Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Over, But Is It Really Over?

This had been a remarkable journey. A journey that had changed my life and one that I won't soon forget.

I began on February 7, 2011 with a vision and dream to swim 10,000 yards in five days along with personally raising $2,000 for the American Cancer Society while finding organizations and businesses to match my funds up to $10,000 in memory of my grandfather, Mr. Edgar Jean.

I'm blessed to have a wonderful family that supported me from the start. I was humbled to have good friends that jumped on board to offer solid advice. I was pushed and equipped to complete the distance in a sport I knew little or nothing about by a great coach and some experienced and dedicated athletes who took me under their wing to prepare me in a short period of time.

Sure, I met some challenges and even some who didn't believe in me. I even felt some fear, as doubt tried to creep into my mind many times along the way. However, through it all I had a faith that couldn't be denied and the courage to finish what I started.

At this moment, as I write what seems to be the last blog of this particular part of my journey I can say that I met and surpassed both my swimming and personal monetary goals, although the monetary part is not final nor official at this time.
  • In five days time, I swam a total of 11,050 yards
  • In six days time, I swam a total of 12,500 yards.
  • Thus far in financial contributions I've calculated a unofficial estimated total of over $4,000.
As I reflect back on this journey many lessons come to mind. Many of the steps I took throughout this journey seem to resonate with me as I look back at the path I took to get here. Through them all, one lesson that I feel that I have not emphasized enough throughout this process seems to bubble up and over the rest of them right now.

You can do anything you put your mind to. 

When I started this journey I wasn't a swimmer. I had barely any swimming experience and I had only recently gotten comfortable in the water. I started swimming because of a knee injury, which if it wasn't for the injury I probably wouldn't have even tried to conquer my fear of the water. However, with the right motivation (which at the time was to get back into running) I decided to have daily fights with the water. Months passed and slowly those fights turned into workouts and from workouts they turned into swimming. Now I stand, 40 pounds lighter, more comfortable with myself and who I am than at any point in my life, and with a mind of determination like I've never experienced before.

I'm thankful and I appreciate each of you for your support, kind words, phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, text messages and following my blog loyally throughout this process. The only thing I know for sure at this point is that for the next week I'm going to rest. I'm going to recover and focus on soaking in the lessons that I've learned.

The blog itself has been powerful. Its allowed me to open up to each of you and share with you my motivation, my love and my courage to complete what many saw to be an impossible task. Its been an integral part of this campaign as many of you have told me that its been inspiring to you along your journey through life as well. Many of you have been open with me about your support of the blog and that has confirmed for me that I've done the right thing for having it in the first place.

A couple of questions you may have for me concerning the blog is:
  • Is tonight's post the last post? No. I will continue to post information here a few more times on this blog over the next couple of weeks until I can get a solid and accurate count of the contributions people made. As I continue to get updated figures I will share them with you here. 
  • How frequently will you post on the blog moving forward? For now I don't know, but once I have a clearer picture of what will happen I will be sure to share it here too. 
  • If you have other questions or concerns or would like to share some of your thoughts with me please feel free to do so by emailing me at chrislavan@gmail.com.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with one more thought that I have. Its similar to the one I shared earlier in this post. As I told you from the start, I am a man of faith. I cannot and will not deny that. Therefore, when you read the blog you must read it with that in mind. I've never been one to force my faith on anyone, but I am one to share my faith with anyone who will listen because its apart of who I am. 

I realize that what I was able to accomplish physically is not "normal". I realize that I am no Michael Phelps or even better Cullen Jones. If you've read my blog or know me I am not a swimming fan in terms of following the sport, other than watching it in the Summer Olympics every four years and being an inconsistent fan of Cullen's (Yes, below is actually a picture of me and Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones from when he visited Shreveport a few months ago).



However, what I do claim to know is that My God gave me this opportunity and has allowed me to do something that is beyond my own physical abilities. He gave me the insight to think this through even before I had claimed to want to do it. He put the people in place who would teach me the skills I needed to be successful. And on top of that, he gave me the resources to supply all my needs along the way. For that I must tell Him thank you and for that I must share with you this scripture. 

"I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) 

I can. I just did. And so can you. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Over and Above...

I woke up with the mindset on Friday that I would finish the task I had started just a little over a month ago. I would not hold back today from finishing what I had started. I believed in this project from day one along with many others, but at the same time I had no idea that this year's opportunity would end this way.

As I walked up to the fitness center I looked up and saw the sign pictured below. It reads, "10,000 (yds/$) / You've got this Chris!" It was actually up yesterday (Thursday) and was the highlight of my day. One of the students I work with at the college made it for me and she even surprised me by coming to the gym during my first Thursday workout. I appreciated what she did, especially because all of the students have this week off yet she still took time out from her break to make the sign and come by and see me. That was awesome!


Today was special too because my coach was there. She's an amazing person and without her I wouldn't be in the physical shape that I'm in to have completed this task. Another cool thing about today was that the Centenary swim coach who originally encouraged me to swim in the first place was in the gym today too. Together they served as my audience as well as one of my other co-workers (who I also appreciate for being there).

After changing into my swimsuit it was time. My game face was on and nothing was going to hold me back from moving forward to crush my original goal. I jumped into the water, forgot about all the distractions and focused on my immediate priority. When I started today's workout I had swam a total of 9,400 yards which meant I only had 600 yards to go to reach my 10,000 yard goal.

As I swam, lots of thoughts and reasons behind why I started this opportunity began rushing to my mind. Images of my grandfather and the memories we shared as I grew up began to flood my mind like water rushing out of an open faucet.
  • I remembered him taking me to Boy Scout camp and teaching me how to fish. 
  • I remembered our Checkers and Dominos games as he showed me what it was like to play fair with others. 
  • I remembered the wooden nickels, the questions about girls growing up and the slick way he used to do his "happy dance". 
  • I remembered him kissing my grandmother and the example of love they both showed me every time I walked into their home. 
  • I remembered him letting me drive when I wasn't really supposed to and his patience as I slowly grew more confident behind the wheel. 
  • I remembered his care and concern for me as I traveled and moved away for college. He always used to appreciate my calls back home to him and my grandma. He sometimes would say to me during those calls, "if something happens to me I want you to check on your grandma, ok?" I used to tell him, "yes sir, I will..." not knowing that the time he was referring to would be here sooner than later.
As theses memories flooded my mind and I kept swimming to finish my goal, I could feel the goose bumps roll over my body. As I neared closer to my goal, my body began to gain energy while my heart began to pound harder with each passing lap. 

Finally, I knew the time had come. As I neared the end of the goal breaking lap my mind began to race as the choice became clear that I was either going to scream in excitement or cry uncontrollably. As I reached for the point of success I immediately chose to scream as I touched the wall for the last time. I then jumped out of the water with a "SPLASH!" It was over and I screamed as I finally completed my goal!


VICTORY AT LAST! 

I looked up at my coach who I had accidentally splashed with water in excitement and she smiled as she took my picture with her cell phone. I then bounced out of the water, grabbed my camera and we took a couple more pictures too. The evidence is below. This picture is of me (middle) with my coach (left) and one of Centenary's Swim Team coaches (right) who had also played a big role in encouraging me to start swimming over a year ago. Without these two and the remarkable roles they played for me in my life at just the right time I don't know where I'd be in the world of swimming now, if I'd even be swimming at all. 



After we took the picture and I stopped to talk to them for a minute, I thanked them for their encouragement and support but then I turned right back around and kept swimming. I felt good enough to keep going. I had enough time to keep going and I wanted to truly crush the goal I set. I wasn't going to stop at 10,050 yards. I'm proud to say that when I finished my workout today I ended up swimming another 1,000 yards which brought me to a grand total of 11,050 yards - 1,050 yards more than my original goal!

Later on in the day, after I left the gym, finished working and gone home, it hit me. It hit me that I no longer have to be afraid anymore. It hit me that I no longer have to stand back or hold back from anything that I do. It does not matter if I look a certain way, wear a certain thing or have a certain possession. In fact it no longer matters to me what the world or the environment around me pressures me to do because I can do anything I put my mind to and so can you!

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, 
but of power, love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

All of us can do anything we put our mind to, if we just believe and never give up. I wasn't a swimmer when I started and I don't claim to be one now (even though I've probably swam more now in the last five days than the average recreational swimmer). However, I look at what He's been able to do through me because of this opportunity. With the right motivation we can do anything. Now is the time for us to get up from our daily routines and begin to go after what we truly want to do with our lives.


In 2011, it's time for us to stand up, put on our running shoes
 and chase, but more importantly catch, our dreams!   

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Giants Aren't Always As Tough as They Seem (Part 2)...

Whether you're a Christian or not you've probably heard of the story of David and Goliath. If not you can find the story here in 1 Samuel 17th chapter. The summary of the story is that David, a young shepherd boy, killed a huge experienced warrior named Goliath with a simple slingshot. No one truly believed David could beat Goliath when David volunteered himself for what seemed to be an insurmountable task. No one truly believed that David (who was a mere fraction of Goliath's size and strength) actually stood a chance of beating Goliath in a fight.

The cool thing about this is that despite the fact that the majority of the crowd wasn't supporting him, David believed in himself and he believed in his God. After that, everything else fell in place. At the time David had his priorities in order. He knew what he believed and he knew who was supplying his needs. Therefore he didn't need anyone else to do anything else for him and at the end of the story David won the battle.

In this modern age I bring this story up knowing fully and agreeing to the fact that, no man is an island. In fact, I don't even bring up this story to try to draw connections between David beating Goliath and what seems to be my possible victory in the pool this week. Instead, I bring this story up for the fact that we sometimes forget that David didn't beat or kill Goliath by hitting him with a rock in the right place. In fact, its quite the opposite because all the rock allowed David to do was fight Goliath on his level so that Goliath could no longer tower over him. We must realize that David was able to claim the victory because he used a sword to cut off Goliath's head after he had already knocked Goliath to the ground (verse 51).

I also remind you of this story because so many times in life we are challenged with new problems, problems that may seem to be "Goliath" in size. When we're done being shell-shocked by these problems we somehow might scrape together enough courage to fight the problems and to some degree beat the problems. However, the problem is that once we have the problem broken and brought down to our level, we think the problem is solved. We also think the problem is over because we somehow were able to knock down our "Goliath". We then think that our problems will simply die from being knocked down. Let me remind you, our problems can get back up.

We must first learn to truly finish off our problems and complete the tasks we've been given. If we don't we may end up having to fight an enemy who's twice as strong and even more motivated to beat us than in the beginning of the battle.

With this in mind, tomorrow is the day that I finish off the physical part of this challenge. Today I swam a total of 2900 yards (1700 during my first workout and 1200 during my second) making today the biggest swimming day of the week regarding yard accumilation. This brings my grand total up to 9400 yards for the week and I still have at least one more day to swim.

I could have easily gone out to celebrate this accomplishment tonight. However, I know that the battle isn't over just because I'm ahead of schedule. This opportunity is too important to me and to others not to continue to take it seriously.

I'm SO thankful for all of the love, support and the donations that have been made
to the American Cancer Society in my grandfather's name.

This has truly become an experience that I will never forget. Now I'm planning to not only to reach my goal tomorrow, but I also plan to surpass it. Next time I post on this blog (if God says the same) I will have gone beyond my goal distance of 10,000 yards. Tomorrow I will reach for the stars!



Work Smart, Not Hard...

When I started my swim today I was halfway to my goal. I had completed 5,000 yards of my 10,000 yard goal. However, today was "hump-day" not only because it was Wednesday, but because I had to push forward to get over the hump to finish what I'd already begun.

I admit that my body is a little sore. I've never swam this much in such a short amount of time. I also admit its trying at times to keep going, but my grandfather never gave up on anything he did. Therefore with his memory in mind I wasn't going to slow down now. One of my friends on facebook told me to "keep my foot on the pedal", so that was my plan as I jumped into the water today - keep pushing no matter what.

The other cool thing about today was that I had a lot of positive emails and messages when I got to work this morning because there was an newspaper article in The Shreveport Times (click here to see it) as well as a news story on one of the local news stations, KSLA (see video below) about this opportunity. (Thank you to Lindsay Dean at the American Cancer Society, Melody Brumble of the Shreveport Times and Tracy Clemons of KSLA for setting up those opportunities for me.)



One of my friends randomly came and met me in my office today right before it was time to swim. It was great to see him and I'm glad he came even though I had no idea he was coming. When my mom left I had a feeling that someone else would show up to help me count and watch me during today's session and sure enough without me even asking that's exactly what happened.

As I got into the water it was tough for me to truly warm up today. I was stiff at first and my muscles weren't moving as easily as they had the previous two days. However, that's when I learned that in order to successfully complete this challenge I had to switch gears.

One of the lessons my uncle told me as a kid (which I believe he learned from my grandfather) is to work smart, not hard. Too many times we want to simply push through or power through something like a bulldozer going through a brick wall. We think we're strong enough to just keep pushing when in the end all we're doing is spinning our wheels, not getting where we want to be while drawing unnecessary attention to our inefficiencies. If we'd just take a step back and use a different strategy we'd be much better off in the long run. However, a lot of times that different strategy seems like a "less glamorous" or "less attractive" way to do things. It may not be as flashy and it might not catch people's attention like we want it to. Therefore we think its the bad way to do things. What we fail to realize is that the quieter, more efficient way is the way He wants us to go.

His way is a way of less stress, less grief and less pressure.
In the end we'll benefit more by going His route than our own route.

After stopping briefly to catch my breath I decided to use my energy more efficiently than to wear myself out swimming hard with power when I can simply let go and allow my body to natually glide through the water. I could then relax with each stroke. In the end I chose to swim smart or swim quieter and because of that choice I was able to go even farther than I had planned.

I'm proud to say that by the end of the day I had completed 1,500 yards, 500 more yards than I originally planned to swim. This brings my grand total up to 6,500 yards. With 3 days to go things are looking pretty good for me to complete my goal right on time.

Side Note: In the newpaper article it says I'll be doing an open session of swimming on Saturday at 2pm in the Centenary College Fitness Center. Because of an unforeseen conflict I had to push the time back. I've rescheduled my last swim for 5pm on Saturday. Admission is free to anyone who wants to watch.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let Go...

Today was special.

Since I officially started this quest yesterday my mother took the time to drive up from my hometown (Lake Charles, LA) to watch me swim both yesterday and today. During my first workout a writer and a photographer from the Shreveport Times (the local newpaper) as well as representatives from KSLA (a local news station) and Centenary's Office of Marketing (click here to see the Press Release) came out to watch my first swim today. I'm thankful especially because my mother was here to witness it and be apart of it. This man is my grandfather, but he's her father. I'm glad she was here to be apart of the moment.

Once we spoke to them today's mission began. I started today's workout with the intent to repeat the success of yesterday by swimming another 2,500 yards. I got off to a good start although I admit that I was a little tense with the additional audience members around. One of my fraternity brothers came out to watch me too and I appreciated him for making time to come watch me for a moment. His grandfather also passed away of cancer sometime ago so we share a similar bond in that regard too.

Nonetheless after I had warmed up things just clicked. I got into a rhythm and I zoned out. My swimming was smooth. I was focused and before I knew it I was done. Another 1,500 yards completed. I was excited, but something felt different as I got out of the water.

At that point I could feel my body starting to react from the intense swimming. Even though I have been training for a month, swimming on average about 5 times a week, completing distances anywhere from 1,500 yards and higher (a couple times around 2,000 yards) my body wasn't quite prepared for fatigue like this. I realize I'm slowly pushing myself to my limits, but at that moment I was beginning to feel those limits. I knew I had to be smart about my second workout if I was going to complete it and still be able to keep going the rest of the week.

Moms know best (or at least mine has proven she does over the years) and she made sure I understood that I needed to eat a lot and drink a lot before my next workout. I took mom's advice and did just that because I knew I needed more energy in order to complete my next workout. However, here's where things got interesting...

What I learned today is that He doesn't train us to take over,
He trains us so that we can let go.

First, we must begin to understand that life isn't in our control. The more we focus and stress over things the more we end up draining our energy and hurting our chances for reaching our goals.

When I came back to the pool to swim after work. I was amped up. I was ready, but I knew my strategy had to change in order to successfully swim the distance I set out to swim. I'm a big guy. I can easily just power myself through the water, but the problem with that is I would end up wearing myself down faster than I could physically complete the distance. Sometimes we don't understand that by "powering ourselves" through life and not simply choosing to let go we can wear ourselves down and end up not reaching our full potential.

If I had actually tried to power myself through the water then I wouldn't have completed another 1,000 yards tonight. I chose to let go and because of that decision I reached my goal today. I completed another 1,000 yards in my second session bringing my total for the day to 2,500 yards. Again, how did I do this? I learned to let go.

When you learn to swim correctly you learn to use your hips. When I first started swimming over a year ago I used to have daily battles with the water. I used to fight the water to move through it. It wasn't until recently that I learned to rely on patience to help me "glide or cut" through the water. Sure my first instinct is to power through the water, but once I knew how to be more efficient with my energy I learned to let my old habit go.

We cannot progress forward when we still hold on to old habits.

By relying on my core muscles and using my hips to guide my stroke, I was able to go faster for longer periods of time. Our core is who we are. We must learn to let go and use the tools we've been given, not be ashamed of our uniquenesses and respect the differences we've been blessed with. When we learn to put all that together, in time we'll go faster for longer periods of time while still reaching the distances we set out to reach with energy to spare. Now I'm halfway to my goal. In two days time I've completed 5,000 of my 10,000 yard swimming goal.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Giants Aren't Always As Tough as They Seem...

I think back to the day I started this journey on February 7th. On my 1st day of training my coach asked me, "Chris, what's the farthest you've ever swam in one workout?" I said, "750 meters and it took me almost 45 minutes." She then said, "I want you to do that today." My thoughts then turned to nervousness and a little panic as I wasn't sure if I could do it again especially when put on the spot. When I had originally swam that distance I was alone in the pool. I took my time and had lots of rest in between sets. I swam the distance in pieces and it took me a little while to catch my breathe enough to keep going.

Today was a whole different story. 

After day one I have completed 2,500 yards. I swam one session at lunch totaling 1,500 yards. After work I swam again for another 1,000 yards. Exactly one month later I'm swimming twice the distance I could barely swim a few weeks ago in the same amount of time.

The battle is far from over, but I know that with proper recovery, rest and unwavering focus day two will be just as successful.

Thank you Lord that in the pool as with life,
 the giants aren't always as tough as they seem.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Now is the time. This week is for YOU...

We're here. I'm here. All the hours in the pool practicing my stroke. All the mental preparation. All the chocolate milk to replace the glycogen after each training session. All of those things and more lead me to this moment.

The morning of the first day I started training after I accepted this mission the song "Lose Yourself" by Eminem came to my mind. As I sit here writing this blog post tonight the same song comes to mind again.

I admit. I'm not a swimmer. I admit. I'm not an endurance athlete. I admit. I'm out of my element. However, the more I do this and the more I spend time in the water it proves why I'm perfect for this opportunity. This opportunity was made for me.

Too many times in life we give excuses why we can't do something. We say, "I'm not smart enough or I'm not big enough." Maybe its, "I'm too big or I don't have the right body type." We sometimes say, "I'm out of my element or it wouldn't feel right if I tried to do that." Well friends I'm telling you now if you don't do it, then who will? It's time we stop making excuses. Its time for us all to reach for our dreams. Its time to make things happen because they aren't going to happen on their own.

Whether anyone else believes in me or my mission doesn't matter anymore. I'm here. I've put in the work. Physically my body can handle the pain. Mentally my mind can handle the pressure. When we do things for the right reasons God will put the right people and resources in our way to ensure our success. I know He did that with me and this situation.

I'll never forget sitting in church and hearing the minister read Matthew 21:21-22. This was the scripture that solidified in my mind that I would move forward with this plan. Now a little over a month later I'm here.
  • He gave me a family who loves me and are doing all they can to ensure my success.
  • He gave me a coach. A coach that cares and who has pushed me to make sure that I'd be ready for this moment.
  • He gave me friends and people who support me and believe in what I'm doing.
I appreciate each of you for your love, prayers and kind words. I realize that no man is an island and I wouldn't be standing here if it weren't for the support that each of you has shown me.

When we look through our physical eyes we can't see all the possibilities that our eyes of faith can show us. For example, if you were to look at me I admit that I don't have the body of a swimmer. However too many times we fail to see that its in our weaknesses that we're really strong. Its in our imperfections that we're truly perfect. Its when we think we lack something that we truly already have all we need. 

Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of my grandfather's passing. Compared to other anniversaries of loved ones that have gone by it was a calm day. I didn't shed a tear. I wasn't overly emotional. I took the day in stride. However, this week is for him.
  • This week is for the games of checkers he and I used to play.
  • This week is for the sports games he used to attend to support me.
  • This week is for the stories he used to tell me of his childhood growing up.
  • This week is for the time he showed me how to tie a necktie and for the patience he had with me as he taught me how to ride a bike.
  • This week is for the wooden nickels he used to warn me about.
  • This week is for the trips we used to take together. When I was a kid I was the navigator sitting next to him while he drove us and I read the map. Then we I was old enough to drive I was the driver and he was the navigator.
  • This week is for my grandmother who I know misses the love of her life.
  • This week is for my mom and my uncle who relentlessly believe in me and who think about their dad every time they walk into my grandparent's house. 
  • This week is for my aunt, a cancer survivor, who's currently taking care of her mother in Alabama as her mother fights a battle with cancer.
  • This week is for all of my family who went through a lot as we each played a role in helping my grandfather fight and eventually lose his battle with cancer.
  • This week is for all the families fighting to help their loved ones battle through cancer. I hope for each one of you that your loved one wins their battle. 
  • This week is for life.
  • This week is for the drive and motivation to beat whatever obstacle is in your way.
  • This week is for love and overcoming the odds.
  • This week is for champions. 
Thank you Lord for this opportunity as I know you are the one leading me in this effort. Amen.  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fortitude...

Fortitude is the strength to persist, the courage to endure. Often times I find myself in places of fatigue, many times a product of the work found within 12-16 hour days. Sometimes these days include travel with long lines and extended waiting leaving patience to be the only remedy for what can be seen as a persistently frustrating situation.

At the end of many days like that it can be hard to see the good in what you're doing. You can feel like the energy has been drained from you, like you have nothing left to give. When you think about it, a continuous cycle like that can be hard to push through. A process that seems to never end can be hard to fully participate in everyday especially when you don't see nor feel the rewards of your labor as quickly as you feel the results of your strain.

However, as we look for a source of everylasting energy to help support us through these rough episodes, we can sometimes find it in the place we least expect. He never promised us that this journey would be easy. In fact, He never made mention of anything close to smooth sailing. What He did promise us was that He'd never leave us and that He wouldn't let us fall, but at the same time its through trials that we are purified for the work that needs to be done.

In the end its our state of mind that will deliver us. My grandfather knew this too. Each day we must evolve our thinking while constantly refining our habits to behaviors of unselfishness, caring and love for each other. We must accept the fact that if we want peace in our lives we must give peace to others. If we want love in our lives we must be sources of love for others. If we need strength in our lives we must learn to be strong for those who are weaker than us too.

Before that becomes fact though we must realize that everyone we come into contact with isn't ready for this type of change. One way to look at this comparison is through the lenses of different soil types for seeds of character to grow.
  • Some people represent hard ground. When seeds are tossed their way the seeds won't grow because they will remain on the surface unable to be accepted into their lives and eventually being discarded.
  • Other times people can be seen as thorn bushes where seeds can be lost. The seeds given to them rarely make it through the obstacles of their rough texture and because of this their lives are slow to change.
  • Lastly there are those you may come into contact with who are ready for change. They represent fertile ground. When opportunities for positive development arrive in their lives they are receptive to those tools and ready to use them for the common good of those around them.
We must realize that during our weakest points we are actually are given the opportunity to be at our best. Its when we're tired that we're really alive because its in giving that we receive. Its in forgiving others that we are forgiven and its in God that we will find eternal life and the restoration we need to continue our journeys day by day.

 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” - Matthew 11: 28 - 30

Thursday, March 3, 2011

This Too Shall Pass...

"This Too Shall Pass"
(an abstract thought process - not meant for correct grammar or punctuation)

This = The moment you're in. The opportunity you're apart of. The situation you find yourself in.

Too = Also.

Shall = It will. Without a doubt will happen.

Pass = Be finished. Will be completed. Will not be left undone.

As I sit here that's what's on my mind. Soon it will be over. Soon it will be done. Sit and realize the importance of right now. Soak in the anguish and pain. Relish in the heartache and feel the uncomfortable pressure. See the loss of air. Paddle away from the water. Feel the walls closing in around you. Realize you're losing space and slowly becoming more and more confined.

Use the pain for strength. Use the sadness to fuel your mission. Realize that this is all happening for a reason. Soon a time will come when this will all be behind you.

Know that He is watching over you. He brought you this far and won't leave you now. Trust in Him now more than ever. The "lack of" that exists right now will create the "abundance in" tomorrow.

Patience. Breathe. Patience. Stroke. Patience. Kick. Patience. LOVE.

He will never leave you nor forsake you...

Lose yourself in the moment. Forget about the pain and the prickly challenges that surround you. Knock 'em out one at a time. Sacrifice the pain now for the success in the future later. Sacrifice the time now for the success of the next generation who's coming next.

Obedience is better than sacrifice. Love is stronger than them all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stop and Think...

Currently, I'm 27 years old.

As I sit here and try to understand what 64 years looks like its very hard for me to do. As I reflect on this amount of time, I'm trying to wrap my mind around the concept of what 64 years looks like because that was the number of years my grandparents were married.

Earlier I had a conversation about family with one of my co-workers that eventually led to a conversation about grandparents. She made a point in our conversation that I don't think I'll ever forget. As she shared with me her memories of her grandparents she said that too many times we as people get caught up in the wedding celebration vs. the the commitment of the marriage. Too often on tv, in the media or frankly in our own families, we see people who are newly engaged or newly married begin to get caught up in the moment. Instead of focusing on the beginning that this newly formed commitment signifies, we allow ourselves to let the one day celebration of this commitment consume our energy and our time.

One of the things that my grandparent's generation did so well is that they knew and respected that marriage was a commitment for the rest of their lives. It didn't matter what challenge appeared, how much money they had or didn't have, they stuck through it all together. That's powerful.

When you ask someone to marry you,
you're basically telling them that you want to spend everyday for the rest of your life with them.

When you stop and think about that for a minute that's an incredible commitment to make. However, the commitment is not so much the problem. The problem is that we don't stop and think. Whether it be for a minute or a moment too many times we don't truly stop and think which causes us to take our words, our commitments and our blessings for granted.

I was talking to a colleague from another college today and she made a joke in passing that later made me stop and think. She said something along the lines of, "your school must be doing well because you all have personalized luggage tags for your bags." At the time I just laughed at what she said and we continued our conversation. (What she saw was a Centenary Alumni luggage tag that I had put one of my business cards in and attached to one of my bags.) She meant no harm in her comment, but at a time when higher education as a whole is being cut and taken for granted its easy to take details like that for granted too.

This situation reminded me that its easy for us to go on day after day, pushing and fighting for more when we truly have lost track of why we're pushing and fighting in the first place. We are trained to move quickly, work efficiently and do more with less. We strive for awards and recognition, higher test scores for our children and greater results for our employers. However, when do we stop and think for ourselves? When do we take a step back to make sure that all of our pushing is actually clearing a path that's positive and in the right direction?

We need to learn to take better care of ourselves. We need to be better lovers of our own lives. Until we do these things consistently and with purpose, until we learn to listen to our hearts by clearing our minds on a more consistent basis, we'll keep allowing our lives to pass us by. Part of our reward for doing this for ourselves is we'll eventually and naturally begin to do theses things for others and with a fullness that we couldn't originally imagine.

Growing up my grandfather used to get up in the middle of the night. He'd walk around the house, stand on the porch or look out of the windows. Some nights he'd do all these things. I remember this because as a kid I'd sometimes sleep over at my grandparents house which meant I could essentially stay up as late as I wanted to each night. (When I was a kid my mom wouldn't let me stay up all night at home.) Some nights I'd see him or hear him walking around the house. Some nights I could hear him whispering as he walked. Little did I know that those whispers were prayers. Prayers for me and my family. Prayers for friends and loved ones. Prayers for strength and guidance. Prayers for courage and love.

Little did I know that those prayers were also reflections. Active reflections that helped him clear his mind so that he could continue to listen to his heart.