Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Your First Letter....


Dearest Little One,

What words can we use to express our love for you?  The best we can do is scramble imperfect fragments to loosely articulate something of value.  We wanted our words to be the first human thing addressed to you.  We realize that if we do not address you, everything else will.

The world that you are coming into has a way of competing for everything that is precious.  And you, little one, are our most precious prize.  The world will compete for your attention.  It will long for your affection.  When it does not receive your undying loyalty, it will move on to people that waiver.  You may then feel left out and find yourself wishing to be like everyone else.  This is normal.  We will work through it.

We want you to know that your parents are both imperfect vessels.  We dare not claim to be “better” than the world, but we also dare to claim just that.  You are a miracle to us.  Of course the masses will assume that you are inevitable after a few years of marriage.  The masses assume that timely progression dictates certain milestones.  However, we are beyond convinced that you have been loaned to us from your Maker.  We do not own you.  We give you back to God and allow Him to work in you – not based on our ideas of parenting and success – but based on His Hand in your life.

We have always dreamed of being your parents, but we must admit that this task is a bit daunting.  We struggle with control, and anxiety.  Your dad pretends to be nonchalant, but deep down remains the residue of a not-so-easy life that has forced him to hustle.  Your mom can be fearful of the unknown and tries to sometimes control things.  We are both being worked on, so please be patient with us.  We promise to be open-minded.  We promise to listen to you always.  Now let’s be honest – we are not those relative type of people where anything goes – quite the contrary.  However, you will push us to places and ideas that we probably thought were impossible. We welcome this boundary pushing, but beware of some stubborn resistance. 

We will have help.  You have many uncles and aunties.  You already have so many friends.  You have 3 of your biological grandparents.  One of your grandmas is in heaven.  We have a gut feeling that you may be like her.  You are a mix of cultures and traditions – it’s going to be fun! 

You are coming to us in a time where this world is messier than ever.  The times appear dark, and hope is elusive.  We will teach you to function differently.  We will teach you everything we know about God, and you will probably teach us equally.  We believe that you will be a beacon of light everywhere you go.  You will be one of God’s agents of transformation and love.  You will be one who hears faint sounds; you will hear the whispers of treasure; you will know melodies and the very voice of the Most High. Along with all your strengths will come many weaknesses.  You will learn to deal with all of them and come out victorious.

We think of you every second, and we long for the day to meet you in late January 2017.  There is so much we want to say, but for now we leave you with this: “My frame was not hidden from You, When I was being formed in secret, And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were appointed for me, When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape].. (Psalm 139:16-17).  As you form, there is One who watches you.  May you watch Him.

With all our love,

Your 2 Biggest Fans (mama and dada)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Proximity, Friendship, & Purpose

When my wife and I moved to Pasadena, we realized that the decision would bring us within closer proximity to those we love, and bring greater distance between others we love.  Proximity is interesting because it breeds a false sense of comfort to those around us.  The assumption is made that if someone is within closer distance, you will actually see them more and be more involved in their life.  While this can be true, there is something that trumps the rule of Proximity.

Being Intentional.

Some great friends of ours made the comment the other day, that even though we are further away from them, we see them more often.  This is a beautiful gift because we realized that being intentional is what determines the course of the relationship.  Proximity does not equal intentionality.  There is no power in proximity.  There is only convenience in proximity.  Proximity can be used, but it is not the barometer of quality.  I have lived years in past homes without ever knowing or meeting my neighbors.  I have lived in dorm rooms at UCLA without saying a word to people down the hall.  We are not the sum total of our surroundings.  We are not a result of what was necessarily placed around us.  The universe bends according to desire.  Things like focus, intentionality and determination are things that move us based on our heart's yearning.  We are not victims of proximity, but victorious when intentional.

My closest friends or family do not have to live next to me.  My closest allies do not have to be down the street.  Do not get me wrong.  Proximity can be full of purpose and meaning.  We can be intentional about being near.  However, we cannot assume that it is proximity that determines anything.  It is the intention and the heart behind nearness that breeds love.

There is a deep truth here that has taken a hold of me in the midst of talking and thinking about being close to those we love.  We live our life by rating how "close" we are to our destiny and desires.  I once heard an interview of John Legend where he said "I thought I was right around the corner from making it, about 5 years before I actually made it."  What Mr. Legend was saying is that his idea of being close to being discovered as a musician was far from the reality.  He thought certain signs made him closer or more near, but the reality was it took a random connection in Kanye West to really place him among the legends - pun intended.

All of us have a calling.  I want to suggest that your calling does not have anything to do with how close you are.  Your nearness is based on your perception of proximity.  If we are honest with ourselves, we can find that our internal GPS is more often wrong than it is correct.  We are not people who are well acquainted with timing - especially timing that is Divine and completely out of our hands.  If there is one thing I have learned from proximity and its deceptions, is that I want to be a person who is intentional.  I want to pursue things I deem important, and I want to dwell here.

What you treasure is where your time goes.  What you treasure is where your heart lingers.  Love is not bound by nearness or distance.  Love is protected in the hands of One who is intentional.  Your Calling is protected by something and Someone who is Intentional.  You are not a result of the hand you are dealt.  You are a result of a movement that is by Design.  Your coming and going is full of Presence.  I challenge all of us to think of our greatest joy, not by how close we are to the things we love or want, but how close we are in pursuing those things daily - in habit, thought, and deed.  I would rather be miles away from my Calling but close in my love for it, than right around the corner, but detached from its intricacies.  I want to discover a different proximity - one that removes my tiny sized ambition, and unleashes a joy and purpose that is greater than I can even imagine.

May you discover a new nearness -  A Divine Proximity - The Author of Intention.  And unlike Mr. Legend's breakthrough single, may you realize that we are far more than ordinary people.  Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

#32 - My Most Honest Birthday

Birthdays can be awkward.  You receive so much external love that you are unsure what exactly to do with it :-)  Love is good.  Enjoy love.  Allow it to sink all the way in, and give the world as much love as you can.  Love does not need a measure assigned to it.  This means you can give more and more. This means you can receive more and more.  You do not have to give love to someone with the same measure you receive it.  Love needs no balancing scale.  It is a force much bigger than us.  It will and cannot be tamed.  May it abound.

However, birthdays can still be awkward.  People bestow hope and well wishes upon your coming year. Throughout the day, you have to reconcile the overwhelming amount of hope received from the outside, with the amount of hope you actually have on the inside.  This can be problematic to those of you who are truly honest.

There was a time when I was turning 26 and 27, where I truly felt I was moving from strength to strength.  The amount of hope I received from people could not come close to the amount of hope I felt on the inside.  Every birthday was just confirmation that I was on the right track.  I guess you could say I was "Humble, with a little bit of Kanye." :)  When I turned 27, I felt a sense of hope that was all consuming.  It was crazy.  It felt so good.  I felt my life was doing what it was supposed to.  I felt I was standing right where I was supposed to be.  I was ok.

On my 32nd birthday, the deep confidence that once was simply does not look the same.  Instead of hiding behind an artistic swagger, I choose to expose it.  I want to speak on it because I think most of us feel the need to hide.  We build up walls, Instagram accounts, and Facebook posts to hide.  Hiding in our culture is very easy.  You flash a few smiles, say a few nice things, greet people with respect, and the world will accept you at face value.  You need not go deeper because that gets messy.  No one respects messy right?  We only accept pristine.  I do not feel the same hope and the same strength as before.  My version of hope and strength are different now.  It is subtle.  It has layers that I cannot seem to articulate that well.  It has ebbs and flows that seem to be separated out of time in the way we interpret time.

Yesterday, as I turned 32, I felt hopeful.  But this hope was completely different from the hope of birthdays from 5 and 6 years ago.  It was a hope that did not rely on my feelings.  It was a hope that cannot be measured by bursts of confidence and self-assurance.  It was a hope that did not need fixed outcomes to look forward to.  It was a hope that was already set in place.  Hope is not hope because you feel it.  Hope is not hope because you feel exuberant from it.  Hope has a much more defiant characteristic.  Hope has more to do with a reality that is greater than the sum totals of our emotions. Now this is something I can be hopeful about!  If I do not have to rely on myself to generate hope, then I can move freely and hope against all odds.  I am free to hope against hope.  I am free to fix my eyes, ears, mind, and soul towards something that is not generated in me, although is made powerful and effective within me.

The hope from previous years was one that based success and fulfillment on things done from me. The hope now is based on things that can be done in me.  You are either the Source, or a Vessel.  We can often get the 2 confused even if we do not mean to.  What is the consistency of our hope?  What sort of hope are we banking on?  Are there layers to our hope, or is it a feeling?  There is a greater narrative that is far deeper than the story of our successes and dreams.  There is a truer picture of reckless joy that reaches greater heights than all of our desires put together.  This has been the starting point of #32.  This is the Great Hope - that the mosaic of our misinterpreted dreams, downfalls, tears, love, disappointments, failures, and  relationships, will all be put together to point to what truly, truly, truly, counts.  I cannot tell you what my goals are for year #32.  I can only tell you that I begin with a hope that is not a feeling.

Happy Birthday to us all - love, Jeevo.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

You Are a Martian

In the movie "The Martian," Matt Damon is left behind on Mars during an exploration with his team of Astronauts.  They thought he was dead.  But he lived.
Every single day was a new reminder that he was the only one on the planet.  He had to find a way to live, and managed to grow food on a planet that has never grown forms of agriculture.
Everyday, he would take actual steps on Mars and be the first person in human history to do so.  In Mars, Matt Damon lived as a Martian.  His paradigm grew into a life of firsts.  In order to survive, he would have to be the first person to do everything.  There would be no peer review.  There would be no check-ins.  He was committed to creating something out of nothing.

A life of firsts.  This is dangerously uncomfortable.  We are a blueprint driven society.  We are platform driven.  We do things because people have gone before us.  We create based on templates. We derive values based on what has been handed to us.  We know intuitively how to make things better, but we have no idea how to make something from nothing.  We are good with the process between 1 to 2.  But we dare not venture the distance between Zer0 & 1ne.

I love when people quote Ecclesiastes to me when they are trying to tame my ideas: "Everything has been done.  There is nothing new under the sun."  They quote it as if God is done with new ideas.  They boldly declare misunderstood Scripture because nothing in their life has been born from dust.  They base their life on what others could not do.  They rationalize away their life of mediocrity by pointing to a quote they know nothing of.  How many of you have said this to yourself "Well, there is nothing new under the Sun."  How many of you know there is something which only you can do in this world, but you dare not try for fear of failing miserably - or publicly?

You are right to some extent.  There is nothing new to God.  But there is plenty new to a misinformed world.  There is nothing new under the Sun, except the Son has not revealed some things to the world.  Everything has been done by God, but not by humans.  You cannot out-create the Creator, but He is constantly dropping vision into people to tap into what He has already created.  If all these tech companies said there is nothing new under the sun, then why do you subscribe to their products?  If there is nothing new under the sun, they why do you keep up with what is new?

There is plenty new under the Son (S-U-N, or S-O-N, I'm just an S-O-B that needs a best friend / I've been S-O-L more than time can tell, and I haven't gotten up since the time I fell)  

When we hope for things not seen, there may not be a visible starting point from where to begin hoping.  Things not seen is just what it means.  They do not exist yet.  You are hoping for a first.  You are believing for something that has no starting point.  As Creatives who mimic our Creator, we must be in the business of something from nothing.  We must be engaged in the process of 0 to 1.  We cannot expect even a little outward manifestation before hoping, working, creating, or sowing.  If you are alive, you are in contention of living in this "life of firsts."  You can expect when there is nothing in sight.  You can believe when there is no social media to back you up.  You can desire when the entire world says "Nothing is new under the sun."  You can be a Martian.  You have the right to be intimately involved in something coming out of nothing.

When you are on a mission to live with respect to your calling, every step you take will be cultivated by yourself.  There is nothing wrong with extracting from others or being inspired by like-minded individuals.  But at the end of the day, you are an original.  If you were not meant to be an original, then you would not have been created.  The deep fear of failing or being wrong is completely overdone and overstated.  The insecurities that come up with doing first-type things are normal.  All you have to do is put it aside.  We worry too much about overcoming fear.  Just put fear aside.  It's normal.  We worry so much about being secure.  Just put insecurity aside.  We are not called to live with the absence of thorns.  We are called to live in spite of all of them.  I believe deeply that we can put inhibiting factors to the side, rather than obsessing over being rid of them, or even being triumphant over them.  Triumph in a true sense, has less to do with putting a spear in the face of defeat / fear, and more to do with moving forward in courage.  It is here where we start to gaze into the invisible - the things that we thought were never there, but are actually quite alive!

I wrote this because most of us have been more discouraged by the world and people, than encouraged.  This is corny and silly.  I have learned that I personally cannot live according to what others simply cannot do.  My outcomes in life will not be a reflection of what is already under the sun.  If we are simply re-creating things under the sun, then eventually we will fry under its heat.  Instead, as Martians, we illuminate the things of the Son that He so desperately seeks to create, under the Sun.  Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo (Your Resident Martian).

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Real Friends

"Real Friends, Real Friends, How many of us are - Real Friends?"

As Kanye's new track was blaring in my headphones, I began to reflect on the single most important thread between real friends.  Friendships can be great for multiple reasons.  Friends share several commonalities, interests, passions, etc.  Friends can travel together.  They can call each other when they are bored.  They can text each other.  They can keep each others' secrets.  They can provide companionship and fun.  Friendship is a gift from God.  To call someone a friend is no casual thing.  Acquaintances are not friends.  Being friendly is not grounds for friendship, just as being happy is not grounds for joy. 

To have a friend is to be rich.  It is to be wealthy beyond measure.  A person can be counted as lucky to find 4 or 5 in a lifetime. 

But can friendship really be so elusive you ask?  I mean don't you all have over 1,000 friends on Facebook?  Don't you keep in touch with so many people?  When you have a birthday party, won't at least 20 people show up?  Our culture has reduced friendship into a word that requires the bare minimum.  If we see each other 4 times a year, if we text twice a month, and if we love to catch up on each others' lives, we are friends.  If you are charming enough or have a simple hobby, you can find one of these.  While I am not belittling these efforts, I would hardly count this as friendship.  While all these things are generally good, they do not measure up to what friendship is actually worth. 

The single most important value in a friend, is someone who cares and loves beyond comfort and convenience.  Another way of saying this, is someone who challenges you to live to your greatest potential; someone who is willing to sacrifice how they make you feel by pushing you; someone who is offended when you are living below your destiny; someone who lights a fire in your belly; someone who sees you in light of who God made you to be.

Imagine if you were friends with Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Mozart, Einstein, the apostle Paul, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Beethoven, Bach, or the list goes on.  Now imagine if each of them worked at Walmart or Burger King (No offense to any of you that work there - just making a point).  Imagine if you as their friend witnessed their greatness, but did not care to push them towards their calling.  Imagine if years went by, and they continued to work at the local burger joint.  Imagine if Michael Jordan kept working at a gas station in North Carolina.  Imagine if Einstein listened to his teachers who said he would amount to nothing, and had friends who encouraged him to work at a bank that would give him a stable income. 

What kind of friend are you?  In America, I have noticed that good friends are considered people who are there to listen to you.  Good friends tell you to make that big purchase or "be good to yourself."  Good friends take your side.  Good friends even throw parties for you.  Good friends let you vent to them.

Is that really what friendship is?  We are to love our friends.  What better way to love your friend than to make it a part of your destiny, for them to reach theirs.  Why would you be a star if you cannot hang out with friends that can make a constellation?  Why would you press so hard, if your journey cannot set a fire in those around you?  Today, if I told most of my friends that I quit music, they would probably let me do it.  They would probably figure I know what is best, and continue to walk their merry way.  They would dare not be offended or say anything to offend me.  They would not lose sleep over it.  They may pray and give me their well wishes.  But I'm not sure it would bother them.  I don't think most friends are capable of this.   Take a deep breath....  Be honest.....  Think about it.

Will we be a people that get pissed off when those around us are not living correctly?  This does not give a license to presume or judge.  But it gives us a license to feel and be moved.  It gives us a license to challenge in LOVE.  It gives us the opportunity to be all in - for ourselves, and our friends.  I know what you are thinking: "How can we challenge those we love, when we ourselves have no clue how to assess what is right for us?"  What I am suggesting has little to do with accuracy.  It has nothing to do with what you must know for your friends, or your wisdom and discernment.  This has to do with giving a damn.  This has to do with loving beyond measure, and being a force to be dealt with.  Are you a force, or are you a blob?  Do people need to hold themselves accountable to you, or do you just go with the flow?  When you are with your friends, can they count on you to sharpen them and not let you get away with mediocrity, or will you cradle them in their infantile state? 

I want to be a friend that takes you as seriously as I take myself.  I want to be a friend that gets disappointed when you are disappointed.  I want to be a friend that prays for you with all my guts.  I want to be a friend that treats my resources as your resources.  I want my friends to be greater than me.  I want you all to know God like me, and for me to want to know God like you.  I want us all to win.  I want us to teach each other, and not let our dreams dash to the floor.  I don't need a friend that knows what is right, or has the best things to say.  I need a friend that gets offended when I am living under 100%.  I want a friend that does not focus on being friendly.

This post is dedicated to everyone that used to complain that I was never that friendly.  You are right.  I would rather be deadly. - Jeevo

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Affirmation of Marriage

Today marks exactly 2.5 years since my wife and I agreed to love each other forever. To stand arm in arm in everything. To be each other's extension.  To care for each other in ways that many deem humanly impossible - including us.  As my pastor's very first words in our ceremony indicated, "Welcome to the greatest human impossibility - this is marriage." 

This post is not going to be about our marriage per se.  I am not a very open person, but when it comes to using my experience to help people, I will be as open as God allows me to be.  Also, just because I speak vulnerably or "from my gut" as many like to say, do not get confused.  Writing is not therapy for me.  Neither do I need to express myself.  I feel like I have to make these disclaimers in an emo, post-modern world that likes to "feel," and get to "know" people in strange ways.  You will never know me.  And you will not be close to me unless God and myself say you can.  Sorry if this comes off arrogant - it is what it is.

Moving on -- :-)

When my wife and I got married, we entered into a relationship that made each other our greatest fans.  We committed to being each other's greatest supporters.  When you enter into this covenant, walls begin to break.  Lies that you once believed fall apart.  Vulnerability takes on a whole new meaning.  Every insecurity, every fear, and every bit of self-consciousness has to be dealt with.  In some sense, it is a beautiful shock.  There is so much beauty in being exposed for exactly who you are, what you believe, and how all of your experiences have shaped you and developed your so called identity.  Good and bad - Marriage is a picture of acceptance.

It is an amazing phenomenon to experience an Unconditional Supporter in God.  Have you experienced support?  It is great isn't it?  To have people believe in you - wow.  The more relevant question is, have you experienced perfect support? This type of affirmation and cheering can only come from the Divine.  When you get married, you have a form of a physical manifestation of this - extremely imperfect, but a form nonetheless.  Your spouse urges you to become the best version of yourself - consciously and unconsciously.  My wife sees my most selfish version, and my most selfless one - and she has the ability to accept me as I am.  She also has the ability to urge me towards transformation.  She has the ability to push me towards greatness - not just for her or our family, but for my most basic purpose and destiny.  The amazing thing is that no one else can do this.  No one else can urge you in such a way, because no other earthly relationship enters into a Covenant.

Here is the thing that no one tells you when you become married:

Even though marriage is an applauded institution, you will experience something so strange that almost feels ironic.  When you get married, the people around you will affirm you less and less.  Friends of yours that used to be supporters, will begin to dwindle and waver in their support.  People that you once deemed close will not be close.  This is not a bad thing at all.  It is just a strange thing.  It is something that can catch you off guard.

The world around you assumes you are "set" once you get married.  There is a pre-programmed notion in our society that connects completion to marriage.  The assumption is that you are now completely loved and fully affirmed - therefore, you do not need encouragement and you do not need to be affirmed in ways you once were.  Now my purpose in writing this is not to agree or disagree with this irony.  However, it is absolutely what happens.  This is why married couples can sometimes feel extremely isolated, because the world they once knew is so far from the one they are in now.  We are all assuming creatures.  We are all constantly trying to either push boundaries, or keep them.  We are all coping with changes, experimenting, succeeding, and failing.  This is completely fine. Do not look to your old world to affirm you.  That portion of your life is done.  You must run forward and not look back.  You are on to bigger and better - and this my friends is a gross understatement.

The important thing to understand is that no matter how confident or self-assured you are, affirmation and encouragement are critical for your journey.  No human being can go too far without experiencing the fullness of true affirmation.  Marriage is a beautiful opportunity to be affirmed correctly, and without boundaries.  There is no such thing as loving your spouse too much.  You can love and spoil.  You can be without restriction.  You can assure and re-assure.  You can correct and be corrected.  You can fail and be forgiven.  You can heal and be healed.  The world around you will indeed stop affirming you.  I promise it will happen.  It is a way for you to grow stronger in your love and need for God, and the person who said "I do."  Why does the world stop affirming you?  I don't know.  And honestly, I don't really think you should care.  I believe it is ordained within the covenant.  I believe it is a result of 2 becoming 1.  I believe it is part of the offense that you chose each other, and you didn't choose anyone else.  This is offensive to a world that wants you to choose them.  This is disrespectful to a society that wants your attention.  This is a slap in the face to a culture that promotes darkness, classless sexuality, multiple relationships, and the list goes on. 

Marriage is defiant.  It is radical.  It is fiery.  Whole marriages change the world.  True fidelity and affirmation destroys evil.  To love, and be loved.  Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Useless Calculator

In grade school, taking out a calculator during an exam would be ludicrous.  It is considered cheating. The bad kids would try and hide their calculator somewhere, and anxiously press away on their tiny fingers, desperately covering up their lack of preparation.  I was occasionally jealous of their freedom.

When you are young, a calculator contains the answers to all the questions.  It is a shortcut, and an instantaneous replacement to your own brain.  It is limitless in its capacity.  It holds your answers, and you simply use it.  Then you get older - the playing field changes.  In Calculus, you are allowed to use your Calculator on all exams.  Some exams are even open book!  How simple this must be!  As we all know, the honor of holding your fancy calculator diminishes triple-fold.  What was once a holy-grail, becomes a useless technical advancement that could hardly spit out an answer if your life depended on it.  The calculator is now a tool - not a lifeline.  The calculator's use depends on you.  You become the brain, the master, and the statistician.  The calculator becomes your never-changing and static companion.  It is as useful as you make it.  It is as beautiful as your see it.

It is shocking when your default tools and strengths do not hold the same weight as before.  It is a bleak turn of events when your "method to your madness" loses its logic, its flare, and its potency.  Have you found yourself grasping for a knowledge that you knew before, only to come up bankrupt?  Have you looked to your toolkit, only to find a dull blade and a broken ruler?  This is our plight.  We are fixated on outcomes and calculations that used to get us quite far.  It used to be our compass - a consistent and predictable barometer for success.  We used to be able to effortlessly go about our day, knowing that our level of input will dictate our pleasant output.

But the ones of great light and destiny are not allowed to rely on computations, theorems, and well-proved findings.  The chosen ones are never a product of human algorithms.  They know that the thing they are to accomplish cannot be manipulated or coerced.  The Divine is not a faithful co-pilot. He is not a helper in the way that we generally define help.  He is not the Gatorade or the extra energy boost that you need to reach your destination.  He is not even your primary author.

He is not merely "in control." He in fact, is the plane itself.  He is the sky.  He is the galaxy in which your stars must align.  

The Divine is the all-consuming fire who is not interested in being your chief of staff.  In the Divine, you learn to work miracles.  Being hidden in the Divine gives you the substance to become the Calculator itself.  In a world full of A+B=C, I am on the lookout for A+B equaling far more than I could have ever imagined.  If you have come to the end of your computations, then you have arrived at the greatest adventure of your life.  If you have flat-lined in all your reasoning, mental prowess, and lifelong musings, then you are on the verge of Dreaming In Color.  If you feel like everything you once knew no longer counts for very much, then you are now becoming the person you were always meant to be.

If all our computations were so useful, then why is the most pressed button on the Calculator the "C" button - the one that clears, and brings us back to 0.  Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.