Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living

September had no business travel, so of course October had to make up for it. Combined with a 3-stop speaking tour, I had a trip to our LA headquarters and another to Seattle for a meeting on the Microsoft campus. Sprinkled in-between were some wonderful personal trips in Ontario and Pennsylvania. I’ve lost track of how many miles were spent in the air, but 2,226 miles were spent in a car. Tonite will be the first night in my own bed in 3 weeks.

Travel creates lots of time for reflection — especially when it has you re-treading old paths. In Seattle, I got an afternoon to visit the sweet spot we used to call home in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The event I spoke at in New York was 20 minutes from the apartment where our oldest two kids were born. I also circumnavigated Lake Ontario for the first time ever, and got to enjoy breath-takingly beautiful views of the Thousand Islands — a place I am resolved to visit again with the family.

A particularly interesting stop was at a conference in Pennsylvania with ABWE, a missions organization with a long history of enabling incredible good, and briefer history of hiding incredible evil. We were interested to see what had become of the folks that sent my family to Bangladesh in my youth, and after reading many books on the topic, learn a little more about what’s happening in that still-troubled country. Some things have definitely changed: their website and missionary training now contains clear and unequivocal information on the safety and protection of children, and they’ve launched a tech ministry that has the stated purpose of partnering with, and enabling, nationals to reach their own people. Some things have not changed: I spoke to a missionary who felt over-worked on the field and that his family suffered as a result, and we heard from an executive team that is still 90% old white American dudes — not exactly a diverse crew. Still, even the white dudes were espousing some progress: that our families are our most important work, and that Americans might not always be God’s premier messengers in some parts of the world.

Each of the stops had a certain percentage of “what if” to them. We’d probably be a good deal more wealthy if we still lived in Seattle. Things might be easier if we lived somewhere in Ontario. I spoke at a really cool college in New York, maybe I could have made a career path out of that, if we’d stayed there. And of course an organization like ABWE could launch us almost anywhere in the world. We don’t really have any data to suggest that any other option would be better than the one we’ve selected, but the weight of other possibilities is sometimes overwhelming. We turn 40 next year — have we done everything we should have by this point? Our oldest becomes a teenager in just a couple months — are we doing a disservice to our kids by giving them such an easy, comfortable life?

Travel is expensive with a family of five. Banking miles on business travel takes me far away from my kids, but buys us opportunities to take them on little adventures. The next few we have planned will be fun and easy ones, but I wonder if its time to show them a little more of the world.

So Long Sweet Summer

And what a summer it was! Its hard to believe this August marks 3 years in Ohio, but to make up for it, we had to go almost everywhere else!


We continued our annual Family Camp tradition, saw dear friends and much missed family in Ontario — including a parent’s weekend away in Niagara Falls, flew to Calgary, then drove through the Rockies to Lake Moyie, BC where the whole Wise clan reunited for the first time in years, and we got to visit with more good friends who live on the West coast. Nic and the kids got more time in Ontario, while I went to Vegas for work. And we attended 3 separate, but equally special weddings of young people we’ve known…since we were young! All that pretty much filled up our July, so with school starting early here, we stayed around home for a few weeks, where we’d invested in a membership at a private pool club for the summer.
Once the kids were settled back into school, and with much thanks to Nana and Papa for babysitting for a week, Nic and I took advantage of a work trip to Australia — scratching one big destination off our bucket list.
I spent the work days helping out, and speaking at an event, and we spent most evenings, and a good chunk of our last day exploring the amazing city of Sydney, and a nearby national park. Driving on the wrong side of the road in big city traffic was scary, and it was “winter” there (lows in the mid-60s) — plus that 23 hour trip is not to be taken lightly — but it was totally worth it. We even got lucky and spotted some wild kangaroos!

On an organizational note, the Internet has changed a lot since this site was first created, so I’ve re-arranged some functions to take better advantage of free services that are available (and reduce our need for other services that are no longer free/safe.) All of our pictures from this summer can be found via a link on the new home page of www.jonandnic.com — the clue to figuring out the password is there, too, and should be easy enough for anyone we know!