Live Everyday Like You Were in Madrid

Principle # 9 for keeping sane and productive in an insane world: Live everyday like you were in Madrid.

When you fly across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe and beyond, you will leave in the evening and arrive in the morning. You will try to sleep in a tiny seat unless you get bumped to first class like I did one time on my way to Egypt. It won’t work out that great. You will arrive tired.

My daughter Anna and I traveled to Spain in April 2022. It was partly to visit missionaries our church supported near Barcelona. It was also partly to tour Spain. The ticket to fly into Spain and out of Barcelona was nearly the same as flying in and out of Barcelona, so I thought, why not see these two great cities and take the train to Barcelona? That’s what we did.

When we arrived in Madrid, we were tired. We checked into our hotel and both laid down to sleep. I woke up about a half an hour later and said to myself? “What am I doing sleeping? I’m in Madrid!” So, I got up, left a note for my daughter, and went out to walk around.

I did need coffee, though. I went right down the street and found that icon of Madrid: Tim Horton’s. No, the place where I walked was not one of the great tourist spots of Madrid, but it was Madrid. I loved it. I savored it. I looked at every shop, listened to every person, and observed the architecture of every building. I was in Madrid!

A year later, I went back to Madrid. I had arranged a mission trip for my church with the missionaries from Spain. We were going to go work at a camp north of Sevilla in the south of Spain. I had no idea if anyone would go, but I bought my plane ticket for the trip. It was an unheard of $375 round trip from my local regional airport in Knoxville to Madrid. I not only bought the ticket for the week of the mission trip. I would actually go one week earlier and spend a week in Madrid. If no one went on the trip and it got cancelled, what was the worst that could happen? I would spend two weeks in Spain. That did not seem like a bad downside.

The mission trip did happen, and I did spend a week in Madrid. I walked all over the city. I took tours. I visited museums. I talked to people. I tried restaurants. I loved every moment of it. I was in Madrid!

Thinking back on all this when I arrived home, I thought, what if I could live here in Tennessee like I was in Madrid? What if I saw my own city with the excitement of being in a foreign country?

It is really not that unreasonable. There are people here who have stories. There is natural beauty to see. There are animals to observe. There are restaurants to visit. There are visitors from other places. There are fascinating stories in this place. There are sites and attractions and parks and businesses and houses and architecture and events to see. So why not live here like I was in Madrid?

For me, it’s even easier. I live near Pigeon Forge, TN. Everyone wants to come here. Everyone loves it. Everyone wants to move here. I own a home for which I pay less per month than what some people pay per day for a large cabin! Can I enjoy that? Can I have that excitement like I was in Madrid?

It’s hard sometimes. We get used to things, and we get bored with them. We categorize them in our mind and stop really seeing them. But we have only scratched the surface of the places where we live. I am reminded of that when I visit foreign countries. I study the country and learn about it. I go there and am generally able to tell people things that they don’t even know about their own country. I have had the reverse experience here. People visit here, and I keep learning about my own city from them. There’s more to see and know than we think. There’s more excitement than we think.

We can live each day like we were visiting a foreign country. We can capture the wonder of visiting a new destination each day. We can live each day like we had just landed in Madrid.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It is a series of posts where I share principles or ways of seeing things that have helped keep me sane and productive in the midst of raising seven kids, pastoring churches for 19 years, getting higher degrees, and traveling the world. I hope that you find them helpful and that I’ll see you here again. Subscribe below to keep updated on the posts.

Keeping Sane & Productive in an Insane World, Principle #5: You’re Not Tired. You’re Bored.

When we are doing nothing, we often feel tired. But we may not be tired. We may just be bored. Boredom and tiredness can feel the same.

This was an insight that I learned from Brett McKay and The Art of Manliness podcast. He has a lot of helpful insights, and I highly recommend his work to you. He said, you are not burned out, you are bored, but the principle is the same. McKay asks how is it that we are struggling with burnout

[a]nd yet, statistically, we’re doing less than ever, not more[?] We work a little less than we did fifty years ago, and a lot less than a century and a half back. We socialize less. We participate less in clubs, church, and civic organizations.

How can it be that the less we do, the more burnt out we get? How can it be that people who are involved in far less than their grandparents were, nonetheless feel more tired? Continue reading “Keeping Sane & Productive in an Insane World, Principle #5: You’re Not Tired. You’re Bored.”

The Genealogies of the Bible

“The Bible is boring.” Let’s be honest. We all feel that way sometimes.

More than anything in the Bible, people get bored reading the long list of names in its genealogies.

I believe that all of the Bible is profitable (see 2 Tim. 3:16), but it’s sometimes hard to see the profit in some passages like the genealogies. A long list of names? Profitable? How?

My view of genealogies in general has recently changed. It’s changed because I’ve begun doing some genealogical research (you can read about it here and here), and I’ve really enjoyed it.

I didn’t really connect this with the Bible until I began reading the book of Matthew with my family and doing a small group study on this book. And how does the Gospel according to Matthew start out? With a genealogy.

In the past, I might have slogged through it.

But now, having studied and thought about genealogy, this genealogy actually really piqued my interest.

Here are a few of the things I thought about as I contemplated Matthew’s genealogy.

First, the Bible genealogies demonstrate that family is important. In our nation in particular, we tend to downplay the importance of the family. However, family shapes us. We carry it with us wherever we go whether we think so or not. Genealogies are one perspective on what has shaped us.

Second, we are family people. We are human beings, but we are not “abstract human beings.” We are all particular human beings with particular ancestors from particular places speaking particular languages shaped by particular cultures. We all have our limits and unique perspective.

Third, our family connects us to the world story. Our family is a significant part of what makes us unique human beings, but the story of our family connects us with the world story.

I have always loved history, but genealogical research has made me feel more a part of it. I feel much more connected to the Revolutionary War knowing that one of my ancestors died at Valley Forge. I’ll never hear the name Mohammed Ali the same way again knowing that a second cousin was in a boxing match with him when my cousin was 14 years old (the cousin lost and never boxed again, by the way).

Our family connects us to the rest of humanity. Trace it back far enough, and all our family trees intersect.

Fourth, our family matters to God. The fact that God put genealogies in the Bible shows that He cares about our families.

I have had quite a few conversations with people about my genealogical research. It’s an easy topic of conversation because everyone has some sort of genealogical understanding, but sometimes their eyes glaze over when I talk about my 3rd great grandfather or 1st cousin twice removed. But God’s eyes don’t glaze over. God is interested in our genealogy. He cares who our cousins are and who are 3rd great grandfathers are (you have 16 of them by the way!).

Fifth, our families connect us to the brokenness and fallenness of the world. In Jesus’ genealogy, there was a prostitute, a murderer, the wife of the man who was murdered, and other unsavory characters. Sometimes in studying genealogy (or your own immediate family!), you may say, “I wish I hadn’t learned that!” But like it or not, fallenness and brokenness are part of who we are. We can’t change that fact by running away from it.

Sixth, there is hope for our families. At the end of the genealogy in Matthew is Jesus. He comes right into the middle of the mess. He’s literally born into it. He comes into the middle of it to save it. Our families don’t have to follow the same old patterns. There is One who comes who brings new hope, restoration, forgiveness, and renewal for all the families of the human race.

For me, genealogies are no longer boring.

How Not to Bore People to Death with a Meeting

We’ve all been to meetings in which we were bored to death. Meetings can also be frustrating and seem like a total waste of time.

At my church, I have a friend named Art Stump. He is on our Church Admin team, plays keyboard in our band, and is a regional manager for Kitchen Collection.

He has a knack for making meetings interesting, profitable, and fun. So, I asked him, what are the most important things you’ve learned about leading a meeting?

He answered by giving 5 suggestions. They are worth thinking about and implementing.

Here’s what he wrote.

Art Stump: In thinking about leading meetings I tried not to necessarily consider “textbook” types of things. Instead I wanted to focus on things I believe I learned through the process of both leading meetings and, probably more so, sitting through meetings. I’m not saying I discovered any of this on my own, nor that I haven’t read and studied meetings, just that I thought mostly about what I’ve experienced myself.

So, here’s my list of 5 things I’ve learned about leading meetings. (This isn’t a Top 5 so there’s not a particular order to them):

  1. Attitude. Agenda. Action. I lumped these all together. The leader has to be positive, enthusiastic, and upbeat about the meeting. A well-planned meeting will always be more successful. Follow up is important to demonstrate to the participants that their time is important, productive, and meaningful.
  2. Don’t confuse straying with spontaneity. You want to allow space for discussion, letting the meeting progress, but you also need to stay on course. An issue or topic might be extremely important but that doesn’t mean it should be a part of that particular meeting.
  3. Continue reading “How Not to Bore People to Death with a Meeting”