I have always loved the feeling of exploration.

It’s too bad I missed the Age of Exploration.  I always enjoy the feeling of finding a new frontier, the feeling of discovering something.  Maybe it’s a place or a book or even a new food.

And what’s even better than discovering new things is sharing them.  I love telling people about some new thing I’ve found or learned or seen or tasted.

People say that social media is actually harming us in some ways.  I think one of those ways may be that our drive for discovery is atrophying.  We have a world at our fingertips, but all we want to do is turn the world into a stage so we can be discovered by everyone else.  I think many of us feel like we are living as buried treasure, desperate to be found.

Most of my students do not know our city beyond their neighborhood.  I think that’s sad.  Much of our culture would rather silence people they disagree with than engage with them.  That’s sad too.  People fall out of love with each other when they think they know everything about that person.  That’s really sad.  We think we have discovered everything, that there is nothing left to find out, no one has anything worth teaching us.

You know what?

I don’t think so.

This is what I’m doing with 2014.

exploremore

I’m finding new frontiers.  I hope you are too.

Thank you so much for being my friends this year, on this road of discovery.  I sincerely hope each of you has a wonderful holiday season.  I will see you again early in January.

You know I love sweet little baby Jesus.babyjesus

Sweet little eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus.

And that little baby in the manger is the reason for Christmas, right?

Well, here’s the thing.  I love Christmas.  I love baby Jesus.  But I’ve rediscovered something recently, through conversations with friends and singing old songs and revisiting well-worn stories.  Sure, Christmas isn’t just about shopping and toys and eggnog.  But Christmas also isn’t just about a baby in a manger, arms outstretched like he’s in a classical painting.  It isn’t just about a mom looking reverently at her baby, looking positively divine, mere moments after giving birth.

What if even our Nativity scenes and songs about that baby even missed the point of Christmas?  What if we’ve managed to turn sweet little baby Jesus into an eight pound idol?

I think I’ve relearned something that just might save my Christmas this year…

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In little over a month, I’m leaving the country.

I’ve been looking forward to telling you about this for a whileRwandan Girl and Boy

In January, I will going to Rwanda and Uganda with World Help and four other bloggers and storytellers.  We will be visiting orphans, widows and villages that are struggling to rise up out of poverty and war.  We will be raising money and awareness for their orphan rescue operations and some specific building projects that are going on.

Guys and gals, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this.

Not just because I’m going to places I’ve never been.

I’m not excited for all the things I hope to do over there.

No, I’m excited for an entirely different reason.

Here’s why:

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This week, TIME announced their person of the year is Pope Francis.time-person-of-the-year-cover-pope-francis

He’s been in office less than a year.  But he hasn’t wasted any time attracting attention, ironically, through a demeanor that oozes humility.  The attention he has garnered has been just what the papacy and the church needs, even if there are critics who don’t want the kind of attention he is attracting.

But clearly, Francis is winning over the world.  I’m not even Catholic, and I think the guy is amazing.

The Pope has been the most talked about person on Facebook and other social media this year.  TIME magazine’s choice doesn’t crown a person of the year, so much as it acknowledges what everyone already knows.

Now we are coming up on a new year, which is the perfect time to make a resolution.

What if I resolved that next year, was going to be Person of the Year?

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I genuinely love Christmas…

I feel your pain, buddy.

I feel your pain, buddy.

Well, I try to love Christmas.  I try really hard.

Because between the decorations that have been on display at Home Depot since Halloween and the Black Thursday insanity and the stress of shopping and social events, I have a love-hate relationship with the holiday now.  Christmas has become hard to love.

Of course, there are a lot of people who are trying to combat the disease that plagues Christmas by waging a war on Jesus’ behalf.  There are signs in my neighborhood yards now that say:

“Merry Christmas! (Happy Birthday, Jesus!)”

Yeah, if you didn’t catch the “Christ” in bold, they spell it out for you by wishing Jesus a happy birthday.

And of course, there is the annual tradition of demanding that store clerks wish us “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”  After all, Jesus said, “Why do you wish each other Happy Holidays?  Do not even the pagans do that?”

It’s all in the name of “keeping Christ in Christmas.”

But I ask you: does Christ even want to be kept in Christmas?  Did we ask him in the first place?

Maybe it would be best if we just left Jesus out of the whole thing altogether.

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I have perfect vision…

…when I’m looking backwards.

Forwards, not so much.  Try as I might, despite my experience, my past failures and successes, my reasonable and educated guesses, there is still that “fog of war” that keeps me from seeing the future clearly.

That’s the way it is with everyone.  No matter what you are creating or doing, today is a new day.  The challenges are new.  The obstacles are fresh.  And so, creating and working and just living is always kind of a leap of faith.  Because no matter how good our hindsight may be, it rarely gives us 20/20 foresight.

I can look at everything I have written, every lesson I have taught, most of the major events of my life, and find something I would change if I could go back and do it again.  Many things I have done seemed great at the time, but even the great things could be tweaked.  

And there have been times in my life when I have been positively paralyzed by hindsight.  Always looking back, criticizing yesterday, too fearful to go into tomorrow for fear that it will be just as imperfect as the past.

But God doesn’t call us to create through our hindsight.  He calls us to create for the future, with all of our guesses and doubts and a lot of faith.

hindsight

In hindsight, it is all the little nicks and cracks, the imperfections that give life its beauty.  Perhaps I should stop trying to cover and erase and correct and just go with it.