selflessly to make the world a better place.
Many of you have followed and supported my running through helping High School kids get to camp this summer. I just wanted to give a quick update on how I am doing, what I am doing and where I am going:
My back went out in December of last year, it was just a spasm, but it hurt and it hurt bad. I went to the doctor and he said, I needed to lose weight and that would be the key to removing the extra pressure on my back. So I had some choices. I could ignore the doctor, I could adjust weight through diet, or I could increase my exercise. The first two options sounded horrible, because I didn’t want my back to go out and I like to eat.
So the plan was set… I needed to get active. Now, at the time I had four kids all under the age of ten, so my ability to get out to the gym wasn’t going to happen. I have four kids so I can’t afford to hire an personal trainer to keep me accountable. So I decided to do it a different way. basically, I was going to be held accountable by raising money for kids for camp and if I didn’t raise the money I would either have to tell them that they couldn’t go go to camp or I would have to write the check which… I could not do. SO I had one option. Running and running a lot.
I decide to pick a goal that I didn’t think that I could reach. I decided on 190 lbs. this was 30 lbs less in a period of 9 months. 10 lbs/month. This is a steep effort if the only means is exercise. The first couple of pounds melted off, this was awesome and fun, the next 25 did not. I ran every day, between 2 and 4 miles. A pretty good place to start. I was getting my endurance down and my lungs in order and slowly by slowly I was getting faster. Last year the Rhody run, our run in Port Townsend happened and I decided that I would run it. I finished with 10 minute miles an accomplishment that I felt very good about. I was on track to hit 190 by July 22nd, our date for the beginning of camp, I was 194 on July 8th, so I had two weeks to shed 4 more pounds. This was gonna be easy and then the phone rang and my wife informed me that we were going to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter. Great news, but…. SO I adjusted my goal of 190 by camp time. Instead I pushed it out a month, because when I got on a scale after camp i was back up to 199, yikes!!!
I kept running and in mid september I hit 188. I was overwhelmed with pride and excited.
The journey needed to not end there. Instead of a weight goal, things shifted. I discovered that I enoyed running, it was time for me to get centered, to spend time with my Lord. So I kept running with the goal being to incease the distance that I was going. So, the next goal was a half marathon, something that I completed at the beginning of april in 2h: 10 m, 10 min miles again.
I have a couple of intermediate goals before the next big one.
- Finish the Rhody run this year in less than an hour ( 7.5 miles )
- I want to cover the distance between Port Townsend, WA where I live to the Bosie, where my wife grew up, I am currently 70 miles away. This should happen by the end of the summer, it is a total of 595 miles. I am currently at 440 miles on the ground since last December, so 155 more miles to go.
- I would like to do another half marathon and then a marathon all in preparation for the Great Ethiopian Run ( http://www.ethiopianrun.org/ )
- Fly to Ethiopia and run the marathon there ( September 2014 )
So there you go, this is what I am working toward. Anyone want to sponsor me on 7.5 miles in 60 minutes for the rhody run, money will go to Young Life on the Olympic Peninsula and it will give me a reason to hit the goal.
The Lord has been talking to me at length about being renewed and being restored. It started with Beach glass. There is a beach in Port Townsend where you can go and get your fill of beach glass every day if you like. There is a surplus of beach glass because people will bring glass drink containers to a place known as “The end of the world” and curiosity about gravity gets the best of them and so goes the container over the cliff.
The container breaks into little piece and each piece is moved down the beach by the force of the tide, constantly refining it until it reaches North Beach, where the occasional beach comber, who appreciates beach glass picks it up and it ends up in a closet somewhere or a collection. BUT, the glass is transformed from Trash into this beautiful smooth work of art.
I think that this is what compels me toward the stuff. This is such a beautiful picture of the human race… of me
We live in our nature sinful, and are eventually cast off in a downward spiral toward our own brokenness. It is at this point, that God, the Creator of the universe intervenes and starts the difficult process of renewing us, restoring us and turning us into something that he looks at with great joy at what we are becoming.
Beach glass = Life
Beach glass = my journey
That is why I like beach glass.
I get the privilege to work with teenagers in the ministry of Young Life ( http://www.opyl.org ). The metaphor first hit me there. That I get to work with teenagers that are somewhere in the process of being transformed from the broken state to this polished refined beautiful state and I get to just sit and watch the creator do his work.
Beach glass = Them
Beach glass = Their journey
So last night I went on a run, 4.03 miles… It was pretty incredible, when I was done with the run, my legs were tight, but from a cardio perspective, I could have kept going. This was super encouraging to me. It was almost the runner’s high I have heard about. Meaning, I was excited that I was in shape enough to go 4 miles on just under a 10 minute mile pace.
Sometimes I have my headphones in and I listen to worship music, sometimes I just talk to God, I ALWAYS pray. This has been an incredible way for me to connect with Jesus. Sometimes my prayers are completely self-focused, sometimes they are directed on behalf of someone else. If you look at the routes I run on Facebook, you will know if I have prayed over your house or business. It has been fun for me to do and very grounding.
My friend, Darin Gemmer pointed out yesterday that intention is very important, and I agree. Exercise by itself is not worship. Exercise when done to connect with your creator, to care for his creation and to put a prayer cover over those you serve is. I have been approached about participating in runs, which sounds great, but for now, the point of exercise for me is the connection to the creator, and when that gets superseded by training for a run, my heart of worship diminishes as well.
TMI here? In august I weighed in at 218 pounds, more than I have ever weighed in my life. I am now down to 207 lbs.
I have a goal to get down to 190lbs, I picked the number out as a “big hairy audacious goal”, one that I didn’t think I could accomplish. I picked that for a reason. I am looking for people who believe I can reach a weight I haven’t weighed since my freshman year of college and will tell me that they believe that by pledging money that would go to help a needy teenager get to Young Life camp from the Olympic Peninsula. The goal on the weight loss is $2000 to help kids get to camp. So far I have $20 pledged.
The only thing that I can do to accomplish the goal is exercise. There is no extreme dieting, there is no weight loss tricks just hard work. Pledging will be on the honor system. If you pledge you follow through, I won’t hound you. Please le me know you are pledging either through the blog, or email for FB message. It just creates a bigger reason for me to get healthy.
So at Church on Sunday ( http://www.ptfbc.org ), Skip, our pastor challenged us to think about how what we do is an act of worship. It was in conjunction with Earth Day, but it is bigger than that. The idea that the decisions that you make can be an act of worship to the Creator of the Universe. I love the idea, so I wanted to put my list together.
- Whenever possible we buy organic in order to not put toxins in the bodies of our children or ourselves.
- We recycle, it is a pain, because our local trash pickup doesn’t pick up the amount of recycling that we produce, so I have to store it and bring a HUGE load down to the Fort. It is inconvenient and blows all over the yard, but because God created each one of us AND the natural world, and in Genesis 1:28 gave us dominion over the natural world, which as far as I am concerned is God-Ordained responsibility to take care of it.
- We cook and bake from scratch. It is a lot easier to run to Safeway and buy a cake for a birthday party, but when you control the ingredients, you control the cake. This one is a little more complex. I already mentioned the idea that we want to take care of our bodies, but we also want to control the amount of processed food, we also want to reduce the distance something is shipped to me. I can buy flour that was made here in Washington, thus reducing the distance the flour was shipped to me.
- We buy organic, shade grown, fair trade coffee. When I drink my coffee in the morning, I love knowing that I am supporting family operations around the world often propping up the plight of woman and children in the developing world.
- We fix things. I am not super handy, nor ever have been, but whenever possible we fix things, rather than going and buying something new, we are also thoughtful about what we buy, so we don’t get stuff that will break on us and end up in a landfill.
- We bring our clothes to the local thrift store, so our lightly used clothing will stay in our community AND that is also a source of clothes for us as well. It is weird to think that the clothes you take for a donation, get shipped off to processing plant and then get distributed to each community that would purchase it. So if I bring professional attire to the thrift store, then I want someone in my community to get them, not because my community is better, but because of my intent. I would to love my neighbors as I have been loved.
- We go without. In a world where you need it now, and waiting is a weird though, we ask ourselves, do we need whatever our want is telling us? I think about Jacob in the Old Testament who had to wait 7 years for his bride Rebecca, but instead got his bride Leah, and then had to wait 7 more for Rebecca. Patience, reduces the amount you consume and develops incredible spiritual discipline.
- We exercise. It is sort of a weird act of worship, but obesity is not of the Lord and frankly, this is an area where I am convicted and fall victim. When I am active, I hear the Lord. When I don’t his voice is quieter.
- We put our value on people and not things. This is also a difficult one, because things make our life comfortable, but people are who Jesus challenged us to care for. When Jesus says, whatever you did for the least of these you did for me “rings” in my ears.
These are just a few, I could keep going, but that isn’t super bloggable. How is what you do an act of worship? Please share.