Live Contagious

Live Contagious. A phrase in dissonance. It lacks correct grammatical structure and it’s an oxymoron. You would rarely classify a contagious person as “living”. When we think contagious, we imagine someone locked in a room or a hospital dreaming of being back in the world. But I’m not talking about someone with an illness.

We live in a world riddled with bad. We hear it everywhere–news, magazines, movies and more. What we don’t often hear is the good. We don’t hear about the people making a difference in the community and their world. The media presents a poor picture of those doing good.

Despite the lack of coverage of our everyday heroes, word still gets out. We find a blog post or hear a story from a friends about something incredible someone has done. We pick up a book or watch a 9-year-old on YouTube and are inspired to do good. There are people out there living a life that is contagious. People spreading hope.

This blog ultimately serves as a place for me express my feelings, but also to highlight those people who choose to live contagious. To live in a way that other people might catch the difference and live contagious too.

A Future-Changing Bowl of Soup

At the Chick-fil-A Home Office we have a full service cafe for lunch. Some days at the cafe we have lasagna. Other days it could be pot roast. On the best days, there’s one of the heavenliest delights this side of Italy called honey glazed chicken pizza. There are always a few staple items as well. Everyday you can get a Chick-fil-A sandwich or visit the salad bar.

Not only does the team at the cafe cook main dishes right, but their desserts are mouth-watering sugary masterpieces. And oh, did I mention….U N L I M I T E D Ice Dream. You read that right. U N L I M I T E D.

As you can imagine, it’s hard not to eat everything. Everyday. All the while washing it down using that iconic red and white cup filled with crushed ice and perfectly sweetened tea.

Each morning, I walk into work with the greatest of intentions for my meal later in the day. My mind is set deep on getting a really great salad–topped with perfectly seasoned grilled chicken and Truett’s Special House Dressing.

Despite my strong will and great intentions, something happens.

Around 10:45 each morning the hot dish for the day has a scent that climbs the stairs and navigates the halls to my desk. The scent has all of the properties of a classic Florida thunderstorm. Everyone knows it’s coming, but somehow it’s always a surprise.

It’s magical. In an instant I realize I’m hungry. Before I’m able to lay my eyes on the meal of the day, my stomach has already committed itself to consuming whatever has brought such delight to my nose.

Something has become more powerful than the goodwill I entered the day with. Most days, I give in. I walk away with a tray full of that day’s delicacy (along with the salad I was planning on eating just to say I had a salad). The guilt that would once weigh (no pun intended) on me is smothered in gravy, and followed by candy ladened Ice Dream. I feel satisfied.

We’ve all experienced a strong inclination towards something. Your experience, like mine, may involve food. For others, it may be seeing the SALE sign in the window of the local Nike Outlet. The source of your desire may not be an object or an event. It could actually be another person. You get your daily fix by checking their Instagram feed and then deleting your search history so no one knows your checking.

You tell yourself ‘just this one time’ or ‘I’ll stop on Monday’ (until Monday comes around and you say ‘I’ll stop in May).

On New Years Day, I had the opportunity to go hang out with some friends from work. It was a rainy night. After our night ended, I started my car to drive home and began flipping through the seemingly endless radio stations in Atlanta. (Something you should understand about me–having unlimited music choices on my iPhone stresses me out. I like to let the radio do the decision making every once in a while.)

I stumbled onto one of my favorite late night radio pleasures, which may actually surprise you. Several nights a week, one of the local Christian stations plays audio sermons by big-name (mostly local) pastors. On this night, they were streaming a message by the pastor of First Baptist Atlanta, Charles Stanley.

**Two things to note before you stop reading if you just lost interest:

  1. If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, don’t give up on me yet. I promise this bowl of soup story could change your life no matter your beliefs. 
  2. If you are a follower of Jesus but the word ‘baptist’ scares you, I promise what comes next will be impactful.

Charles was telling the story of two of the most interesting (in my opinion) characters in the Bible. Jacob and Esau (Southern Baptist translation: EEE-SAWW). Jacob and Esau were brothers. Twins to be exact. As the book of Genesis tells us, Jacob came out of the womb clinching to Esau’s ankle.

On a level more extreme than most of your Thanksgiving gatherings, Jacob and Esau had quite a bit of family drama. Charles Stanely begins telling us about one of the many stories associated with these guys. It starts with Jacob (second born) inside cooking when his brother Esau (first born) comes inside from hunting. Check out what happens:

Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 

Whoa! That just happened really fast. Did you see that?

Instant replay: Esau walked in and –BOOM!– traded his BIRTHRIGHT to Jacob for a bowl of SOUP.

Okay. So. What does that mean (beside the fact that Panera should be rolling in birthrights)? Back in these days, your birthright was your future. As first born, Esau’s birthright was incredibly valuable. To understand the weight of it, think of a college degree. It’s the key that unlocks high paying jobs and a financially stable future. The difference is, you have to work hard for your degree. A birthright is just as it’s you’d expect from the name. A right. Freely given.

Think about your college degree. Can you imagine giving it to someone as if they earned it? Better yet, can you imagine trading a bowl of soup for it?!

That’s what Esau did. He was hungry. To satisfy his temporary feeling of hunger, he gave away his inheritance that served as his right as firstborn.

So what does this mean for me? I can’t trade my college degree for soup. It wouldn’t matter if I did.

Your right. This seems pretty preposterous, but it was back in the Old Testament days too. And thankfully your degree is more than a piece of paper you poses. While you may not be tempted to give up your college degree for something as simple as soup, there are some other things you may be giving up without realizing it.

Pastor Stanley goes on to talk about our appetites. Sometimes, our appetites do the decision making for us. He explains that appetites don’t have to do with just our dietary consumption. We have appetites for lots of things. It could be food, money, clothes, sex, attention. Frequently, our appetite for these things clouds our judgement.

Here’s just a few examples of how your appetite may be exchanging components of your future:

  • Money: Your appetite says ‘buy this’. You’ve just traded the ability to pay off debt sooner.
  • Sex: Your appetite says ‘one more look’. You’ve just traded another ounce of intimacy with your future spouse.
  • Food: Your appetite says ‘cake for breakfast’. You’ve just traded an opportunity for better health.
  • Time: Your appetite says ‘Netflix binge’. You’ve just traded an opportunity for deeper relational connections with friends.

We are a lot more like Esau than we’d like to confess. This includes me. But, the first step in turning down the soup (insert ‘turned down for soup’ parody) is acknowledging the beauty the future holds. God has great plans for our lives as we are told in Jeremiah. If you can turn down the soup and survive your appetite, you’ll be keeping your eye on the prize.

This isn’t an instant gratification scenario. Pulling the reigns on your appetite will not make your day more enjoyable. In fact, it may force you to find joy in other ways. Taking control of your appetite does impact your future though. If each of us accepted this story as a challenge, imagine what our lives could look like in 10 years.! As Dr. Stanley says, stop allowing your appetite to ‘trade your present pleasures for future promises.

Be More Awesome.

MOPMonday–Jake Dudley

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I love Kid President (KP). The older we get, the more complexity clouds our vision and answers don’t seem nearly as clear as they used to. Kid President has a simple answer for anything. Some of my favorite KP solutions are “treat everyone like it’s their birthday” and “be more awesome.” Simple. Clear. To the point. But one of the most recent KP phrases that has stuck with me is “Less Selfies, More Other Peoplies.” 

KP brings up the question: what does a world look like where we are slow to talk about ourselves and quick to talk about other people? So every Monday, I’m going to highlight the people in my life that are making difference.

Jake Dudley

There are some people in your life you want on your side. Jake Dudley is one of those people. He is one of the most passionate people I have ever had the opportunity to know. Jake is unbelievably encouraging and inspiring.

He lives a life that is extremely contagious. Frequently, people make jokes that Jake is one of the most famous people they know. And it’s true…but only because so many people want to be around Jake due to the way he inspires them. If you ever start a business, join a football team or support a non-profit and you need someone to tell your story and cheer for you, Jake Dudley is your guy.

Jake, thank you so much for being an incredible roommate over the last two years. You’ve helped me time and time again get through tough decisions and hard times. No matter how busy life gets, I know I can depend on you to be an attentive ear and a source of wisdom. So honored to watch you and Lauren continue to grow as a couple. Thanks for being one of my best friends. 

Get to know Jake! Connect with him on Twitter! …then join me in celebrating More Other Peoplie Monday by telling me about someone who means a lot to you in the comment section below–or by sharing this post with the hashtag #MOPMonday.

MOPMonday–Stephen Moore

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I love Kid President (KP). The older we get, the more complexity clouds our vision and answers don’t seem nearly as clear as they used to. Kid President has a simple answer for anything. Some of my favorite KP solutions are “treat everyone like it’s their birthday” and “be more awesome.” Simple. Clear. To the point. But one of the most recent KP phrases that has stuck with me is “Less Selfies, More Other Peoplies.” 

KP brings up the question: what does a world look like where we are slow to talk about ourselves and quick to talk about other people? So every Monday, I’m going to highlight the people in my life that are making difference.

Stephen Moore

There are some people in your life who…if your car is going to be stranded by an ice storm in the middle of the day…you just want to be near their house. Stephen is one of those people. He and his wife Hope are incredibly welcoming hosts and truly great friends to have.

Stephen is one of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet in your life. He asks some of the best questions you’ll ever hear that create in-depth conversation and you can tell he really is interested. No matter the adventure your looking to chase, he is an unbelievable source of support. Lastly, he makes the best carpool buddy and the best in office prankster.

Stephen, I hope you’re annoyed at how many times I’ve said thanks for letting me crash at y’all’s place for Snowpocalypse 2014. You guys were incredible hosts and I’m so glad God brought us into the office in the same season of life. 

Get to know Stephen! Connect with him on Twitter! …then join me in celebrating More Other Peoplie Monday by telling me about someone who means a lot to you in the comment section below–or by sharing this post with the hashtag #MOPMonday.

Dangerous Middle Ground–The Challenge

Two weeks ago, I posted my thoughts on what it means to be living in the dangerous middle ground. This is an area of our life where we aren’t quite as far along as we could be, but we are “off the ground,” so to speak.

In the post, I made a list of the area’s we could be living in the middle ground:

  • In Relationships: Keeping friends around to fill our needs for companionship
  • At Work: Keeping the job that pays the bill
  • In Our Thoughts: We see ourselves as the not-so-terrible human
  •  In Our Faith: Sunday’s are the boost that keep us in the grey

This isn’t even close to an exhaustive list. There are so many areas of our lives we are stuck in the middle ground. As I have been thinking about this, I am reminded of something I read in the book “Love Does.” The author, Bob Goff, decided at some point he was going to quit something every Thursday. This could be a way of thinking, a job or just about anything.

I decided that I want to eliminate one middle ground in my life every month. I’m currently in the middle of creating a list of areas of my life where I am not quite “All In.” Areas that I do enough just to get by. Every month, I am going to pick one of these items, and I’m going to eliminate it. 

There are two ways to eliminate the middle ground.

  1. Go ALL IN for whatever area of your life it may be. This could mean GOING HARD this semester to finish out you college career. Aiming for all A’s. It could be taking the plunge and finally telling your friend that what they are doing isn’t right. It could be signing up to serve at your church or even tithing for the first time.
  2. GIVE UP. A lot of the time, we associate giving up with something negative. It’s not always the case. Sometimes we have to let things go in order for other things to get better. It’s called pruning and it’s biblical. Pruning allows you to get rid of the areas of your life where no fruit is being produced while allowing other places to flourish.

They say there is no such thing as multi-tasking. I believe the middle ground is our way of multi-tasking on a bigger scale. It’s chasing after what we want while not quite giving up the fear and doubt that holds us back. It’s impossible.

I encourage you to take part in giving up the dangerous middle ground with me. Take the rest of January to make your list of where you are in the middle ground. On February 1st, commit to ending that middle ground. Go all in or begin pruning.

Comment below and let me know an area where you’re going to leave the middle ground.

#MOPMonday–Mary Canavan

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I love Kid President (KP). The older we get, the more complexity clouds our vision and answers don’t seem nearly as clear as they used to. Kid President has a simple answer for anything. Some of my favorite KP solutions are “treat everyone like it’s their birthday” and “be more awesome.” Simple. Clear. To the point. But one of the most recent KP phrases that has stuck with me is “Less Selfies, More Other Peoplies.” 

KP brings up the question: what does a world look like where we are slow to talk about ourselves and quick to talk about other people? So every Monday, I’m going to highlight the people in my life that are making difference.

Mary Canavan

There are people in your life that you just feel comfortable spilling your heart out to, knowing in return you’ll get prayer + wisdom. Mary is one of those people.

Mary is on staff at West Ridge Church. One word that accurately describes how Mary serves at West Ridge is “loyal”. She is committed to the mission of West Ridge and you can tell she wants to see that ministry thrive in the way she wants people to connect. She really goes above and beyond in the way that she serves at West Ridge.

As a friend, Mary has one of the most caring and sweet spirits of anyone around. She is thoughtful and has an incredible sense of humor. (She also really loves Kid President too…..which is awesome.)

Mary, I am so glad we got to know each each other the last year and a half. You have challenged me as much as any of my friends and you’re always there. And that means the world. Thank you! 

Get to know Mary! Connect with her on Twitter! …then join me in celebrating More Other Peoplie Monday by telling me about someone who means a lot to you in the comment section below–or by sharing this post with the hashtag #MOPMonday.