A Wedding Ceremony Script For First-Time Officiants

Beach Wedding

After officiating my first wedding and taking the time to pull together the wedding ceremony script I thought it would be good to post what I came up with for others to use. There are lots of things that can be added/removed from this example but it’s a good foundation that can help save some time for any other future first-time officiant out there.

In this particular wedding ceremony script there’s some humor, reading of vows, exchanging of rings and pouring of the unity sand but feel free to do what you need to this script to make it your own. Have a great wedding!

Processional Ends

Minister: Please be seated.

MInister: We’re all here today to celebrate the relationship of [Bride] and [Groom] and to be witnesses and supporters of the commitment they share with one another. Together we’re a group of the most important people in their lives and they’ve brought us here to publically recognize that we’ve all played some special part in the love they share today.

[Bride] and [Groom] wanted me to thank you all for being here and to recognize how important each and every one of you are to their relationship. They would also like to recognize all of those who couldn’t make it here today as they are certainly missed but not forgotten on this day of celebration — especially [something funny like their dog or other pet].

Speaking of important people, there were none more important in influencing the lives of [Bride] and [Groom] than their parents. With that being said, who gives [Bride] away in marriage to this man?

Father answers: “Her mother and I”

*At this point the Father let’s go of Bride’s arm, hugs and kisses her and gives her hand to Groom and sits down. Bride then hands her flowers to her maid of honor and Groom and Bride then stand there holding hands facing one another. They can be holding hands at this point or standing side-by-side facing the minister.

Minister: Marriage gives permanence and structure to a couple’s love. It’s a way to tell one another that no matter how much you snore or how much you spent while out at the shopping mall, we’re still in this together. It’s more permanent than the weird tattoo that [Groom] got on his arm in his early twenties and has more staying power than [Bride]’s cute southern accent that she’s had since they first met (you can add anything funny into this section that makes sense for the bride and groom). Marriage is telling the person you love that you’re not going anywhere and that’s a powerful commitment for two people to make to one another.

A good marriage must be built on the foundation of this commitment. In marriage the “little” things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say, “I love you” at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is standing together and facing the world. It is speaking words of appreciation, and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is not only marrying the right partner — it is being the right partner .

The road that has brought [Bride] and [Groom] here today hasn’t been easy. It’s been filled with challenges that they weren’t necessarily prepared for. But together they’ve taken each one on and have used those experiences to strengthen, not weaken their love.


*This can be any type of reading you prefer. Also, someone else can read it if you preferred

Minister: In the Bible, first Corinthians chapter 13, verses four through eight tells us:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Reading of the Vows

*Groom, be sure to have these in your pocket and Bride, be sure to give these to your maid of honor.

Minister: [Bride] and [Groom], the vows that you are about to make are a way to share your love and commitment to each other in your own words. Sometimes poems, verses and quotes just don’t get the point across the way you need them to and the best option is just to do it yourself. These vows are your way of openly declaring your promise to one another as well as to all of those who are here in attendance today.

[Bride], ladies first.

Bride: Reads her vows.

Groom: Reads his vows.

Exchanging of Rings

*Get rings from Maid of Honor and Best Man. Feel free to customize what you say to each other if you like.

Minister: [Bride] and [Groom] will now exchange rings to symbolize their commitment. Rings are derived from humble beginnings of imperfect metal to create something striking where there was once nothing at all. It is customarily worn on the ring finger as it is the only finger with a vein running directly to the heart. The wearing of the rings is a visible, outward sign that they have committed themselves to one another.

Minister: [Groom], please take [Bride]’s hand and repeat these words.

Minister: I give you this ring, as a symbol of our love,
Groom: I give you this ring, as a symbol of our love,

Minister: for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come.
Groom: for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come.

Minister: Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day
Groom: Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day

Minister: and know that my love is present,
Groom: and know that my love is present,

Minister: even when I am not.
Groom: even when I am not.

*Groom puts ring on Bride’s finger

Minister: [Bride], please take [Groom]’s hand and repeat these words.

Minister: I give you this ring, as a symbol of our love,
Bride: I give you this ring, as a symbol of our love,

Minister: for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come.
Bride: for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come.

Minister: Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day
Bride: Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day

Minister: and know that my love is present,
Bride: and know that my love is present,

Minister: even when I am not.
Bride: even when I am not.

*Bride puts ring on Groom’s finger.

Pouring of the Unity Sand

Minister: By sharing your vows and exchanging rings here today you both have decided to share the rest of your lives together. You are no longer two separate people but one couple together. This unity is symbolized through the pouring of these two individual containers of sand. One, representing you, [Bride] and all that you were, all that you are, and all that you will ever be, and the other representing you, [Groom], and all that you were and all that you are, and all that you will ever be.

As these two containers of sand are poured into the third container, the individual containers of sand will no longer exist, but will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be, united as one for all of your days.

*Walk over and pour the sand — usually while music is playing.

The I Do’s

*This is it, time to make some magic happen.

Minister: [Bride] and [Groom] you have professed your love by exchanging your vows. You have symbolized your commitment by exchanging rings. And you have expressed the end of your individual lives by the pouring of the unity sand. With all of this there is just one more question I need each of you to answer and then we’re off to the reception to celebrate.

Minister: [Bride] – do you take Groom to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Do you promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?

Bride: I do.

Minister: Groom – do you take this [Bride] to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

Groom: I do.

Minister: By the power vested in me I now pronounce you husband and wife. [Groom] you may kiss your bride.

*It’s kissing time! (keep it classy, kids)

Minister: It’s my great honor and privilege to be the first to present to you Mr. and Mrs. [Groom’s Full Name]!

*Time to get our party on, but first we need to get everyone out of the wedding.

Recessional Begins

How I Got Ordained As A Minister And Officiated My Friend’s Wedding

Panama City Beach

I spent this last weekend in Panama City Beach, which thanks to several spring breaks and family vacations I’m very familiar with. It’s been a few years since I’ve been there but it’s just how I remembered it. Hot weather and some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.

I love me some PCB and it’s a great place to party but this time around I was going for a different reason. This trip was all about Ryan Mollenkopf (I call him Mellonhead). He’s one of my best friends who was getting married and I was going to be playing a bigger role in the wedding than I’m normally used to.

Will You Marry Us?

Let’s rewind things a bit and listen in on a phone conversation I had with Mellonhead a few months ago. We hopped on a call after he had sent me a text telling me about an awesome idea he had. If you know him like I do this would both excite and scare the crap out of you at the same time. After catching up with some small talk he let me have it.

“So what’s this idea you want to tell me about?” I asked him.

“Well, since the wedding is in Florida we don’t have a minister to marry us we were thinking that you could do it. Would you be up for that?”

As with most decisions I make it didn’t take me long to think about it before saying yes. I mean, how many times will I get to marry one of my best friends? When I agreed to doing it I felt a funny feeling in the bottom of my stomach and I have to admit that I love that feeling. It usually means what I’m doing is a little crazy, but awesome and I’m more than OK with that.

A Secret Surprise

The only stipulation I had after agreeing to be their officiant was that it had to be a surprise to everyone else at the wedding. The best men (there was two of them), the family and our friends would have no idea I was going to do it. Me, Mellonhead and his lovely wife-to-be Stephanie would be the only other people who knew about the plan.

I would be a normal groomsman up until the wedding and at the last minute when we realize there’s no minister we’ll do the reveal. Me being the officiant would be pretty sweet but being able to surprise everyone at the last minute would be epic.

Minister Hupfer and Planning the Wedding

It's Official

About a month before the wedding I did some research about how to become an ordained minister online. I’ve known several people who have done it before but I didn’t know exactly where to go online to do it. After doing a little bit of research I used American Marriage Ministries and in a matter of minutes I was officially a minister that was able to be perform a marriage ceremony in Florida (each state has different rules, so be sure to check them out if you’re want to do this).

Getting ordained online was even easier than I thought it was and I didn’t even have to pay for it. It’s totally free to be ordained and once you’re official they try to upsell you on some things which you don’t have to buy. You’re emailed a confirmation and just like that you have the power to marry a couple. God bless the internet.

After I was officially ordained the only other thing I had to do was put together the script that I would read during the ceremony. This actually took a lot longer than I thought it would but after piecing some things together and adding in some feedback from Mellonhead we had a great looking script that they were happy with. Even though it took me 3-4 hours to get the initial draft of the script on paper the process was actually pretty fun.

Keeping The Secret

Once all of the logistics were done all I needed to do was show up at Panama City Beach and keep the secret for one more weekend. It’s pretty easy to keep a secret like this when I’m in San Francisco but being around all of the people who were there for the wedding made it way harder.

I had to do some sneaking around in order to make it work and my cover was almost blown a few times. But thanks to the hectic nature of the time leading up to a wedding no one figured it out.

Almost Busted

The craziest thing that happened was when one of the bridesmaids in the wedding and her husband happened to sit across from me on my flight in. Mellonhead, his wife and most of their friends are from Nashville and I ended up flying through there on the way to Florida. I met some bachelorettes on my connection flight from Denver into Nashville who were also going to PCB with some friends they were picking up along the way.

Once all of them were on the flight out of Nashville we were talking about how I was going to be the minister in a wedding and that it was a surprise to everyone. By that point I had drank a couple of beers so I’m sure I was being a loud talker.

After landing in PCB I headed to the house that Mellonhead and his family was staying at and not long after I see a couple that looks awfully familiar. Before I know it the husband of the bridesmaid notices me and starts talking about how we were on the same flight and that I’m going to be marrying the couple.

I freaked out and rushed over to talk to them before anyone else knew what he was talking about. I said hi and once they were away from everyone else I told them how it’s a surprise to everyone and that they can’t tell anyone about it or I’ll kill them. (I’m kidding about threatening to kill them but I did tell them to keep it to themselves) What are the odds, right?

Enjoying the wedding

MInister Hupfer

Somehow my cover was never blown and we were able to surprise everyone during the wedding. It was one of the coolest moments I’ve even been part of and I felt very privileged to marry two people I love and care about so much. I didn’t screw anything up and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We laughed, we cried and an amazing man and woman dedicated their lives to each other in front of my eyes.

Panama City Beach

I’m not sure if I’ll ever officiate another wedding ceremony but it felt oddly natural to me so who knows. In the meantime two of my favorite people are now a married couple and my signature is on their marriage license. Awesome.


Love vs. Happiness

Love Vs. Happiness

When I care about someone I want to love them and make them happy. These are both very important parts of any long-lasting friendship or intimate relationship but they’re not the same thing. There are some major differences between the two and understanding these differences is really important.

We all want to be happy and happiness a lot of times is the main thing people are seeking in their lives. Just take a look at all of the self-help-how-can-I-be-happy books that are out in the market and it should give you an idea of how much we all want to feel that way. Keeping someone happy is easy and it means you’re doing what you can to make sure they’re pleased or content. If you please them then they will be happy but pleasing someone isn’t loving them.

I see loving someone as being much different than keeping them happy and pleasing them. Love can mean a couple of things. Initially, love is a strong affection for someone else due to attraction or common interest. This is how most relationships (both intimate and not) start out. You feel an attraction, the more you see the more you like and you want more of it. This stage of love usually involves trying to keep the other person as happy as possible. You’ll change your plans for them, buy them dinner and do whatever you need to do in order to spend time with them. It’s a fun type of love and it feels amazing.

But eventually if you stick with it this first stage love turns into the real deal love. This real deal love is an unselfish, loyal and true concern for the good of another person and this is much more than simply being attracted to someone and keeping them happy. This is when love turns into something much more. This type of love is awesome but it’s really, really hard.

This type of love involves strong communication of things that are easy to talk about and things that are hard. This type of love involves confronting things when you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach, even if you know it will upset the other person. This type of love involves understanding your own weaknesses and being willing to work on them for the sake of your relationship. This type of love involves keeping the love alive even when it seems like there’s nothing left. This type of love involves fighting for each other when you have to. This type of love is a crazy commitment. This type of love isn’t convenient.

So for this Valentine’s day be sure to keep the person you love happy but don’t forget to love them, too.

photo credit: Byways.org


When To Accept, When To Be Patient, and When To Confront

Stop Overthinking

When it comes to having good communication in a relationship there are so many things to think about it can become a little overwhelming. When to say something, what to say and deciding whether it was the right thing to say once you’ve said it. Like I said, there’s a lot to think about. There’s a fine line between being aware of how you’re communicating and overthinking it but more times than not it’s good to know how you’re coming across to others.

Something I’ve been thinking through along these lines is when to accept, when to be patient and when to confront. I feel like this is one of the hardest decisions to make when you’re building a relationship with someone you really care about. We all have our own preconceptions about how things should be done and I know it doesn’t take much to annoy me if I’m around someone who isn’t aligning with my thoughts and feelings.

Dealing with this type of conflict, both big and small, is something I need to get much better at which is why I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it. I guess thinking through it is the first step to figuring it out and it’s something that I’ll get a better handle on as time goes on.

To make this thought process a little more clear, here’s what I mean when I say when to accept, when to be patient and when to confront.

When To Accept

When in relationship there are going to be things that annoy you or that you don’t necessarily agree with or see the same way as the other person. Some of these things need to change and some of these don’t, it’s just the way the other the person is and it’s up to you to accept them.

If your husband is an insane football fan and you don’t even know what a first down is then you’re most likely not going to feel the same way. Instead of pushing against the harmless things that he really enjoys you should choose to accept it ever though you’re never going to feel the same way he does. You might not ever want to get tickets to a playoff game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hook him up with some if you have the opportunity.

When To Be Patient

There are other things that either you or the person you’re in a relationship will need to change eventually. These are what I would bucket into things that are worth being patient for. Most of the time these tend be smaller issues or habits that have been learned over time due to the environment someone has been a part of in the past.

Usually these types of things aren’t causing major immediate problems and wouldn’t be considered a deal-breaker but they need to change in order for you to have a healthy, loving and long-lasting connection to each other. Think of these as the annoying things that just aren’t going to be acceptable for the long term.

A good example of this is having a bad temper or not being willing to help with responsibilities that need to be taken care of in the relationship. With enough time they have the chance to be a big problem, but with a little patience and some open communication about them they can be taken care of before they become unbearable.

When To Confront

The last and most aggressive option is to confront something that needs to be talked about and openly addressed in a relationship. This is by far the hardest one for me and something I’ve been focusing on in my life. It’s not easy to confront the people you care about but it’s important to do it when the situation calls for it. This could be a one-off situation that you’re very uncomfortable with or something you’ve been patient about in the past that’s not going to change without confronting it.

Confrontation doesn’t mean you have to be mean or aggressive. Confronting something is more about getting something out into the open so it can be talked about instead of ignoring it for an unhealthy amount of time.

When it comes to confronting someone just be sure to take some time to think through what you’re feeling and what you want to communicate before you say it. Don’t bring in sarcasm and belittle the other person just to make them feel bad. Just tell them how what they’re doing makes you feel and how you would like them to change in order to make you feel more comfortable. It sounds kind of cheesy and isn’t as exciting as a full-out argument, but if done the right way inviting confrontation into your relationship can be a healthy way to communicate the things that are most important to you.

With the right mix of accepting, being patient and confronting relationships can move in the right direction and grow in all the right ways. It’s not easy but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s worth figuring out, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you. If you’re like me, it’s going to take a while to get the hang of it but I feel like just keeping these in mind helps a lot. Good luck and if you have any thoughts on this for me, I’d love to hear them (I could always use the help).

image credit: dailypositivequotes.com


The Big 3-3 And What This Last Year Has Meant To Me

Happy 33!

First question, when did I hit 30? Second question, am I really 33 already? According to my Facebook wall, random texts from Congo and future phone calls from friends and family it’s true so who’s to say otherwise? Ok, I’ll admit it — I’m creeping into my mid-30s. I guess the only thing that’s good about this whole “getting older” thing is that this past year was most likely one of the most positively transitional times of my life. Meaning, even though there was plenty of struggle for me in the past 365 days (you have no idea), last year was amazing to experience and I feel more blessed now than ever. In other words, I’m pretty sure I’m in my prime.

So what are some of the thing that have made my last year so valuable to me? I’m sure I could write a million things and go page after page but none of us really want that. We’re all busy people with limited time, which is why I’m happy to give you a Cliff Notes version instead.

To all of my friends and family who have been there for me over the past year, you’ll never have any idea what your love and support has meant to me. I love you and I hope you already knew that without me having to tell you in a blog. Moving on…

Learning what loving someone really means. There are plenty of ways to show that you love someone but the most powerful way is by doing what you know is right and fighting for what you believe. Always keeping someone happy isn’t loving them. Being honest, sacrifice and never letting go is love to the fullest.

Studying the Bible. I’m a strong believer that if I’m going to put my faith in Jesus Christ then I had better know what I’m signing up for. The Bible is the center of following Christ and although I feel a strong spiritual connection I didn’t feel like I knew enough about the word. To learn more about it I’ve been going to Bible Study Fellowship in SF for the past few months and it’s been a great way to dig deeper into my faith.

Becoming a morning person, for real. I’ve never been a morning person but as I got older and had more responsibility I felt like getting up early was the only option for squeezing in everything into one day. It’s been tough and I don’t always stick with it (like when I was in Indiana for the holidays) but I’m not well aware of the amazing benefits getting up at the crack of dawn and it’s becoming more of a habit every day.

Meeting Mo. Wow, what can I say about Mo other than the fact that he’s been one of the biggest blessing’s I’ve ever had in my life. If you would have told me that becoming friends with someone who’s homeless would end up shaping me into a man more than everything else in my life combined I would have called you crazy. The work that God is doing on Mo is nothing short of a miracle and how the relationship has challenged me personally isn’t too far behind. Of course, the fact that our story went viral all over the world was pretty crazy, too. That’s still hard to believe.

Realizing the value of real relationships. My entire life it’s been really easy for me to become friends with lots of people. What hasn’t always been easy for me is creating strong, personal and meaningful relationships with the people in my life who really matter most. This past year of my life I’ve focused on taking the time and making the effort to show those who mean the most to me how much I love them and all I hope is that they’ve noticed.

My connection to Congo. I’m really not sure how it happened but somehow, someway I’ve developed an amazing connection to Congo and the amazingly beautiful people who live there. Traveling there for the second time last year was an incredible experience for me and the time I was able to spend with my Congolese brothers and sisters is something I hold very dear to my heart. If you haven’t seen me dancing while in Congo I suggest you take a look, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I have a feeling my story with Congo isn’t close to being over and I can’t wait to see where God takes it next.

Seeing isocket grow into a real company. A little over three years ago I was the first employee at a small, unknown online advertising startup called isocket. I had no idea what I was doing and I knew nothing about the online advertising world but for some reason I felt like what we were doing was important and that our fearless leader, John Ramey knew exactly what he was doing. A couple rounds of funding and about fifteen more employees later we’re building a business that’s leading what’s predicted to be a multi-billion dollar market.

Killing caffeine. I’ve tried to kick the habit of downing Big Gulps full of Dew, brewing K-cups and heading to Starbucks but I always came back. A month or so I ago I decided for the last time that I’m done with caffeine and this time I’m sticking with it. When I’m in shape I don’t need it, I don’t like feeling dependent on it and it only makes me more anxious and over-energized anyway. If you know me you already know I’ve got plenty of energy to burn so cutting out caffeine was really the only option for me.

Dedicating time to writing. I guess this is becoming more apparent as I write more posts like this one you’re reading right now but I’ve been writing more than ever over the past year (and especially over the past couple of months). It’s a great way for me to get my thoughts together and I’m a believer in the power of sharing experiences with others as a way to help them with the things they’re dealing with in their lives. We were never meant to go through things along and getting my thoughts and experiences out to the world can only help.

I’m sure I missed some stuff but these are the handful of things that immediately came to mind when thinking back at all of the awesome things that have happened to me during my thirty-second year on this crazy planet of ours. I’m feeling great going into my thirty-third and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

If you have anything you would like to share with me on my birthday, I’d love to hear from you. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop in and spend time in my little corner of the internet and I can only hope that your past year was as fun and fulfilling as mine. Happy birthday to me and we’ll catch up soon.


photo credit: heartfish.com


Explain Yourself

For a long time in my life I never had to explain myself. If I made decisions I just did whatever I wanted and that was it. No reasons were needed whenever I did this or bought that. When I went here or went there. I had no one I reported to. I never had to explain myself. I’m guessing that most people’s college years and twenties were/are similar to this. Do what we want, when we want.

At this point in my life though that’s changed a lot. One of the places I notice it the most is my job at isocket. Working at a startup is a lot different than working at a big company. At a big company you’re told what to do most of the time and have a very specific role you’re filling. This means that there’s not a whole lot of explaining why you make certain decisions and most of the time you’re not making them on your own. At isocket it’s the complete opposite.

An example of explaining myself at work would be communicating to the team that we need to add a certain feature to our product as soon as possible. Once communicated, I would be asked why I feel like we need to add it, the evidence that I’ve seen in the market, the impact that adding this feature to our product would have on our business and why this certain feature is should be prioritized ahead of other features that we already have in our roadmap. In other words, I would need to clearly explain myself and why I felt the way I did about this new feature. Conversations like this happen multiple times a day at isocket and it’s something that any early employee at a startup needs to be able to handle.

Decisions that would take other companies weeks or months take us only a few minutes. But, with this speed and freedom comes a lot more accountability. Being able to articulate why you want to do something and what it will mean to our business is critical when making important decisions very quickly. This is really what being at a startup is all about. It can get a little crazy at times, but I can guarantee you’re never going to be bored.

Another good example of explaining myself is when I make decisions in my marriage and other relationships that are important to me. Making a decision is easy, but thinking about why you made it and being able to explain the reasoning behind it is what’s hard. But, the more you can facilitate these types of conversations in a healthy way the more you’re going to be able to understand others and the more they’re going to understand you.

Explaining yourself in a personal relationship is actually pretty similar to how it happens in business but the topics are going to be much different. For example, my wife might wonder why I took a certain route to IKEA instead of the way that she would usually go. This doesn’t seem like something that’s a big deal, but being able to explain even the smallest of decisions is important. Being able to say that I took a different route because I thought that there would be a lot of traffic the other way due to the time of day would be a simple and straight-forward explanation. Of course, how she accepts my explanation is important but that’s not in my control. I gave my honest explanation and it’s up to her how she handles it.

Sometimes going through this process isn’t easy and being asked to explain yourself can make you feel like you’re being attacked for no reason. More times than not this isn’t the case and it’s up to you to be able to give the reasoning behind the things that you’re doing. If you can’t explain your decisions or simply don’t want to that’s your choice but your viewpoint or way of doing things won’t be nearly as respected as if you did.

Between being married and working at isocket over the past few years this has been a real learning experience for me and I still struggle though it sometimes. But I know that figuring out a way to confidently give my honest reasoning behind the choices that I make will only help me become a better and stronger communicator. Boo yah.


Learn To Enjoy The Grind

Sometimes I find myself looking at amazing things that people have accomplished and fall into the trap of only appreciating what I’m seeing at that moment. Take the Olympics for example, those athletes are amazing and they look so cool doing their thing on the world stage. They’re the best of the best and I’ve found myself infatuated with watching them perform at the highest level possible.

I’ve never been so excited in my life to see someone do the backstroke than when 17 year-old Missy Franklin grabbed her gold medal. I was literally cheering on my couch. For swimming.

Seeing her grab that gold was really awesome but trying to imagine what all she went through to get there really blows me away. I played basketball at a Division II level on scholarship and I know how much time and effort it took me to get there. Now multiply that by about a thousand and you’re should be in the ballpark of what one of these Olympians have put themselves through to be in London.

I call all of the practices they didn’t want to wake up for, all the injuries they never wanted to have and all of the things that they missed due to the time commitment of being at their level “the grind”. They’ve gone through the grind and have made it through to the other side to show all of us what can happen when you stare it in the face and, amazingly enough, enjoy it.

Did they enjoy all of it? No way, they are human after all. But they learned to like and at least respect the grind that they knew would eventually separate them from everyone else at every, single level of competition. These are some physically gifted human beings but what helped them get to where they are is the grind. No one sees the grind but it’s the most important thing.

I’m not sure how this post turned into an ode to the Olympians but hey, that’s what happens when you’re writing and just go where your thoughts lead you while typing away on the train. I’ve been personally thinking about the different grinds in my life (work, relationships, fitness, faith, etc.) and have been working hard to not just make it through them, but to respect and even enjoy them. It’s amazing how it can change your attitude and help you see things more clearly in your life.

Don’t avoid the grind, learn to enjoy it.

One more thing, if you want another good example of a real person (a non-Olympian) putting this way of thinking to work, be sure to check out Randall Degges’ post about how he’s learned to see his grind of losing weight and being healthy as an opportunity to better himself. Nice work, dude.

photo credit: NYTimes.com

Love Isn’t Robotic

New habits (both good and bad) all start out as feeling awkward or unnatural and we’re born with abilities that make some easier to acquire than others. The rest of the habits we end up developing throughout our lives happen due some type or motivation and require repetition, time and effort.

Habits are forced, but they’re forced for a reason. Some reasons are personal and affect us individually. Others are meant to affect those outside of ourselves and have a wider impact on lives other than our own.

Personally I’m building a habit to run and to get in shape for the upcoming San Francisco marathon. On the other hand I’m building habits to be a better employee at work and they won’t only affect me, but my co-workers, investors, customers and others. I’m also building habits that will help me be a better husband and they will affect my wife and others who are invested in our relationship. Some groups get more affected than others, but you get the idea.

Habits are learned and although foreign to us initially they quickly become part of our routine. While we’re in the process of creating the new habits we aren’t being a fake or robotic version of ourselves, it’s more than that. We’re showing that we’re willing to invest the time and effort to change or improve something we’ve recognized we need.

With your significant other, building the right habits shows you’re willing to change for the benefit of the relationship. That’s something that should never be overlooked or taken for granted.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that love isn’t a habit, but the habits you create or change to support love really shows how much you care. Some of the habits aren’t going to feel natural for a while, but the fact that they’re being built specifically for the relationship shows more love than you might realize.

Love is learned and yes, love can be awkward but the struggles over time and the willingness to build habits for love are what will make it last forever.

Do you have any thoughts/experience on building habits for love? Share your brilliant knowledge with us in the comments below.

Are You Ready For A Relationship?

You know I’m married when I’m writing about things like this. Who would of ever thought that I would be giving relationship advice? Mr. non-committal himself has now turned into Dr. Phil. Awesome.

But there is something to be said about having experience with a fully committed relationship and the things you learn from it. I’ve been married for almost three years now and our relationship is far from perfect (believe me, we have our moments) but I’ve learned a lot of things along the way that I think could be helpful for those of you who are still looking for that Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Here are a few things I’ve learned up to this point. I’m by no means an expert but I do feel like I know a lot more than I did a few years ago. Take it or leave it and who knows, it might just be what you need to hear.

We’re All Selfish

This is a simple fact of life and part of being a human. We’re all programmed to take care of #1 before all else and to make things worse our culture is always telling us this over and over again. We can take care of ourselves, we don’t need anyone else’s help and I want what I want when I want it (or else). In a relationship you’re going to have to chip away at this little by little and eventually you’ll need to get to the point to where you’re giving more of yourself than you ever imagined possible. This might sound like a scary thing, but it’s actually a great place to find yourself if you can make it there.

The things in your life that you think make you who you are will need to become less important, which is going to be a hard pill to swallow. Your workouts will be harder to squeeze in, your work will have a beginning and an end time and you’ll find yourself doing things that your significant other cares about that you never paid attention to or ever wanted to do before. Oh, and you’re going to be communicating more than you ever have in your entire life. Sounds awesome, huh? (it actually is if you can get it all figured out)

Are you losing who you are? No. You’re just becoming the person you never knew you could be.

Relationships Take Work

This sounds really bad when you say it to someone who’s single but anyone who’s been married for longer than a year will tell you that there’s a lot of work needed to keep a relationship going. A lot of people think that things will just happen the way they should in a relationship, but that’s just not the case. Can it move along smoothly for a while without too much effort? Sure, but that’s going to eventually fade away and then it’s time to get to work on what you really want.

This isn’t the traditional roll-up-your-sleeves kind of work. This is being aware of what you need in a relationship and communicating it to others in a way that can be understood. It’s also understanding what the other person in your relationship needs and how to make sure they’re getting what they need in a way that’s healthy for your relationship as a whole. It takes planning, forethought, being intentional and communicating in a way that the other person in your relationship understands (not just in a way that you do).

This work shouldn’t scare you away from being in a relationship but it should help you set some expectations so you’re not completely blindsided by what it takes to keep one going in the right direction. Communicate on a ridiculous level to each other even when it feels so awkward you want to throw up. That feeling is you being molded into someone who can help build something special with another person. Embrace the work and it will pay off, just don’t shy away from it or avoid it. It’s the easy way out and it’s tempting, but you’re better than that.

Don’t Be Who You Think They Want, Be Who You Are

One of the early mistakes I made in my marriage and even in some of my earlier relationships was becoming who I thought someone else wanted me to be and not who I actually was. With the other relationships it was just an easy way to keep things smooth, exciting and moving along at a pace I liked but it can only last so long and it was exhausting.

This isn’t necessarily being a completely different person when you’re around someone else — it can simply be not speaking up about things you feel you should talk about or avoiding conflict for the sake of not upsetting someone else. This is something I dealt with in my relationships with women, my close friends and even family and I still struggle with it today. I feel like this topic could be an entire series of posts for me, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

I think the reason why I always did this was simple, it got me what I wanted quicker. Whether it was getting a girl or a group of people I just met to like me faster, it just made things easy. I could turn on the charm and it would fast track me to where I wanted to be. I still find myself doing this in certain situations and to be honest it’s a great quality of mine but it’s only good for getting people’s attention should never be a long term way to manage my relationships (great for networking events, traveling, etc.). I’m figuring all of this out even today and it’s exciting to learn more about myself and how I create, build and manage my relationships with my wife, family, friends and co-workers. I’m learning to be who I am and to be ok with it. More and more I’m finding my identity in my faith, which is another topic I’ll write more about in the future.

If you’re going to be in a relationship that lasts you need to be who you really are — the good, the bad and the ugly. You can change some of the things that need some improvement, but you need to do that together. That’s part of the messiness and what will bring you closer to whoever you’re sharing these types of things with. Someone once said that people admire you when you seem perfect but they love and respect you when you’re open with your own weaknesses. None of us are perfect and I think they might be right.

I’m not sure if all of this makes sense but it does to me and I’m realized that whatever I’ve gone through others have or are going through the same things, too. If you’re someone who needs to hear what I’m saying I hope it helps and if you have any comments for me I’d love to hear ’em.

I’m Back From Congo And My Head Is Spinning

Sometimes you just need to start typing and see what happens next. I think that’s what I’m going to do today since my mind seems to be thinking about a million different things at the same time. If there was a better way to organize the inside of my head I would be more than happy to do it, but that’s just not the case. Instead I’m going to ramble a bit and see what comes out. Yeah, that seems like the best way to do things at this point.

First off, I’m just a couple of days back from my trip to Congo, which is a little hard to handle. Not only am I physically tired from the two week trip and the 30+ hour travel home, but the juxtaposition of that world vs. the reality of San Francisco is shocking to the system. We have so much and they have so little. We’re always looking for more and they’re just trying to survive. We have order and infrastructure and they have complete chaos. We’re always trying to squeeze our faith into our lives and their faith in Jesus Christ is off the charts.

Being one place and then hopping into a few jets and being in the other can really make your head spin with questions, which is what I’m feeling right now. I want to make the most of my experience in Congo, but at this point it’s hard to explain what I’m feeling in a way that makes sense to someone who wasn’t there with me. I guess I just need to keep processing and do my best not to forget the people I met and the things that I saw.

Stephanie and I went to Congo together last year and it’s something that neither of us will ever forget, but this year I headed there solo. This makes it harder to talk through, but I’m doing my best to share the experience with her and I’m hoping that the videos and photos that we have will help me tell a better story to her. I know it’s never easy being the one who stays home while the other is out on an adventure of a lifetime, but that’s how it happened this time around and I need to make sure that she still feels like she’s a part of the trip. It’s not going to be easy, but that’s my goal.

I love Stephanie more than anything and it’s been hard to be away from her for so long (SXSW for a week, then Congo for two weeks and tomorrow she leaves for her spring break for a week). We haven’t had a ton of time to talk through what’s been going on in our lives, but tonight we’re having date night which I hope will get us on the same page. We’re not the best at communicating with one another, but we’re getting better and we both know it’s important to let each other know how we’re feeling, whether it’s good or bad.

Heading back to work the day after getting back to the US might not have been the best idea, but it was good to see the isocket crew again. It’s only been two weeks since I left but in the world of a startup lots of things can go on during that seemingly short amount of time. My workday consisted of attempting to explain what my trip was like in the span of a short conversation and catching up on my emails.

From what I could tell things have been going well while I’ve been gone and isocket continues to grow in ways that I could have never imagined back when I was hired as the first employee a couple of years ago. It’s exciting and fun to be part of a team that’s trying to do something that’s never been done before and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to help make it happen. It’s a roller coaster, but I guess that’s what I signed up for.

Other than that it’s been great to have warm showers again and to snuggle up with Frank (our Pug). It’ll be nice to have this weekend to get things cleaned up and washed and to have some time to get more of thoughts together. Oh, and the Final Four is this weekend, too which is pretty awesome since I’ve missed all of the March Madness up until this point.

But, until then it’s back to work and I need to get off on the next train station so we’ll catch up later. Here’s to an awesome rest of your Friday and have a fabulous weekend (I know I will).