When left is right & right is left

This week America provided us a reversal and confusing look at their viewpoint on guns. In summary it gave us two moments when we could have sighed and said “oh no… thats not helpful” and “whew… I’m glad those two people were there.”

By this I am referring to the 1st incident where by a self-confessed Bernie Sanders supporter showed up at a congressional baseball practice and started shooting at as many members of the GOP as he could. Yes, a passionate Democratic Party supporter (who even volunteered during the 2016 election). This is not what the Democrats needed. The party that champions the cause for greater gun control, especially against assault weapons. Here is a man who is acting with an object that the democrats are trying very hard to control getting into the hands of people just like him. UGH!

Then ‘down the coast’ in Georgia we have two inmates who manage to kill two corrections officers and escape a prison transport. Then commit various acts of stealing cars, terrorizing people, high speed car chases across two states to finally come to a crashing end and run off into the woods in Tennessee.

While the deaths of two officers is unspeakable, this story comes to a peaceful ending. Two members of the public spotted these two inmates in the woods near their house, and wait for it… GRAB THEIR GUNS and go get em’.

If it wasn’t for these two gun totting weapon owners these escaped inmates might be still running or have had a fiery shootout with law enforcement.

So, here we have a situation where the left leaning gun lobby are let down by ‘one of their own’ and we are sure glad that the right leaning protect my gun rights laws have prevented a awful situation becoming even worse.

 

 

 

Surf’s Up

This past weekend we had a storm that spat out of the deep depths of the Southern Ocean. Or Antarctica. It produced some massive swells or waves. 

Click the link to read all about it   

Surf’s Up.

And more
This weekend we are going to the very southern tip of NZ for a youth & children training event for churches. It will be fun to take Robin & Moana to the southern tip on NZ…. next stop Antarctica. 

Thanks for the job security LaVar, but I don’t want it.

Recently I was tooling around online and stumbled across the story on ESPN about the upcoming NBA Draft. But more importantly the UCLA player Lonzo Ball who is expected to go high in the draft if not #1.

BIG DEAL you might say we get these stories 3-4 times A YEAR… pick your professional sport. However this year this young man is really a metaphor or symptom for perhaps giving people who work with children and youth the best job security in the world.

Not by the wayward choices they might make but by his father LaVar Ball.

It appears that Lonzo has very little opportunity to make decisions on his own, and every decision made is either by his father or for his father and in the name of his father. I’m all about upsetting the apple cart however this “gentleman” is something else. He reminds me of Napoleon Dynamites Uncle Rico in the movie Napoleon Dynamite. Rico never made it past being a famous high school quarterback because of someone else and it appears to fit the description for Lonzo’s dad. Mad at the world I missed my opportunity and so this is how I’m going to make up for it. Lonzo’s dad does it all.

It becomes apparent very early on that “dad” speaks… talks… represents…deals… organizes… maybe he even poops for his son. Almost every time I see the two, Dad does it all. Now admittedly my sample size isn’t great, however I have seen enough to get that picture.

So to my point. 

Thanks for the job security LaVar because its my observation that from this approach I think about the resiliency and coping skills of his son and frankly a whole generation of youth that aren’t put in enough positions to develop those skills through the worlds best teacher… experience all because a parent or parents have literally done it all.

Case in point. A man in a Tennessee bar this week poured kerosene all over himself, set himself on fire and ran into a bar. All because his girlfriend broke up with him.

Man sets self on fire on Facebook

This story is an absolute tragedy. However the focus appears to be on the method, the tragedy and Facebook. Who once again is been held to task for seemingly every evil action and act of violence that occurs on this platform. Its like suing a car manufacturer for a drunk drivers actions.

The story I hear hear is why he did it.

“He believed that suicide would be the ultimate revenge on her,”

How bad had it become for this man that this was an viable option. How unable was he to cope with his mental health that this occurred. This is not a statement about how people had let him down, or how we should have given him medicine, or that his family should have tried harder.

Children, youth & young adults are increasingly expressing their mental health to anyone who will hear and respond. But perhaps the real challenge is where have skills like resilience, coping and problem solving gone. Many of us have been through a bad break up, parents going through divorce or struggling with our or anothers sexuality. However what goes hand in hand with these are the above mentioned skills. Not thats its the gold ticket to jettison us away from pain, heartbreak or loneliness. But there appears to be a rise in younger generation type problems that aren’t meet with skills of coping etc.

Were they not taught? Not experienced? Not allowed to experiment with failure and growth in far more digestible problems in younger years so that where those real storms of life come, like divorce, breakup and sexuality that there is at least some foundations of skills to begin to process and get help.

Its well documented that people die by suicide because of a loss of hope and/or loss of social connection. And I wonder if some of that could be minimized, not “fixed”but minimized by looking for more opportunities to put into practice those life long skills.

And while we/parents everyone continue to not expose our children and youth to manageable challenges of life by speaking for them, making all their decisions, even living vicariously through them we are also providing people who work with children, youth and young adults the best job security in the world. But for all the wrong reasons.

 

 

What happens when kid has to make his own decisions

What does that mean when dad isn’t around

Another picture of no coping skills no resiliency

Follow what so what now what model

LaVar & Lonzo

If you stand still you can…

Today was a perfect day. We drove west to the mountains to Lake Coleridge which sits as a gateway to the big mountains along the spine on New Zealand’s South Island. I won’t say too many words as they don’t do it justice.

But I will say this. NZ is usually quite windy most of the time and the mountains of course are no exception. However, today was 1 of those few days where it was perfectly still. Between the views, the blue sky, the peaks, and of course the company if you stand still you can…

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Driving time = 90mins

Hiking time = 90mins to the summit, 60mins back down.

Amazing Feat/Feet

You might have missed it on Saturday but the world of athletics was shaken up. Not by a big disclosure of performance enhancing drug abuse but the lowering of the world record for the men’s marathon. And an attempt at going under 2hours for the same race. #breaking2

However if you read between the lines there is inspiration for all of us not just for some of us that geek out over the times, the splits, the speed….

But Eliud Kipchoge, a 32-year-old Kenyan, ran 26.2 miles faster than anybody in history, finishing the time trial in 2:00:25.

Yes it was…

  • A time trail, so not one of the big time marathons from around the world.
  • A bit of a publicity stunt by Nike. (don’t worry Adidas is attempting it soon with its stable of runners).
  • As many of the controllable conditions were controlled.
    • Running on the Formula One track at Monza, Italy (the fastest in the world), with the least amount of turns.
    • Numerous pacers to help the 3 designated athletes.
    • A carefully chosen start time and day for weather purposes.
    • The food and fluid handed to them so they could keep moving.
    • Some new amazing shoe developed of course by Nike.
    • …..

The list goes on. And from that the haters, doubters and purists were everything from skeptical, even mad. The old record, set at the Berlin Marathon back in 2014 of 2:02.57 might/will still “stand” and the IAAF hasn’t decided if it will ratify this record yet.

BUT…. all the explanation aside, this is an amazing feat. Kipchoge managed to hang on and while not smash the 2hrs mark (which experts predicted that humanity wouldn’t reach this time for another 75years) showed what is and can be possible.

And while he didn’t reach the sub2 goal, look a while and what he did do. He smashed the old record. All because some people got together and said lets try this, we won’t know unless we try. And if they didn’t start with that thought of lets try this they would be still sitting on the couch now talking about it. The old record would still be there and not a revised goal of 2:00.25. Sure they didn’t get there but they got somewhere and closer.

Makes you wonder how much we sit around and wonder but then don’t even try. If we don’t get to ‘our goal’, we got somewhere and that was better than where we were.

In case you are wondering thats 4.34mins/mile. Try doing that once. Then repeating 25 more times… IN A ROW.

The New Normal

The New Normal is a expression that has gained some attention recently. Whether it’s the days getting shorter (or longer) depending on which hemisphere/country you live in. Or a new way of doing business from a Trump Administration. Or perhaps getting outside more with better weather to improve ones health though fitness. The New Normal is what notice and adapt to in light of something we were previously familiar with.

For Robin & I our new normal exists on almost every level. Even down to driving on the left-hand side of the road. Ones opinion on a new normal can create a range of emotions. And sometimes new normals don’t last. For a couple of weeks after we arrived home in NZ Moana was waking up at around 400-430am…. UGH. We wondered if this was our new normal. Thankfully she has adjusted and sleeping is quite regular now.

Some people have asked us why we left the US to move to NZ (my home). The easy & shallow answer is to humorously say there were 10 reasons at 10%. While there is some truth in that, part of it was to find a new normal.

We face multiple new normals and most people have new normals forced on them. Like driving on the left. We signed up for a new normal because our old normal was not working long term. As we prioritized and confirmed that family, faith, & a balanced life were important (& those are in no particular order) we realized that our then current normal was not consistently having those 3 topics at or near the top of our priorities. We aren’t afraid of hard work, but our normal was not normal by any stretch.

There is a story that tells of 2 frogs. 1 frog is in a pot of water and the heat is slowly turned up. Each time the heat is turned up the frog realizes but justifies it and remains in the pot of water thinking its got time to escape when it gets “really hot”. The water temp continues to increase but each time the frog acknowledges the temp increase but remains. Until eventually the water reaches a temp where the frog is too weak to escape because the water is too hot. The 2nd frog is thrown into a pot of hot water and instantly recognizes the high temp and immediately jumps out.

What happens when the normal isn’t exactly a healthy normal? And what about the future of this normal? Who decides when its no longer normal or becomes something else?

 

Do we ever…

After safely arriving back home in NZ we have (or what we thought was…) completed a big time of DISCERNMENT for both Robin & I. The “conclusion” of that has led us here. I say “conclusion” because I have sense that the D word never ends. Or do we ever…?

While I won’t go into the timing, when and exact moment of starting to discern a time to return home, because that’s not my point. I suspect the D-word is an insatiable beast. And one that is never fully satisfied. And actually that’s a good thing.

We often in our faith jump on the journey bandwagon. Journey this… and journey that… And that is true, however we at times get sidelined, freaked out, intimidated by the whole thought of discernment, like it’s some ugly jacket we have to wear for a while because all our other clothes are dirty and we need to do laundry.

I mention all this because now for us we find ourselves D-wording topics like… where will we live, and what ministry opportunities will we follow. Robin has several at this point and we want the… ahem… discernment to be “right”. Uh-oh that means we need to put on that ugly jacket again and wear it around for a few days or weeks until we magically strike the answer through the next traffic light being green and being the clear sign we needed or…. WRONG. Well at least as I see it.

What if we embraced discernment as…, well its always there and lets not get all freaked out about it. That while discernment as it is often defined as prayer & patience is true, we have all God’s children and God cares for us.

This definition or understanding shouldn’t give us the opportunity either to ‘switch off’ and become willows in the wind-blown in every-which-way direction. However see it perhaps as underwear that we put on everyday (hopefully). That something we are glad we wear, but aren’t always conscientious its there.

Or put another way, how we have moved to a place where we now see for example recycling as normal and not something we have to go out of our way to do. our life carries on and we have incorporated recycling into our everyday life. Paying attention to those moments when we get a glimpse of reality, clarity and dare is say it discernment.

Our Backyard

Today was a good day! After spending the week in Wellington for meetings with my new co-workers it was nice to get back to the South Island for the weekend.

Today dawned a clear day so we headed up into the mountains. Only about 1hour from my parents place, where we are staying for now.

We will be spending lots of time here. I grew up playing in these mountains. And now this is in some ways my office, in July I get to run a camp up here in these same mountains.

So to introduce Moana this her new backyard was… well you decide.

Enjoy…

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What the world needs now is….

Today as we walked along the concourse to our flight from raleigh we wanted to give Moana as much opportunity to walk as we would be sitting a lot. She loves to walk and has been a walking/hiking machine this past week. 

As we walked she was joyfully walking along saying hello to EVERYONE & waving at the same time. Her smile and voice was making everyone smile, stop, wave & say hello. 

What struck me the most was her not a care or fear in the world outlook. Only doing what she knows how to do…. be polite… smile…wave…say hello. 

And in this seemingly increasingly verbally combative world we live in her default kicked in reminding us all that what the world needs now is ….  (que music) love love love

In case you were wondering

We have 3 more sleeps left in the USA. 2 in Raleigh and 1 in California. Many of you have wondered about coming to NZ. Well, here’s an incentive…

In case you were wondering…

From Dust You Came &…

Today we did something very meaningful and something that the likes of will never be seen again in the town of Lucama, NC.

You see Lucama is where Robin’s, McClenny side of the family are from. Her father was born and raised there and several generations before him, in and around that area. Its flat, its hot, its agricultural land and while economically has seen better days there is are strong ties within this community and the land.

Oh yes the land. In NZ for some we have a tradition of when a baby is born that the parents keep the Placentia or afterbirth. Yes sounds gross and before you go there …. no we don’t eat it. We call it Whenua (Fen-ua) which translated means land. It is the tradition that after some time you return it to the land (or dust) by burying it back in the ground and…

Most often the whenua is buried in a place with ancestral connection, and is considered a physical and spiritual link to the place of birth.

We took our sweet time in getting to this point today but now seems especially appropriate to do it and do it here as we prepare to depart. We joke that Moana was made in NZ but born in the USA, however burying her Whenua here in Lucama today was definitely the right thing to do for lots of reasons.

Some humor is that when Moana was born we had to sign all sorts of paperwork to get it. I wonder if in New Zealand they just give it to you. It was given to us in a hazmat bag at the hospital and until today it was in that same hazmat bag. All the time chilling in the freezer.

As we go through this season of Lent, I couldn’t help but think of that today and the words often spoken on Ash Wednesday of “From dust you came and to dust you shall return”. Well today Moana you got your connection to the land reinforced. And while your connection to the land will exist on opposite corners of the world, you will always know the land and what “places”  you came from.

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Click here for more info on Whenua

 

 

Running for nerds

Today was another sunny day in Raleigh… woo hoo. However there was a brief storm with hail around sunset last night…. WEIRD.

However part of this wonderful day today was that I got to go do an orienteering race. One of my favorite physical athletic pastimes. I like to call it ‘running for nerds’ as it combines running (& somewhat recklessly) over uneven, rough terrain. But then add in map/compass work. The perfect mix of a physical endeavor and mentally trying to figure out where you are and where you are going. The figuring out part is then further broken down with following a compass heading, interpreting the terrain around you and matching that up with the map.

An absolute joy for me.

In Pennsylvania the season ends in early November, so its been a while since I have ‘run around in the woods’, therefore today was something I was looking forward to. When I discovered they had a race today, Robin just sighed and said “oh paul” but of course knew that this is good for my soul.

The funny thing about orienteering is that while you never say your lost (or you might panic). Because you really aren’t, but there are certainly times when you live with the tension of when you have no idea near where are, but of course you know where you are. You can waste precious time once you arrive at an area where you think a checkpoint is, trusting your skills and instinct that you skills have you in the right area.

Then along the way as you cover the terrain to get to that area you have to find that balance between trusting you compass heading and making your you haven’t gone too far or not far enough. The trees, ditches, down trees, creeks and trails whizz by knowing that while they aren’t important right now they are in some ways are as they act as a sign post to ensure you are going in the right direction.

For example. “If I follow this compass heading should cross this creek, and it should be running NE & SW, that means I’m heading in the right direction.”

How often do we need to get somewhere in life, a big decision, job, relationship and know where we are going but need to pay attention to the way points and signs along the way. In orienteering the are simple things like ditches, or creeks coming into a river from a certain place, a trail crossing, a power line, a small gully. Small but yet very significant.

Furthermore,  sometimes where you think you are can look similarly like somewhere else. Requiring us to use even more patience and those outside clues to make sure we are where we think we are.

While the checkpoint is of course the reward, if I screw up the journey then… GLUP.

Finally, the winner is orienteering is the person with all the checkpoints in the shortest possible time. Forget setting some new speed record, because obviously its not. I run about  6-7 miles today and it took me 90mins. The actual course was measured (as the crow flies, with no screw ups at 4 or so miles) and look how many miles I ended up doing. Never perfect but completed. The cool thing is about half way through I teamed up with another guy doing the same race… we worked together and got er done. Perhaps I’ll tell you more about that another time.

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