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TO BE OR NOT TO BE... A BLOG

Monday
Aug032015

Whisper... The Traveling Vagabond – Day 12 

“He calmed the storm to a whisper” Psalm 107:29

 

Yesterday Levi and I added an extra hour on our route so we can go through the Colorado mountains.  Simply breathtaking.  I have heard of it’s beauty, but what I experienced was beyond what I had imagined.  I think God was having the time of His life when He was creating what we now call Colorado.

What to know a bit of irony in this?  The one day we have to really experience this drive, it pours down rain much of the time.  There were times that I just knew what I was looking at had to be amazing, yet the view was limited due to the fog and clouds.  Therefore you can argue that I missed out and was cheated, my once chance was taken from me.

What I discovered, though, was a different kind of beauty.  Watching the clouds dance around the mountains and watching the variations of light on the mountainside as we twist and turned around the sharp bends had it’s own beauty.  Imagining coal minors 100 years ago navigating narrow paths with sharp drop offs in such weather, gave me an appreciation for the price that was paid generations ago.  I could go on, but the point is that even in the midst of turmoil, beauty is to be found.

My dear friend Michelle sent me this verse today: “He calmed the storm to a whisper” Psalm 107:29  The verse accompanied an article, in which there was a quote from a sailor. “every sailor knows that there will be storms. You just learn what to do when the storm hits. In a severe storm, there is only one thing to do and only one way to survive. You have to put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.”

There is an old quote from Charles Swindoll, “The longer I love, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life….I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Your ship will hit a storm.  Some storms will be bigger than imaginable.  The question is, will you still be able to find the beauty in life?

Saturday
Aug012015

Unlearn…… The Traveling Vagabond – Day 11

I love being a dad.  I love spending time with my boys and serving as their Life Coach.  Sure, there are times when being a disciplinarian is necessary, but when you are a good life coach you teach them to wise thinkers and leaders.  You teach the to learn, to unlearn and then to relearn.  So many people are at odds with their teens.  I am privileged to be my son’s life guides and help them to learn to be good decision makers.

This is one of the reasons I am loving this trip so much.  I get 10 days of hanging with, exploring with, listening to and even learning from Levi.  He is a great young man, truly and out of the box thinker.  I believe he has a lot to contribute to this world.

Sometimes the most spiritual things I can do for my sons is to just get out of their way!  Part of leading them to manhood is to allow them to grow and even fail.  In fact I think one of the biggest tragedies I see in todays parenting is being so overprotective, the child is robbed of the privilege of learning from his / her failures.

I am reminded of the writings of Richard Rohr, “We do not “make” or “create” our souls; we just “grow” them up.  We are clumsy stewards of our own souls.  We are charged to awaken, and much of the work of spirituality is leaning how to stay out of the way of this rather natural growing and awakening.  We need to unlearn a lot, it seems, to get back to that foundational live which is hidden in God (Col 3:3)”

Rohr also writes, “The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling or changing or dying.  The ego is the part of you that loves the status quo, even when it is not working.  It attaches to past and present and fears the future”

All of my family, each in their own unique way are in massive transition.  We each have things to learn and things to unlearn.  We need to learn from our past and be willing to risk, which means be willing to fail.

Life is a crazy wild adventure.  For me the sanity of it all is found in my security in God.

 

Travel Schedule

Today we will spend the day in Mesa Verde National Park.  It protects some of the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan archeological sites in the United States

Saturday
Aug012015

New Beginnings… The Traveling Vagabond – Day 10 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

    his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24 (ESV)

 

Today Levi and I hit the open road.  We are going on a father/ son journey across the country to make memories that will last a lifetime.  It is a real gift that we can do this.

 Terri and Caleb are in Virginia and Monday they will fly out to the Dominican Republic.  We started doing missions in a squatters community in Bani about 15 years ago.  Quickly Pastor Esdras, his wife Ellen and their three children became close friends.  Here we were from a very wealthy county in Maryland and they were amongst the poor, yet our relationship grew so close that we did not even notice the difference.  Esdras and I became peers, Ellen and Terri became pastor wives buddies and our kids really love each other.  For $130 each way we discovered we can fly Terri and Caleb to hang out with them (Terri for a week and a half, Caleb for almost three weeks)

Transition seasons are unique.  Our flesh wants fear to guide such a time, especially when we have no idea where we will end up.  Believe me, we wake up everyday with that temptation

Instead, we are trying to ask, what can we uniquely do in this season that we could not do any other time.  Hence the cross country trip and the DR trip.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

    his mercies never come to an end;

How can you not love a God like this?  This is what we miss when we turn our eyes inward.  God is constant, He does not change.  He really really loves His children and His Grace is endless

they are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

When you wake up every morning, we need to meditate on this verse.  It is a day and a season of new beginnings

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

    “therefore I will hope in him.”

God is everything we need.  Let us be like the psalmist, to learn to be satisfied only in Him.

 

Travel Schedule

Hit the open road at 9 am

Lunch in Flagstaff – our family has some great memories there, so it will be a real treat for Levi and I

End up in Cortez Co where we will rest in preparation for Messa Verde National Park in the morning.  

Thursday
Jul302015

Miracles… The Traveling Vagabond – Day 9

As you have figured out by now, I am choosing to take a simplistic approach to this season.  No bold claims, no self pity, no fear.

What I am finding fascinating about simplicity is the number of miracles I am seeing.  I think they have always been there, more often than I know, it us just that simplicity allows my ears to draw closer to the heartbeat of God.  Most of it is too small to mention, I would not want someone to belittle the gifts God is giving me.   Many of them might seem as nothing but mere coincidences.

Yet, I know what I was praying and I know what happened to my heart at the time – I would know that God would have just delivered me a small miracle. 

You want to know what is really cool though?  I think that when a follower of God is a bit started by His works, He chuckles. 

Thursday
Jul302015

Mule… The Traveling Vagabond – Day 8

Sometimes, some days – you are simply called to be a mule.  Transition requires a lot of work, seems like you don’t have enough hours in the day to pull off all of the details.  As spiritual travelers, our job is simply to put on our harness and plow through it.  The greatest temptation is to wallow in self-pity, but that is not a healthy option. 

  • Some days, you simply need to stand up, push through, and do what you have to do. 
  • Some days, the greatest act of worship to God is to serve your family with your hands, and your back, to pave the way for where they need to go.
Tuesday
Jul282015

The Good Life…The Traveling Vagabond – Day 7

 

Our modern American theology has a few things backwards.  We have determined that God’s will is in full alignment with our desires of success, comfort and to gain the things we have our eyes on. If God loves me, and I am a pretty good person, this will equate to getting good stuff and everything working out in happy and easy ways.

If that is true, than God owes 10 out 12 of the disciples who died martyr deaths an apology.  If that were true, God owes the apostle Paul, who was frequently beaten for sharing the gospel, an apology.  If that were true, the many missionaries who gave everything up to share God’s love for their entire adult lives, yet saw few earthly results, an apology.

A dear friend, Wayne Harris sent me a word of encouragement today from the writings of Oswald Chambers.  One thing that stood out was: “His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself.”

Don’t get me wrong – I fully believe God has some cool plans for the Hopler family, and yours as well.  I just feel compelled to be cognate of a few things:

  • Get over any sense of entitlement, God does not owe me anything
  • Get over any control issues, my role is to be faithful during the tough times, and rest that God has my back – even when things are not making sense at the time.
  • Enjoy the crazy seasons where my normal forms of security and rhythms are all messed up – because God is working out His purposes in me

Trust me, being a 49 year old vagabond was not my plan for me and my family.  Yet I am learning to rest, because the good life is found in the cool things He is doing in my life.

Monday
Jul272015

There is a season…The Traveling Vagabond - Day 6

It is time to say goodbye to my three turtles. 

Every morning for the last two years I pretty much had the same rhythm.  Bring coffee to Terri in bed, to help her wake up.  Fill up Frodo's dish.  Then coffee in hand, Frodo and I went to the pond to feed the turtles.  Even that had a rhythm.  If I were to dump all the food in at once, the two bigger turtles would gobble up all of the food, before the smaller one even had a chance to finish chewing his first piece.  Coffee in hand, dog at feet, I would find myself in a meditative state as I slowly released the food from my hand, enjoying my three little pets.

A younger me would have felt silly for mourning the loss of this rhythm.  They are just silly turtles for Pete’s sake!!!  Just give them away and move on!  You got important things to do because you are an important man, right?  Yet wisdom has taught me to embrace the mourning process when it comes to loss, even if it is just a few turtles.

I find that when it comes to loss most people go to one of two extremes.  One is to wallow in self-pity and fight the change.  Others suppress the emotional impact, laugh it off and move on.  I have come to realize that both are dysfunctional.

It is healthy,  it combats inward dysfunction, to process and acknowledge loss.  King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, once said, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…  a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3)I know the Christianese answers: “Oh don’t worry, God has wonderful plans and will replace those old rhythms with new ones.”  I do know that, that is what gives me strength and hope for tomorrow.  As for today though, I stare at an empty pond, and the healthiest, most spiritual thing I can do right now, is embrace and acknowledge all of the feelings that go with that.

Lot of loss, and a lot of change going on now.  One day soon I will be blessed with the knowlege of what God has in store for His great adventure.  During the phases of transition though, you just need to embrace the moment.  

 

 

Sunday
Jul262015

The Traveling Vagabond: Desire - Day 5

Do you want to change your life forever in just 15 minutes a day over the course a week?  

Sounds like an infomercial doesn’t it?  Sounds like a money making scheme or something from a prosperity preacher does it not?

Actually, I was being serious about my opening line.  I really do believe that if you were to take me up on this prescription, it will change your life.

For the next week, take 15 minutes a day and meditate on Psalms 37.  Some days you may choose to read it through 3 or 4 times during your 15 minutes, perhaps in different translations.  Other days you might just read it really slowly one time, chewing on the different parts as you read them.  Other days you may not get all the way through, rather taking a verse or two and really praying through it.

As you begin your time, pray a simple prayer: Lord open my eyes and heart to how you want to speak to me today.  Then close with a simple prayer: Lord, for the rest of this day choose one concept from this passage and have me reflect on it, applying it all day long

Honestly, I think it will change your life

From this passage I have a new prayer that I am praying every day: Lord orchestrate the desires of my heart, and then give me the desires of my heart (37:4)