Random Thoughts: 30 for 30

This week is surreal as I am crossing the 30 year threshold. A milestone of sorts. It is particularly surreal because my parents were 30 when I was born.

The growth I experienced between 20 and 30 is difficult to fully capture in writing, but I spent some time thinking about it and will share some key takeaways and random thoughts.

I can not say that I have 30 lessons to share about life. Life is not that complicated.  (Besides, you would probably tire after lesson #13 or so.)

 From 20 to 30

At this stage 10 years ago, I was preparing to enlist in the National Guard. 19 days after I turned 20, I enlisted as a PV2. 1 year later, I graduated Infantry OSUT.

Now, 10 years beyond my 20th birthday, I am a Captain and Company Commander. 10 years ago I would snap to attention if I saw a Captain and was hesitant to speak to them or anyone exceeding the rank. Now I know that most officers are just soldiers like the rest of us. They are more normal than I would have ever thought as a newly minted Private.

The last 10 years have been marked by my military service. Memories, relationships, growth. There is no part of my life that has not been touched by the decision I made at age 20. It was a great decision and I would make it again.

– 10 years ago, my family was whole with a pretty optimistic view of the future. Mom was clear of the cancer she started fighting a few years before. Dad was looking to retire soon. Sister was moving along as an adult. Life was good.

Now, I have lived 7 years without my Mom as the cancer returned with a vengeance and she died shortly before my 23rd birthday. This feels like an eternity ago and life before then feels even more distant. Our family was never the same of course, but we have all moved on in some ways. 7 years later, I live at peace with loss. Death, while painful, is really just a milestone in life. This perspective may be a bit callous to you reading this now, but it’s true. I love and miss my Mom, but my grief is no longer a sharp pain. It is more of a longing you experience when you haven’t seen someone in a long time… and I am okay with that.

– Personally and professionally I’ve made great strides. My military career has been successful to this point. I completed my education and started a professional career that I enjoy. The Lord’s provision is real and tangible.

– I have lost a lot. Been burglarized twice. Had some (read, a painful sum of) money recouped by the military. Made some questionable purchases and investments.

I have gained a lot. Been promoted a few times. Made some good decisions and good investments.

– With all of this though, my view of money has evolved. I was always a saver and typically an obedient giver. However, now I recognize a tension that exists. Part of me, and many of us I imagine, desires the security that our assets seem to provide us. On the other hand, I have experienced indescribable joy and freedom from being generous. On top of that, the unexpected loss of my mother profoundly impacted my view of time… and consequently my view of money. They are related of course, time and money.

I read a quote the other day that captures this relationship – “the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

 Want to truly understand your priorities? Just ask yourself, what am I exchanging my time and my money for?

The things, people, places, ideas, etc that comprise the answer to this question is your life. This truth is absolutely inescapable.

 Changes from 20 to 30

I have changed a lot in the last 10 years.

– I see a lot more gray than I used to. I still have my areas of black and white, but understanding that I don’t even adhere to the standards I believe in has allowed me to understand people better. We are all imperfect and fallen. This has magnified God’s grace and hopefully allowed me to extend the same grace to others. The truth is, although I try to make things simple, people cannot be simplified. They are incredibly complex. Every person you meet has unique physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual attributes that cannot be refined to something you could call “simple”. In addition to these attributes, an individual’s experiences add yet another layer of complexity. All of this has increased the gray I see in the world, and consequently, the grace and understanding I am capable of extending to others (especially those I share opposing views with).

– 10 years ago, I had a pretty foolish view of relationships. It makes me laugh/cringe now. In the last 10 years I dated a handful of women. Some serious, even to the point of an engagement. Others, in hindsight, not very serious because I didn’t have the slightest clue what serious actually means until the latter part of my 20s. I hurt a lot of good women and experienced pain as well. That’s the way it is though. In order to love effectively, you have to be willing to endure pretty significant pain.

All of this helped guide me to my wife Sarah, so in the end it was worth it because she is worth all of it. Hopefully the lessons of the past make me better moving forward.

Simple recommendation regarding relationships: practice selflessness and marry someone who does the same.

– The entropy of close friendships from 20 to 30 is an inevitable part of life. This is not good or bad necessarily, it just is. I have less friends now than I did when I was 20, but I would also submit that I am doing life with my close friends now in a way that I never could at age 20. Friendships go through seasons, like most things in life, but there are a few constants… The friends that go through many seasons. I anticipate that this entropy will continue as children enter the picture but there are still a handful of guys that I would visit in an instant if they needed me. We may see each other less and less, but I’ll always have their back.

 Looking to 30 and Beyond

– The next big life step would be children I suppose, but I haven’t spent much time contemplating this reality. Obviously, my wife will have something to say about this as well. Beyond that, the Lord has a way of sorting these details out. I’m not worried about it.

– I was talking to some 18 – 20 year old guys tonight at church and realized that I am not as close to them in age as I tend to think I am. This reminds me that the next several years (or decades) of my life will be about influence. I am still young by most standards, but I believe we are all responsible for how we influence those that are following us… and someone is always following you whether you realize it or not.

– I have a few individual goals that I am still working towards, but I wonder how those will change over the next 10 years. I wonder if they should change. If they should change, then I imagine that they will (whether I surrender to this change willingly or not is another question).

Life Changing Books

– A popular saying (credited to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones) goes something like this:

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

This quote has some truth to it. I’d add experiences to the list, but Charlie may have been speaking in a different context. Regardless, I have been a reader for quite some time and this continued over the last decade. I have recommended a few books over the last decade but here are the top 5 books from that time.

These books truly changed my life and were instrumental to my understanding of the various seasons I experienced in my 20s. I recommend them constantly.

 

Closing Thoughts

– For most of my life, the Bible passage that most resonated with me was Matthew 6:25 – 33. Hence the name of my other blog – butseekfirst.com. I worried a lot about small stuff. Still do sometimes, but I have more of a peace about the Lord taking care of those details. When you see it happen in your life, it makes it easier to see it happen in the future.

– This decade has been marked by a greater understanding of time. 10 years went by quickly in hindsight. Time is always like that looking back and it hardly feels like it is slowing down. I think this is probably the lesson I learned in my 20s. The value of time and how to value my time. I imagine most people learn this lesson later in life. I don’t know why I learned this lesson so early in my life, but I hope it continues to inform my living for the remainder of my life.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Thanks for reading.

-Brian

 

 

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Random Thoughts: #TourDeDC2016

Last week I visited our nations capitol, Washington DC. I toured the Capitol, the White House, the Library of Congress, various museums, monuments, and the sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

Visiting these various locations prompted so many thoughts (some random, some deliberate) that it has taken me some time to process through them all. Here are some of the main takeaways.

America: Scarred but still Great

I knew there was a reason that I rejected the notion that America was never great. This statement has been a common refrain by many who reject the mantra of Donald Trump when he says “Make America Great Again”. They simply state that “America was never great.”

A simple tour of DC proves this to be false.

Washington

The Washington monument. Created to honor our very first President. A man who, when given the opportunity to expand power, chose to relinquish power back to the people. This principle, the idea that the government belongs to the people, is great.

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Abraham Lincoln. A man who fought for the idea that all men are created equal and managed to keep our nation intact as it sought to dissolve. This is great.

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This photo is front the entrance to the Holocaust Museum. A museum dedicated to remembering the millions of lives that were exterminated by the evil Nazi regime.

When confronted with evil in the world, the United States fought to destroy it.

And succeeded. This is great.

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Finally. Arlington National Cemetery. Countless rows of head stones with the names of honorable Americans. Many of whom died in combat securing the very freedom we have to proclaim that our country was never great.

The free air that we breathe is because of their sacrifice.

This is great.

Our Nation has its scars. A past full of things that caused deep pain and sorrow for many. But don’t you? What do you expect from a nation full of people that have pasts full of things that have caused deep pain and sorrow? We are scarred, but this does not fully eliminate the collective greatness of our Nation. Our scars do not define us. Just like your scars do not define you.

The Rest of DC:

  • DC was surprisingly quiet despite it being election season. I anticipated more but was actually pleasantly surprised.
  • Uber is the way to go when traveling around town
  • Clean city! As someone who understands custodial operations, I appreciated this aspect
  • Knocked off another MLB park while visiting. Enjoyed watching the Nationals play the Braves.

Thanks for stopping by!

– Brian

Random Thoughts 2015 – 2016

Wow. So much has happened in the last year. One thing that has not happened is much publishing of blogs. I have been writing consistently, just not publishing. I figured returning with some Random Thoughts from the last year would be a good start

Glacial River Meets Saltwater 08142010 f v2

Salt Water:

Election season is upon us (and has been for the better part of a year) and I can’t help but think that our current situation is like being thirsty and only having salt water to drink. An overwhelming majority of Americans say that the country is heading in the wrong direction, but the leading candidate promises to continue (if not double down on) the enforcement of policies that push us towards our current direction. The insurgent candidate is so loathed by the power brokers within his party that they are actively undermining his success, likely ensuring defeat. Both instances are strange indeed.

Note: drinking salt water when thirsty will kill you.

Pokemon Go:

I will admit. I  have been participating in the Pokemon Go craze. As if my generation needed another reason to look down at our phones. I suppose this craze is a little less selfish in nature but it also brings back nostalgic memories of the elementary school days when “gotta catch em all” meant going to Books A Million and buying packs of Pokemon cards hoping to catch a holigraphic Charizard. All I know is, many Pokemon hoarders wiser than I are making some decent profit on their stash of cards.

Titles and Tunes:

Here is what I have been reading and listening to lately –

  • Crisis of Character by Gary J. Byrne
  • Unconditional Love by John Joseph Powell
  • The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom
  • The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
  • Testify by NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Clear by NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Love Will Take You Places by Danny Gokey
  • Even When it Hurts by Hillsong

Enjoy!

– Brian

 

Random Thoughts: May 2015

May was a very challenging month. Painful to be quite honest.

Cancer sucks. A family member and a close family friend died due to cancer this month. These situations hit close to home, and maybe even more so as we approach the anniversary of my Mom’s passing in early June.

Life is fragile. I am humbled by this reality, but more than anything I am motivated by it. Motivated by the thought that it is simply not supposed to be like this.

Death was never part of the plan. Death breaks the Lord’s heart, and finally it has broken mine.

Alas, May was not all doom and gloom. Life goes on and I am still breathing so that means that the Lord has a plan for me that He is working out.

Also, I have read and listened to some great content this month. Check out the latest in Titles and Tunes.

Titles

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

FiveDysfunctions

If you lead a team or are a member of a team, this is a MUST read. Easy to understand and implement while also being a very quick read. I knocked it out in a weekend and was able to go back and take some notes.

Spiritual-Leadership

Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

I have not yet completed this book, but I have covered enough ground to know that it is a worthwhile read if you are interested in the subject of Spiritual Leadership. I am impressed by how practical and easy to digest the content is. So often I have found books like this to be heavy and lacking in practical day to day application. I need actionable content. So if you are like me in that sense, then check it out.

Podcasts

 The N Commandments – Northpoint Community Church

Andy Stanley explains what Jesus said we are NOT to do. Hence the N Commandments. (Think: Worry Not, Sin Not, Doubt Not, etc)

Awesome series, check it out.

Relat(able) – Passion City Church

Relationships. Everyone wants to have great relationships, but are we Relatable? Louie Giglio is currently working through this series on relationships and its good stuff.

Tunes

 My Top 5 Tunes as of Today

  1. What Would I Do Without You – Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
  2. American Beauty – Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
  3. Difference Maker – NEEDTOBREATHE
  4. Brother – NEEDTOBREATHE
  5. Beneath the Waters (I Will Rise) – Hillsong Live

I went to a concert and was introduced to Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors for the first time. Needless to say, I am a fan. Check out the tunes!

 

 

 

Random Thoughts: April 2015

April has been a great month!

We are 1/3 of the way through 2015 and that is staggering to consider. It seems that this part of the year is really when life starts to pick up the pace heading into summer. (Although, summer in Florida is loosely defined as April-October).

I am really excited about some of the content I read/heard this month. Here is the latest in Titles and Tunes.

Titles

Chasing Daylight

I highlighted this book last month as a Title that I had just started. I finished it this month and my sentiment remains the same: GO and READ IT!

I am passionate about time and living a fully engaged life. Chasing Daylight focuses on this topic and offers a good mix of the philosophical and practical perspective on focused living. Living with intensity and purpose, particularly in pursuit of the mission of Jesus Christ.

It is a must read for anyone that does not want to waste their lives.

Good to Great (Audio Book)

Have you ever wondered what separates the best organizations from the rest of the marketplace? Good to Great drills down and finds the answer.

I own the hard copy of this book and will likely read it at some point, but the audio book was good for my time on the road this month. If you don’t have time to devote to reading, then I would recommend audio books. They are a good option if you are on the road a lot or you can combine them with a daily workout routine.

I recommend Good to Great for anyone that is a Leadership/Business nerd like me. My favorite concept from the book was the Hedgehog Concept. I don’t want to bore you with the details, so check out this video of Jim Collins explaining the Hedgehog Concept.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUrdbmNBpyY

Podcasts

North Point Community Church

Time of Your Life by Andy Stanley

This was a video series that I watched with Rightnow Media, but I am counting it as a podcast. Regardless, you can find the resource here: http://northpoint.org/messages/time-of-your-life/

Once again, this message is on Time. You should watch/listen to this, my words cannot do it justice.

Tunes

My Top 5 Tunes as of Today

  1. Don’t It – Billy Currington (I was raised on Country music so it never really leaves me!)
  2. Because He Lives – Matt Maher
  3. Riptide – Vance Joy (Catchy tune!)
  4. Come as You Are – Crowder
  5. No Turning Back – Brandon Heath

Travels

#TourDeBama

#TourDeFLA

#TourDeGA

I went on vacation this month for about a week, and it was much needed. I traveled through Florida and Alabama visiting family and friends. I even made a short trip into Georgia. I visited some new places but also places I would consider home. Small towns where I lived, and small towns where my family came from and has lived for over a century. At the end of the day, it was the people that made the difference for me.

This is not so much a Random Thought as it is a life principle:

People Matter Most.

I hope you feel the same way.

Here are some truly Random Thoughts before I head into May!

  • I was glad that UK did not go undefeated
  • However, the evil empire won a National Title = bummer
  • The Masters remains one of the best events in all of Sports
  • Gator Football is going to be rebuilding for the next 2 years
  • Apple is the greatest Company of our generation, take some time to appreciate that

Thanks for stopping by!

Random Thoughts: March 2015

March is almost in the books and it has been a good one. Here is the latest in Titles and Tunes.

Titles

Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus

Must Read!

Must Read!

I heard Erwin speak at a Better Man conference a short time ago and was blown away. I immediately purchased a few of his books and have not been disappointed at all. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best books I have ever read on the topic of intentional living as a follower of Christ. It is easy to read, easy to understand, and delivers a punch straight to your heart.

Tunes

My top 5 Tunes as of Today –

New York to California – Mat Kearney
Without a doubt one of the sweetest songs I have heard in a long time.

My Only Answer – Austin Adamec
Glad to see Austin be successful. He led worship with CRU @ UF for a number of years and I always thought he was very talented.

Overwhelmed – Big Daddy Weave

Live Like That – Sidewalk Prophets
Talk about intentional living!

Throwback Tune – Chances – Five for Fighting

Social Media

This will likely be a topic for an entire blog at some point… but does anyone else think that social media has gone too far in some cases? I walk around every day and constantly see this

Look up!

Look up!

Here’s the thing – I observe this as a guilty man. I spend too much time on my phone. Heck, I will post this very blog to various social media outlets. But how much is too much? Just some food for thought. (Stay tuned because I will be writing another blog on this.)

Sports

I love the Spring sports lineup, and here’s why:

March Madness (although I didn’t even complete a bracket this year, weird)

Major League Baseball/Fantasy Baseball (Go Cardinals)

Fantasy Basketball playoffs (I am locked into a heck of a battle right now)

The Masters (Will Bubba repeat?)

Monday

It has become a popular thing to beat up on Monday as the representative of the beginning of our work week. I guess I just can’t relate. It seems to me that wishing your days away is just like wasting your days away. I have lived long enough to know that each day is unique and special. Enjoy each day.

Enjoy the remainder of your March!

-Brian

Random Thoughts: February 2015

Needless to say, it has been a while since I have written. I am glad to be back and all of this time has allowed me to compile quite a few Random Thoughts. For the sake of time and space, I will keep it to the month of February.

Here is the latest in Titles and Tunes:

Titles 

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Why we do what we do in life and business

Why we do what we do in life and business.

If you are…

1) a nerd

2) a leader

or

3) a nerdy leader

then this book is for you. Duhigg investigates the science behind habits and how to change them. I have found it to be a very quick read, while remaining engaging and insightful.

Psalms

Psalms

Yes, the Psalms. As in Biblical Psalms. The last few years I have read the Bible cover to cover in some capacity but this year i elected to read the Psalms each month. So far I am two months in and have made a few observations.

1) I miss A LOT when I read Scripture (or anything for that matter)

2) Due to #1, it seems that going over something again helps me discover something I missed. What a concept right?

3) The Psalms are rich. But also raw. I love how David and the other Psalmists are so open about their doubts, fears, and concerns. Lately, Psalm 34 has been hitting home for me. Check it out.

Tunes

My top 5 tunes as of today:

1) Multiplied by NEEDTOBREATHE

2) Follow You by Ben Rector

3) How Can it Be by Lauren Daigle

4) Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave

5) Thunderstruck by AC/DC (Admittedly, this song is an outlier. But it is on my run playlist and I kick it up when this tune comes on.)

BONUS 

Top Podcasts of 2015:

1) North Point Community Church

2) Your Move with Andy Stanley

3) The Drive – First Baptist Orlando