Framily

Framily

I would not be where I am today if not for the wonderful friends I’ve made as a result of the band Sister Hazel. I refer to them as my music family, and I’ve met these individuals either directly or as a result of my being a music fan.

Lee and I are living in the pool house of our friends Jeff and Lindsey. We met Lindsey back in 2006 at a music event. She and I even jumped out of a plane together one year later. We’re living in their pool house because we’re selling our house in Tampa so that we can transition to mission work in the Dominican Republic. Our introduction to Advocates of Love, the non-profit through which we’ll be working, was through my other friend Jeff whom we met – again – through a music event. We were even introduced to our church in Tampa through a friend we made via our music community.

To me, these people with whom I share my life are more than just friends. They’re family. They’re inner-circle confidants whom I trust with any struggle I may be facing. They are individuals I can call at any hour of the day should I need help. They are people with whom I have traveled for vacations, concerts, and religious retreats. They are my Framily.

Framily2

It was great to have one of our framily members stop by this evening as she’s on her way to be with her daughter who is expecting. Lee and I first met Michelle back in 2006, and we’ve shared a wonderful friendship over the years. It still baffles me to think her daughter Chloe, who was eleven years old when we met her, is now married and on the verge of being a mother.

To share time and experiences with those close to you is what life is all about. To see children become adults and to be a resource to them as they continue to mature is a basic version of what discipleship is. I love my framily, and I love how they’ve been there for me every step of the way on my journey. And I love we got to savor that again to tonight.

Advertisements

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

Today is an extra special day here in Hahira, Georgia, as we celebrate the birthday of our friend (and current house-host) Lindsey Smith.

I’ve known Lindsey for over a decade, and to say we’ve done life together is an incredible understatement. When I think about some of the best, most fun, and amazing moments in my life, Lindsey is a part of them. In most recent years, the friendship and fellowship Lee and I have shared with her and her husband Jeff have been life-changing.

I could go on for pages and pages about how wonderful and special Lindsey is, but instead, I want to focus on a specific attribute of Lindsey’s: her faith. Lindsey is a spiritual leader who is moved and driven by the Holy Spirit. I greatly admire the relationship she shares with Christ, and not only has Lindsey made me a better person throughout the years, she’s also helped make me a better Christian.

So I think it fitting to share this picture of us from 2007 when we both jumped out of a plane for a good cause. There was a lot of excitement and frivolity leading up to the jump, but when it came time to suit up and get on the plane, Lindsey huddled us together and lead us in prayer. At that time in my life, I was still far away from God, and having her boldly pray out loud for us without hesitation or reservation really left an imprint in my heart.

OSD

I know her friendship will continue to leave an imprint on my heart for decades to come.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LINDSEY!

Trust Circle

Trust Circle

The hardest part of my transition into full-time mission work is the knowledge I will be leaving my son when I expatriate to the Dominican Republic. He lives with his mother, so the impact on his daily routine will not be great. However, he and I get together often and I feel sad at the notion of not being readily available to him in the future.

It’s for that reason I asked my friends to come together tonight. As we met at World of Beer, we sat in a circle around one of the restaurant’s fireplace tables on their patio. From former co-workers to guys I know through my music family, they took turns telling Daniel who they are, how they know me, and what resources they can provide to him going forward. My goal was accomplished: to introduce Daniel to the men in my life whom I trust.

I know he will take this evening to heart and store the contact information of each person that was there in his phone. My hope is that should he ever need a man’s perspective or direction on any issue, he can turn for help to anyone of the guys that came out tonight.

What was truly a blessing, in addition to how many men showed up, was their enthusiastic willingness to be there for my son. There was no sense of hesitation or reservation. Instead, I feel the general consensus was this was their way of supporting my missionary efforts. It’s as if Daniel picked up seven new uncles/friends in one night.

For me, I can better prepare for my move knowing my son is in good hands once I leave, and that knowledge is priceless.

In a Jif

In a Jif

Spouse swap.

That’s what my friends Jeff and Lindsey did with us tonight. As Lee drives up to Georgia for a woman’s retreat, Jeff is spending the weekend here to help me with some projects around the house as we continue to get it ready to be put on the market.

Jeff arrived early in the evening and neither one of us was ready to tackle a huge, time-consuming task. We did, however, rip out the carpet in my son’s bedroom (the only room left with carpeting), and staged the room for laying down laminate on Friday.

To celebrate our minor victory, we went out to dinner at Ford’s Garage. I normally go for something easy and safe on the menu, but there was one item that caught my eye. The Jiffy Burger. Black Angus with American cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, and creamy peanut butter. Yes, you read that right: peanut butter.

As a reminder, this is my current social media profile bio.

I naturally had to give the burger a try … and it was delicious. I know on the surface it doesn’t make any sense. Peanut butter and bacon should not go together, but someway and somehow, this burger was amazement in my mouth.

The cliché is life happens when you step outside your comfort zone. The thing about clichés is, they’re chock full of truth.

This is my actual burger from this evening.

It’s All About The Network

It’s All About The Network

No, not a data or cellular network.

I’m talking about your peeps. Your circle of friends. Your squad. Those with whom you partake.

For me, today has been a network-riffic kinda day. It started with a friend gifting me much needed moving boxes and containers. It was very serendipitous she posted to Facebook she had a surplus of the receptacles and needed to get rid of them.

From there I had a conversation with my attorney (it really is weird every time I say that out loud) whom I’ve known for over twenty years but is only in his first couple of years practicing law. It’s cool to have seen him and his wife go to law school and start their own practice, all while starting a family as well. To see the hard work they put in makes me that much more happy for their success.

I had good conversations with my BFF’s, catching up on life, snow in the Bible belt, doctor’s appointments, etc. My dudes help keep me grounded and focused, and I always take away something positive whenever I speak to them.

I wrapped up the day with some positive news regarding Lee’s and my future direction. There are still many details to be worked out, but the biggest hurdle has been cleared. Again, this is a new opportunity that is a direct result of my network of friends.


It’s been my experience that success follows when you surround yourself with good people; people who will encourage you, challenge you, support you, and pray with/for you. It will not always be smooth sailing, but more often than not, the rewards will far outweigh any setbacks. You will also find God uses your friends to open doors in your life, doors you didn’t even know existed. Conversely, you will find God uses you – your talents, knowledge, and experiences – to help steer others in new, positive directions.

We are not designed to go through life alone, so make the most of how God architected you and ‘do life’ with others. Fellowship is one of the ways God asks, “Can you hear me now?”

Sebring, Racing, and Camping Culture

I am a sports fan. Underneath that very broad umbrella lies the category of motor sports. I follow motor sports – peripherally – but in no way would I all myself an avid fan.

I am, however, a fan of taking time off of work and taking part in new experiences with my friends. That is how I find myself at Sebring International Raceway this weekend taking in the 12 Hours of Sebring race. I won’t go into specifics about the race except to say it last twelve hours. When you’re sitting out in the sun, drinking beer, and watching cars scream by, twelve hours feels like twenty four.

But for my wife and me, this is less about the race and more about the time shared with friends. For us, it’s about fellowship, and considering we’ve been here since Wednesday, sharing the close confines of a 30-foot camper (i.e. one bathroom), it’s very safe to say we really like our friends.

Our Camper

 

In addition to the good times, grilled food, and empty beer bottles, I have learned a lot these last several days. Here’s a recap in no particular order.

  1. I know very little about camping, campers, RV’s, and the entire culture that goes with it. I am 42 years old, and I feel there is a slew of life lessons I still need to learn like; how to empty the tanks on an RV (I’ll just pay someones else to do it for me, thank you very much), and how a refrigerator can run off propane (I am still perplexed).
  2. Corvettes are beautiful. Prototype Corvettes are bleeping gorgeous. Vette Prototype
  3. The logistics that go into a racing team – specifically for endurance racing like Sebring – are amazing. From scheduling how long a particular driver will be out of the track to tuning the car to account for weather, wind direction, surface temperature, to the crew involved with loading and hauling the cars; it’s all mind-blowing when you stop and think about it. I know all motor sports teams deal with it, but to see it so up close makes it a more tangible experience.
  4. Green Park at Sebring is Spring Break for old men. Yes, there are many who partake in the festivities of the free-for-all that is Green Park (an open camping area on the north end of the track), but for the most part, it seems to be dominated by dudes looking at 40 in the rear view mirror and still trying to drink as if they were 20. If you’re looking for a crazy party atmosphere, Green Park is something you may want to experience. If you’re looking something a bit more family friendly, then Green Park is something you’ll want to avoid. Green Park Party Animal
  5. There’s no escaping the sound of the race cars. They wake you up in the morning (practices start at 8:00), and the high-pitched whine of a car accelerating out of a turn will seep into your subconscious. Even in the moments between races and practices, you’ll swear you can hear cars running. It’s akin to having sea-legs after a cruise. I will probably hear the buzzing of race cars in my brain for the next week.
  6. There are a lot of innovative campers at Sebring. From makeshift disco lounges, to tents anchored by pickup trucks, to elaborate party zones, the campers at Sebring have merged the best of function, imagination, and craftiness when it comes to watching the race.

As the race comes to a close, I look back with a relatively proud, “been there, done that” attitude. Growing up in Florida, Sebring was something I’d always heard about, and it’s cool I am now able to say I’ve experienced it. In many ways, it reminds me of when I finally got around to watching a shuttle launch.

I’m eager to continue to check off the list things to do in Florida, and we’re already planning to do the 24 Hours at Daytona in 2016. But whatever the event or the destination, what makes it all worthwhile is being able to share those experiences with the people you love.

Team Sebring

Friendly Friday – Danielle Lanier

There are some friendships that can only be described as serendipitous. And in my experience, if there is one thing that tends to create serendipitous moments, it’s music.

I’ve been so very fortunate to be surrounded by such a wonderful collection of friends, all of which share the same passion and affection for music (specifically live music). I like to refer to these people as my music family, and one of these individuals is Danielle Lanier.

Danielle is currently the Director of Program and Family Services at Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa. The Children’s Cancer Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving Tampa Bay families of children with cancer or chronic blood disorders such as Sickle Cell Anemia. Their mission statement speaks to helping families cope, and they could not have a better member on their team than Danielle.

Danielle is full of life and just screams vivaciousness. Her smile can light up a room, and she’s simply a joy to be around. But what really sets her apart are her absolute love for music and her selfless sense of giving. Danielle has merged those two by incorporating music into the many support programs offered at the Children’s Cancer Center. From live performances to field trips to a concerts to simple music instruction, Danielle is helping make the lives of children battling cancer a little bit brighter with every note, melody, and lyric.

And it is lyrics that hold a special place in Danielle’s heart. In addition to her day job, Danielle is also an artist and creator of Lyric Inspired Art. The works are exactly as the name suggests; artwork that is born from the inspiration received by music and the lyrics contained with in. As Danielle states, “I may not be able to perform music, but I am able to pay respect to it on canvas. I am moved by music, the expression, the emotions, the lyrics. My art is a physical recreation of what I feel when I hear songs that evoke an emotional response.” [Be sure to visit and Like Lyric Inspired Art on Facebook.]

I’m honored to be able to call Danielle a friend, and I am inspired by the fact that she wakes up every morning to go something she genuinely loves doing. At the end of the day, that really is what life if all about.

Danielle Lanier with Ken Block
Danielle Lanier with Ken Block

To donate to the Children’s Cancer Center, click here.

Here is a slightly dated article about Danielle in The Examiner.