In just two days I leave on a 10-day trip to Zimbabwe with World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine and a grip of youth workers. As you can imagine I’m a wild mix of preparation, wrapping up projects, enjoying the final day of the kids Christmas break, and a variety of lists. (Yes. This post was on my list.)
I just turned on my computer for the first time in 7 days.
It still feels a bit funky. My fingers are stretching to familiar places but typing feels totally odd. Yesterday, I woke up to cuddle a freezing Jackson back to sleep. Today, he woke up in his crib to a warm bowl of oatmeal and a morning full of Curious George & Elmo.
The McLane Family is 500 miles from our little June Lake camp site, 8,600 feet above sea level and a million miles from yesterday.
I spent a week intentionally disconnected from my day-to-day life. I turned off my email, signed out of Facebook, never opened Wunderlist or even had the thought, “I should write that down.” For the first time I can remember I even let the blog go fallow for a week.
It felt good to rest.
When I wrote my last post I was on the brink. I was past tired. I was exhausted. I don’t know what comes after exhaustion but I was pretty much there. It’s not so much that the exhaustion was hurting my work as it was that it was hurting to work. Day-by-day the grind was like a bruise that kept getting punched. Even embracing a more regular Sabbath wasn’t helping. I needed real rest.
After a week of hiking, exploring, playing, laughing, star-gazing, and fishing… I feel better and found rest for the first time in a long time.
It had been a few years since I really shut it down for 6 consecutive days. I don’t know if it’s my insecurity, the desperate feeling we had to turn it around at my old gig, or what… but I do know shutting it down was the right thing and something I need to do more often. (I have 3 weeks of vacation planned for the remainder of 2012.)
As we drove home yesterday, Kristen and I kept joking about the fact that we all still liked one another. Camping brought us closer together. As we left June Lake we were all a bit sad it had ended. I think all of us had embraced a little fantasy that it didn’t have to end… that we could just head to the grocery store and restock for another week. (And hit the showers to clean up!)
I think that’s a sign of a good vacation, that you leave wanting a little bit more and having fully entertained the option of never going home.
Each day was filled with a slowventure where we made breakfast together, cleaned up camp, and went somewhere to explore. We had a simple lunch of PB&J or fruit, cheese, and crackers. Somehow we managed to make it home in time to make dinner and have a camp fire before bed. (Did you know marshmallows are a food group while camping? I think each of the kids ate their weight in marshmallow!)
Together, we saw some of Earth’s greatest treasures. Yosemite denies description. Photos cannot capture awe. The giant sequoias, the Valley, the Tunnel View, the Merced River, Tuolumne Meadows, the Tioga Road, even The Mobile… all are happy places.
We spent 2 days not catching a single fish but smiling the whole time. We went up and down mountains. And we played in lots and lots of streams.
I loved watching Megan and Paul get lost in ancient forms of play. They made bow & arrows and pretended to hunt chipmunks. They wandered in the woods collecting stuff. They stared deeply into the starry abyss. They played with fire.
And they were rarely bored.
It’ll probably take me a few weeks to really unpack my vacation. But all I know is that I need more of that more often!
This video has me all pumped to head up to Yosemite. The countdown is on! 2 weeks.
One of the commitments that I made for 2012 is to rest better. I know, that sounds silly. But with all the stress and craziness of 2011 I forgot to take more than a few sporadic days off. That’s not healthy or sustainable.
With that in mind, and Kristen’s parents in town for the week, we jumped on the opportunity to take a 36 hour getaway down in Mexico.
Hotel: We stayed at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. It was great. We stayed in the Pacifico Tower, which is only 4 years old. It’s gorgeous. We got a king suite with a beach view and balcony for a little over $100. The property is right on the beach, has great beach access, a kickin’ pier, and all the amenities. Free parking was a nice added bonus. We’re already planning to go back with the kids. Seriously, the hotel was like 45 minutes from our house. I really dig the old world charm of the older parts of the hotel. This thing dates back to the 1920s. All the stars have been there. I mean… Marilyn Monroe stayed there back in the day. How cool is that?
Beach: I don’t know how long the beach is. It’s long. You can walk about a mile south of the hotel and… we got tired after about a 1.5 miles to the north. It was very clean and mostly empty. We thought it was cool that there were some fun things to do on the beach if you were into that. Like, rent a horse or ATV or drink a piña colada or eat shrimp. In the afternoons there is even a dude that will take you up in a sail plane. We didn’t do any of those things but it was all right there.
Food: There’s no lying about it. One reason you go to Mexico is to get your eat on. And that we did. The star of the show is El Yaqui. They basically do one thing and do it very, very well. They have a skirt steak taco (perrones) that is perfect. The steak, onion, guacamole, cheese, and tortilla make love in your mouth to produce a love child called delicious. We had 4 tacos and 2 sodas for like $11. You can’t beat that deal. For dinner we went to a divey place on the main strip and shared a fish combination. We had shrimp, white fish, calimari, and lobster plus drinks for $20. I mean, get real. It’s so cheap and good and fun! For breakfast we grabbed coffee and a couple of pastries and walked the beach. Simple and magical.
Shopping: Kristen had actually never been to Mexico. So we had a good time exploring Rosarito’s shops. The main market has dozens of little stalls with every souvenir you could imagine. We didn’t buy much but had fun. The main thing we bought stuff was in a big candy shop! They had everything you could ever want to put in a piñata. $10 in that place could get you a very serious sugar high.
Safety: I’m so sick of hearing how unsafe Mexico is. Yes, if you’re in a gang or you buy drugs or you’re in the red light district at 2:00 AM… Mexico is probably dangerous. (Um, just as dangerous as Omaha or Dallas doing those same activities) But it’s also a country with millions of people who are very proud of their homeland. Believe it or not, not every person in Mexico wants to illegally immigrate to the United States! I’ve been to Mexico several times in the past year or so and never once felt the slightest bit in danger. In fact, when we walked back to the hotel after dinner at about 7:45 PM the streets were basically empty. If you’ve stayed away from Mexico because you heard it was dangerous… my experience in TJ/Norther Baja have been awesome.
An invitation: Whether you are thinking about bringing your youth group/church to Mexico for a mission trip or maybe you’d like to find a sweet getaway spot. I don’t know any other way to make it OK for you than to simply invite you to come down. Drop me a line. I’d be happy to either connect you with some friends who live/work in Mexico or, if I have time, take you myself.
I’m coming to Chicago for a small release party for the Love is an Orientation DVD curriculum on Saturday December 17th… so I thought I’d expand the trip a little by coming Tuesday night and leaving Sunday evening.
Here’s what is scheduled so far:
December 17th – 2 classes now open for registration
10 -12 pm – Growing Your Business with Mailchimp
2 -4 pm – Blogging 101
That’s right. That means I have all of December 14th, 15th, 16th, and most of the 18th wide open.
I’m spending a couple of nights with my cousin in Oak Park and a couple of nights with Andy in Wrigleyville. Kristen and I lived in Chicago for 8+ years so I don’t really want to fill my days sight seeing or visiting museums, I’d much rather spend my time connecting with you. (Though I am willing to attend the Bears game on December 18th, just tossing it out there!)
Let me be blunt. Since I’m already going to be in Chicago and I have so many free days, that means that you can get my services pretty cheap. Some things you could have me do at a cut rate.
- Come to your organization/church to lead a workshop on any variety of things I teach regularly on. Social media for churches, Mailchimp for non-profits, Blogging 101, Creating a sustainable online strategy, Free and awesome communications tools for non-profits, or a hybrid of any of those to meet your needs.
- Spend a day or half day consulting with your team regarding your website or online engagement strategy.
- Teach at youth group or even fill your pulpit (free or nearly free)
- Meet to discuss a possible project for The Youth Cartel or McLane Creative
I’m open to spending up to a full-day outside of the city, as well. Maybe you live in Northwest Indiana or Southern Wisconsin or downstate Illinois and would like me to come teach my classes? I’d actually love an excuse to spend a day in the South Bend area.
Of course, if you want to hang out and grab a cup of coffee or an italian beef… let me know. I’m obviously down for that.
I spent yesterday with some folks from Amor Ministries in Tijuana.
The point of our trip was to visit some recent Amor houses built in a colonia to create a video inviting NYWC participants to spend a day of convention there building a house. The houses we saw were anywhere from 3 days old to 10 months old. If you aren’t familiar with how it works, essentially Amor acts as an agent of blessing for a local group of pastors. Individuals from the community request help from their local church, and the pastor asks Amor to build a starter-house for a family. They intentionally don’t do everything because they want the family to come in and make it their own.
Here’s the reality for Amor (and YWAM, whom I visited last year): Fear of gang violence has lead to tons of people from the States stopping their annual trips down. Conversely, the downward dip in the economy has meant people already poor in TJ are now much poorer.
All Amor is trying to do is help the local pastor answer the question, “How can the church be Good News so that the community will hear and receive Good News?”
Let me just say this: Forget what you’ve heard on the news. Yes, there are problems. Yes, drug cartel violence is horrible and deadly. But is Jesus always asking you to do the safest thing?
But TJ is still TJ. It’s a border town. And a border town is a border town. (No one ever claimed that Sarnia or Windsor Ontario were the hallmarks of Canada, did they?) If anything it’s much more developed than it was when I first went there 10 years ago. And I don’t think there is anything there to be afraid of for you or I.
Now, if you’re buying or selling drugs. Or at a club until 2 AM. TJ might be dangerous for you. But so is Carlsbad.
I was mesmerized by this short film. Like the filmmaker, there is something about the ocean that speaks deeply to my soul.
If I had unlimited time to travel, explore, and write… traveling by cargo ship would be incredible. Am I the only one who looks at this film and says, 14 days from San Francisco to Xiamen? Yes, please!
ht to Likecool