January, 2013


30
Jan 13

Back and better for it

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He’s back!  Yep, I’m back… jet lag and all.

Wow, was Kent Nerburn right.  In the last blog entry I quoted Kent from his book Letters to a Son.

I wasn’t planning to repeat his quote but it’s to apropos for the topic at hand not to.  So here it is again.

“That is why we need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder.

Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting.

We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.

Don’t let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take.

But if you take them, you will never regret your choice.”

I’ve had the privilege to travel a good bit.  But for the most part my travels have been what some might say are safe travels.

What I mean is, the countries I have visited have been fairly westernized with the modern niceties that suit our American tastes.

The visits to Europe have been great and I have been stretched by the differences in culture, language and politics.  All of these visits have left their mental stretch marks but nothing to the extent that I faced last week.

I mentioned that I was going to South Africa for a church mission trip.

First of all the flight to and from Johannesburg was about sixteen hours in duration.  It made the typical seven-hour flight to Europe a leisurely Sunday drive.

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Side Note: Wow, that last statement dates me.  Sunday Drive?  I can’t imagine anyone taking a Sunday drive anymore.

Yes, to all of you too young to remember, people would actually just get in the car and drive in the country as a leisurely family activity.

And by the way, I am not nearly as old as the picture illustrates.  Well… maybe.  But I don’t feel that old.

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South Africa is a very interesting mix of cultures and wealth.  There are pockets of extremely nice areas that are jammed packed full of niceties that we pampered American relish.  But all of these pockets were surrounded by extreme poverty.

The focus of our trip was to help clean up and repair an elementary school in a very poor area of Soweto.  It was a church’s version of “extreme makeover” for a school.

Soweto, if you remember your history, was the epicenter for the movement to banish Apartheid in South Africa.  Now don’t worry, this is not going to be a blog about the ills of racism and the overthrow of the white regime.  There are plenty of history books or web sites that dissect those events.

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Interesting factoids:

1.  I thought the name Soweto was derived from some sort of African word.  But in reality it is the abbreviation of Southwest Township.

2.  Soweto is the only place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

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Over the next couple of entries I would like to share a few things that stirred my comfortable little world.

Surprisingly, it is different than what you may think.  It’s not the poverty, although it was horrid, nor was it the history of racial oppression, albeit extreme.

It has everything to do with what make people good.

See you Monday.


18
Jan 13

Packed and ready to go

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Have you ever had deep stirrings but couldn’t find words to release the captive thought?

I have, all the time.  I still have lots of deep things that seem frustrated with lack of expression.

I attempt to verbalize the inner truth but my words stumble because of lack of clarity.  And sadly the depth and significance of the thought is lost, even undermined, because of my inability to breathe life into it.

In the past I used to think that it was because I wasn’t bright enough to articulate my thought.  That may be true to some degree but mostly I believe that inner truths need time to germinate and then at the right time they break the surface.

Occasionally I am able to bring clarity on my own.  That is the exception rather than the rule.

Usually someone will come along and articulate or we read something that crystallizes a trapped thought.

When that happens there is an amazing relief.  I hear my head echo, “That’s it, that’s it”.

As all of you know I have been poking at the topic of journey for several years.  And the other day I read something that brought me a huge step closer to bringing clarity to the clutter of thoughts and feelings that have been rubbing against each other.

A friend sent me an email that had the following quote.

The quote is about the importance of and the need for us to travel.  But the truth articulated is not reserved for just traveling to physical new locations.

The beauty of the quote is that it articulates many of my thoughts about the journey of life and the trying of new things.

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“That is why we need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder.

Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting.

We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.

Don’t let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take.

But if you take them, you will never regret your choice.”

- Letters To A Son. Kent Nerburn

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This quote articulates much better than I the importance of stepping out beyond ourselves.

Life has more than what we settle for.  For those of you reading this blog for the first time, I am not talking about trying new things to feed our appetite for thrills or because we want to run away from life.

No, not at all.  I am talking about things that expand who we are.  Things that make our life richer and deeper.

I am about to do something that I believe will make my life richer and fuller.

I am taking Kent Nerburn’s advice and in two hours I am leaving to go to South Africa for ten days.  This is a church trip thing and it will be fascinating.

So I won’t be posting my next blog entry until the 29th.

I should come back all stretched and insightful.

Ciao.


14
Jan 13

Breakdown or Breakthrough?


Blog Note: I added this sentence after reading what I wrote.  The blog may seem negative at first but stick with it… there may be something for you to learn.

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Hello, me again… for the three hundredth time.

Yep, this is my three hundredth blog entry in three years.  This writing feat of posting 300 entries may not be very impressive to you, but for me… I’m ecstatic.

If you told me four years ago I would be posting two blog entries a week for over three years and have over 100,000 hits per year I would have thought you were nuts.  There are three reasons why I thought this would never happen.

First of all I’m not a writer.  I am not claiming they are good blog entries (only you are the judge of that) but I’m happy with most of them.

Secondly, I tend not to be as disciplined as I would like to be.  My life journey road is littered with discarded projects and miscellaneous attempts of meaningful endeavors.  My pattern has been to start things and then after the luster dulls, my effort and interest fizzles.

And the third reason is probably pretty clear to you after reading reasons one and two… I am really good at beating the crap out of myself.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but it’s true.

It’s one thing to be self-deprecating.  There’s kind of an endearing charm of someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and are confident enough to advertise their shortcomings.

But when someone beats the crap out of themselves it’s neither endearing nor charming.

Wow, I didn’t expect to be this vulnerable when I started writing a few minutes ago.

I feel like someone who has been muscled out of their hiding place and paraded for public display exposed for the world to make their judgments or take their shots.

Now don’t get all weirded out or start feeling sorry for me.

Let me be clear, this open discussion is not a self-flagellating mea culpa to cleanse my spirit of personal demons.  Not at all!

In fact, on some level it is both a declaration and a sign of freedom.

Yes, I have my issues like everyone else…  just like everyone else… just like you.

Every one of you reading this has things that hold you back from living life to the full.

As for me, I recognize and squarely face the things that I tried to keep others from seeing – my flat spots.

This is why this blog has been important to me.  This was one of several steps I was called to take which allowed me to venture beyond the confines of my world.

Maybe you are further along in your journey than I and the insights of this blog entry is old news.

But for some, you remain in your internal “panic room” protecting yourself from exposure to the world.  You’re not about to let anyone know your weakness.

But here’s the dirty little secret – Everyone already knows.

The breakthrough is bringing it to light to face it.

Bringing things to light is risky indeed.  But life is worth the risk.

Hopefully you will show up on Thursday for another visit.

See you then.

Ciao.


10
Jan 13

A walk on the wild side

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Hello again.

Some of you who read my last blog entry may be of the notion to take me up on my offer to step out of your comfortable world and go exploring with me.

There may have been something about what I said that poked a tender spot regarding the possibility that there is more to life than what you have been experiencing.

I am an average guy, with a great life, and blessed beyond measure.  Very honestly, there is nothing special about me.  My wife would say different but that’s because she loves me and can be somewhat biased in her opinion.

But this average guy has a message.  The spark of life you sense has nothing to do with Jerry Rushing.  But it has everything with you cracking the door to begin believing that what I am talking about is real and for you.

Oh my God.  I just re-read the last couple of paragraphs and I sound like motivational speaker Anthony Robbins… only without the big teeth and creepy smile.

But in reality my message to you is nothing like Anthony Robbins.  I am not talking about the power within you to make you great or you tapping into your reservoir of latent potential waiting to be released to change the world.  Nope… nothing like that.

No, I’m not selling fantasies or potential.

I’m not selling you anything.  All I am doing is inviting you to consider that God has more for you to experience and enjoy than you can ever imagine.

There is an interesting scripture in the Bible (Romans 12:2) that says, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

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Side Note: Now to all my non-Christian friends don’t get all pissy on me because I used a scripture to make my point.  I am not trying to convert you (that’s not my job anyway).

So just move your curser away from the exit icon and hear me out.  Thanks.

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But whether you are a Christian or not the scripture is true.  Our mind, if not careful, will lock us into a way of thinking that keeps us quietly buried in the shallow grave of life I mentioned in the last blog.  We’re dead and don’t even know it.

Growing and experiencing life to the full is a combination of opening our thinking and stepping out and trying something new.

Some of you reading this blog never try anything new.  There is something about trying new things that breaths life into dead bones.

Once again I know there are some of you who will just roll your eyes at my words and chalk my comments up as the ramblings of a small narrow man’s attempt to be profound.

Maybe.  But what if I am right?

I want to challenge you to do two very simple things.  It is a challenge that may prove you right about me or may open your thinking to the possibility that God has an amazing adventure for you to experience.

All I ask is that you sincerely invite God to open your heart and mind to the possibility that He has something for you.  And secondly… just listen.

What do you have to lose?

Now I have to be really honest here.  I tend to be pretty rebellious.  If someone asked me to do the two simple things I’m asking you, I am very likely to blow it off just to spite the person asking.

I’m not proud of that but true none-the-less.

I hope you will give it a shot.  Just ask… and listen.

See you Monday.


7
Jan 13

Living in a shallow grave

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Hello… welcome back… Happy New Year.

A statement in my last blog entry has been haunting me.  I said that worry robs your life of life.

How sad, but unfortunately all too true.  There are millions of people living in this world who are living with no life.

Something happened to me about five years ago.  I am not exactly sure what but I do know that it was a God thing.  I decided that I did not want to live my life in a shallow grave.

A person in a shallow grave is one who lives in and settles for less than what is available to them.  I believe more and more, and my heart rejoices more and more with the reality that there is so much God has given for us to experience and enjoy HERE and NOW not just in the hereafter.

Yes, as a Christian I knew I would go to heaven and all would be good.  But little did I know that God desires for us to experience life to the full – NOW.

I am not talking about deeper Spiritual insights or tingly feelings.  Yes, those are available and I like those things too, but I’m talking about something different.

I wish I could bring to memory the event or moment that sparked the notion that life had more to offer than what I was settling for.

Here’s the amazing God thing.  I already had a very good life.  It was neither boring nor unfulfilling.  But something sparked an inner ember.

Something struck an invisible soundless note that resonated in my spirit.

All I knew was that God was calling me to a higher place.  It had nothing to do with money, job nor possession.  There was a stirring to things outside my comfortable snug world.

I am sure some you are reading this and are bored out of your mind thinking this guy is weird.

But there is someone reading this that is feeling a stir.  Something inside is rising up and taking notice.

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We long for more but dare not believe that more is possible

- Penelope Stokes

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You don’t know what, but there is something inside that knows or wants to believe that God has more for you… and He does!

That is why I started this blog journey three years ago.

Something or someone was calling me to more.

As I said earlier, I had a wonderful life up to five years ago.  Since that time it has been amazing.  It doesn’t mean simple… but simply amazing.

I have taken risks, started things (like this blog) that I would have never attempted.

All because I listened to a zephyr call to something more.

No, life is not perfect.  Yes, I still have my challenges and setbacks.

But I can honestly say that I no longer live in a shallow grave where my life has no life.  And the amazing thing is that what I have experienced is only the beginning.

This is my invitation to all of you weird people out there that feel a stir at what I am saying.  The voice you hear is not mine.

I am only the instrument that invites you to more.

I hope you join me as I continue the journey.

If you are really serious I encourage you to read the first couple of months of blogs from 2010.  All you need to do is go to the archives on the right side of the page and check them out.

Ciao.

See you Thursday.


3
Jan 13

Worry Freak or Worry Free?

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The beginning of a new year always feels kinda weird to me.

There is something about the finality of the numerical year that causes one to assess or rank the previous year and then forces one’s attention to the future to ponder or speculate on the next twelve months.

Let’s face it, we don’t look at March 12th the same way we view January 1st.  We don’t sit up late on the evening of the 11th and reflecting on the year past.

But the end and beginning of a numerical calendar year is different.

I do reflect on the year and tend to give it some level of ranking.  Being that I tend to be a “bullet point” kind of person I’m sure that my evaluation system is much too simplistic to most people’s liking.

My three point ranking system is – Good year, ok year, and bad year.

Then I will typically add a couple of words as descriptors.

For example, my description of 2012 was this.  Overall 2012 was a good year with a huge transition and challenges.

Yep… that’s it.  It may be much too broad and non-descript for you but it works for me.  Like everyone else I have had bad years… 2003 and 2009 were brutal.

My simple process of reflection works very well in the other direction too – looking forward to the upcoming year.

I personally try to keep my head clear of any prolonged or specific speculation about what the year may bring.  The year will be what it will be and I will deal with it as it comes tends to be my basic philosophy.

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If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.
- John A. Simone, Sr.
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But one can’t help wondering to some degree what type of year 2013 will be.

There’s enough political and social craziness to cause some people to nose dive into the pits of negativity and fear.

But I figure, why get stressed out or worry about something that hasn’t happened.

I have my fair share of concerns about things that can happen and potentially impact my life (the economy as an example) but I don’t tend to worry.

Worry is a trap that corrupts the present.

Maybe I am too simple but I figure why get myself all worked up and stressed over something that probably won’t happen.  If the negative does happen… I will get worked up then.

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“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles… but most of them never happened.”

- Mark Twain

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Just because I don’t worry now doesn’t mean that I don’t have an appropriate level of concern about those things that may be looming that could impact my life.

As mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of economic and political craziness right now.  I will be careful about what I spend, what I save, etc. because it is both logical and responsible.

The worriers will say that they are doing the same thing, just being appropriately concerned.   Nope, not the same… concern doesn’t rob life’s joy or peace… worry does.

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Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.
- Corrie Ten Boom
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Worry robs your life of life.

Think about it, what an interesting phrase – life being robbed from our life.

No one on this earth knows what 2013 will bring.

2013 may give me a bitter cup to drink.  If so, I pray I drink it with grace and patience.  But I decide now not to worry.

2013 may offer me a sweet cup to enjoy.  If so, I pray I drink it with humility and gratefulness.

I approach this year with open heart and hands.

Thanks for checking in with me.  See you Monday.

Ciao.