Ray's Current Newspaper Article

Traveling Is Dumb

In July, my family went on our yearly family vacation. You see, we take these massive road trips that started when my wife Jazen and I got married. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE our vacations but that wasn’t always the case. I used to think traveling was dumb. I had a really great childhood though vacations were just not something we did. So, growing up and through college, traveling never crossed my mind. In fact, I have a vague recollection of a conversation with someone on traveling somewhere around my high school years. My perspective – “What’s the point? I have no desire…if I want to see stuff, I’ll look at pictures.”

Jazen and I met in 1999 and married in 2001. Her Dad liked to go on family trips and wanted to take us to Boston. For someone who never went on vacation, Boston seemed pretty far away. But, something that never had happened – happened. For the first time, I had a stirring in my mind and heart that made me want to go to a place I had never been and to do things I never had done. One of the reasons was that part of the plan was to go to legendary Fenway Park! For this baseball fan (Go Rangers!), it’s one of the most iconic parks and I never thought I’d see it in person. Not only that – I could visit the Bull and Finch Pub – famously known as the building we saw on my favorite TV show, Cheers. Something…just…stirred.

Let me pause – I wonder what has whispered to your soul – “Get out there. Go to a place you’ve never gone and do things you’ve never done.” It could be from the past and you just ignored it. It might not be with vacationing but with life. Is it a change? Taking a risk? A random interest? Overcoming a fear? What is it?

Here’s something I thought about after our last vacation – I believe most people are right in the spot spiritually I used to be when it came to travel and my own spiritual journey – “I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything…what’s the point?” When it came to vacations, I think that one of the main reasons why I had no desire was because I had never been exposed to it. In some ways, this was true of my spiritual journey. Because of my own experiences – if someone would’ve told me to do something with my faith, it would’ve been like someone telling my younger self – “you really should travel” I would’ve said – “what’s the point?”

With travel everything changed when I went to Boston. Yes – Fenway. Yes – Cheers. But I also saw so much rich history. We saw the tombstone of Crispus Attucks – widely believed to be the first person killed in the American revolution. Along with so much more, we also saw things like dozens and dozens of tombstones that had, as the listed year of death – 1776, 1776, 1776, 1776. Wow! It’s like something in my mind and my soul expanded. 

My “spiritual Boston” came when I met a friend who lived their spiritual life in a way that seemed to answer my “what’s the point?” question. It was the first time my mind and heart stirred spiritually. 

I could go on and on but I’ll fast forward to today. You wouldn’t believe the places my family and I have gone, the places we’ve seen and the amount of people who have been part of our travels. In our vacationing – yes, of course. But spiritually, well now that’s been beyond my wildest dreams. 

What about you? Do you feel that stirring in your soul to spiritually discover what’s out there for you? I believe the Lord put that there. If you follow Him, He will actually give you an answer to – “What’s the point?” So follow that stirring and take a step and then another. 

Later, you’ll think back to yourself – “You know what? Not traveling would’ve been dumb.”


Your 10 Year Old Self Is Kicking You.

This isn’t an article...I have an idea to share with you. Question: When have the most memorable stories occured in your life? Okay, that would probably take more mental energy and time than you have so let me help.

Years ago, my buddy Gary and I had what we refer to as, “The Summer of Fun.” Truth is, this was before the Lord changed my life and I was involved in a whole lot of wild stuff. You probably don’t know my story so I’ll just say I that on a Friday, I left work inviting people to party. The next Monday, I was inviting people to church. Even though some of what I did was not good, that Summer is still the Summer of Fun to me. We were single and unnatacched so from 5:00 pm Friday to Sunday evening, we just did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. One weekend, we decided that it would be fun to just eat Taco Bueno the entire weekend. And you know what...it was fun. The best part of it is that now, 17 or so years later, we still tell that story. It wasn’t life altering, it was just fun and it was also memorable. Do you know why it happened? Well, we ate Taco Bueno on Friday night and then we went and hung out. We skipped breakfast and when it came time to eat lunch - someone said, “Muuchaacooo!” This was our caveman sort of way of saying, let go eat muchacos at Taco Bueno. Somewhere around this time, one of us said, “Do you know what would be fun? If we just ate Taco Bueno all weekend.” A story was born.

Here’s what I’m thinking - our most memorable stories don’t just happen to us like we are innocent bystanders hit by stories. In everyday life, I believe that the most memorable stories are entered into. Now, we don’t know when we are entering memorable stories but we must be willing to enter them. Someone says something like: “Do you know what would be fun?” “How about we get our families together?” “Could you help me with this?” “I really think you should just go for it?” “How about you come check out my church?” From here, stories are often born.

Here’s the problem - As we get older, our preferred answer seems to be - “No.” Well, we don’t say it. Instead we say things like: “Another time.” “I’m busy.” “Are you kidding? That’s too much Bueno for my belly.” Let me ask you a question: How often do you spend time thinking about stories you should’ve said entered into?

So, here is my idea: How about you decide to intentionally look for stories and enter into them?

Listen, if you are like me, when people are telling stories, you want to be able to tell your own. You want to laugh hard, help people, have some adventure, try new things and encourage other people to do the same. We both want positive stories that build us up rather than tear us down. Hear me, life is too short to miss it while you are living it. So, let your 10 year old self give you a kick in the pants to get you going. Don’t think too hard about not knowing where to start either. What we are talking about can be done in every area of your life with the people who are part of it (both small and big things). The more you do it, the better you get at doing it. All you need are: Other people (the best stories are shared stories). A willingness to do things with and for people. The courage to say something like, “You know what might be fun?”

You might think that if you tried to get others to want to do stuff, it would’t work. Really? Well, my friend, it just worked with you. Now go...your stories are waiting and your 10 year old self is cheering you on.


By Ray Miranda

Pastor of The STORY Church - Wylie