Well, it’s been a while.

It’s been over six months since I sat infront of my keyboard and wrote out a blog. But yesterday I made a video about nothing in particular and I really wanted to share it with all of you who still follow He Creates i create.

Recently I took a visit to my grandparents house and they let me go through all their old junk, which eventually inspired me to make the short movie below. This movie is not actually about music and interior design although it could be… Let me know what you think and hopefully I’ll have more blogs to share with you soon!

Life On an Island

My grandparents live in, what I believe to be, one of the most desirable places that you could possibly spend your time. Balboa Island, California. The island is filled with big fancy houses and surrounded by big fancy boats. By definition, the place is pretty much LUXURY. However, a few weeks ago I spent some time relaxing in “paradise” but I could not stop myself from dwelling on this concept of island.

Not all islands are places of paradise despite what reality TV has tried to tell me. In reality, all islands have one thing in common and it’s not palm trees. All islands stand alone but at the same time they are surrounded. Islands stand alone because they are disconnected. Islands are surrounded because on all of their sides there is something that is not made of the same friendly material as they are. This makes islands extremely vulnerable to attack and to destruction.

Incase I’m not being clear, I’m not talking about actual islands. I’m talking about us, people.

Like an island I know that I would often prefer to stand alone and keep to myself just because it seems easier. It seems easier because when we stand alone and are disconnected we don’t have to worry about shaking when the rest of the land around us shakes. When we are disconnected from the rest of the land we don’t have to worry about other mountains falling down and burying us. As an island all we have to worry about is us.

But here’s the problem: we are surrounded. We are surrounded by oceans of trouble and worry that are completely unpredictable and uncontrollable. Therefore, when tidal waves of trouble strike we often don’t see them coming. But say that we do see them coming, we are still defenseless. We are not connected to another piece of land that can pull us out from underneath the pressure of the water as we continue to be submerged. As an island we are alone. As an island we are weak. As an island we stand on only what we are.

So why can’t we stand on just what we are? Why do we need anything but ourselves to lean on? And what guarantee do we have that the rest of the land around us will actually provide us with something to lean on?

I think that if we are honest with ourselves, we can recognize that even the biggest of fences won’t keep out the anxieties of life. So we can’t stand alone because we ARE vulnerable and when storms come we will be easily destroyed if we do not have somewhere to lean apart from ourselves.

So as much as it may suck, healthy people cannot be islands. If we want to go throughout life in a way that points to joy we will have to connect ourselves to the greater body of land.

So what does a greater body of land look like to you? Is it your family? Close friends? Coworkers? Leave a comment below and let me know in what ways you struggle as an island and in what ways you see yourself needing to be connected.

Thanks for reading.

These three images are a series of 250 photos that I took from the seawall around Balboa Island. I walked around the island counter-clockwise so they read from right to left.

Guatemala: Breaking My Shell

A few days ago I shared with you all about the Guatemala mission team that I was a part of. Today I wanted to talk about a piece of the trip that really had an impact on me.

As an extremely amateur photographer I had the pleasure of carrying around my Canon DSLR constantly. I took about 1,500 photos in 10 days and only about 10-20 of the photos could really be considered half-way decent. So overall, it was a learning experience as someone who takes pictures but it was really more of a growing experience as someone who interacts with other people.

For the most part, someone who studies human behavior would consider me to be an introvert. However, I would politely disagree with them. Just because you and I don’t have constant conversations doesn’t mean that I am afraid of, intimidated by, or shy towards you. Frankly, it just means that I don’t have a lot to say to you and you don’t have a lot to say to me [This is not a bad thing]. If you and I did have constant conversation/interaction it would probably be forced and uncomfortable…. Blah, blah, blah… What does this have to do with the trip to Guatemala?

For me, this has everything to do with the trip to Guatemala. Going into the trip I had labeled myself as an introvert and had therefore set up expectations for myself as an introvert. I had developed the expectation that I would be consistently uncomfortable because I would be around the same 8-12 people constantly. I also expected to be challenged by interactions that I knew I would have with many native Guatemalans. For the most part, I think that my previous post addressed and tore-down my first expectation. The team was great and rarely made me uncomfortable.

However, I had a little more trouble working through the second expectation. It was troublesome for me because I had this internal want to communicate and interact with many of the local Guatemalans but I really had no way of doing so verbally [My Spanish is horrible]. Although, what became apparent to me a couple of days into the trip was that I could have genuine interactions with many of the natives by means of my camera. [And again, I said I am a VERY amateur photographer].

In third-world countries a contraption that captures images and then displays them on a 2.5″ LCD screen is somewhat of a rarity. So for children especially, my camera was a hot topic. I think that I heard the word “photo” in the form of a question more than I have ever heard the word “photo” in my entire life, and I’m not complaining. The interactions I got to have and friendships that I got to develop were unmatchable and I am very thankful for them. I don’t feel like I should waste any time trying to explain my experiences with the Guatemalans when the photos I have paint the picture better than I could ever try to say it.

So to close out this post I want to say that just because I don’t talk a lot doesn’t mean I’m an introvert, it might just mean that I enjoy our non-verbal interactions just as much or more than our verbal interactions. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Lastly as a side-note, I don’t want to make a “show” out of these photos. I am not posting them to make you feel bad that you live in a wealthy country. I am not posting them to show-off this amazing experience that I got to have and you didn’t get to have. I am not posting photos of these people in an effort to be like national geographic. I am not posting them for any other reason than to [hopefully] show that people are people all over the world. They laugh, cry, run, sing, smile, fight and hope just like you and me.

Guatemala: The Team

From June 6th to 16th I had the privilege of participating in a mission trip to Guatemala. The mission team was a group of 8 other fantastic people who were sent out by my church, Living Stones. The experiences that I had were nothing short of incredible and definitely worth sharing. So in the coming week I intend to write several posts to share the things that I learned and the things that really impacted me.

(Kayleigh I’m sorry that you were sick on the day we took jump photos).

I wanted to start today’s post by saying that never in my life have I been part of a team that meshed so well. I don’t remember a single argument from the entire trip! …that is CRAZY. Usually when I sign up to be part of a team for anything I have the expectation that there will be that one person who has that natural gift of making everyone else hate life. That person did not exist on this trip (unless it was me and I’m just too oblivious to know it). So with that, I just want to say that I am very thankful for our team and the willingness that everyone had to go with the flow. It was all truly a privilege to be a part of.

So… For those of you who are constantly part of teams that never get along I guess I should share at least part of the “why” for our team. Why was our team so awesome?

I think that a big part of the answer is simply that we were a TEAM. None of us were there in an effort to make our own experience/take-away better than anyone else’s. We functioned together as a team that was willing to go with the flow and willing to help each other out. There was no complaining about one person doing less work than the other and there was no boasting about anyone doing more work than everybody else. We all had different jobs at different times and we all did our given jobs. Altogether it was by far the best “team-work” experience that anyone could ask for.

BUT… Now that we are back in the States (back in the culture of entitlement) I wonder if we will bring this concept of good teamwork into our spheres of influence?

For me, it will definitely be a challenge in the future to try and get any team that I am a part of to function as cohesively as this team functioned. I think that it will be a challenge because teams tend to have expectations. We expect to get projects done. We expect to meet the team leader’s goals. We expect to be praised. We expect other team members to be perfect. We expect mind-reading… The problem with our expectations is that they will never be met.

Learning to not have expectations in teams was definitely a huge take-away for me from this trip. I can’t expect people to know things they don’t know. I can’t expect people to do things that they don’t know how to do. I can’t expect people to know how I am feeling if I don’t tell them. All of which seem very simple to understand but we still constantly find ourselves maintaining unrealistic expectations of people. I know that this has challenged and will challenge me in the future so I hope that you can read this and at least make an effort to be conscious of your expectations of other people.

Let me know if you have any tips.

We want to help

Last night I hosted a pizza night at my house to help raise support for the Guatemala mission team that I am a part of. It was a fun-filled night and it was truly awesome to see how many people show up to support the team. We spent the night making pizzas that had real character and just hanging out in genuine community. But the highlight of the night for me was seeing that everyone who showed up wanted to help in some way/shape/form/fashion.

This was interesting to me because I often times find myself at parties or get-togethers as strictly the consumer. I tend to have the mindset of “I came to this party so that I could have fun and so that I could be entertained.” Unfortunately, that is an awful stance to take (not just at parties). This is an awful stance because it involves the development of unrealistic expectations in our own minds. When we think that events are organized for our own personal enjoyment we will always walk away from them feeling unsatisfied and left empty from the whole experience. So I think that we need to change our mindsets and show up to help AND have fun (just like everyone did at the pizza night last night).

The most inspiring part of everyone showing up to help was that they all helped because they WANTED to. I was never under the impression that anyone was helping because they felt like they had to. If anyone was helping because they felt like they had to then they probably would not have had as much fun as they did. Because people wanted to help they had fun helping.

So with that said, I think that the concept of enjoying helping because we want to help is a very important framework to understand. It is important to understand not just for the purposes of throwing parties but for the purposes of interacting with other people in general. We need to create interactions that people want to be a part of. We need to form situations that people have the ability to contribute to. We need moments that need people.

I am very thankful for all of the relationships that I got to experience last night. So I am now hoping to make these types of relational experiences a daily challenge for myself. I want to be a part of get-togethers that make smiley-face pizzas. I want to be at parties that are not hosted by one person but hosted by everyone there. I want to participate in communities where I can help and be helped.

Special thanks to Morgan Simpson for snapping these photos while my hands were covered in flour.

Mother’s Day

I am a big fan of this day because I am a big fan of my mom. I wanted to share a few words about who my mom is to me and why I am thankful for her.

My mom has always treated me like a treasure even when I have deserved to be treated like a criminal. She loved me when I threw applesauce on the ceiling. She loved me when I stole that Kit-Kat bar from the grocery store. She loved me when I drove her car off a cliff. She even loved me when I told her to “shut-up” …won’t do that again. She has always loved her children unconditionally and that I am thankful for.

I have a sister. She’s very competitive. My mom never loved her more than me or me more than her. She loves us both with the same heart and that I am thankful for.

She taught me how to swim. Not just in the pool but also with all the other fish that don’t always seem to like me. Because of my mom I know how to keep kicking and keep gasping for air even when life’s waves come rolling in.

(This might be where it all started… And yes, I still swim with my shirt on.)

My mom spoiled me (big time) BUT she taught me how to be thankful. She showed me that being thankful does not mean just saying, “thank you,” but instead being thankful is showing the genuineness of my heart. She showed me how to be thankful because she is thankful everyday and that I am thankful for.

I would have loved to show everyone a picture of my awesome mother but I know that she would freak-out over having her photo on the internet. So mom, I spared you that anxiety. Happy Mother’s Day.

Just Write It OUT

Sometimes we just need to grab a pen and a paper and forget about what our heart wants to write. Write what you NEED to write.

Lately my blog posts have been more on the serious side, which I don’t regret at all. However, sometimes we need to change our routine even if it seems like it’s not going to get us anywhere. I have recently realized that I have been digging myself into a hole of taking things too seriously to be taken seriously. If that doesn’t make any sense read it a couple more times.

When we approach life too seriously we forget what it can be.

So when we do this it’s not just dangerous for us but it’s also dangerous for the people around us. And yes, “dangerous” is the right word. It’s dangerous because taking life too seriously is destructive to relationships. It’s destructive because relationships hold their foundation in how well one person can understand the other. We will never be able to understand someone else if we treat them like a business decision, project, chore, object… People are SO much more complex than that.

So here’s the deal; how do we stop acting like task-executing robots that take life too seriously and start acting like people?

Let’s start by doing something that changes our routine. Today I changed my routine by trying to write something that was creative and fun. I took a childhood memory and bent the truth to make it into a fun story. But know that I am not saying that everyone should go write a fun and creative story to change up their routine. That’s just what I did. I did it because it took my mind off of the serious and focused it on something a could genuinely enjoy.

This is the short, cheesy, fun, not-serious, sarcastic story that I put together today. Let me know what you think.

If you thought this was horrible please let me know so I don’t waste my time trying to write “fun” stories.

I Want Out

When life gets hard all we want to do is get out. We define life as a box that confines and imprisons us when things don’t go according to our plan. We see everything from the perspective of the victim and never from the perspective of the villan.

We live in a culture that has provided us with the perception that life should be all sunshine and rainbows IF we work hard, do good, help out, be polite, serve others, follow the rules… However, there are no guarantees to a happy life even if we do everything right. It’s life, it’s hard, it’s out of our control. I recently heard sermon from Justin Anderson at my church Living Stones. He quoted someone else and saying, “the only thing we can control is our response.” The truth in that statement is incredibly concrete.

We like to think that we are somehow magically empowered to control every challenge that confronts us in life. However, all we really control is the draw of our heart, which often times feels out of our control as well. Perhaps when we are faced with the loss or distancing of a loved one we can begin to understand this concept most clearly. In the situation of loss there is nothing that we hold in our hands that can stop the looming pain, there is no tool that can “fix it.” However, we still insist upon trying to fix what is wrong with us whether we did it to ourselves or whether someone did it to us.

In my life there have been many ways I have tried to handle pain and “fix” my problems. None of my methods have provided me with a conclusive fix. So with that said, I want to stand on the fact that both you and I are people. Because we are both people I’m going to assume that you have probably experienced, firsthand, much of what I have. And now that we can identify with one another I want to point out the responses that both you and I have when we encounter the beast that is hardship and pain.

OUR RESPONSES:

HIDE. Life got hard and we went dark. We continued to exist within our pains but we closed the curtains on all reality. When we hide we think that we will find comfort in not having to deal with the realness of our situation. We think that not having to see our problem will eventually make it not exist. But the reality is that our problems will always be there and our camouflage will never protect us.

GET ANGRY. Life got hard and we got violent. Sometimes we cope with pain through anger because we want justice how we see it. So we sprint down the path of anger towards the ultimate goal of “getting even.” But in all of our efforts to bring justice to our cause we end up punishing ourselves. This plays itself out when we find out that we can’t make someone or something hurt as much as we hurt. So when the hurt is not “even” we end up disappointed and even more angry with ourselves than we were before. Therefore, our anger will always lead to more pain.

GRIND IT OUT. Life got hard and we hung onto our hopes until they crumbled. We held onto a dream as it continued to fail and waste us, we held onto a person until they hated us, we held onto a possession until it disintegrated on top of us. When we try to “grind it out” it’s like we are standing in quicksand but think that we are standing on concrete. What I mean is that we will never find answers or hope in things that we know have already failed us.

RUN AWAY. Life got hard and we got out.  We left moments behind. We left someone behind. We left a story behind. We left behind reality. When we run away we let our hearts believe that no one will be able to help us except for us. We turn to the alternative of isolation because we are embarrassed, because we are afraid, because we don’t see light anywhere. And let’s keep in mind that running away is different than hiding. When we hide we are present but mentally and emotionally absent. When we run away we become totally absent because the fear of confrontation has consumed our mind.

This definitely has not been an all-encompassing list of how we respond to pain but I believe that it scratches the surface. And this is a surface that needs to be scratched. We avoid these topics because they are hard, embarrassing, draining. But, we need to talk about these types of things in order to tear-down the lies that live in them.

Let me know how you have responded poorly to your pain OR tell me how we should respond to our pain.

The sermon I heard from Justin Anderson on May 6, 2012 should be available here relatively soon.

MCA – Influence

Beastie Boys – Paul Revere 

Today Beastie Boy Adam Yauch passed away at 47. I wanted to write this short post about him because I believe that he was a person of great influence.

Yauch was known by most as MCA for the last three decades. On the stage his presence and lyrics would command attention in way that is completely foreign to most “rappers” of my generation. This is because he was more than just a rapper, he was a person of influence and a true artist. He had a passion for his craft and was naturally a master of it. He was a master of influence.

His influence has been evidenced by the numerous articles that appeared today on sites like RollingStone, Reuters, and MTV. Because of this I think that we need to see today as a time to try to understand our own influence. What circles do we carry weight in? Who is going to write about us if we are taken tomorrow? What legacy did we leave behind?

MCA was taken young and will be missed by many but he left behind real influence and a true legacy. So let’s remember his life by mastering our own crafts and carrying the weight of our own influence.

We Suck

Fact: We live in a world full of people.

Fact: People suck.

Before you write me off for a guy who hates people let me explain. A lot of the time I do hate people… until I am reminded that I am a person myself. Therefore, as a person I can say with confidence that we all SUCK!

But there is so much more to it than just saying that we suck. This is because suck can have so many different meanings for us as people. But the first one that I want to address is the concept that we suck the life out of one another. We suck the life out of other people when we begin to think that they exist for our own need. We do this by treating people as sounding-boards for our problems, crappy ideas and pyramid schemes (we are all part of one). We do this by treating people as doormats for the dirt of our guilt, shame and fear. We do this when we treat our friends as MY friends, as if friendships were a one-way street.

When we do all of those things we can only expect one response. Rejection. Even our closest people who we swear would never leave us will eventually bail if we continue to USE them. But the interesting thing is that our people don’t often leave us but instead we leave them. We leave and retreat into the darkness of self when our friends can’t give us the answer that we wanted or when they can’t give us an answer at all. So we retreat to isolation.

This leads us to the next and worst way that we suck. We suck the life out of ourselves. This is where the photo of the dead crawdad becomes relevant. I found this crawdad dried up and dead on the rocks in North Tahoe. None of the other crawdads forced this one to retreat from its home in the water. None of the other crawdads forced this one to bake on the rocks until it was hollow inside. We are blind, but we do this ourselves. We allow ourselves to believe that what we have will never be good enough; the friends we have will never fully understand us. So we begin to run from them.

When we run the only direction we can go is towards a destination of less life. So the truth is, we need our crappy relationships. If anything, our crappy relationships will pull us outside of the darkness in ourselves. If we fail to stop internalizing we will externalize in an explosive manner. So let’s get real and admit that people suck on everyday of the week but there is life found outside of knowing that people suck.

Fact: People need people.

Let’s love people. Even if they are annoying, contentious, prideful, arrogant, selfish, disrespectful, demeaning, conniving, heart-breaking, cold, bitter, mindless, abusive, soft… They need love just as much as we do.

(I really just wanted to include this photo to show off my new kicks…).