Blessed to be a blessing.

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After 13 years it’s sort of surreal to be locking the door of this office today for the last time. I didn’t think I would be so sentimental but this space has truly been a blessing to have, both for me and many others.

People say there’s a difference between ‘a house’ and ‘a home’, I think the same could be said about an office. This wasn’t just a cool space, it was a home. So many friendships have been made here, events, co-working days, laughter and tears.

But ultimately it’s been a place for others. I remember moving in 13 years ago and feeling so blessed to have found such a great spot, I really had no choice but to share it.

I find it ironic that I’m now setting up shop nearby at my friend John’s office, he has so graciously offered me a desk to use until I leave on our great adventure in May.

Sharing just makes life better.

Celebrating moral courage

As we take time to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr today I can’t help but reflect on the impact he has had on my own life, especially this last year.

We’ve all heard his “I have a dream” speech and know that he fought for justice at one of the darkest times in American history. What I hadn’t experienced before was the pastoral side of Martin Luther King Jr.

This past year I read a great collection of Martin Luther King Jr sermons and was deeply moved by his faith. For him life wasn’t just about civil rights, it was about doing what God had called him to do.

He followed this calling even when his life was being threatened daily, his family threatened, his house bombed, things that we can’t even begin to comprehend. And ultimately he gave his life for that calling. Who lives like that today?

In my 37 years on earth and 17 years of working I can say honestly I’ve never felt “called” to do what I was doing…until now. I have these moments when I realize that everything that has happened up until now is in fact for this moment. The calling to help starving kids is simply too loud for me to ignore.

This transition to work on Stop SAM has been rough over the last three months, December literally brought me to my knees. It was the words from Martin Luther King Jr in this clip that encouraged me in a time when I needed it most.

Though things go wrong, and things get hard I’m going on anyways. I’m standing up for starving children who have no voice. I’m standing up and presenting hope to a world that we can in fact make a difference. I’m doing the thing I must do. I’m doing what God has called me to do.

I celebrate Martin Luther King for his commitment to civil rights and all of humanity, for the love he shared despite unbelievable hardships. I celebrate him for the great example he set at living a Christian life. Well done good and faithful servant.

Two addition sermons:

The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life
The Drum Major Instinct

Saying goodbye to a 13 year friend

office3

As I was sitting in my office today of 13 years I actually got a little emotional about the thought of moving out in January. I know it’s just office space, and maybe I’m being overly sentimental, but I’ve had so many great memories here. Read More >

Breaking a daily ritual

I’m starting to realize that sometimes I do things purely out of ritual. I can’t even explain why I do certain things, nor do I even necessarily want to do them. I refer to this as ritual, but I guess in some cases it could also be called addiction.

For me, my big ritual is coffee multiple times a day. Even though I’m a snob when it comes to coffee, I’ll drink bad coffee purely because it’s there and it’s a part of the ritual. Get up, go have coffee, read, go to work. After lunch, it continues with iced coffee, sometimes multiple cups.

The times that I’ve worked to stop drinking coffee aren’t because I don’t want to drink it anymore. I just want to break the ritual. I’ve had the same thing with beer. It would be better to enjoy a craft brew in moderation when I feel like it or with a special friend versus having one at the end of every work day just because that’s what I feel the need to do.

I’m not saying that ritual is always a bad thing, but it’s good to understand why we do things, and it’s good not to be controlled by things we consume. I guess it comes down to everything in moderation.

What are your rituals? Do you feel comfortable with them or are you working towards moderation?

Riding bikes, saving lives.

LukeRUTF

I just returned from a great trip to Atlanta. The main purpose was to meet up with my partner at StopSAM, Mike Levison. We spent some great time together discussing, goals, dreams, future plans and campaigns.

We also got to visit the MANA Nutrition factory in Fitzgerald, something I’ve been trying to do for the three years that I’ve been involved in the fight against Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

I wanted to see for myself how RUTF was made and deliver in person the donations from my recent birthday bike ride and BBQ. Special thanks to those who gave to the birthday campaign; because of you, we were able to raise over $2,000 – that’s 40 lifesaving treatments. Our bike riding together really did save lives.

LukeandRick

I also had a fun time with my dad who tagged along and organized all the travel (thanks, Dad). We visited five of Atlanta’s top BBQ joints, comparing their various meats and techniques. Maybe someday we will have a BBQ place that good in Orange County. Sigh. We also spent a few hours at the Georgia Aquarium, which I learned is the largest in the world. They actually have whale sharks in a tank, which is unbelievable to see.

Thank you, Atlanta, for a great trip. We’ll miss your smoked ribs, the Waffle House peach waffles and that famous Southern Hospitality. We won’t, however, miss your traffic, which I’m pretty sure is worse than LA. But I’ll be back soon.

Now back to work on changing the world and planning a big bike ride.

The biggest announcement of my career

mysses

As I get up in age, turning 37 tomorrow, I’m amazed at the number of years I’ve been doing certain things. Seventeen years in business, married for over 15, I’ve had my office in Orange for over 13 years, which doesn’t even feel possible. Time really does move quickly.

As I reflect on where I’m at in my life, it has all boiled down to two questions: “Are you truly doing your life’s work? And if not, why are you wasting time?”

I’ve been studying many historical figures who have made an important impact on our world. What I’ve noticed they all have in common is their sense of urgency and purpose. They didn’t have big vision only to let it sit dormant while they did other things.

The fight against Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is something I’m very passionate about and have been involved in for a few years now through MANA Nutrition, Good Spread and more recently co-founding STOP SAM. I also love speaking, sharing my stories about life and the positive impact cycling has had on my life (I’ve now lost over 100lbs riding).

For a couple of years, I’ve had this internal pull towards something else, a big idea, something that will inspire and help others. Now, I’ve tried to kill this idea a couple times but about four months ago, the big idea came roaring back. However this time, I decided to tell my wife about it, knowing she would say no, it would be up to her to kill it.

So I shared with my wife Dalia that day…

“I want to raise awareness for STOP SAM by riding my bike across  America and speaking. And I want you and the boys to follow me in an RV and be a part of this. I think the trip will take about six months.”

Her response…

“Oh my gosh, that’s amazing! Let’s do it!”

Wait, what?!??!

No, no, you were suppose to say no, so I didn’t have to do this.

She later went on to say, “When Ayden, #theViking, was born, I felt like I wanted to get involved with a child-related cause. And when you got involved with MANA, I thought, “This is it.” But I didn’t feel like I ever found my role until now. My role is to take my husband on this trip.”

It took me over a week to even figure out what just happened. So now the announcement….

In May of 2014, because of my wife’s faith, and because it’s my passion, I will get on my bike and ride 4,000 miles to New York City along the northern route of the US, a journey that is expected to take three months. My wife and two boys will be coming along in an RV. We will be documenting our journey and sharing the story of SAM with anyone who will listen. Once we hit the east coast, we will spend about three months driving back across the US, sharing what we did and raising money and awareness for StopSAM.org.

How can you help?

  • You can help me celebrate my birthday by donating to the birthday campaign. 
  • You can go check out Stop SAM and participate in our upcoming #PBJForGood campaign.
  • We will be launching the ride brand “Cycle Cause” very soon. Stay tuned for details.
  • If you know someone I should meet please make the introduction.

What I’ve learned: When your wife say’s she wants to go on an adventure, you take her on an adventure. When you see a way to follow your passion, you do it without delay. It’s about showing my two boys what life is really about.

I’ll continue to service some clients as we start pursuing this dream. We have so much to figure out, sponsorships, homeschooling, routes, etc. But I’ve never been so clear in my life. This is the beginning of my life’s work. That work starts now.

photo by Nicole Caldwell

Changing education paradigms

A great video follow up to the post below. Thanks Jamie.

We have a pill for that.

theviking

I’m the father of a very active five-year-old who is also known as #theViking. To say he has trouble paying attention would be an understatement. But he’s also brilliant, hyper creative, and at five, he’s memorized our entire family tree and who is related to whom. He can sing songs from the radio word for word. Outside the box? He doesn’t even know about the box.

But even at five, we’ve had teachers suggest that he be tested and even medicated to get him to “pay attention.”

Now before I create an onslaught of angry comments or start an ugly debate, let me offer the following disclaimer: I’m not at all suggesting that medication is always bad; in some instances, it has a very positive effect and is much needed. I get that.

What I am saying is that medication shouldn’t be our first reaction. I sometimes fear that we’ve become a society that trusts “the experts” blindly without question or common sense (that’s a whole post on it’s own). My dad has a great line about kids. He says, “God gave you the kids, you’re the expert.” When something doesn’t feel right, I think we have an absolute responsibility to question what “the experts” are saying. Thirty years ago, a kid with ADHD was just considered active, and we didn’t have this urgent need to “fix” them.

Medicating a five-year-old just because he’s overactive doesn’t make sense to me. That’s sort of a cop out. Medicating him would certainly make things easier. It would make him less active, he would fit inside the box, and he would travel through the system with ease. But why is that the answer? Especially when we don’t even know the long-term effect of these medications.

It’s sad that we force these kids to conform and fit inside the box, but then we wonder later in life why so many adults can’t think outside the box. Um, I can’t because you told me not to.

Nah. I think I’ll let my beautiful, active son be brilliant instead. I’ll take the hard way out and deal with his active nature. I’ll help him find his way even though it might be different. Medicate him? I’m going to unleash him on the world instead.

As one of my friends said recently, “If we keep down this path, who is going to invent anything anymore?” That’s a very good question.

Some links:
- A recent study looks at how kids taking ADHD medication might not actually learn better after all. Really? The experts might not actually know what they’ve been talking about?

- “The Medicated Child” – a heartbreaking documentary about medicating kids.

Paralyzed by Perfection

What my son taught me about principle.

soccer

My oldest son started playing club soccer this year. He is a goalie and a very good one at that.

As they prepare for the fall season, the coach has been taking them to the local recreational leagues to play against older kids as part of their training. Since club teams practice more and are more advanced, they will sometimes play against kids that are 1-2 years older, and sometimes more than a foot taller.

A few weeks ago they played against a red team that cheated and put a 14-year-old on the field. My son’s team was beat up pretty bad that day by these older kids (Final score was 10-2).

Last Saturday they were set to play the cheaters again. It was the morning of the game when my son and I left the house early. He tells me, “Daddy, I want to win so bad against this team because they cheated against us. I’m going to do everything I can to help my team.”

My son proceeded to deliver the most inspired day as goalie that he has ever had in his illustrious 1 year goalie career. Diving for the ball, I’m sure he saw over 30 shots that day. His performance was simply inspired.

I remember one particular save seeing my son in traffic, airborne, fully extended and tipping the ball wide. I felt privileged to watch. But inspired by what? He was inspired by principle! He didn’t need any other reason. The team had cheated and he knew what needed to be done.

It didn’t need some complicated explanation or purpose. He stood for what’s right. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Amazing, considering they lost 10-2 in the previous battle. Even though they didn’t win, he stood for what’s right. It didn’t need some complicated explanation or purpose. It was principle.

When’s the last time you did something purely on principle?