August 2006 Newsletter
The kids are back in school! Drive Carefully!!
Keeping it Real!
first step in becoming who we are truly meant to be is
realizing and accepting where we really are in our journey.
When I began to ask myself these questions a few years ago,
the answer came to me in a surprising manner.
I was making a business trip
from Knoxville to Seattle to meet with a software supplier.
After dozing briefly on the first leg of my journey from
Knoxville to Chicago, the sudden jostling of the plane
startled me awake. Air travel may be the safest form of
travel, but I've always held my breath and said a little
prayer when the aircraft begins its shaky descent through
the clouds toward the airport. As I looked through the tiny
window I was thinking, “I hate the part of the flight when
the monstrous plane skims so close to the ground in the
landing pattern.” Watching the world outside pass by, it
was then I was struck with an unexpected realization.
“Isn’t this just what my life is like?”
To anyone looking up from the
ground, the jet soars with an apparent stability and sense
of purpose. But inside, we only watch a narrow view of the
world flashing by. Catching glimpses of the surroundings,
but never really seeing what’s actually there or what’s
really happening. The ride is shaky, sometimes scary and at
others exhilarating, but always just a little uncertain.
Definitely not the glamorous ride it might appear to those
on the ground looking up at us. All that confident grace,
seemingly defying all odds and laws of nature, is much more
convincing to those on the ground than those in the air.
I remember I smiled to myself at
the thought of this. It was a weird sort of bemusement -
pleased with myself that I could have such enlightening
revelations and sickened by the thought that as soon as
those aircraft doors opened, I would immediately rush back
to the hectic life I'd constructed. I did, you know...jump
off that plane and run to catch the next one, throwing myself
headlong again into the rat race. But I was never the
same after that. That was the day I began to face
reality and take the first steps toward realizing where I
was on my journey and charting a course to my desired
Facing reality and then doing
something about it isn't easy in our culture today. We
are so image conscious. Life in our society is about
sounding right, dressing right, looking right, even smelling
right! We think we have to go to the right schools,
drive the right car, date and/or marry the right person,
live in the right neighborhood, have the right kids, send
our kids to the right schools. In effect, we treat the
symptoms all the while conceding defeat to our disease.
We're killing ourselves as we try to construct an image...a
perfect image of who we are based upon someone else's
definition of perfection. We try to appear on the
outside to be just like that sleek, purposeful, gleaming
aircraft, despite being nothing of the sort on the inside.
Facing reality is the first step in living out our life
purpose. And facing reality requires facing not that
which others see on the outside, but facing and accepting
that which we carry on the inside.
Regardless of how I may appear
on the outside to those around me, I am a forty-three year
old divorced, childless woman, who lives alone and tries
everyday to find ways to give her life meaning in the
absence of raising children. It isn't the life I
dreamed of as a young girl. I daresay it isn't the
life any young girl dreams of. But it is my reality.
And among other things, it means I have social and spiritual
needs unique to my demographic. Facing that reality
also means that if I'm to make the most of my situation and
continue progressing on my journey, then I must seek out the
resources appropriate to my current situation...not my
desired situation, not the situation everyone assumes I'm
in, not the situation society purports I should have...my
realistic current situation. That's why I'm involved
with Singles Expo 2006.
latest Census data reports the highest percentage of single
adults in our population than ever before, with many falling
into the category of unexpectedly "single again."
Living Water Singles Ministry in Knoxville,
Tennessee is teaming with Love 89 radio station and
SingleLife Ministries of Houston, Texas to host a
relationship conference to reach out to this ever-growing
segment of our population. The regional event will be held
College’s Performing Arts Center
at 7:00 p.m. on September
Special speaker at the Singles Expo 2006
event is nationally recognized authority on living the
single life, Ben Young, from Houston, Texas. (www.benyoung.org)
Ben Young is a popular author and speaker on relationships. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV interviews in
relation to the six books he has written, including the
best-seller The Ten Commandments of Dating. Ben
has led the largest
A Realistic Guide to Choosing Your Soul Mate,
co-authored by Sam Adams, PsyD
for Dating Couples,
co-authored by Sam Adams, PsyD
Grounds: Conversations About Things That Matter Most, co-authored
by Glenn Lucke
Out of Control: Finding Peace for the
Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out,
co-authored by Sam Adams, PsyD
Providing special music
throughout the evening will be national headliner, Brittany
and local up and coming artist Scott Tsakeres & Band.
Singles Expo is not a "hook up"
event. It isn't an alternative to eHarmony.com!
Singles Expo is about affirming the single lifestyle,
whether it is by choice or by circumstance. Moreover,
Ben's insights are sought across the country by singles and
married couples alike. Come to Singles Expo 2006 on
September 9 and hear him expound on the five most
overlooked areas affecting healthy relationships.
Who among us couldn't benefit from that lesson?
Singles Expo 2006, Saturday September 9,
2006, 7:00 PM, at Pellissippi
College Performing Arts Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Take Hardin
Valley Exit off
Parkway and follow the signs. Tickets are $15 advance
and $20 day of show.
off at the gate and a free coke if you wear UT Orange or
bring a Big Orange shaker!
Seating is limited. Reserve your tickets
today at any Cedar Springs Christian Store location or log
SINGLES EXPO 2006 is sponsored by LOVE 89.1 and
in the Light You Have
I’ve been writing in this column about identifying and
pursuing your passion. As we continue to explore that topic
this month, I’m reminded of an experience I had near this
time last year.
I had the opportunity to accompany a volunteer team to a
severely impoverished area of Nicaragua—a country full of
case studies for what can and will develop when natural
disasters and the absence of democracy plague a group of
people. Several major earthquakes, fires, failed military
dictatorships and Communist regimes, border wars, poor
administration, and economic blockades enforced by countries
like the United States have led to the virtual collapse of
the Nicaraguan economy. While the country continues to try
to bring inflation to manageable levels and regrow the
economy, it remains a very challenging place for its
inhabitants to live.
In Nicaragua, we spent our days and a few of our evenings in
one of the most severely impoverished and troubled areas
called El Canon, Spanish for The Canyon, which looked like a
deep, wide gash in the otherwise rolling landscape. Located
only minutes outside the capital city of
might as well have been the ends of the earth. What they
called a road was nothing more than a goat path in some
places and a deeply scarred river bed at the base of the
canyon in others, just waiting for the next near-daily
deluge to wash it out even deeper. Each day our bus slowly
made its way into the bowels of the jungle-canopied canyon,
inching down the muddy path, carefully crossing the huge
gulleys and exposed boulders, and stopping occasionally to
remove debris on the road that had fallen during the night.
The massive trees and vines seemed to be engaged in a
continual battle with the canyon inhabitants to retake their
only ingress and egress to and from the rugged canyon they
Home is an interesting word for it, for I was appalled by
their living conditions. No amount of verbal explanation or
photographs could have prepared me for what I saw. People
were literally living right on the muddy ground, sheltered
only by whatever rudimentary materials they could find—scrap
pieces of rusty tin that leaked when it rained, and rotting
planks and split bamboo for walls through which the wind as
well as insects, snakes, and other vermin entered with ease.
When the frequent rains came, they roared down the steep
canyon walls and washed through these so-called homes
spawning floods, which, if they occurred where we live,
would result in government-declared disaster areas and an
outpouring of aid to the afflicted. But in El Canon there is
no government support or aid for these daily tragedies.
Signs of their desperate struggle to survive were all around,
including among the male inhabitants.
With approximately half of its occupations in agriculture,
and by that I mean back-breaking work in the fields done by
the sweat of their brow and the strenght of their backs,
swinging razor sharp machetes from sun up to sun down, the
average life expectency is only about 64 years, and 60% of
the country’s population is under 17 years of age. Combine
that young population with desperate conditions, and you
have a situation ripe for the formation of gangs, which is
exactly the case in El Canon.
We’d heard stories during the week about the gangs and their
harassment of the village. We’d caught glimpses of the
younger members lurking around in their trademark bandana
head coverings. And we’d seen the older men peering at us
from treacherous-looking hangouts with their angry and
suspicious eyes. When we visited in people’s homes and
invited them to the fiestas or services we’d planned, they
explained they had to stay home and guard their meager
possessions. If they left, everything would be stolen when
they returned. And the machetes, intended to be farm
implements, had been turned into weapons yielding shocking
stories of horrendous murders.
On our last night in El Canon, we’d planned a Celebration of
the Family for all the canyon inhabitants. This finale of
our work ran well into the night…the darkest, most stormy
night we’d endured since arriving. Our bus couldn’t even
make it into the canyon, leaving us to walk in and out. When
we finally gathered at the church to make the hike out, an
obvious look of concern appeared on our group leader’s
face. Instructing us to stay in a tight group and move
quickly, it was clear he feared the worst.
We had only three small pocket flashlights for our group of
twenty-five. The tiny beams barely made a dent in the
darkness, and we tripped and fell into ditches, over tree
roots, and through the debris littering the dirt road. It
was so quiet, you could have heard a leaf fall in the
jungle, and I felt sure that watchful eyes trailed our every
We knew where the dangerous hangouts were. We’d passed them
on our way in and out on the bus each day. And when we soon
found ourselves approaching the first of these spots, I
mentally prepared myself for what I believed to be an
inevitably bad situation.
Sure enough, the faint light of our flashlights gradually
began to illuminate the men who lined the roadway up
ahead. “This is it.” I thought, and I steeled myself for
what would happen next.
Then the unexpected happened. A man stepped from the shadows
to shake our group leader’s hand. They were not would-be
attackers. They were self-appointed sentries, stationed
along our way to assure safe passage. As we passed around
each treacherous bend in the road, men stepped from the
shadows to shake our hands and guide us out of the dark
canyon on that stormy night.
I’ve reflected on that experience often and have settled on
this one truth: We didn’t have much light on that path in
El Canon, but we had to walk in the light we had.
That seems to be a difficult thing to do in when we’re
talking about following our dreams. We’re intrigued by the
idea of connecting with our inner voice, clarifying our
passion, and pursuing those dreams, which have haunted us
our whole lives. But before we take that first step, we want
proof that it’s going to work…we will be successful…we’ll
make enough money to maintain the lifestyle to which we’ve
grown accustomed…or maybe that we’ll just make enough money
to survive! We expect accomplishment to precede or inspire
commitment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Commitment to the path is a pre-requisite to accomplishment.
I liken it to conducting research, an activity with which
most, if not all, of us are familiar. Think about how we
conduct research. We develop hypotheses, conduct experiments
to test them, prove or disprove them, refine them, and then
test again, and so on.
In the absence of facts and proof, we develop hypotheses,
based upon the direction in which the current evidence
points. Then what do we do? We don’t just sit back and study
about it. We take action. Experiments and tests are actions
we take based upon our hypotheses. And what if our initial
hypotheses turn out to be invalid? We don’t just give up on
our research. We refine our hypotheses and/or our
experiments, and we test again. It’s a process we freely
engage in for academic research, yet struggle to implement
in our own lives.
Remember me asking you last month to define your therefore
statements? For instance, “I get so much satisfaction
out of writing; therefore I am a writer.” “I love to tell
stories with a motivational theme; therefore I am a
motivational speaker.” These are your life purpose
hypotheses. Developing them is your first step to living
the life you were born to live.
Then what’s next? You know the drill. Now you have to act.
You have to overcome the paralyzation, the fear of taking
action, and the procrastination of waiting for proof, and
walk in the light you have! Think of it this way; if we
had waited in that deep, dark canyon until we had proof that
we could walk out unharmed, we would still be there!
What we’re talking about here is faith. I frequently hear
people confuse faith with belief. There is a difference. I
may say I believe I can get out of this canyon alive. But
that’s only belief, and belief by itself doesn’t do a whole
lot for me. It becomes valuable when it turns into faith.
Faith begins when I take that first step. Having faith in
myself…faith in my beliefs…faith in the current evidence
driving my life hypotheses…faith in the source of my
therefore…means I’m willing to act. And the action
brings the payoff.
The lesson is clear. If we’re to have fulfilling lives,
characterized by our lived-out purpose, we have to walk in
the light we have…even
if we only have enough light for one halting, stumbling step
at a time. And when we do we will find, just like my guardians on that
dark path in the Nicaraguan jungle, the resources we need
will be there when we need them.