Categories
Travel

Relaxing in Rosarito

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.

Categories
Church Leadership

Marriage can’t be the common denominator anymore

Church programming is largely based on segmentation. In other words, most churches build their programming based on some assumptions about:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status

There is a general assumption in church programming that when a person hits their 20s that most will head towards marriage and having kids. And for most of human history it’s been that way, so it’s not discriminatory to base programming on that assumption at all. It’s been a safe bet. (Just like it’s a safe bet that if you have a lot of young married couples you should invest in your nursery, etc.)

But here’s the problem.

For a wide variety of reasons fewer adults are choosing to get married. To really grasp this I’d encourage you to read Derek Thompson’s, “The Death (and life) of Marriage in America” featured in The Atlantic last week. As he says, the reason fewer people are getting married is complicated. But the basis of this discussion is that as the wage gap between men and women continues to shrink, fewer women need marriage for economic stability. I’d never thought of the washing machine as a reason for a lower marriage rate, but he makes an interesting argument!

[Sidebar: From a Christian perspective we’d likely want to introduce sexual morality into that. But if we’re honest we know that few people, even in the church, are waiting until marriage for sex. That’s an influence on marriage but not the fulcrum we often see it as. When I do pre-marital counseling, most often, the couple is either sexually active or obviously lying to me about their sexual activity.]

So what’s the problem with building church programming around the assumption of marriage?

You’re eliminating 48% of the population of people over 18 automatically. They aren’t married. And with the age of first-time marriage rapidly moving towards 30 it’s safe to say that nearly half of the adults in this country aren’t walking around in a huge hurry to get married. We can lament about that all we want, but it’s the world we actually live in!

Yet, if you listen to both the words coming from the mouths of leaders and the metastory  of assumption that every adult is either married or wants to be married, you can see why the 48% of people who aren’t married might think, “Church isn’t for me.”

Hang out with Christian adults who are single and you’ll quickly notice that they see the favortism in the church towards married people.

Even if you think that there should be a marriage assumption, can you see how this is a messaging problem for the church to wrestle with? Can you see how empowering the marriage assumption could be a wedge for a huge percentage of the population and what they think about God? (The church is living evidence of Christ, right?)

Questions

What does your church do that drives you nuts on this issue?

What, if any, success have you had in helping your church deal with the statistical realities of the country we live in? Have you been able to adapt?

Categories
Culture

Place your bet

Photo by @ Alex via Flickr (Creative Commons)

A few months ago I went to Las Vegas with my father-in-law for 24 hours. There are at least 4 things hilarious with that statement, right?

He was running a marathon and needed someone to drive with him from San Diego to Las Vegas and back. I went since it’d be nice to catch-up along the way as well as have lunch with my mom, who lives a mile from the Strip.

Since my mom lives there… I have been to Vegas at least 10 times. Normally, I like to people watch late at night. The joke has always been that I’m down $11 in slots lifetime and I’m mad about it. I’ve never really been into the games.

What I learned from 6 hours on the Strip

Unlike my normal late-night-people-watching, this trip had me up very early, checked out of my hotel, and walking the Strip by breakfast. With more than 6 hours to kill I wandered through a few casinos filled with old people playing slots and a bunch of dealers standing at empty tables.

Along the way I stopped at a Starbucks. As I sipped my mocha I entertained myself by watching a few scattered games here and there. In truth, like a lot of Christians, I feel really out of place on a casino floor. More because I don’t know what to do than that I don’t feel like I could enjoy it.

At one casino there was a small crowd around the crap table. It was a morning clinic explaining how the game worked. Perfect… I could kill an hour, learn something, and its free.

Here’s an observation from that clinic: There is a time to place bets. But once the time has passed it is too late for placing bets. You are either in the game or you are out. The shooter rolls 7 or 11 on his first roll, everyone with a bet on the line instantly doubles their money. If you think about it, every form of gambling has that same timeline. A time to place bets. A time when betting is closed. And a moment when a winner is declared. Cards, slots, horses, lottery, etc.

When you are playing in the game you have a claim at the table. You can win or you can lose. Your heart beats faster and adreneline pumps. The dealers chatter with you. And the cocktail waitress is happy to bring you a bottle of water or whatever you’d like on the house.

When you aren’t in the game you have no claim to the table. You can’t lose but you can’t win either. You’re on the sidelines as an observer. No pitter-patter of your heart. The dealers might not acknowledge you. And fat chance in getting a free drink from the waitress if you aren’t in the game. You’re just another tourist.

Gambling in Vegas is a lot like life outside of Vegas

It feels like people are so afraid of losing that they just refuse to place a bet at all.

  • College – Where do I want to go? What do I want to study?
  • Marriage and family– Is this the right person? What if it’s the wrong person? Should we have kids? If so, when?
  • Vocation – What do I want to do when I grow up? What if I don’t like it?
  • Location – Where do I want to live?

People aren’t shy about their shock with Kristen and I because we placed bets on all four of those categories early in life and have continued to “improve our hand” over the years.

The flip side, experience has taught: In order to win you have to place a bet in the game. And the window for placing a bet is limited. When the time comes to place a bet I already know I want to be in the game because sitting on the sidelines is too boring for me. There are risks and rewards… but I always know I want to be in the game.

Life’s winners and losers are in the game. But those who hold on, never placing a bet, will never know what winning feels like because they are too afraid to accept the risk of losing. And that, my friends, is losing every time.