The Premise To A Dangerous Life

Raise your hand if you’ve given up on your New Year’s resolution?

This year my mom and I decided to start the year off by doing the “100 burpy challenge”, if you don’t know what burpies are check out the video here.  The challenge is to start on January first by doing one burpy and then adding one each day.  I just did my 57 and am tired.  If you have been following my blogs you know that I have also commited to living spiritually.

Unlike the burpies, which are difficult in themselves, living spiritually has been a harder commitment to keep.  Doing my burpies only takes at most 20 minutes right now, but living spiritually can take all day and, well, it’s so easy to just shut down and live in a me centered world and not a God centered one.  I try to follow my own tips of being attentive, in position, and being submissive, which I talked about in my How Running and Living Spiritually Go Hand in Hand blog, but sometimes I just want to complain about my job.  I want to take a moment for myself.  Is that so bad?

Yes!  God wants more for us.

So raise both hands up if you have stopped living spiritually at any time this year.  Okay, you can put them back down.  Yeah, we’re only 58 days into the new year and I bet most of us have already been burnt out.  We’ve either looked so hard for God and he let us down, or our lives just got busy.  But I’m here to tell you not to stop now.  God has something great for us (just most of the time not what we expect); we just have to keep our eyes open.  I believe as we set off on this life long journey of living spiritually, yes I know I’ve said this was just the challenge for 2012, but I believe God is asking for more;  it is a lifestyle and not just a goal, we have to ask an important question.

What if . . . ?  The answer to this question could be the premise to life.

You decided to live dangerously.

What if I loved dangerously.

1st John verse 4 says, “let us love one another, for love comes from God . . . God is is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him.  There is no f ear in love.  But perfect love drives out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.”

If we are living spiritually, we are lovers in a dangerous time.  A world outside of God is a world away from love because as John writes, “God is Love.”

What would life truly look like without love?  That is a premise I would not like to live out.

Imagine a world without love.  You’d have to take away all love songs, love stories, and Valentine’s Day cards.  In fact get rid of Christmas and Easter, because God’s ultimate action of love was giving his son to us as a sacrifice.

A world without love would be void of sacrifice.

There goes anyone offering to help you change your flat tire on a rainy highway.

I believe random acts of kindness would be a thing of myths.  A world without love would be a self-centered world.  No one would live for anyone but themselves.

If we stop living spiritually we stop loving.

Without love, would it really be wrong to cheat, steal, and lie?  I mean, those people are just looking out for themselves.  True morality is dead without God’s love because there is no reason to treat other people with respect if our lives are centered on ourselves.  Respect would mean treating people as if they held value and giving people value would imply love.

If we stop living spiritually there would be no love and we’d end up alone, feeling empty.

Sunday, day number 57 of living spiritually, I went to downtown Denver with a couple of my friends.  It was cold out, so we walked 16th street mall rather quickly.  My friends are from out of town and they figured they couldn’t spend time in Denver without actually seeing it’s city life.  Most of what I saw were poor people trying to stand in the sun as if their bodies could soak up it’s warmth so they could stay warm for the night.  As we stood waiting for the free shuttle back to our car, a girl came up to us and asked us if we needed directions.  Being a Denver native I kindly said, no.  Boldly she asked if we could get her something to eat.  She didn’t want much, just a hamburger from smashburger.  We hesitated for a minute, not that she seemed dangerous, but our shuttle was coming, but she looked cold and so I said, sure.  Sometimes when you kick at the darkness you end up hitting your own selfish desires.  We walked into smashburger and my friends bought her a burger.  She said she was very grateful and told us that she’d run away from her uncle’s home because he abused her mom.  I hope that burger filled more than her stomach.  I hope it brought the light that only God’s love can bring to her.

Living spiritually means meeting other people’s needs and knowing that God will take care of the rest.

I’m thankful for my loving family and the warm bed I can crawl up in after I am done writing this blog.  I guess what I am saying is, if I stopped living spiritually my heart would be closed to moments like today and I wouldn’t be grateful for what I have been given.  We are called to live dangerously, so if you have given up on your New Year’s resolution or have faltered at living spiritually start back up.  All it takes is showing a little love, kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.

What’s The Perfect Birthday Gift?

You shop and shop for the perfect gift, well at least you should spend a good amount of time searching out that gift if you care for the special birthday guy or gal.  But even when you spend all that time shopping, sometimes that gift you spent hours hunting down in that specialty store can be met with an “Oh, that’s nice.”  Not the response you hoped for.

This has never happened to me.  I have just heard that it has happened to other people.  I love each gift I am given, no matter what.  And people love all of the gifts I give.

And this year I unwrapped the perfect gift.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time spent with my friends.  Yep, I’m that easy.  Even though I enjoy opening funny birthday cards almost as much as I love ripping through wrapping paper, I cherish my time with my friends and family.

After moving back to Colorado last June, I was actually a little nervous about my birthday this year.  I’d spent three years forming some awesome friendships in Guatemala but then decided to move back to the states and had to start from scratch.  Even though I’d lived in Colorado most of my life, after living outside of the country, I felt like I had lost contact with most of my college friends.  Life had moved on, and so I saw moving to Denver as fresh start.

The fresh start has been great.  Over the last couple of months, I have really started to form some strong meaningful friendships, but when Michael Gallup moved his family (this includes his cute little daughter Marry Grace and Cliff Hutchison his best friend) I wasn’t really sure what to expect for my birthday due to the fact I’d grown really close to the Gallups.

The Gallups took me in and included me in their community.  We’d gone to movies and shared meals together.  And so as my birthday rolled around, I was sad that they wouldn’t be there, just as sad about not having any of my former students or friends in Guatemala to celebrate the day I turned 28 with.

I love big celebrations just as much as time with my friends, probably because a big celebration means a lot of people to be around.  Last year I went zip-lining and had a dinner party at Don Rodrigos, a quant restaurant in Xela.  This year turned out to be just as special.

My dad, who I consider one of my best friends, and I hiked up into the mountains on my favorite trail near our house.  As we crunched our way through the deep snow we talked about stories, how we can live spiritually, and just life in general.  The snow made the trail hard to hike, every step was a full step forward and a half step back.  But we plowed on until we made it to the Lost Trail trail marker.  The aspen trees had lost their golden leaves a long time ago, but with the sun light hitting them just right, even in their naked state, they looked beautiful.

I love aspens because they live as one organism.  Each tree supports the one next to it.  As I hiked down to the truck with my dad, I realized that I’ve been in a season of nakedness too.  All of my old friendships have been stripped away.  And yet I am not alone.

That night I went out to dinner with some great new friends.  We stuffed ourselves with rich food from Merle’s in downtown Littleton and then made our way back to the Pickard’s house to play wii.  It might not have been as adventurous as zip-lining, but it was just as special.  I was reminded that, even though it might not look the same as my life in Guatemala, I was given something amazing for my birthday, an awesome group of friends.  And I wouldn’t exchange that gift for anything.

Thank you to everyone who helped make my 28th Birthday special!  And to all my friends in Xela who have made my life very special, see you in a week!!!

Shameless Valentine’s Day Ideas For Singles

I have been told I have no shame.  If that is true or not, I don’t know, but I do know that I am single, again, and today is Valentine’s Day.

Three years ago, on for my first Valentine’s Day in Guatemala, I asked out a girl, which was a big deal for me, but then around evening she called me and said she was just going to do stuff with her girlfriends.  She’s married now and has a kid.  Such is life.  The next year I was bitter with love and prayed that it would rain on Valentine’s Day, hoping it would ruin the day for everyone else.  Miraculously it rained, which proved to me that God does care, even for the single people.  And last year I tried to take a girl out on a date, but she stood me up and I ended up going out to coffee with a friend.  And by far the coffee with a friend was the best.

Tonight many people will be preparing for their big date.  This could be a date with a special long time love or a first date, maybe even a blind date, no matter what excitement rings in the air.

Whatever, those people don’t need ideas for what to do on Valentine’ Day. But if they are just starting to plan now, they’ll soon end up like the rest of us lonely loveless losers.  They don’t need help.  They don’t need blog ideas for what to do on the perfect date.  It’s us, the single men and women who need help.

Fortunately, I have a couple of ideas for us lonely loveless losers, that will help make this day special.

First and foremost.  You are not a lonely loveless loser.  Let me repeat that: YOU ARE NOT A LONELY LOVELESS LOSER.  Just because you don’t have a date tonight or haven’t had a date in days or weeks or months or years, doesn’t mean someone doesn’t love you.  So here are some fun and shameless things to do on Valentine’s Day.

1. Stalk your friends: Track down your most adventurous friend, you know the guy or girl, the one who is always telling the stories about almost dying, and ask him or her to go sky diving.  Do something adventurous with a friend.  Friendships last longer than most dating relationships, so why sit at home alone tonight.  Remember your friends love you too.

2. Use your stinking phone: Call up your parents, brothers or sisters, or grandparents and tell them how much you love them.  Tonight could be the night you reconnect with them and reciprocate all the love they showed  you.  Just because you don’t have a date to go out on, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell someone you love them, and I know your mom will love hearing your voice. (And if you want call all your friends and tell them you love them too, and yes guys tell your dudes how you feel too.)

3. Get Naked (emotionally speaking): Remember no one is too macho for love.  Rent your favorite movie and invite some friends over.  If you cry during Lord of the Rings, like I do, there’s nothing wrong with that.  I am moved to tears every time Sam Gamge helps Frodo up Mount Doom.  So, pop that favorite movie in and don’t be afraid to let your emotions show with your friends.  If anything it will create some fun memories with your friends.

4. Get off your ass: Go to a place where you know you will see other people.  You can do this by yourself or with a friend, I suggest with a friend if possible, but it is not a sin to take yourself out.  Just get in a public place populated by people.  Coffee shops are great, but if you aren’t really wanting to spend time around overly sappy puppy lovey dovey couples, then find another location where you can meet people.  Just get off your ass and don’t sit at home alone tonight.

5. Admit that you are hopeless: My students love to give advice on love, and one of the best bits of information I have taken from them is when you stop looking for love it finds you.  So admit that you are a lost cause.  Give up.  I find that this helps me relax and just have fun.  As the Gene in Aladdin says, “BBEE Yourself!” ’cause when you are being yourself, and you are not worrying about love, life will be more enjoyable.  And who knows, when you are enjoying life you just might find that special someone.

6. Suit Up! Spend a little time and money on yourself.  Send yourself flowers.  You are special, so treat yourself that way tonight.  While you’re out and about in your best, realize that how you look doesn’t matter, but over all, the act of spending time with people is what is important, who knows, you might realize you’ve already got people in your life who love you.

7. Throw a Dance Party:  Everyone loves to let lose and maybe even dance.  There are plenty of single people around town who need something to do.  Tell your friends what you are doing and you’ll be amazed at the results.  This doesn’t have to be well organized or even planned out.  Just create a place where people can come and have fun.  And if you need some help with some moves, here is a helpful dance blog.

Or take some advice from another Disney movie and Just Kiss The Girl.  Take a chance and ask that girl out.  Just because I’ve been stood up, turned down, and rained on, doesn’t mean that is going to happen to you.

But if none of these ideas help, just give me a call, ’cause I’m not doing anything.

How Magical Is Our World: A Review of Hugo

“My friends, I address you tonight as you truly are; wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, magicians . . . Come and dream with me,” Georges Méliés


Are we ever too old to dream?

How young is too young to want to feel important?

Does everyone, and everything, have a purpose?

Hugo, the Martin Scorsese film nominated for best picture this year (and my favorite to win it), tells the story of a young boy, Hugo, who for mysterious reasons, is living inside the walls of one of Paris’s grand train stations.  Hugo Cabret spends his time keeping time, literally.  Like the clocks he keeps, this little boy has a purpose.  He is in charge of keeping the many intricately made clocks in the station running on time.  And like each one of those clocks, which are made out of thousands of pieces, each one just as important as the other, Hugo has a purpose in the intricately made universe.  However, Hugo has dreams of a grander life than that of a clock keeper.

Like a clock who has lost its main cog, Hugo is broken; he’s lost his family.  However, Hugo believes he’s been given what he needs to be fixed; a broken automaton (a miniature machine made to look like a man, that in the movie can write messages).  He believes that by fixing the automaton, which is his last connection to his father, he will find a message from his father.

Like the broken automaton, Hugo needs fixed to fulfill his true purpose.  And I am going to step out  on a ledge here, just as clocks need fixed to tell time, just as Hugo needs fixed to become more than just a clock keeper, each person in the human race needs fixed.   Each person needs something to realize that they are a part of something grander and only Christ can take us on the true grand adventure.

Stuck inside the walls of the train station Hugo Cabret is as broken as the automaton he is trying to fix.  And yet in his brokenness, Hugo believes his purpose is greater than just keeping time, he believes he has a grand purpose in the world.  All Hugo needs to do to attain that greater purpose is fix his broken automaton, but like any good story as he fixes the automaton Hugo’s life becomes more complicated.


In Hugo’s quest to fix the automaton he finds friendship.  Hugo’s story delves deeper than the quest to fix a machine.  And in the dramatic scene where he fixes the automaton, something magical happens, Hugo expects to find a message from his father, unfortunately he’s let down.  But in that moment of despair, Hugo doesn’t find the message he is looking for, but he finds what he really needs, friends and freedom from his cell of a train station.

How often in life, in our own stories, are our expectations not met, but we actually find what we need?

The message Hugo receives from the automaton draws him into a greater, grander story.  A magical story of brokenness and eventually healing.

No, we are not too old to dream.  No, age does not define importance.  Yes, we all have a purpose!

The movie hit me hard.  Our world is magical, just as there was a grander purpose for Hugo and his automaton, we all have a grander purpose.  In the every day happenings of our lives, there is something bigger going on.  Like Georges Méliés, an old toy maker in the movie who reluctantly befriends Hugo, says, we are all wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers,  and magicians.  We are all greater than we often give ourselves credit for and we have a grander purpose than we live for.  We are children of our creator and when we connect to him we find freedom.  He made us intricatly and then he sent us his son to fix us, to give us the message were are looking for.   The message of love and hope.

Our world is magical so why not open your eyes and dream magically.

I have decided to look for the magic, for God, in my every day.  I have talked about this in my living spiritually blogs.  I challenge you to do this with me.  As Hugo’s friend Isabelle says,”we might get in trouble,” but as Hugo responds, “That’s how you know it’s an adventure.”

IAS Class of 2016 Presents: How To Make A Music Video

Back in 2011, as my time in Guatemala was wrapping up, as well as the school year, I wanted to create a special memory with one of my favorite classes (Truthfully, all of my classes were my favorite). But the class of 2016 was special, which is why I asked them if they wanted to do a special project.  I wanted my students to do something fun and challenging, I wanted them to make a music video.

I was born in 1984, right in time for MTV to take over my life.  Thankfully, I guess this depends on your own opinion, back then MTV still aired music videos, and not the trashy reality television it shows today.  I mean I know we all care about what snooky does, but man, I miss the music.  I miss the videos.

Ok, to be honest, my family never had cable so I didn’t watch MTV all that often, but whenever I was over at my Grandpa’s house (he had cable), I would sneak in a little VH1 or MTV.  My favorite videos were always, and I guess they still are, the ones that tell a story. Ok, there are still a few good music videos out there.  You can check out Coldplay’s Paradise video if you want an example.

Sadly, it seems like the art of a good music video has been lost.  Now, it’s all about the money and sex.  To quote the Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the love?”

And so, I set out, with my class, to make a good meaningful music video.  One that was clean with a message.

Like all good teachers, I let my students think they had come up with the idea for a music video, participation is much easier when the participants believe it’s their idea.  They ate up my challenge to think up something fun.  Really, it wasn’t hard to convince a class full of girls that dancing is the coolest thing ever, plus almost anyone would rather dance than sit in a classroom and read (not that reading is boring, but we are talking about middle schoolers here).

The hard part was coming up with the right song.  I had to insert a couple of ground rules for the song, it had to be clean and share a message, which nullified many of my student’s favorite songs.

It’s amazing how dirty most pop songs are, when you actually listen to the lyrics.  I’m still not sure what Fergie meant in her song “London Bridge.” (And no, I’m not going to give you a link for her video, it’s disgusting.)

After a couple of days of heated discussion, we finally landed on a Jessie J song.  Price Tag!

Like all great teachers, I had to compromise with my students.  All they wanted to do was dance and me, I wanted to tell a story.  As a class we’d come up costume and prop ideas, but as they choreographed the dance and I picked out our filming locations, the props and costumes just didn’t get made.

If you want props and costumes, make sure you enlist someone who doesn’t have tons of homework, either to grade or to complete.  And so it proved to be too difficult to do props and costumes, which also forced us to drop the story.  Making a complex music video wasn’t anything we had in us.

What we did have, were some crazy laughs, lots more takes than any director would care to film, a couple of tense moments (like when I sent one of the kids in to the library to grab some batteries for my camera and he came out with my external hard drive for my computer), and a blast of a time.

And for the next 6 months the semi-unedited footage above, sat on my computer compiling data dust.  I didn’t know what to do.  I knew my iMovie skills wouldn’t be good enough to edit the footage together and add music on over top.  So when my students asked, “Have you started,” or “is it finished yet?” I avoided their questions.

I really didn’t want to complete it and make it look lame.  I love those kids too much to make them look bad, but I also didn’t want them to think I was putting them off.  And so a couple of weeks ago I finally asked my friend Drew to help me finish off the music video.  Two hours later it was done!  It sure helps to have final cut pro.

Now, I am pleased to present the IAS class of 2016 hit video of the year: