family golf hmm... thoughts

The weekend that was

This morning my back and arms are sore, my legs feel heavy, my eyes don’t want to open… signs of a very cool weekend. I took the weekend off. For the first time in a long time I actually completely disconnected from work. It was much needed.

Last month Kristen scored some great tickets to San Fransisco on Southwest. We jumped on the opportunity to get away! We were really good about getting away without kids in Michigan, but moving 2500 miles away from that network has meant we haven’t had family or church family around to hook us up with some getaway-ability. We made this one happen.

Kristen and I have been to San Fransisco before. First in 2001 we spent a couple weeks in the bay area. We did a lot of the toursity things down in San Jose, Santa Cruz, Napa, and a day-trip to Alcatraz. Then when we lived in Oroville we did some more quick trips around San Fransisco to the parks and driving across the Golden Gate bridge. But we had never really stayed in the city or did anything beyond the true tourist stops. So we intended to change that.

dsc_0009We flew in Friday afternoon and made our way into the city on BART. After getting lost a couple of times we made our way to Japantown. I’m getting more and more “anti-chain” and while the Hotel Kabuki is part of a larger company it is still a one of a kind place. It was as Japanese as I’d like to go without going to Japan. When we checked in the manager told us that since we were hear for a romantic getaway he was upgrading us to a suite. (Always leave a comment when making a reservation!) So he put us in this funky suite with a living room and a bedroom seperated by these fun sliding panels. The kicker for us was that the room also came with a sauna. I never knew I wanted a sauna in my hotel room before… it was a lot of fun!

After checking in we went on a walk in classic Adam and Kristen style. We had no idea where we were going and 90% of our intention was to get lost. So we walked up Filmore Street, had lunch at a place called LeMed, and then got royally lost and tired walking around Nob Hill. San Fransisco is laid out like a grid, so you can never truly get lost. Plus, with iPhone’s in hand all you really ever have to do is open up Google Maps. We walked until we were tired and went back to the room to chill and recharge. (Literally, our batteries died!) Later we went out for a dinner. We started at a wine bar then wandered up and down Fillmore Street a few times before deciding on a Thai place. Literally, we walked until our legs could take it no more!

Saturday morning we got up early and met Dave & Justine for breakfast at a little diner. It was fun to hang with them. When Dave stayed with us in December he was completely miserable with his internship and San Fransisco in general. It was fun to see the 180 transformation… amazing what romance will do to a situation! We lingered around at breakfast, enjoying our visit, but finally had to end it when Justine had to go to work.

From there, we checked out of our hotel, explored the Kintetsu Mall (a treat all its own full of places to eat and unlimited Japanese boutiques, totally worth it!) Then we jumped back on the bus and headed to Union Square. Since that wasn’t our scene we kind of went nuts on the transit system for a while. First we took a cable car over to Fisherman’s Warf. I have always wanted to ride a cable car and it was actually more fun than I had imagined!

Again, Fisherman’s Warf wasn’t our scene. We’ve already “done that” and it’s a total tourist trap. So we jumped on a streetcar and headed out to The Castro. As a straight couple that may seem like an odd place to hang out! But it was a total blast. It’s ecclectic and fun. Since it was Saturday afternoon everyone was out and about, chatting on the street, walking dogs, and basically just enjoying a perfect Saturday weather-wise. We had an awesome lunch at the Anchor Oyster Bar before heading back downtown.

From there we just got on more cable cars and explored. We hiked up the famous Lombard Street curvy road deal and took a ton of pictures. Completely exhausted, we rode the cable car back to Union Square, bought a couple souveniers for the kids, and got back on the BART for the trip home.

We got home about 11 and promptly crashed after saying goodbye to Mandy and Jon. (Who earned their saint stripes by watching the kids… who had quite a good time without mom and dad around!)

Sunday morning, I skipped church and played in a golf scramble with Tic. Tic is leaving YS later in the summer and as much as I enjoy his company I knew this would likely be my last big opportunity to spend a chunk of time with him. We played horribly. Each of the people in our foresome had a few good shots, one fantastic shot, and roared with laughter all day until we finally finished at +2. It completely capped off my weekend!

So that was my weekend unplugged. With a big week ahead it was fun to fully do a weekend where we went all out all weekend. I invite you to check out our pictures from San Fransisco. More importantly, I hope you get the opportunity to unplug and get away with the one you love soon.

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The Double Edged Sword of Awe

geiserWe are all born with a desire for religious experience. God made us this way. Each of us has had experiences in which the only description of our emotions is awe. These are intimate moments between you and God, a person, or a even location or event. While God intended for this awe to be for Him, our humanity doesn’t reserve them to Him exclusively. It’s a human response of deep connectedness. Most often there is a build-up and anticipation to the experience. You want it to happen so bad, it finally does, and the experience overwhelms you because it is better than you’d imagined.

Here are some awe experiences people mention as the highlights of their lives.

– Seeing a bear in the wild.

– Liftoff of the space shuttle.

– Sexual intimacy

tiger_17_425x600– Hitting the winning basket, scoring the winning touchdown, nailing the winning putt.

– Exploring a beautiful coastline in Ireland.

– Worshipping with thousands of believers at a conference.

– Meeting God for the first time at a retreat.

– Starting your own business and earning your first dollar.

Most often, these are intensely personal moments of awe. The experience defies description and is often too intimate to even talk about. Even during the moment your emotions run high.

This is the first edge to the sword. It’s a good edge. The pursuit of this high and the after effects/remembrance of this high produce tremendous energy for people. This religious experience forms a deep bond between that individual and that event, object, or person. It is something they shared that was intimate and powerful.

Industries exist to help people pursue this experience, don’t they? We seek the awe-inspiring moment and wise capitalists provide tours of Ireland and Yellowstone. Religious events build anticipation for these moments knowing that they will draw thousands of seekers. How many clubs, bars, and dance clubs exist for the sole purpose of a common meeting ground for people seeking a sexual experience? On and on.

But that sword has a second, more dangerous edge to it, doesn’t it? Once you have this religious experience you seek to have it again. I mean, if the high of that moment… seeing the bear… crossing the rope bridge to a tiny island… having a killer day with a new business… sinking the putt to win the big tournament… it will never be the same as the first time.

In fact, many industries sustain because they know there will always be people who are seeking the second experience. They are in the exhilaration/disappointment business. They know that a weery businessman will lay down tens of thousands of dollars to go on tours of Ireland again. And then when he doesn’t find what he is looking for he will go to Scotland, Iceland, and the Gallapogos. The sex industry exists because people are seeking a more amazing sexual experience than “that amazing time.” Parents will relentlessly drive their children into sports in hopes that one day their kid will have the amazing experience they did of scoring a touchdown to win the big game. Certainly, many youth groups thrive because teenagers are seeking to repeat an intense religious experience they had at a retreat.  Get-rich-quick schemes work because people remember that one time when they made easy money and they want it to happen again.

The truth is this. The secret is this. The learning point is this. Once you have that amazing moment, don’t try to repeat it. It will never be the same the second time. When you take someone back to that spot… it’ll be awesome for them… but a let-down for you. If you can’t handle that let-down, just let that awesome one-time experience live in your memory.


The return to golf

I’m excited about getting back to golf.

Earlier this week I snatched up the opportunity to play 18 holes with a new friend. Wow, did it feel good! I should correct that, it felt good to my soul to play… but my body thought I was nuts.

Ditching out of work early I met Kevin over at Cottonwood. It’s a nice little muni on the south side of El Cajon. As I drove to the clubhouse I got a chance to see a number of holes and felt pretty good about the simple layouts. Not a shooting gallery and not a resort. Perfect for where my game is after 3 years off!

I had meant to go to the driving range on Sunday… but the Chargers game stole my daylight and it didn’t happen.

So there I was on the first hole feeling like a complete nimrod. Literally, the ball could go anywhere. I assured Kevin that anything could happen… this wasn’t going to be pretty.

Long ago I learned that golf is a mental game merely executed with muscles and bone. If you let pride or ambivelence get in the way you’ll always play terribly and have a miserable time. Instead, I try to play the game at least semi-intelligently. For me that meant embracing the obvious. Forget the driver. (The hardest club to play in the bag.) It also meant that I needed to find 2-3 clubs that I was comfortable with and just take my medicine with them.

That strategy worked for the most part. Predictably, when I tried to hit the 3 wood off the tee it sprayed violently. This forced me to hit crazy shots from awkward distances, around trees, over other tee boxes, etc. After a few holes I just resolved to teeing off with an iron and things improved from there.

Kevin was a lot of fun to play with. We have very different games. He has a low ball trajectory that is mostly straight. Thankfully he was infinitely patient and had a good attitude that my shots have a high trajectory and tended to spray all over. It was pretty funny because we’d go over to his ball in the fairway… then go try to find mine off in another fairway or the rough.

All-in-all it was a good day. With a couple mulligans I can somehow say that I broke 100. It wasn’t pretty unless you count hitting some crazy recovery shots and snaking in a few putts in the 15-20 foot range.


Excited about 2009

As far as years go 2008 has been a crazy one. The year started off with me gasping for air between rounds of Kidstown events and ended with a long time of rest and reflection after moving our family across the country and launching myself in a new direction. To quote Mike Yaconelli, “What a ride!

As 2008 takes it’s last spin on the disco ball known as Earth I wanted to record a few of the things I’m excited about for 2009.

#1 A simpler life continuing. It may sound weird that moving into an urban setting, Kristen taking a job, and both kids now in elementary school is actually simpler for us, but it is. Unlike before, we’re living within our means and building healthy boundaries between our work, play, jobs, and church life.

#2 To social media and beyond! I’m looking forward to the two-fold reality of getting deeper into the social media scene while at the same time venturing into new things.

#3 A hobby with my wife. For the first time in our relationship Kristen and I have purposed to do something together. Those who know us know how true it is that we often have had different worlds. Purposing to have the same hobby of Beyond The Zoo is going to bring us closer together.

#4 Golf. After a 3 year sabbatical from the game I will be resolving to get my game back in shape. I’d love to find a league or a volunteer opportunity to force me to play. How in the world could a lifelong golfer live in San Diego and not play?

#5 A vacation. No idea where we are headed or what we will do. But the family will definitely require a trip somewhere.

#6 A new place to live. Our lease is up in February and we’ve already told our landlady we intend to move. That said, we’re starting to look at places in the SDSU area, City Heights, Rolando, Kensington, or somewhere else near our church. We need more space.

#7 New stuff at Youth Ministry Exchange. Starting soon I will have a weekly column ay YMX. After kicking around a lot of ideas I’ve decided to stick with my passion. It’s going to be a weekly encouragement. Recognizing how little worship and preaching most of us hear as we lead the students… I hope it’s helpful to fill a tiny bit of the void. Plus, YMX’s main site has a brand new look we’re popping out soon.

#8 Some cool stuff at YS. Now that I’m not “the new guy” anymore it’s fun to be around some of our things from genesis through release. I’m excited about increasing my impact at work in 2009. More importantly, I am still shocked that God has allowed me the ability to impact the lives of youth workers through YS. Gosh, that is too cool.

#9 Unloading the Michigan homestead. Hard to believe that our house in Romeo has been vacant since the first week of August. We have a buyer and we’re waiting on the banks to do their thing. Originally, we had hoped that we’d be done with the house by the close of 2008. One way or the other, we will be done with the house in 2009.

#10 Kid Stuff. Megan and Paul have hit the age where childhood hits the afterburner and starts to speed along. Blogging is awesome in that I get to capture little snapshots, literally and figurately, of their lives for posterity sake. Both of their personalities are blossoming and I’m falling deeper and deeper in love with these kids God chose for us.


A true test

17th @ SawgrassFew holes in golf bring so much fear as the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. It’s all mental. At just 137 yards the par 3 should be a slam dunk. For most PGA Tour professionals they would hit this large green 95 out of 100 times. It should be an automatic par or birdie.

So why is this hole consistently one of the hardest in golf? Well, the green is completely surrounded by water. The island green rattles the nerves of the most tested names in golf. Woods, Michelson, Els,
and Garcia all quake as they approach the hole.

Leaders have won the tournament on this hole and leaders have lost the tournament on this hole. It is one of the few holes that TV commentators keep a running, career tally of how players have done on the hole. Phil Michelson is +15 on the hole in his professional career.

They key to the mental anxiety of this hole is an island about 60 yards to the right of the tee box. This acts as a visual trick. Players eyes lie to them about the hole based on that island tree. Players who ignore that and ignore the sucker pin on Sunday’s do well just hitting the ball 140 to the center of the green.
Players who come to the hole looking to make a statement or take a risk are often rewarded with a new ball and a pitch from the drop zone.

It’s the same in life. Life often puts a sucker pin and a floating tree to distract you from you. Those who succeed admire the game, admire the sucker pins temptation, and the floating tree is just an amusement.

What’s your sucker pin? What’s your floating tree?