Jan 30, 2012

Where is Doc Brown when you need him?

I had a thought the other morning... I'm almost 38 years old. If I could go back and have a conversation with the 18 year old me, what would I say to him looking back over these 20 years?

I've narrowed it down to 3 points:

~Relationships & Connections
There are some relationships & connections that I would've told myself to avoid. When I was in Youth Ministry we use to tell the teens "Show me your friends & and I'll show you your future." Studies have shown you will typically weight about the same as your five closest friends and typically earn about as much as your five closest friends. The bible says it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:33: "Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
In addition to some relationships & connections I should've avoided, there's also some that I should've pursued. I believe there was some open doors that I missed because I didn't pursue a connection & relationship with some key people.

~Watch Your Weight
I've always been chubby. But there's a difference between how chubby I was at 18 and how morbidly obese I am now. If I would've monitored my soda and junk food level starting at 18 I could've still enjoyed those sugary gifts from heaven in moderation and not be the Jabba the Hut look-alike I am now.

~Learn How to Handle Money & Avoid Debt At All Cost
Oh my gosh... I have wasted tens of thousands of dollars in my life time. My first four years out of high school I was working in the timber industry and was making excellent money. Other than a few guns, I have nothing, nothing, nothing to show for it. I've always said it's too bad I didn't have a drug or alcohol addiction because at least then I would have an excuse burning through all that money.
At my low point I had about $15,000 in credit card debt, working for minimum wage with zero assets. Fortunately God gave me a wife who is very good with money, but it still took about six years to dig us out of that mess I made.

That's about all that I would change. I don't have a ton of regrets. I don't like the outcome of some of the things of in my life but I wouldn't change them. I learned lessons through those things that I wouldn't have lived any other way. And I believe God is able to use those experiences.

Here's the deal though. Doc Brown & his Delorean aren't parked in my driveway. Bill & Ted's phone booth isn't in my yard. I can't go back to the 18 year old me and change anything. But there is something I can do...

Jan 24, 2012

The Yellow Light

The light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up.
He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, ''I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally I assumed you had stolen the car.''

Jan 2, 2012

601 Geocaches

Geocaching was born May 2nd, 2000 when the US government switched off Selective Availability, meaning GPS signals could be received by civilian owned handheld models with much greater accuracy. A man named Dave Ulmer hid a five gallon bucket near Beavercreek, Oregon and posted the coordinates on a Usernet group, challenging others to find what he had hidden and sign the log book within.

Others began to do the same and soon Jeremy Irish created a website where these "stashes" could be listed for others to find. To avoid any negative connotations that might come with the word "stash" it was agreed to call the hidden objects "caches".

Since then 1.5 million caches have been place in over 200 countries. Almost 5 million people enjoy geocaching, making 4 million finds last month. A geocache could be as small as a chapstick container or as large as a suitcase. Ammo cans make a good hiding container and would be considered a "regular" size container. Smaller caches simply contain a log book or sheet to be signed. Larger caches might contain "swag" to be traded. Swag can be almost anything not dangerous or illegal. A deck of cards, local souvenirs, small toys and fishing lures all make for good swag.

To participate in geocaching all you need is a handheld GPS, a free registration at www.GeoCaching.com and access to the internet. You can search for caches in your area, plug the coordinates in your GPS and you are good to go. Your GPS will get you within 10 feet or so of the hide and then its up to you find the cache. Some caches are large & obvious. Some very carefully hidden & camouflaged and can be hard to find.

Christy & I learned about Geocaching from Daren Lindley, who is a traveling minister that was speaking at our church. This was June 25th, 2005. It was shortly after Google Maps introduced their satellite view. Daren was going to be speaking at a Saturday night service and beforehand a bunch of us were hanging out and checking out the satellite views of different places. Darren joined in and was looking up various places in his hometown in Oregon. He then had us go to Geocaching.com and was telling us a little bit about geocaching. We looked and saw that there was several caches in the area and Daren mentioned that he'd love to find one after the service. Service didn't get done until late and I figured he'd forget all about it. But Daren is a super enthusiastic, energetic guy and he was ready to go. So Christy, myself, Scott and Daren headed to the Crevasse Moraine trail system about 10 miles away. After a short walk, surrounded by clouds of veracious mosquitoes we reached ground zero and made the find.

The next day, after speaking in our Sunday morning service, Daren was itchin' to find some more caches. Christy and I had enjoyed ourselves the night before and so we headed out again, finding 3 more caches. The follow Wednesday Christy & I bought our own GPS and became regular geocachers. Since June 25, 2005 we have 601 geocaches. We've cached in 12 states and two countries. We've cached in hip deep snow and through swamps. We've cached in -40 degree weather along the banks of the Chena River and in 100 degree heat in Dallas. We've cache in hurricane force winds and in a torrential thunderstorm along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. We driven & hiked miles in search of caches, chewed on by mosquitoes,  encountering moose & bears.

Some of our best times together have been while caching. And, some of our worse fights have been while caching. We've seen some incredible sights and explored places we would've never been to otherwise. It's been a great form of exercise and gotten us up off the couch. For Christy, geocaching is the only time she can disconnect from the stress of her job.

You can read a little more about geocaching at it's Wikipedia entry or by watching the video below. And if you'd like to get started geoaching yourself, visit www.Geocaching.com and sign up for your free basic membership. You can also read more about geocaching here in the Mat-Su Valley by checking out the article I wrote for the MatSu Visitor's & Convention Bureau.