Img_4189Most people go through life working jobs they hate, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like. Never once actually “Living”. More or less “Existing”. I am blessed. Most moments in my current life I am batting 2 for 3. I love my job. But I buy way to much I don’t need. Yet I only try to impress people I do like. But none the less I look back on Sunday nights at my week and realize that I only really existed. Although I was happy, blessed, encouraged, and rewarded, I pretty much did the same thing I did the week before. And before that. And yes, before that.

Here is my question. How do we, the ones who feel blessed and enjoy life, not become a stagnant pool of smiles? I think I might have an idea. An idea that became more clear this weekend.
I like to be around people that I know and like. This weekend I was around people I didn’t know. I am sure I could have liked them if I had a few days with them. But in the midst of a wedding I did not allow MYSELF to indulge in their lives. I had more important things to do. Like enjoy MYSELF. relax. sleep. play MY psp. Things I would do at home to relax. Saturday night after the wedding Matt, Tammy, Heather, and I were sitting by the fire at the estate talking, laughing, making up stupid songs on my guitar, actually enjoying OURSELVES. I was happy. Batting 3 for 3. Then in walked Gabe. Gabe is 7. I actually looked at him and thought, “I really hope he stays on the other side of the room.” I am away from my biscuit heads so I can have a nice adult time of relaxing. Gabe had other plans. I am sure he was intrigued my my guitar playing. Not impressed I add. But intrigued. Children love music. Something happens when we become adults that makes us boring. But Gabe was on his way over. He plopped himself down and began staring at me. Uncomfortably. I smiled politely and continued ignoring. But something about Gabes smile took me back to being the guitar guy at Day Camp. He got me. “Gabe, I’m gonna write you a song”. His smile stretched across his face as wide as this valley floor.

“Gabe wore a tux to the wedding, Good thing he wasn’t sweating…Hey that’s Gabe. Hey that’s Gabe…”
“Gabe seems like a good brother, But I’m glad I’m not his mother…Hey that’s Gabe. Hey that’s Gabe…”
I made up lines. Matt made up lines. Tammy made up lines. I played D, D/F#, G, A. Next thing you knew, Grandma was in the room. Then uncle, Then sister, Then mom. From 5 to 20 family members. Everyone was making up lines to my little song one at a time. Laughing, smiling, LIVING.
Gabe was elated. Gabe was not existing. Gabe was living. So was everyone in the room.
IDEA #1 – Move someone else from existing to living and you will go there too.
I sailed all the way to the hotel that night. The Travel Lodge never felt so nice.

The wedding was in Napa Valley. Unless you live under a rock or in Reedsville, GA you know what Napa is known as. Wine Country. Angela and Tony (the newlyweds) rented this estate to have the wedding at and house the family. It was beautiful. Coming in I know that the wedding would start at 10 am and the festivities would continue until 8 pm or so. In the middle of the day Tony chartered 2 busses and took the entire wedding invitees on a Wine Tasting Tour.
I don’t like wine. Why? Because I bought a bottle at a 7 Eleven in college and it tasted like what I can only describe as urine. I think the bottle cost about 3 dollars. It had a bull on it and was purple. That was the first and last time I even thought about it. Many reasons existed to my wine exemption. The latest being the prude, “I’m a pastor at a church with lots of young people and I don’t want to give them an ounce of an idea that they should go out and drink.” Call it stupid. Call it ignorant. Call it whatever you want. I would prefer to call it tradition. I grew up in Atlanta, GA. At Briarlake Baptist Church. A strong Southern Baptist church in the denomination. We did things different there. I didn’t partake of the spirits because I was told not to. Simple.

Another reason. I like beer. It’s cheaper and tastes better.

But a few weeks ago Matt preached an amazing message. Afterwards I stopped having the mental debate about whether or not I would partake in the wine tasting at this weekends wedding. There would be lots of Sandals members there. The message really gave me a sense of freedom without losing our calling to live in this world but be not of it.
OK. Soapbox is folded and placed in the closet.

We get on the bus. We get to our first winery. Rutherford Grove. We pile out of the busses and head over to the beautiful estate lawn. There waiting for us are the prude, snobby, wine tasting experts. I suddenly see people swirling, staring, gulping, tasting, smelling, spitting, licking, listening, at and to their wine. They pour you a small 1 ounce serving into a wine glass. My heart was pounding. What if I do something wrong? I did all of the above mentioned verbs and then 1…2…3…down the hatch.

Again. Urine. So in 10 years. Across 2000 miles. Up 30 dollars a bottle. In the heart of Wine Country. Still tasted disgusting. I just laughed. All that hype. I was then told by some pros that my pallet was uneducated. That is fine with me. It took me 8 years to get my mind a B.A. I was just fine if my palette stayed stupid.

Img_4144After a few more wineries and some palette edubication I did find one I liked. The Sauvignon Blanc. It was actually good and I could smell and taste the difference after a good spin around my glass. I even found this book in the lobby of one of the wineries giving you a visual as to how to look good while spitting.

I could have existed staying at the estate and taking a nap. But I lived by learning about a process that many consider an art.

Idea #2 – Attempt things you know you hate to find out you now love it or hate it more.
I name this post “The Vine that Lives” because I think although we might enjoy our small bundle of grapes on this vine called life, the living actually takes place once your grapes fall off and turn to wine.
Actually that didn’t make sense. I suck at titles. That is why all my term papers in my 8 years of college always said “Good Content/What is the point?”. I guess you’ll have to figure that out yourself.
So if you’re still with me after this thesis, how do we, the ones who feel blessed and enjoy life, not become a stagnant pool of smiles? What’s your trick? When did you last “Live”? Let’s conversate.
P.S. Check out the Photo Album of the weekend. It was great.