In life

From what I understand the Hungarian and Croatian words for “enjoy” are quite similar in idea, that is, they both literally mean, “to be in life.”  Our boys, like all children, seem to have a special talent for being “in life.”  They laugh, they cry, they run, they fall, they jump, and they play.  They’ve been teaching me a couple things lately.

Break the Silence:  Nathan (3) loves to randomly tell his mother, “Mommy, you’re so beautiful!”  Everything stops for a moment, and we see that mom is really here with us…and she’s beautiful.  It occurs to me that we can use many words but easily be silent in things that matter most.  Breaking this silence ushers us back into life.

Willingness to Ask:  Jacob (4) loves to get on the floor and wrestle with me.  A time comes almost everyday when his eyes light up, and he asks, “Dad, can we wrestle now!?”  I love it when he asks that question.  I love that he is willing to ask for my time, energy and attention.  There is vulnerability because the answer could be, “no,” but the chance to be “in life” with dad is worth the risk.

journal, journey

Just thinking about the act and habit of journaling today.  Journaling keeps me moving and growing.  Reflecting, praying and thinking with a pen in my hand helps me to make sense of life, to encounter truth with wisdom and the heart, and to pay attention to God’s voice.  I’m an intuitive, so I often end up journaling about concepts, big ideas, illustrations, future plans and projects.  And I really enjoy writing out verses from the Bible and my responses to them.

“Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is the best teacher”. Howard Hendricks

There are at least five ways journaling helps me.

  • It cultivates awareness, both with the reality around me and the reality in me. 
  • This awareness can lead to honesty, which is at the heart of a transformed and vibrant life. 
  • It offers, over time, a sense of narrative to life.  I can see where I came from, where I am, where I am going.  The key players and themes of the past begin to show themselves in the present and direct my plans for the future.  Without this life-story awareness, the pursuit of meaning seems empty.
  • It is a tool we can use to dig for wisdom and insight, things that are discovered by the heart and woven to the soul only in the context of real life and through effort (see Hendricks quote above).
  • It enables us to access and pass-on what we have discovered.

new year, new hope

Happy New Year!  I hope you are leaping into 2008 with eager expectation.  For the new year I’d like to carve out three 45 minute slots per week for swimming and possibly swim the 5 Kilometer race across lake Balaton in the summer.  Never thought I would enjoy swimming for exercise, but it has really grown on me while living in the water polo capital of the world.   

I’m also adding a couple new components to my journaling this year.  Journaling has been so helpful for me over the years with the inward, outward, and upward journey.  I’m also really glad moleskin notebooks are back in business!!

Thirdly, I’d like to create more integration between this blog and our present communities, our work with Nexus, and our spiritual and family journey here in Budapest.  I’ve mapped out a plan for this, and I’m going to give it a try for a month and see if the plan needs adjusting. 

Fourthly, we of course still have some concrete goals for working hard on the Hungarian language. 

I’ve heard that 46% of us are still keeping our resolutions after six months.  That sounds conservative to me.  So here is a helpful acronym for goal planning from the project management world- S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Specific – goals should be specific and clear as opposed to general.
  • Measurable – goals need to be capable of being measured in some fashion.
  • Adjustable – there needs to be a way to adjust your goals according to your rate of progress…if it is faster or slower than originally anticipated. 
  • Realistic – goals can be set beyond you present ability but are attainable over the present length of time.  Research says that difficult goals usually lead to improved performance as long as those goals do not exceed your ability to attain them. 
  • Time-based – there should be a clear time-frame (short-term, intermediate-term, long-term.)  There should be clear target dates set from the beginning.  

And you know, thinking of goals in positive terms instead of negative terms is always more effective.  And process goals are usually better than outcome goals (improving effort or performance vs. winning a competition).  And finally, most goals deserve a good strategy.

With our minds we plan our ways,
But God directs our steps.
-Proverbs 16:9

calling

“To know what we are here to do, and why, is not an abstract, philisophical question.  There is no question more personal and more passionate, no question that is closer to our hearts.”  -Os Guiness

“Vocation does not come from willfulness.  It comes from listening.  I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about – quite apart from what I would like it to be about – or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.”  -Parker Palmer

“Calling is where your deep hunger meets the world’s deep needs.”  -F. Buechner

“Calling is not primarily about increasing your earning potential or status, but it refers to the fact that God made you with certain capacities, and this world needs you to fulfill those.”  -JR Woodward

“That “ultimate why” for living, the highest source of purpose in human existence is to be found in answering the call of our Creator.  Calling is the truth that God has created us for Himself.”  -Os Guiness

“Instead of, ‘You are what you do,’ calling says, ‘Do what you are.'”  -Os Guiness 

Jorge the Philosopher

A friend shared a thought with me today, during our regular Monday night meeting, from a Spanish Philosopher by the first name of Jorge.  It sparked some great discussion.  Here it is (well, actually this has been translated from Spanish into Hungarian, and now VERY losely into English).  “BROTHERHOOD: Live together in an honest and credible way without hurting each other, especially among those who regularly bear your childish outbursts of anger, despair, and disappointment (ie. those who are closest to you).  This childishness pollutes the air.  We shouldn’t just avoid physical dirt, but also the moral, spiritual, and emotional dirt.  Even if we are able to move beyond our childish behavior, which is always selfish, those deeds have been done and those words have been said (and there is need for forgiveness).  They can continue to pollute the air.  This childish selfishness and anger is like larva in the soul (eww, yuck).  It is a fire that becomes hotter than any argument and seeks to maintain further arguments while our maturity decreases (the cycle of “ungrace” as Yancey calls it).  In the visible world, we have different genders, cultures, and ages.  But we have God, we have faith, we have many everyday happenings that connect us.  In brotherhood, we take advantage of everything which unites us, and not those things which divide us.”  -spanish philosopher Jorge.

Debrecen English Camp

We’ve just finished five amazing days.  Five friends from North Carolina came to help us with an English Camp.  A couple hours after landing in Budapest, this jet-lagged team was hanging out with university students at English Club.  Over the course of the weekend, Donnie shared 10 thoughts on how to live a better life.  Five of them are:

  • Be intentional with your thoughts
  • Be thankful
  • Be accountable to someone
  • Tell those you love that you love them
  • Be Quiet

We spent Saturday morning at an orphanage in Debrecen, and we almost had too much fun.  I’d say that was a pretty significant time for all of us.  A highlight for me was when one of the young girls found the courage to sing a song for all of us.  Wow. 

After Valéria’s awesome scavenger hunt in the city center, had a Hungarian lunch, some English small groups, life-story sharing, and lots of games.  I won’t mention what time people went to bed.  🙂  This was an outstanding group of Americans who came to visit.  They brought so much fun, they shared their hearts, and they were real with us.  (Thanks Adam, Jill, Amanda, Adrien, and Donnie!!!!).  Personally, I feel refreshed and excited about life.  Here’s some pictures:

discovered

Os Guiness has reminded me recently that, as seekers and sojourners, we often start out searching, but we end up being discovered.  We think we are looking for something; we realize we are found by Someone.  I wonder if we sometimes can become overly occupied with the activity of knowing at the expense of being known.  It is a powerful thing to be known by Someone.