Take a Break

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My sister Rachel hanging out in our front yard with our infamous cat, Floof.

Life is stressful. Especially in American culture, I’ve found that our time is filled with a list of things to do and accomplish. Relaxation seems to be either a thing we have to squeeze into our schedules, or somewhat of a silhouette of its true meaning. When we spend too much time trying to seek out relaxation in the form of Netflix, surfing the internet, and picking up the controller, we don’t feel satisfied and refreshed afterwards, and the list pops up again.

My suggestion? Pick up a book. Go outside and take a walk. If it’s dark out, grab a friend and go stargazing. There are so many fun and creative things to do outside of screen time, if you choose to do something out of the ordinary, you’ll feel much better for it.

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God controls everything. From the moment we are born to the final breath we take, we have been given the opportunity to make choices to follow his lead, or turn from that path to pursue our own satisfaction.

I had a talk with my roommate this morning about what brings true satisfaction to life. We agreed that the stories we choose to write can be full of easy and comfortable decisions in the moment, but further down the road these choices stack up to a weak foundation of what we’ve become.

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This telephone pole has seen bits and pieces of many stories. Countless staples remind me of all the people that put them there.

Almost all good stories involve conflict. Some obstacle in the hero’s way. Without this conflict, the reader is not drawn into the story, and the protagonist becomes a mere shadow of his or her true character. The same is true with our own lives. Sometimes we must make the hard decision to pursue what is right though it may mean a hit to our reputation or pride. In retrospect we begin to see that these conflicts, “stick it to the man” decisions, add a unique meaning to our story. We grow because of it.

In lieu of finals week and graduation, I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on the story you’ve written, as well as the story you want to write. 

Sometimes you have to laugh

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Ben hiking out to our camping spot. We spent the night on the right butte.

With the intention of evading the onslaught of homework this weekend, my brother and I decided to go camping. A slight breeze sifted through the air as we stepped out of our little 2001 Toyota Corolla and into the Pawnee Grasslands of Northeastern Colorado. As we peered into the grassy landscape we could make out two massive towers of rock looming in the distance, sentinels of some unknown land beyond. Obviously they were begging to be climbed, so Ben and I trekked through the shin high grass to do just that. We almost gave up, but finally managed to find a primitive ladder carved into the tan rock on the far side of one of the buttes.

Unlike the mountainous expanse that usually baffles me when I go hiking above timberline, this view was quite different. Stark grassland stretched as far as the eye could see. The breeze had picked up, but was still somewhat bearable, so we set up our tent on the top of the tower, thinking it would be a perfect view of the stars at night (It was more a great view of the bright moon instead). The sun set. The wind picked up, and before we knew it we were trying to sleep in a tent that acted more like a sail than anything else, moving at will. I woke up in the middle of the night to the thin material separating me from the elements periodically clobbering the back of my head. As much as I tried to shift away from the side of the tent, some other part somehow found a way to batter me again. I remember vividly smiling and laughing to myself in the middle of the night due to my useless effort to get away from the wind. Finally, after God decided he’d had enough fun, I saw a faint light brimming the horizon and soon enough the sun peeked its golden face above the grassy fields.

Thinking of that night brings laughable memories of what could have been a terrible experience. Life is molded by perspective.

Bike More

I have the privilege of living in the wonderful City of Fort Collins, CO. As November comes into full swing, the last of the fall leaves desert their respective trees, making skeletons of what was once green and lush. Though the onset of Winter is near, the weather still remains somewhat temperate (unusual for this time of year). I love winter, but I’m really enjoying the chance to take advantage of the weather and bike this late in the season.

Do you have the opportunity to get outside on your bike?  If you’re work or school is within close proximity, take the time to try biking there. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

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Biking to campus along the Mason Trail, in Fort Collins.

True Community

This past weekend I embarked upon a Campus Ministry (Outpost, or Chi Alpha) event called Men’s Advance. Nearly 100 gents packed into a mansion overlooking a misty lake set in the Fall scenery. Games were played (last night we got no less than 12 noise complaints from the surrounding area.. Don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed about that haha), wrestling was had, clay pigeons shot, and Jesus preached.

Throughout the trip as I met and shared life experiences with these guys one thing stuck out to me. I noticed how different each person was. Different backdrops, different personality types, different appearances, and different lifestyles were all represented here. Normally a situation such as this would not host abundant diversity. Like personalities would have split off, forming their own “click”, and authentic bonding would have been no more than a figment of our imaginations.

The thing that brought us all together was outside of any of us. It was Christ that united what would otherwise have been a group of guys searching for true meaning. This unique bond was created between everyone on the retreat, forged only through our pursuit of Christ. This, to me, felt like true community. I didn’t know half of the guys and yet felt as though we understood each other. We were brothers running after truth, touched by love and purpose that only God can provide. This truth transcends just men’s advance. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, and occupation/major, we’re all united in Him. I can’t wait to see what God does in each of our lives throughout this next year, but I know it will be exciting, nerve racking, and all together rad. #Mensadvance2k16.

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Some bros sitting listening to the morning sermon preached by Alex Rodriguez.

 

Don’t Give Up

My good friend and I decided to go “surviving” this past weekend. This is a term I use to describe trekking out into the Colorado woods with nothing but warm clothes, a knife, tinder and flint, and a rope. Food? Nope. Water? We brought a pot to boil any water we found. A tent? No chance.

After parking the car on the side of a bumpy dirt road we decided to get to high ground and scope out any areas we thought could provide water. In the distance the slight shimmer of a small lake caught our eye. We hiked through a forest of fallen trees and shrubs for the next hour and a half and finally stumbled upon a small stream. Screw the lake, it was time to make a shelter. We pieced together a basic lean-to structure with an entrance that opened up to a small fire ring. Soon we had a fire and began to boil water. A dash of pine needles made for a faint taste of tea. Heck, we were living in the lap of luxury here.

Just before dusk we decided to explore the area and make sure we weren’t on private property. Earlier that day we had seen keep out signs and headed in the opposite direction. Unfortunately the evidence was clear: Salt licks, a chained up picnic table, and quite a bit of untouched firewood not 3 minutes from where we had set up camp. My hopes sank as I realized we had to high tail it out of there. To get busted for trespassing let alone making a fire on private property is serious business. We quietly packed up what little we had and bid farewell to our shelter.

By this time the sun was well below the rim of mountains around us. The moon provided little light but not enough for us to see very far. We headed for the first ridge back to where we had come. An hour and we would be back to our parked car. Stars poked their way through the blackness around us and the moon fabricated shapes with which to navigate. After the first ridge we headed towards the next. And the next. Before long the shadows blurred and the ridges loomed. The car surely was just over the next crest. Time seemed to slow. It had now been three hours since we left the shelter. Jordan and I were exhausted. No sooner had we stopped to rethink our navigation when a light illuminated the darkness. We had found the road.

There was a point in the hike where fear wormed it’s way into my head. Would we make it back, or spend the whole night in the cold without a shelter? We both wanted to give up. But we kept hiking and finally made it back to the car. We could have just sat there in denial and let the night take hold but we suppressed the temptation and soon found our way back. In what situations do you feel like giving up? How can you overcome that temptation?

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Jordan and I at the site before our trek back.