Monday, September 18, 2017

Iceland

Stillness. Complete stillness save for the hissing of steam somewhere off in the distance. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a place this devoid of sound. A few months ago my girlfriend and I decided to plan a trip to her native country so I could meet her family and see all the places she’s adventured. Consequently, we landed in Iceland for a few weeks before heading to Denmark to visit even more family and childhood haunts. As many of you know, I spent several years growing up in Alaska and Iceland reminds me of the Last Frontier in more ways than one. It has a lot of wide open wilderness. There are more animals than people. The weather is cool and inviting. The feeling of isolation is quite surreal.

Iceland is unique for more reasons than its difficult language and steam vents. My favorite part was the fact that every town had a pool. And each pool was geothermally heated so it didn’t matter whether it was raining or chilly or whether the sun was out, the water was always comfortable. However, each pool was different in regards to size and how many slides it had which made us “need” to try as many as possible. We even got to swim in Iceland’s oldest pool, a basin of water walled in by concrete on three sides with the rocky mountain completing the fourth.

Everything is quite expensive compared to prices in the United States, which I’m used to. Most things cost about four times as much. After a recent financial crash, Iceland’s money has grown stronger and with the current boom in tourism, the country is doing quite well monetarily!

Crime rates are surprisingly nonexistent. Young children can always be seen riding bikes down the sidewalk or chatting in groups on the local playgrounds unsupervised. It reminded me of what a typical neighborhood in the mid-1900s would have looked like in the U.S.

Although the only way for you to truly experience what it’s like to be in Iceland is to actually visit the country itself, I’m linking my two Facebook albums on here so you can see my pictures of our trip.



As a bonus, I’m also going to link a video I put together of a 15 mile hike across the Eyjafjallajökull volcano which disrupted all of Europe’s air travel for a couple weeks. You can watch that trip here: https://youtu.be/g8qMRyEBnQ4

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Giving Up On Dreams

It was getting to be early evening and the sun was already on its way down. My girlfriend and I had just spent a productive day touring around Copenhagen, Denmark and wanted to check out the beach before heading back to her family’s house. The sky was softly spitting rain and a stiff breeze was blowing in from the grey blue distance. I’m honestly not sure who had the idea first or whether it was a brilliant spark of adventure which hit us both at the same time, but suddenly we needed to dive head long into that refreshing ocean water. Or at least gingerly step our toes in... To say it was refreshing is an understatement, as we soon found out. Thankfully Agnes had thrown her bikini in the car earlier that day, but I had only my boxers with which to enjoy the chilling dip. After swimming for a bit, we decided to end our exciting escapade and head for the warm showers. It was too cold to dress by the ocean so we ran for the car instead. Agnes jumped onto my back and as we passed by one of the RVs, we could see an older couple sitting inside laughing goodheartedly. Anything’s possible in Denmark of course, but it had probably been awhile since they’d seen a couple quite like us, me running in my soaked boxers with my girlfriend on my back, towel streaming behind like a superwoman cloak. While driving home on towels thrown over the seats, we laughed at all the random adventures we get ourselves into. Honestly, we both have a knack for being spontaneous which makes life so much more exciting. As we kept driving, my mind slowly wandered back to the older couple we’d seen in the RV. I wondered if they were ever as adventurous as us. Were they as crazy in love as we are? I wondered what tales they have to tell, and what all they’d done. Did they fulfill all their dreams? Perhaps seeing us had made them start reminiscing back on the good ol’ days.

The other day I was deep in reverie and asked Agnes, “At what point do you think people give up on their dreams?” The question was purely rhetorical of course, but it made me stop and think. When we’re kids, the world is our oyster. Especially as boys, we dream of being an astronaut pushing further into space or fighting fires to save the damsel in distress. We imagine ourselves as the next Bond hero, Indiana Jones adventurer, or fearless pirate conquering islands hidden deep in the seven seas. As we lay in bed at night, making out treasure maps in the ceiling texture, we dream up all sorts of fantastical adventures and fall asleep trying to imagine what life must be like when we finally turn 20. And then somehow, without us even noticing, life changes. We realize there is no Taco Bell in space and that idea was simply too far out there, so we settle for being a ship captain. Ideas come and go like the phases of the moon. We realize what we once wanted to do doesn’t seem so exciting anymore and what we now want to do, takes a whole ton of work. So we enter this period of indecision that usually hits full swing during freshman year in college. Careers seem illusionary. It only takes one or two heartbreaks before we give up on fairytale romance too. Our perfect fantasies aren’t playing out as we had expected, dreamed, anticipated.

And here is the great divide where I’ve seen so many people give up. When expectations don’t equal reality, they settle. They settle for the easiest degree, the fastest job, the mediocre relationship. Instead of revisiting their childhood dreams, extracting the elements which create the core of each one, and devising a method to make those themes a reality, they post FB updates like “I don’t like adulting.” There’s nothing wrong with not liking it, and believe me, there are days when it takes a lot of work. But when I’m elderly and thinking back on the life I’ve lived, I want to remember it with as much enthusiasm as I dreamed it up with as a kid. The nice thing is, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 5 or 95, you still have time to live your dreams. Make those adventures happen! Life is built around the stories we tell and the wisdom we share. Make yours invaluable.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Love Fearlessly


Dancing in Baroque Gardens outside Frederiksborg Slot in Denmark


Dance like your feet never tire. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Smile like you’re on the brink of forever. Laugh like your joy never ends.

I believe in romance like I believe in oxygen; it’s necessary, it’s refreshing, and it’s all around even when we don’t notice it. The secret to true love isn’t locked in some mythical chest with its key thrown into a dark chasm. If you want to truly experience intimacy, take a long perusal through 1 Corinthians 13. “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” It’s not found in the glittery lights of clubs or the hollow stories in Hollywood. Love at first sight is impossible, but love at last sight is a thing of utmost beauty. The secret to lasting love is actually not a secret at all: Love today. Love today. Love today. And with each succeeding day, the weeks turn into months, then into years, till a lifetime of unselfish fulfillment has passed.

Never fear the future. The Author of love is already there and has scripted your story into a beautiful masterpiece. At times we give up on love because relationships change. We give up on love because we’re lonely. We give up on love because the sun seems hidden and the rain won’t end. But love triumphs, always.

We focus on people, but people fail. We dream about romance, while romance slips away between our disinterested fingers. We make vows meaningless with our insatiable appetite for selfish attention. But true love is found in the mundane. The simple moments shared which build a firm foundation of kindness, adventure, and true friendship. As the journey continues, the love deepens. It doesn’t matter whether you just recently met, you’ve been dating for months, you’re newly weds, or you’re cracking jokes and knitting in the elderly care center. Love simply grows stronger over time.

Yet we often get confused by sex and lust and ideals. We want pleasure without commitment, enjoyment without consequence, and utopia without effort. A true man pursues the heart before the body. He leads with confidence and loves unconditionally.

So let’s build dreams and dance in fairytales without fear of the future, for fear is singlehandedly killing our passion. Let’s fearlessly love. Truly love!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Voice Behind Us

It was late afternoon and I was giving some PRN medications to one of my patients. I was anxious to get everything finished before shift change and was in more of a rush than usual. As I logged into the computer and scanned the meds, my patient talked pleasantly about his life and about how he disliked rainy days. Or something like that. Because right about then my attention snapped back to him when I heard him say, “You’re not really listening to me, are you? It’s OK, I know you’re busy.” My heart froze. After going through extensive surgery which left him disabled, my patient had every right to be grumpy and irritable. But instead, I turned to see his smiling face gazing out the window. He’d always been such a ray of sunshine during my shift that I felt absolutely horrible for ignoring him, even though it was purely unintentional. “No sir, I wasn’t. I’m so sorry.” I put down my scanner and gave him my full attention. The world could wait; my patient needed me. “Could you repeat that?” Come to find out, it wasn’t about the weather at all. He just wanted to give me some life advice.

Long ago I’d vowed to always show my patients that I was listening to them, but some days I forget. Codes happen, admits happen, transfers happen, rounding happens, meds happen, charting happens. Life happens. Recently I’ve realized that I struggle with listening more than I thought.

Listening is an art that I’m still learning at a very slow rate. And no, I’m not talking about simply listening to my patient, or my girlfriend, or my friends. I can just search “listening” in Pinterest and find a plethora of inspirational words to boost my listening ardor. I’m talking about listening to things I don’t want to hear. My past. My struggles. My failures, mistakes, heartaches. The things that teach me, informing me how I need to change and grow and learn. All too often I ignore them. All too often I turn away from them and tell myself that the past is the past. I’m much too busy to listen anyway.

The past IS the past which is what makes it so valuable. It is a gift that we so often not only take for granted, but also stuff under our bed in the spare room of our guest house on the property we left years ago. There’s a little verse in Isaiah 30 which speaks powerfully in regards to our past. In verse 15 God is speaking to the Children of Israel and says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” No, instead of repenting they would come up with all sorts of victory schemes. But the Lord warned that they would simply end up like an empty flagpole on a hill. Instead, in verse 21, the Lord said they should listen to the voice behind them whenever they began to fall back into temptation. Not in front, not to the side, but behind.

God uses friends to speak to us. He uses nature. He uses His Holy Word and Spirit of Prophecy. But all too often we ignore the means of communication known as Our Past. That little voice from behind, “You tried that last time and failed. You messed up. This, this is the way to walk in! See how I the Lord have led you with forgiveness and restoration?”

I know my past, but I don’t know yours. Don’t ignore it, don’t repeat it, don’t ever quiet it. Put aside your distractions, your job, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your school, your plans for the future, give them all to God until you have fully listened to that little voice behind you. Because there’s power in listening. Verse 22 goes on to promise that we will conquer the past! We are not defined, controlled, or harassed by it any longer. Whenever I’m tempted to stray down a familiar path of temptation, that little Voice is right there to warn me away. Come to find out, it’s not about the weather at all. He just wants to give me some life advice.
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