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‪reck·less /rekləs/ adj. without thinking about the consequences. rash, heedless, impetuous, impulsive, daredevil, audacious, madcap‬

Category: Athens

Adaptability


White water rapids are created when water in a river flows over an obstruction under the surface of the water. I’m not an expert hydrology, but I understand the dynamics of what takes place in a river when water is forced to flow over a rock or something else… I understand the basic premise of this obstruction underwater changes nature, course, speed, direction and behavior of the water. The more water, the bigger the obstructions, the faster the water flows and the more extreme the rapids are.

In September, I had an opportunity to take two young men from the Independent Living Program at Grace Landing on a camping trip as a culmination of a mentoring program we did with them this spring/summer. The second activity of this trip was a white water rafting trip. On this rafting experience we saw first hand how a rock, or other obstruction, underneath the surface of the water impacts and changes the course of the river. The river must bend its will and purpose to the rocks underneath it. The water will flow over the rocks, altering and impacting the rocks as well… but the rocks will tell the river where and how to flow.
No matter how much water flows over it, around it, under it or how much pressure is put on the rock by the water… it will always be a rock. Its shape may change, how the rock looks might change. The rock will be shaped by the water, but it will not be defined by the water. It is a rock, because it is inherently a rock and not because of the water it interacts with.

After we observed this, and we sat around the campfire later that evening we discussed how we are like the rocks under the surface of the water. Life will come over us and even overwhelm us at times, and we will undoubtedly be shaped by the pressures of life. We are like the rock lurking under the surface of the water in a river.

As life flows over us, we will be shaped by life… by the circumstances, stress, pressure, situations happening to us. But we are not defined by them. Who we are at our core is not affected or changed by life. At our core, we are children of an Almighty God. We are his precious children, whom he loves enough to die for our sins. That will never change no matter what experience, challenge, hardship or difficulty we face in this life. We will certainly be shaped by life, but not defined by it.

A key to surviving life, or making it through ‘successfully’, is to be adaptable… fluid… willing to change. Able to make adjustments. On a personal note, I do NOT change well or easily. I hate change. The only thing I hate more than change is surprise change. I need to know what is what. Adaptability is essential in this life. The landscape of our lives is constantly changing and shifting as various aspects or pieces of our lives change. Jobs, relationships, living arrangements, transportation situations, school… most things in our lives are in a constant state of flux. Being adaptable and able to meet the new challenges, to rise to the occasion are critical.

The rock under the water doesn’t change who he is when more water comes down the river bad. He allows his shape to be molded to meet the water. But, he remains a rock. When we face a difficult scenario in life, we must adapt or be shaped by it and meet its demands… but we can not sacrifice who we are at our core.

Dogfight Alley

  
A couple of blocks from our house, there is a park with a variety of attractions. There’s and off leash area for dogs. A BMX bike trials area. A mountain bike trail through the woods. Open fields for running & playing. 
This afternoon, I took the boys up there to ride their bikes & for some soccer drills. At one point, they rode off to the water fountain and I kicked the soccer ball at the boys. Don’t worry, my aim is terrible so I didn’t hit anyone. But as the ball rolled towards the bikes, I was reminded of dogfight alley. 

Abe & I would ride our bikes to this parking lot and proceed to kick a soccer ball whilst we rode our bikes. I don’t recall if we ever named the sport, but it became vicious at times. Imagine full throttle bike riding & kicking a ball. There were times the ball didn’t exactly pass safely between the tires of the bike. Wipe outs were had. Scars were earned. 

As I think about this game, this experience it occurs to me this is the stuff of life. Creating new games, dangerous games. Games bringning to the brink of death. 

Epic tragedy possible at every turn. 

The very essence of existence. 

This is what it means to be alive. This is the quintessential experience of being a child. Of being a boy. Creation & destruction all wrapped into one package. 

As we grow older, we sometimes lose sight of the awesomeness that is being alive. As we grow, we get bogged down by reaponsibility and adulthood. Life takes hold of us and there suddenly things ‘more important’ than this life of fun & adventure. Excitement & creativity take a back seat to responsibility and work. Wonder & awe are traded for rules and regulations. 

For those of that are parents, we are caught in the middle. Caught between the reality that is life as an adult and the reality of living with growing, developing human being who haven’t matured beyond simply viewing everything in life as a place to have fun. As a parent, I confess, I am too often concerned with the rules and don’t focus on the fun. If you know me at all, this may or may not perplex you but it is true nonetheless. 

I prefer order over chaos. I prefer rules to anarchy. And children are nothing if they aren’t chaos & anarchy. (Especially my 3 boys) They are the antithesis to everything I hold valuable. 

So there is a struggle… can I break free from the chains of adulthood and allow myself to step back into the world of my youth and experience the creativity, wonder, awe, excitement and adventure that is being a child? 

More importantly, can I allow myself to allow my boys to have the fun get so desperately crave? I don’t always. 

But I always wish I did. 

So here’s to being a little less uptight & and more like a child. 

Wisdom

  

It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and I’m on I-75 in the middle of South Georgia. Why?
I’m heading to north Georgia with two of my independent living youth. We are headed for the culmination of a mentoring program they started on the spring. It feels a little odd to be wrapping up the mentoring program I wasn’t really a part of. But tha s kind of how it goes. 

I have mixed feelings about being away from home this weekend. Without letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot going on back in Orlando. Ronda and I are in the midst of praying through a big situation for us. On one hand, I want to be there with her. One the other hand, I’m looking forward to the space and clarity that comes with spending a weekend in the woods. 

I suppose that means this weekend has a twofold purpose for me. To capstone the mentoring program and solidify my place in the lives of these youth as a mentor. And to allow God to speak to and mentor me this weekend. I have high hopes for this weekend. I’m trusting God won’t let me down. He doesn’t usually. 

The Celldweller song ‘The Last Firstborn’ is playing. That song always make me think of the Apostle Paul. He claimed his apostleship cake as one untimely born. I feel that way. Not that I’m an apostle, but that I often wonder about God’s choice to love me and use me to fulfill his purposes. But he does. And I believe this weekend he is going to teach me as much as he teaches these dudes with me. 

In some ways, I really need to hear God speak to me this weekend. I need it more than I have in quite some time. We started a new sermon series at church last week on the book of James. I’ve been reading it this week. In chapter 1, James says any who lacks wisdom should ask God in faith that he give generously to the obedient. That’s where j find myself. Asking for wisdom. Asking for God’s spirit of be upon me and inform my decision-making. I want to be a spirit-filled wise leader of the family and ministry God has trusted me with. 

This seems like a good place to close… God grant me your spirit of wisdom to be a wise leader of the people you have given to me. 

Objects

Westfall Family Stone Mtn
I’m sitting here at work, and we are watching a video for our weekly Bible study with our dudes in our Independent Living home. As I think back to this last week and the vacation I was able to take with my family, my mind is drawn to my preoccupation with things.
On Tuesday, we went tubing in Helen, Ga. As we were preparing to go, I went to get a waterproof case for my iPhone. I felt as though I needed the case to protect my iPhone from the water. After all, my iPhone is my camera and I wanted photos of my family as we tubed. Over the course of the day, I dropped my iPhone in the river twice. I can attest and affirm, the Lifeproof case is actually waterproof. Each time I dropped it, I fumbled along the river bottom to locate my iPhone. Each time, I thought to myself ‘how terrible it would be if I couldn’t find it!’
As we neared the end of the experience, I looked down and noticed my wedding ring was gone.
Lost.
Somewhere at the bottom of the river.
Never to be found by me again.
As I floated in my tube, realizing my wedding ring was gone I felt an intense sense of loss. My marriage wasn’t lost, but the outward symbol of it was. It’s just a ring, but it holds a powerful and special emotional connection for me. This was the ring I used to symbolize my commitment to Ronda.
I will never get this object back. I can buy a new ring, but it’s not the same thing. It’s not the same one. As I feel these feelings, I recognize I am a traditional kind of dude. This ring holds a special place in my heart and I can never get it back.
Had I lost my iPhone, I would have had a sense of loss but not like this. My iPhone is just an object, not a sentimental object. This is an occasion for me to reorient my mind and priorities and be reminded I need to keepy mind and heart focused on things that matter and not be consumed with things that don’t.
The ring itself isn’t what matters. The relationship it represents does. I may have lost a wedding ring last week, but I had a fantastic family vacation. I got to spend quality time with my family doing things we enjoy doing and we had fun doing them.
That’s what matters.

The woods called to me like flies on stink

I will remember our first house in Athens growing up forever. It was a duplex and the dude that owned had finished the basement so it was the only duplex in the neighborhood that was two storey. It had a spiral staircase leading downstairs and a small deck off the kitchen up stairs. It was set on a hill so the back of the house and the downstairs was downhill from the front. Our neoghbor was a crazy cat-lady named Miss June who was a smoker and a teacher.

Behind the house was some woods with a creek in them. The woods ran parallel to the back of the house with the creek running the same direction. Going out the front door of the house and turning left took you to the end of the cul de sac. If you passed the house there, you go through a small patch of woods that shielded the homes from the railroad track. This track ran perpendicular to the creek. It had a phenomenal tressel to bridge the creek (it wasn’t anything special to most, but to a 9 year old boy it was fantastic).

Abe and I use to love to enter the woods behind the house, bushwhack to the creek and then make our way to the train track via the creekbed. There was sandbars, logs, barbed wire fence and of course the creek. We could seem to make it to the train track without gettig wet and muddy. This of course, was part of the adventure. We always made it, but we were always wet and muddy. This was not a problem for Abe and I.

What was the problem was that mom was very specific about us not being allowed in the woods. There was nothig inherently wrong with the woods, save that we nearly ruined whatever we were wearing when we entered the woods. This is why mom forbid us in the woods. At the time it was beyond my ability to comprehend why she would not want us in the woods, even if it meant ruining clothes…

We went down to Ron & Deb’s for new years. Deb got the boys cowboy boots. They have been wearing them nonstop. They were trying to wear them to do flooring work at Ron & Deb’s. They also were crawling around on the floor scraping the toes of their boots up. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want then to crawl around and scrape up their boots.

I then understood the ban on the woods when I was 9.

— Eli

— Eli

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