Showing Posts from: Personal

Flying 7 Continents Solo

I just finished reading Flying 7 Continents Solo, by Harry R. Anderson. He is only the fifth pilot to fly solo in a single-engine aircraft to all seven continents.  Because it’s my dream to fly my family around the world, I read the book to get some perspective and insight from someone who has flown himself around the world in small airplane.

This was the first part of his route (The second (and third) part of his journey included flights from Washington State to Antarctica and back. But because I don’t plan on flying to Antarctica any time soon, I have excluded that part of his journey from this post):

(Harry R. Anderson’s Itinerary)

For the above trip, Harry flew his small airplane, a Lancair Columbia (averages 165 knots), nearly 25,000 miles in 164 days (although he hung out in the U.K. for 81 days to hang out with old friends). In all, he said such a trip would require about $50,000 and 3 months to complete.

Harry has a PhD in engineering and is an entrepreneur. So I appreciated his perspective on many levels.  His scientific orientation undoubtedly helped him to describe his journey with great detail. The book contains an appendix with several spreadsheets, aviation terms, and enumerated procedures on how to get permission to fly into, out of, or over particular countries.

English is the standard language for aviation communication around the world. So Harry didn't have too many troubles communicating with air traffic controllers.  There were a few instances in India and South America where local controllers spoke little to no English, but he was able to understand just enough to complete his flights. 

Also, while Harry seemed to have a great time flying himself around the world, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was lonely during the trip. He is not married and I don’t think he mentioned having any children.  For my trip, I don’t want to do it alone. I want to take my family with me.  As a family, we have already visited 48 states, backpacked through Western Europe, Visited Japan, China, and Australia. Because that is our rhythm, I couldn’t see myself trying to take a trip around the world without my family.

One other thing about Harry’s trip that is different from the one I am dreaming about is that he pretty much avoids the whole continent of Africa. Being of African descent, I cannot see myself flying us around the world without visiting several countries in Africa. I know it will add significantly to length and cost of our journey, but for us, Africa is an inescapable must for our itinerary. 

To make such a trip, we would definitely need a bigger, faster, stronger airplane.  Right now, we can fly about 750 miles per tank, but I would want to be able to fly at least 1000 nautical miles per tank. I would also need a plane that can carry more weight. Right now, fully fueled, we can carry a little over 900 pounds (people and luggage).  For our flight, however, I would like a plane that can hold more than 1,000 pounds. Ideally, it will have a payload of more than 1,300 pounds.  Given those requirements, I would probably need to invest in a Beechcraft Queen Air with an Excalibur Conversion.  Another consideration involves the speed and service ceiling of the plane.  During his trip, Harry encountered some icing on his wings, often at about 11,000 feet. Without de-icing equipment, he couldn’t fly in or above the icing layers, so he had to descend and fly at low altitudes (which, at times, made me uncomfortable).  So, a pressurized aircraft that can do what the Queen Air can do, but also has the ability to fly into known icing (FIKI) at higher altitudes would be ideal for our trip around the world. Right now, the Cessna 414A is the plane that keeps standing out to me. 

In any case, I appreciated the journey that Harry Anderson shares. I’m sure I’ll return to his book again and again when it comes time to start requesting visas and permissions to enter and exit countries.

On What Do You Base Your Most Basic Beliefs About Yourself and Others?

What is the basis of your self-image? What is the basis of your identity?

To change the quality of your life, whatever that means for you, you must first identify those beliefs in your head that are hurting you. Get specific!  Your beliefs are wings or weights: which ones are lifting you up, and which ones are weighing you down, specifically? After you have named them, and become aware of just how much they have caused, are causing, or will cause you to lose, you must work intentionally to re-frame or replace them with beliefs that can empower you to grow and flourish as a human being.

Furthermore, if you allow the ordained minister in me to take it a step further. As a Christian, I personally believe that the Bible has one of the best, most powerful teachings about who we are as human beings. It says that people are made in the "imago Dei"- in the image or likeness of God. That means, at the very least, that all people- including you- are similar to (but not the same as) God in the following ways:

  • You have a spiritual nature (you are not just a material body)
  • Were made to have loving with relationships with others (rather than living alone in isolation)
  • You have the ability to think (rather than just be a programmed robot)
  • You have the power to create (rather than just consume)
  • You have the capacity to rule (and not just be a passive recipient of all life throws at you)
  • You have the freedom to live a pure life and make ethical choices (and not be helplessly controlled by your drives like animals)
  • You have the ability to live forever (and not just end up as a pile of ashes or under six feet of dirt)

Also, BECAUSE humans are made in the image of God, all people- even those with whom we disagree- deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and love. 

That's what MY self-image is based on. That's also what I see when I look at other people. No matter who I am dealing with, I see beauty, potential, value, and worth. Even if they do not subscribe to my values, I still see all people as image-bearers. Having said that, in my view, we humans are all flawed, and cracked, and imperfect in so many ways, but beneath those imperfections, I still see glimpses of God's image in peoples' lives (and give myself permission to be imperfect too).  That view of myself and others helps me treat even the most addicted drug addict with respect. Beneath their addiction, they are people, just like me, made in the image of God.

That's the cognitive content I have chosen to replace my negative self-images with. It's also the content I have in my head about others.

What about you? On what do you base your most basic beliefs about yourself and others? How is that cognitive content helping or hurting your own growth as a person? How is it helping or hurting your relationships with others? That's just something to think about.

Have a great day!


Do You Know of Any Groups that Need Clothes and Shoes?

Do you know anyone know of any ministries in the Bahamas, Africa, or Latin America who are serving people who could use some shoes or clothes? I have shoes and clothes in my closet that I have never worn, or worn once, and I want to give them to someone who could use them. Please send me an email about the ministry and a person's contact info at Thanks.

A Word to My Fellow Christians about “Your Blessing that’s On the Way.”

I have to say something that some of my fellow Christians will not like but desperately need to hear.

I keep seeing people post or say things like, “God’s got something BIG for you this year,” or “God is about to take you to the next level,” or, “You are about to BLOW UP!” or, “God is really about to do something HUGE in your life this year,” or that “God is about to make you a millionaire” or that "you are pregnant with possibility so you need to PUSH!!!" All these “words of encouragement” almost always have something to do with people receiving a huge material blessing, or a financial blessing, or a huge raise, or a big promotion. Sometimes it relates to you achieving some kind of fame or glory. 

I understand personally why people/preachers say those things. When wealth, power, opportunity, education, justice, social status, prestige, and rewards have been clustered to privilege some people and exlude so many others, I understand why those who have been excluded would long for a "financial breakthrough," and why preachers are tempted to preach those things.  I really do. However, I don't think that preaching or teaching that kind of message is either Biblically supportable or actually helpful, especially for people who are in poverty. Even if the preacher has good intentions to give people hope, at best, that message is a false hope that will likely lead to despair for everyone but the preacher who preaches it (those preachers usually get rich off of the gifts of poor people, and then argue that their own success is proof that God answers prayer- all while they keep getting richer and their victims stay impoverished).

I can make that claim with confidence because I grew up economically disadvantaged. My mom made $5,000 a year, and we needed food stamps to survive sometimes.  I lived in 26 places before I was 16, and not because we were a military family. Things were hard for us. Hard. Sometimes the sadness was so great that I used to cry myself to sleep at night, praying that God would kill me in my sleep as a kind of sacrifice, just so my mom wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. 

So I know what it feels like to have a deep longing in my heart for more money, things, and significance. I really do. However, the only thing my longings ever gave me were the motivation for me to worry or work. After seeing that worrying didn't change anything, I decided to work - to DO some things- to take action- to improve my life and the lives of those around me. 

I say that to say, yes, God might have big plans for you in 2017, and He might desire to take you to "the next level" (whatever that means), and God might want to bless you with fortune and fame.  If that is the case, I am pretty sure that your blessing is going to require you to do a lot of things that other people will never see (and aren’t supposed to see). 

God’s plan for us is to live with integrity when no one is looking (Psalm 1:1; Proverbs 11:3; 2 Cor. 8:21; Hebres 13:18; Philippians 4:8).

God’s plan is for us is to discipline ourselves to get enough sleep at night so we can have enough strength to serve Him well (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Hebrews 4:9-11; Psalm 127:2; Mark 6:30ff). 

God’s plan for us is to be others-oriented, treating ALL people with dignity and respect (because they are made in His image) (Genesis 1:26; Matthew 7:12; Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Cor. 10:33; John 13:34-35). 

God's plan is for us to make disciples (Matt 28:16-20).

God's plan is for us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8).

God's plan is for us to love the least, lost, last and left out (Matthew 25).

God’s plan for our lives might also be for us to keep our homes clean, our families fed, and our own businesses in good order (1 Tim. 3:5; 1 tim. 5:8; Titus 2:5; Proverbs 31:27).

God’s plan for your life might be for you to stop trying to take shortcuts (Colossians 3:23).

God’s plan for your life might be for you to sit down and read those books, and write those papers, and turn in those assignments (Col. 3:23; Psalm 90:17; Proverbs 6:10-12; 12:11; 13:4; 12:24; 14:23; 2 Tim. 2:6).

God’s plan might be for you to go to class and pay attention (1 Cor. 10:31; Prov. 14:23; 1 Cor. 15:57-58; Eph 2:10).

God’s plan for you might be for you to love your spouse when your spouse feels unlovable (Eph 5:22-33).

If you are a parent, God’s plan is for you is to cultivate your children into well-read, well-spoken, people-loving, God-honoring, citizens of His Kingdom and the world (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4; Psalm 127:3; Prov. 13:24; Prov. 29:15; 2 Tim. 3:15). 

God’s plan is for you to treat people the way you want to be treated, and to behave in a way that you think they should (Mark 12:31; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 Cor. 10:24; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:3; Matt 7:2).

God’s plan for you might be to fill out that job application, prepare yourself for interviews, and to show up to those interviews on time (Col. 3:23; Psalm 90:17; Proverbs 6:10-12; 12:11; 13:4; 12:24; 14:23; 2 Tim. 2:6). 

God’s plan for you is for you to do your job so well that even your haters have to respect your hustle (Col. 3:23; 1 Pter 3:15ff; Col 4:5-6). 

God's plan for you and I is to remain faithful through the inevitable suffering and persecutiion that will come to those who seek to live holy lives (Romans 5:3-4; 1 Pet 3:14; Phil 1:29; Matt 10:38; 1 Peter 2:21).

Yes, God’s plan for us usually entails you and I doing a whole lot of little things that most people do not care about. 

If we do those little, behind-the-scenes, no-one-cares about things, I believe the more our lives will get better.  Neglect to do those little things, and keep waiting on God to do something big for you, and you are probably going to be waiting, or wasting, your whole life. Not because God is not able, but because you have not put your faith in God to work. Remember, faith without works is dead. Even the forces of darkness believe in God (James 2:19) and they shudder.  Your faith, absent of actual follow through, is meaningless. Why would you expect God to do the super-natural when you won't even do the natural? The Bible I read clearly shows that God is not a genie you or I can rub and get stuff from.  God is not some casino owner who is about to just give us some big jackpot.

Rather, the Bible I read says God has already done what needed to be done when he sent Jesus Christ into this world to trample down darkness, bring death to its knees, and give us a model to follow, and to serve as a sacrifice for the comprehensive, all-encompassing corruption in the world.  He came to inaugurate a kingdom where people who surrender to him will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, live out God's will vertically, internally, and horizontally- loving God, loving ourselves, loving others (which involves more than chump change charity or individualistic faith that never gets around to living out the social implications of the Gospel (social justice, poverty, racism, etc.)), and caring for the environment. That’s what God calls Christians to do. 

So if you “blowing up” or “getting rich” or “going to the next level” does not involve the things I just mentioned, then I am pretty sure those aspirations are not biblically defensible and have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God (which, by the way, is what Christians are really supposed to care about).

Now, please do not hear me saying that being rich is wrong or evil, for Jesus never made a universal indictment against all wealth. Rather, I am saying that your desire to achieve success should not involve committing interpretive rape against the Bible- forcing your own fleshly desires upon the text against its will, without its consent. There ARE biblical principles that, if followed, can help one achieve great success, but almost all of them involve prayer, planning, advisors, sacrifice, integrity, generosity, and hard work.

When I was a broke, struggling college student, I went on a fast to seek God's will for my life. During that fast, I read these words over and over: "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and ALL these things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). During that fast, I decided that I would take those words seriously in my own life.  I would really seek God and His righteousness with my finances, in school, in my relationships, on my jobs, and in my day-to-day life. Things didn't improve for me right away. However, it's amazing what the discipline of living a life that aims to please God will do for your earthly circumstances. Since that day, I can't even begin to tell you how many more of my dreams have come true (while many of my blessings have been material and financial, my most meaningful ones have had nothing to do with money, power, or prestige). 

Sincerely seek God's heart, and not just His hand, and see how your heart, habits, and even your circumstances will begin to improve.