Monday, December 12, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
"(We) know from experience the joy that comes from being able to do for another person. You have done much for me, and I will always be grateful to you for what you have given me. Part of my gratitude, however, is the result of seeing you so happy in giving me so much. It is so much easier to be grateful for a gift given in joy than for a gift given with hesitation or reluctance."
- Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Life of the Beloved
This book is written in the from of a letter from Nouwen to one of his best friends, a man who does not share his faith. It is an incredible read for those who already believe in Christ. Nouwen (along with his disciple, Brennan Manning) writes in a poignant manner that identifies with the pain of the human condition while staying focused on our capacity for joy, love and hope. I'm loving the way this book speaks to me and it's reigniting a flame that's been a little dim lately.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
- Colin Noonan, one of my new roommates (and new friends), in his prayer before my birthday steaks.
Thanks, dude, the rapidly thinning hair and sore knees aren't enough of a reminder.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
When I think of people passing away ... I think the best way to honor someone's life is to reevaluate your own life.
I'm fortunate in that I'm not going through this type of situation now, but when I am, I'll remember these wise words from a good friend going through a tough time.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
It's raw, but amazing. Mumford tells yet another story in a beautiful, meaningful way. I can't wait to hear more from these guys.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I grew up a huge Duke fan thanks to my grandfather being an alumnus. That, combined with the fact that the Steelers are not on in phoenix, led to an interest in the ESPN special "Coach K's Record Climb." The following quote caught my ear:
"I like anger, anger destroys bad things."
Monday, November 7, 2011
The band's newest album, Ceremonials, is their sophomore effort. Conveniently, it came out last Tuesday, a day I was traveling back to Phoenix from San Diego. I picked it up and listened to it a couple times during my six hour drive. I'm going to have to listen to it a little more for a full opinion, but it is definitely very good. The following is the lead single off the album, "What the Water Gave Me." While the video doesn't do a whole lot for me, the song is incredible. Listen. Enjoy.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
1. I witnessed a Yuma County employee in her government vehicle reading as she drove down the 60, at night, with her dome light on.
2. A large truck with a large fifth wheel trailer sped past me with many border patrol vehicles trailing it. The border patrol vehicles boxed the truck in, forcing it to pull over. I will be watching the local news to see if they mention exactly what that was all about.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
In the description, they even got their little bit of history correct. Now I just wish I had a couch so that I could wish that I would find $28 worth of change in it to afford this sweet little throwback.
Although I will say that it would be even sweeter if it said VPI on it instead of Virginia Tech.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
The best thing I got out of the movie was before it even started. When they put random stuff up on the screen before the previews, this quote popped up:
"To the world you may just be one person, but to one person you may just be the world"
Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
First off, the song is awesome. It's well written and describes intricacies of a breakup that we often find so hard to articulate. The vocals are great. The body art is well done. The two players interact incredibly well. Watch his facial expressions as she begins to tell her side. It's so simple, and yet I find this video to be both visually and sonically captivating.
Gotye has a whole bunch of artsy,strange music videos. The sampling of music I have heard from him is making me a fan. His new Making Mirrors album is on my short list of music to pick up right now.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
In early June, Michael, the manager of Amor's operations in San Carlos, decided to step down. Initially, this was merely useful and somewhat disappointing information for me. Michael is a great guy and I was really bummed that I would not get to work with him much more. I briefly considered the opening as an opportunity for me, but immediately put that thought to rest. I was having an incredible time in San Diego. I had the best relationships I believed a guy could ask for, I loved the culture and community there and I was enjoying my job. I still felt like I was growing and learning and, contrary to what I had thought possible just a year earlier, I considered San Diego home. There was simply no way I was going to leave my home for a new place and tougher job description. This was not in the cards. I think I believed that I deserved some time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of the labor I had put in since I had moved to San Diego. It had been a hard but formative year, this next year was going to be about me continuing to grow, but without so many of the challenges and difficulties I had recently faced. I was going to relax and get what I wanted.
Slowly, my heart started to change. While I had been too obtuse to pick up on the message, I had been getting prodded about being challenged by some people very close to me. God had grown me over the past year to be sure and I was being challenged emotionally and spiritually every day. Nevertheless, I felt I had more to offer Amor than what was being asked of me as a field specialist. Some of the people around me helped me come to this realization. Once I made it, this conclusion was inescapable. I knew that managing our pilot program in San Carlos would give me tremendous opportunities to learn and exercise my abilities. I also knew that from this position, I would have a greater chance to be a part of and influence the direction that Amor went in the future. Being content with growing emotionally and spiritually was not an acceptable reason to turn away from these realities.
As I considered applying for the position more seriously, I started to feel out the people around me and I discovered a problem with being part of a massive mutual admiration club. Everyone thought I would be great and should go for it. As a result, I got a little skeptical about taking their encouragement seriously. I searched for people that had a great degree of insight on who I was, what my desires were and what I was up against. Ultimately, there were three who's voices rose above the rest. My father spoke strongly of my abilities, the opportunities ahead of me and all that God could do through me as long as I stayed faithful. My manager at the time, Jon Wilson, was incredible as well. He was convinced of my abilities and gave me his support in a number of ways. With so many people who knew me so well behind me, I decided to interview for the position. My interviews went great. For the most part, I felt I presented myself and my vision for the position very well. I was sure that my interviewers were impressed, would prayerfully consider me and would determine that I wasn't ready to take on this role. That's right, I felt I did my absolute best and I just wasn't the guy for the job. While I was disappointed I wouldn't get the opportunity, I was okay because I knew I had given it a shot and also knew God was in control of the decision making process. Of course, it wouldn't hurt that I would get to have that time to relax either.
Little did I know, the people that I had trusted to wisely and prayerfully reject me had decided to offer me the position. I immediately lost faith in the process. I could not figure out how leadership at Amor deemed me ready to take on such a huge responsibility. Nevertheless, I accepted the position and, after I recovered from my shell shock, felt confident that with the support of the people around me God was going to do great things with this opportunity. I was pumped. I was going to keep my friends in San Diego, visit all the time and I knew that God was going to provide me with a similar community in Phoenix. I marveled at what I was being given. Who has the chance to serve others and make incredible friends all over the country? I rode on an emotional high full of disbelief and excitement for a period of several weeks, then came the reality check.
Things started to change more quickly than I thought and I realized all that I was leaving behind and how much I would miss everyone and everything in San Diego. It was not that long ago that I learned to call San Diego home. I was surrounded by people that I believed I would be living in community with for a long, long time. This was a much tougher transition than the one that I made away from Virginia. When I came to California, I knew it was time for some significant changes in my life. I knew that I had a tremendous amount of growth to go through as a man and I knew I needed to take a leap of faith for God to do what he wanted with me. It was time for me to leave the life I was living and start a new one. I had 100% clarity. This was not the case this time around. I was not convinced that it was time for me to say goodbye to all that I held so dear in San Diego. I also felt that there was a significant amount of work that God could still do on me with the position and relationships I had.
Despite my confusion and disappointment, my decision had been made. I made a commitment to God and Amor. At this point, people were counting on me. Although I was struggling to move forward, I received a lot of encouragement from my friends, family and coworkers. In spite of my doubts and lack of confidence moving forward, everyone else was sure that this was the right step for me and that I was primed to succeed. The three weeks preceding my move were the hardest. I desperately wanted to stay home in San Diego right up until the moment that I pulled away. As I got in the car, I dreaded the lonely hours ahead as I ventured through a no man's land between what I considered home and a place I refused to believe I could ever really call home.
But God is good. I had a couple of solid conversations on the road. I put on some fun music that meant absolutely nothing to me. I rocked out. I raced through the desert. I had a good time. I can't say that God said anything profound to me in those moments, but I can say that he at least temporarily lifted a burden from my heart. As I entered into the broad, low lying expanse of lights that make up the greater Phoenix area at night, I felt those lights start to penetrate my soul. I started to again understand the opportunity laid before me. As much as I had wanted San Diego to be a place where I settled down for a number of years, it was just a place of growth and transition for me, and that is okay. I will maintain the awesome friendships that I was blessed with while there. The fact is that I am still on the cusp of a new stage in my life and Phoenix is going to be the home to that stage. I have no idea what God has in store for me right now, but all of the next big things are going to happen here. Already, new people are finding their way into my life and making an impact on me. This is an extremely exciting place to be. I just have to remain confident and faithful that despite the losses I feel, God has brought me here, is with me, will guide me and make me more like the man I was made to be.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
As I start a new life here in Phoenix, it's comforting to know the sunrise is just as awesome.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The main purpose of Family Dinner is to provide a community for people. Inside of that community, everyone is welcome to bring a dish or beverage of their choice, along with all the great things going on in their life and all the garbage they have to deal with. At a time when I was new in San Diego, going through tough transitions and in desperate need of community, everyone at Family Dinner welcomed me and made me feel wanted and loved. Although there were a couple of strong personalities that were completely too forward and intrusive at times, they were always ready to welcome me, accept my loud mouth and sense of humor and have a lot of fun. All through last fall, I could not miss family dinner when I was in town for it. At one point, when I was having a hard time over an extended period, I remember telling Drew that a particular trip to Family Dinner was the first time I had been able to forget about the things that were weighing on me and just enjoy myself in several weeks.
The community that has been created at Family Dinner is a marvelous manifestation of God's love. The table is full of smiles, jokes and encouragement and anyone is welcome to a seat. After eating, everyone is encouraged to share a little bit about themselves and talk about their highs and lows from the preceding week. Although there is no evangelistic pressure, we share about God and pray over every meal. Following many of our prayers over the meals we ate, we also recited the Lord's Prayer. The simple act of this recital ignited in me a love of the Lord's Prayer that I had not previously possessed.
I cannot say enough about Family Dinner and what it has meant to me during my time in San Diego. To everyone that's ever been a part of it, Thank you.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
A couple of weeks ago I was out in Globe, AZ. Globe is a small town right on the border of the San Carlos Apache Reservation where Amor began building homes just last year. Globe is a small, depressed mining town. I am still learning a lot about the history of The Rez and Globe. It appears that The Rez was established for the San Carlos Apaches around 1871 with Globe as a part of it, but some of the area was the subject of some contention due to the existence of valuable metals. In 1875, silver was found in the Globe area. At that time, Globe was removed from the Rez and given it's current name. The silver reserves were quickly depleted within the next four years, but copper still remained. In the years since, Globe has remained primarily a copper mining town. As such, it lacks development and it kind of takes a good, hard look to start to see some of it's charm.
Conversely, my interest and appreciation for the Pinal Mountain area, rising beautifully above Globe, came immediately. The San Carlos area is high desert, sitting at about 3,500 feet in elevation. The Pinal Mountains, also an area hotly contended at one time due to the existence of silver, gold and copper, elevate about 4,000 feet above Globe. Traveling up into the Pinal Mountains from Globe offers the opportunity to travel through several ecosystems, from the desert floor, through beautiful pine forests to the mountain top, all within Tonto National Forest.
I have had the opportunity to explore the desert area on foot. Turning south out of our camp puts me on a paved, tree shaded road that quickly gives way to dirt. Shortly thereafter, it opens up into a typical dirt and stone southwest landscape and enters into Tonto National Forest. I have enjoyed many out and back runs from camp usually amounting to seven or eight miles round trip. My run essentially takes me through desert on a dry jeep road. I've chosen one ridge with a beautiful 360 degree view as my typical turnaround point. I love being on this ridge close to sunset. My experience has shown that no sunset beats a desert sunset. Add to that the fact that I've climbed about 1,000 feet in elevation over 3.5-4 miles and have a clear downhill run to the bottom, and I feel wonderful when I'm on that ridge.
I love that I have such easy access to this run and appreciate it, but what I've really wanted is to explore the Pinal Mountains to the southwest. They start just off of my route, with the peaks seeming just a mile or two a way (mountain peaks always look closer than they are). It seems like a geographic impossibility that the thick pine forests could exist on the sides and tops of these mountains. The pines also remind me of back home on the east coast. Finally, I found out that there are some well traveled bike trails in the mountains. I knew exactly what the trails would look and feel like up there based upon the riding I've done in heavily wooded areas back east. This is a different kind of trail than what you typically experience in the southwest, with thick, soft packed dirt singletrack. It is a type of trail I definitely miss. I've wanted to get up into the Pinals on my bike for months, but have been repeatedly thwarted.
The first time I brought my bike out to Globe, I went for a ride. Unfortunately, while still rolling out on dirt fire road, both my tire and tube got ripped open by something I did not see. Given the severity of the damage, I am sure that it was a mountain troll armed with a machete. Sadly, I never saw him coming. The damage to the tire ruled out a quick tube change and I had to limp the bike back to camp. I made it out with my bike a couple more times, but my job always got in the way of my fun and I was not able to commit the better part of a day to my ride. Then, I couldn't ride for about three or four months for reasons which will probably be addressed on this blog at some point.
In case I haven't communicated it clearly enough, I wanted to ride the Pinal Mountains badly and for a very long time. A couple of weeks ago, I finally got my chance. I was utterly and completely prepared. I visited the ranger station to get as good a grasp on the trails as I possibly could. I had my bike dialed in, with an almost new rear tire. I was loaded to the gills with water, had energy gels and food. I took off from camp around 7 a.m.. I had no immediate time commitments. I had done everything right and was prepared to enjoy a stress-free day in the mountains at which I had stared longingly so many times.
I started up my running route on my bike and was feeling good. I branched off on a trail that I had just discovered on a map to the southwest, which would ultimately lead me into the Pinals. There were moments that the trail became unclear and some was unrideable, providing momentary frustrations. I was still exploring and it was still cool in the desert, so I was having a great time. There is something about traveling through a new area of wilderness on your own. You consider yourself an intrepid explorer. You are a man. It's a lot like having a gnarly beard. But not as itchy.
Then the droppings started. I found very large animal droppings on the trail at fairly regular intervals. The initial thought was that they could be horse droppings, but I grew up in horse country and this did not look like the work of a horse. It seemed larger, a different consistency. They contained berries and other random things. These droppings were not the product of a domesticated animal. This animal was surely something large and something wild. As you read this, you will think I am out of my mind, but as a person alone with only some idea of where I was, the following conclusions seemed totally obvious.
1. I have spent time around horses, bears and other large animals. These droppings looked like nothing I have ever seen.
2. One animal I have not really seen in the wild is a big cat, such as a mountain lion. Since these were droppings I had never seen before, they clearly belonged to an animal I had never seen before. These droppings belonged to a mountain lion.
3. This animal had voided it's stomach quite often. When you void your stomach, you get hungry. This was a hungry mountain lion.
4. Based upon the freshness of some of the droppings, this animal was close by, at least sometimes. There was a hungry mountain lion nearby, sometimes.
5. I was carrying food with me and, being somewhat out of shape, I am probably very tender and delicious. I would make an ideal meal for a mountain lion.
6. A HUNGRY MOUNTAIN LION WAS NEARBY, HUNGRY AND CONSIDERABLY FASTER THAN ME. IT WAS GOING TO SNEAK UP ON ME VERY SOON, EAT SOME OF MY FACE, BUT LEAVE MY HEAD MORE OR LESS INTACT, THEN DEVOUR ME, STARTING WITH MY FEET SO THAT I WOULD FEEL EVERY PAINFUL BITE UNTIL ROUGHLY MY ABDOMEN AT WHICH TIME I MAY OR MAY NOT MERCIFULLY DIE OR GO INTO SHOCK. THERE WAS NO WAY I WOULD MAKE IT THROUGH THIS RIDE ALIVE. WHY DID I LOVE MOUNTAIN BIKING AND THE WILDERNESS!? THEY ARE TERRIBLE, DANGEROUS THINGS THAT WILL RELIEVE ME OF A LIFE I QUITE ENJOY AND STEAL ME FROM MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY. WHY DON'T I OWN AND CARRY A GUN!? A BIG ONE!? I DO NOT WANT TO DIE!!!!!!
Like I said, seems kinda crazy now, but these were perfectly reasonable conclusions in my mind at the time.
The wondrous new place I was "discovering" moments ago now became a dangerous, strange place. One that although beautiful, was not where I wanted to choose for my final, premature resting place. This sort of change in perception affects the way one sees everything. Soothing sounds of the forest became the sounds of a big cat moving stealthily toward me. My fun bike ride was now a terrifying fight for survival. I rode and hiked up the mountain, expecting that the droppings would disappear with each change in environment and vegetation. They never did. I often hiked rather than rode simply because it somehow seemed safer to walk than ride when being stalked by a ferocious predator. My fear completely overtook my ride. I reached Squaw Peak which was beautiful, at an elevation of nearly 7,400 feet. I hiked and road through breathtaking forest and deserted campsites. I gazed out on overlooks of desert and mountains. I saw cows at the peak of the mountain (odd and kinda funny). I rode a steep descent, harrowing at some moments. I experienced everything a ride can offer. The views, the challenge, wildlife, forest, desert, hiking, technical trails and smooth singletrack. I hardly enjoyed a moment of it, because I was too preoccupied with escaping a beast that I could not escape if it chose to make me it's prey.
Thankfully, I survived this near-death experience. An experience that didn't really happen. Because there was no mountain lion. If there was a hungry mountain lion on the same trail as me, I wouldn't be typing this. I would be a lifeless half-corpse on the side of a trail in Arizona, with my face chewed off. My "mountain lion" not only stole the joy I would typically feel while doing something I love, but replaced that joy with fear, trepidation, and self doubt. Given that I spent so much time walking and worrying, it didn't just steal the joy of doing something I love, it stopped me from doing it altogether.
I find that this happens a lot in life. Whether it's a new adventure or your everyday, irrational fears can come and steal your joy. Sometimes, like in my case, your imagination is much to blame. Imagination is a wonderful thing, but not when it behaves like this. Sometimes it's self doubt that sneaks in. Often times you've done everything you possibly can to succeed and enjoy yourself and you just can't. I wish I had a good answer to cope with these sorts of fears and the damage they cause. If I did, I would have enjoyed my ride a lot more. I guess it might not help that much, but it's important to remember these fears are not from God. He wants something more for us. He wants us to experience reconciliation and confidence in him. He wants us to enjoy every person and opportunity we have in our lives, with his creation.
What is your mountain lion? What's keeping you from enjoying life and loving yourself, nature and the people around you? You don't have to beat it or kill it. You don't have to outrace it. Climbing a tree won't get you away from it. If it is at all like a mountain lion, you'll know none of these efforts will help you escape. There is only one thing to do. Realize it doesn't exist. You were created to be in harmony with creation and you have been reconciled with God and creation. Whatever is stopping you from experiencing creation and relationships in all their glory simply do not exist. Accept this reconciliation and live in the freedom it provides. It's a lot better than spending your time scared over meaningless $#!^.
|Lush greenery reminds me of the east coast. Never would have expected this given the surrounding desert.|
|There were eagles flying overhead during these photos, but I failed to capture them.|
|Started at about 3,500 feet a little after seven. Not a bad morning.|
|Return to the beautiful desert.|
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Being out for a run and feeling like I literally might crap my pants is not a new circumstance. I think pretty much anyone that runs regularly has had this experience. There's something unique about running that I think just tends to jostle things around and sort of work the contents of your intestines downward. When this happens, you have a decision to make. This quandary is often partially predicated upon the amount of pressure you're experiencing. When the pressure is minimal but the need is urgent, you can open up your stride and get home as quickly as possible. When you've got the Mexico feeling going on, it's best to focus on maintaining control over the situation while getting home in a responsible but timely fashion. If you misjudge urgency or need or simply just find things are beyond your control you may have to take quick action and end up in the woods on the side of the road or bang on some unsuspecting condo owner's door. Although it's not the most family friendly phrase, I would articulate this event as "losing your $#!^."
Most of my focus for the latter part of my run was reserved for two things: Suppressing the attention I gave to all the aches and pains I was feeling and retaining the contents of my colon. Despite this commitment of my mental faculties, I did have a little left over to reflect over how much this particular run resembled starting anew in other areas of life.
Over the past fifteen months, I've had a lot of new starts. There have been a new internship, new jobs, new relationship, and constantly changing circumstances. Right now, I am about to make a huge transition I have yet to share here. I have learned that their are three main ways the people typically deal with massive life changes:
1. Lose it.
2. Throw caution to the wind, don't think too much and go full speed ahead (Sprint home).
3. Move forward thoughtfully and cautiously (Focus and get home in as long as it takes).
Many of my closest friends both here and back on the east coast have been going through major life changes as well. I have seen myself and others employ all three of these mechanisms in coping with big life change. Sometimes things get overwhelming and you just lose it. It's happened to me a few times lately. This can be a jarring, disorienting experience. Generally, when this happens, your problem becomes someone else's (that poor condo owner) and you sometimes have a mess to clean up. Human emotions and breakdowns can be pretty crazy things and the fallout is often dramatic. Every now and then you lose it. It's a fact of life, it's beyond your control. If you're lucky though, you've got some people you can count on and you can trust them to not spread the word that it happened.
When I moved out here, I threw caution to the wind. This was easy because everything seemed to fall into place. It seemed obvious that this was where I was being called. Nearly everyone in my life echoed and supported this conclusion. When I had to fundraise for my internship, the money I needed came quickly from many generous people (thanks so much!). I got out here and made a ton of great friends. A full time position opened up and it seemed meant for me. I met an awesome young lady. Work went well. Everything seemed ordained and inspired. I didn't think too much. I didn't have to. I opened things up, moved forward and asked for God's blessing. I found myself at home and comfortable.
Now I'm looking at a daunting new life change and challenge. Although I am certain that I have made the right decision in choosing to take on this challenge, I am intimidated and, at times, feel as if I am going to lose it. It seems that there is a lot of pressure (mostly self-applied) and a high penalty for failure. On the flipside, there is a lot of potential for some incredible things to happen with this new opportunity. As a result, I'm tempted to sprint all out into it, throw caution to the wind, commit myself to a direction and hope and pray for the best. Instead, I'm taking the third approach this time around. I'm thinking a lot and I'm considering plans and systems I need to design and implement in order to assure that I don't lose it. Thinking about all that I have to do and want to control, there is something else I have to realize as well. Just like my running example above, I'm involved in a lot of things I can't control. No matter which strategy I utilize, if my body decides something needs to happen, it's going to happen. Similarly, I will find myself at the mercy of a lot of outside stimuli and circumstances as I forge ahead into this new challenge.
I believe that the secret to future success will be preparation and utilizing every resource I have at my disposal while still finding a way to relinquish control. This release will manifest itself in trusting others to guide me and help me in my areas of weakness. Additionally, it will help to understand that no matter how well I believe I am handling things, sometimes small failures and losses are inevitable. Finally, this relinquishment will help me stay humble in the face of both failure and success. Knowing that I am a very small part of everything that is going on and that God is truly the one in control is critical. It will help me to not put too much stock in my successes or my failures. Because neither of them are really mine. The truth is that I'm taking on something that I can't do. That's alright though, because I like stepping out in faith and I'm kind of fond of the following quote:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
A few months ago, I was driving through the desert in Joshua Tree National Park with five of my closest friends. As I looked at the sand, rocks and sparse vegetation, seemingly ravaged by the sun, I remarked, "This is beautiful desolation." We gazed at the deep, far-reaching emptiness, which nevertheless appeared to be so artfully crafted, and I considered the parallels between the beauty and wonder we observed and that which exists within us. I believe us to be broken creatures. We struggle against selfish ambitions and strive to fill voids in our lives every day. The amazing thing to me is that there is an even greater truth behind this brokenness. What we have become and what we struggle with does nothing to discount the image we were created after and what we were designed to be. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Thus, I considered my own beautiful desolation and considered it as a possibly poetic and fitting title for my blog and my story.
Then I gave all of this some more thought.
It's true, we're broken and we fall short of the creation we were meant to be, but there is nothing desolate about man. Additionally, there is nothing desolate about my story. My story, just like that of creation, is one of being fallen, but also of grace, love and redemption. I am in the process of Becoming and being reclaimed. Oswald Chambers shares the following profound insight:
Another reason I love the new name is that it takes me out of the equation. My story is part of a greater, more comprehensive one. The full story of God is far more fascinating and has far more implications than my own. There is a far greater reclamation happening. When we live out the tenets Jesus taught, we help to bring the kingdom now. Whether it affects the way we treat other people, our work, money or the earth, we can help to reclaim creation for it's rightful purpose. This blog is merely the lens through which I view this reclamation (admittedly, I screw around and make jokes here a lot as well). Ultimately, this is not about me doing work. It's just a retelling of a minute part of The Beautiful Reclamation. I'm in it enough. There's no need to have my name up top.
I anticipate this new name precipitating some other changes. A different URL could be in order. Blogger has not proven to be a 100% successful platform, so I'm also thinking about making the jump to tumblr. This all prompts me to recognize the biggest reason that I am a crappy blogger. I am lazy and get overwhelmed easily. While I think there are other items that could improve the experience and accessibility here, these changes are not nearly as easy to make as simply changing the name of the blog. As a result, I simply pulled up the text box that allowed me to type in a new title and will wait on everything else. As time goes by, I will probably get overwhelmed by the idea of making these additional changes and shelve the ideas altogether. This may or may not be the exact same reason that it has been so long since I last posted. I was lazy and failed to type anything for awhile. Then I started to get overwhelmed. It became clear to me that whenever I came back, my first new post would have to be the best thing I had ever written. I mean, if it's taking me so long to post, it must be for good reason, right? But I knew I wasn't capable of posting the best thing I had ever written. According to your views, this is the best post I've ever written and I frankly don't know if I'll ever top it for pure entertainment value. The interest my readers have shown in a ridiculous post with different, creepy facial hairstyles is actually extremely discouraging. You guys are weird.
So, you're reading the blog of lazy person that is easily overwhelmed. I'm not going to make any promises about turning over a new leaf or any such idea. Maybe I'll post again this week, maybe I won't. Maybe this will be the last post I ever type. Okay, it won't be. I didn't mean that. Please check back often. Some really awesome things have been happening lately that I would love to share. If I don't get too lazy and overwhelmed. Just remember that the blog's got a new name, and that's gotta count for something.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sometimes, we are in the rarified position where we get both. That's where I am this week. I am working on a new project with some awesome people in San Carlos, having the time of my life. I am so thankful.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Friday was a great opportunity to reinforce the new habit I'm trying to form and also participate in a pretty neat event. The outcome was cool. There were considerably more riders out than there have been other days I have commuted on my bike. Additionally, local bike shops took part in the day. On my way to work, I saw four or five easy-ups sheltering bike shop employees. They were offering a place to rest for people that aren't used to being on a bike very long, neutral support for anyone that was having mechanical problems, and I think a couple even had some snacks. Finally, the auto traffic cut us a little more slack. To be honest, my overall experience with San Diego traffic has been pretty positive. No matter what though, you're going to occasionally come close to being hit by someone absent-mindedly making a left hand turn or opening their door after they've parallel parked. Having gay slurs screamed at you through a window as you snake your way through traffic in your spandex is also going to happen from time to time. I had no such issues on Friday. The normally fairly well-behaved San Diego drivers were even more conscientious toward those of us on our self-propelled two wheels. I got a few smiles and waves and encouragement. It was nice. I kinda wish every day was National Bike to Work Day.
I also got to wear one of my favorite preachy shirts on Bike to Work Day. That's right, no matter what kind of gas mileage your car gets, my bike's is literally infinitely better. So what if I used to make a habit of driving three quarters of a mile to work everyday? And so what if one of the reasons I'm riding to work now is that I can't afford to keep putting premium gas in my car that has a turbo engine and only gets 20 mpg? I already covered the fact that Californians are smug. Well, we're especially so when we ride our bikes to work.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I've covered this a number of times, but I came out to San Diego to become a year-long intern with no particular prospects for what I would be doing in the future. The only certainty I felt was the distinct unlikelihood that I would ever return to accounting or finance. The idea of participating in an internship to merely start over at the end of a year was pretty intimidating. I had no idea whether I would go back to school or whether God might provide something else through Amor. The quick connections I made with people at Amor and happiness I felt in my position made the uncertainty I was expecting even tougher to swallow. I made the decision to trust God in this time, but I still felt a bit of stress. Thankfully, it only took a few months before I was given the opportunity to interview for a full time position with Amor. I really cannot imagine that I should be anywhere else in the world right now. I am learning to serve and love God by serving and loving people at a level I would have previously thought myself incapable of reaching. My job has had a huge part in shaping the man I am and has solidified the fact that I have a heart for missions. I suspect I will be doing missions work for a long time to come and I am so excited about learning to do it better and better.
I have fallen into a really great group of people here that consistently humbles me. My friends constantly show that their greatest desires are to grow with God and serve each other. It seems that every other week we find some reason to get together and celebrate each other. Whether it be a birthday party, a new job, a going away party, a coming home party or something else, we are constantly celebrating God and each other. It kind of makes me think of the concept of jubilee. Just the other day, one of my coworkers was describing missions work and the desire to serve as being akin to those moments when you sit with friends and have no desire but to linger and make the night longer. Last night, I had the privilege of sitting at a table and enjoying dinner with some wonderful people and having the blessing of dreading the end of the night. As I think about those people I sat at that table with, I feel love, respect, adoration or some combination of those sentiments for every person there. I am also thankful for the role that they have all played in my life and the fact that they have helped make me an all around better human being to be around.
Learning To Be By Myself
It's strange that during a time when I have gotten to appreciate so much community I have learned a lot about being alone, but several things have conspired to teach me this lesson. First, was the end of an intimate relationship of nearly nine years. No matter how much or how little you share or how much or how little support you give and receive, there is a comfort of knowing that if nothing else, one person will always be there. I had that support, nearly uninterrupted from the age of eighteen until twenty-seven. While I appreciate all of the good that came of such a relationship, I was able to learn a lot by losing it. I now know that I don't have to share everything in my life with someone else in order to enjoy it. Sometimes the fact that God's given it to me is enough. Whether it be a beautiful, starry night, a sunset or a fleeting moment of revelation, there is a lot that can belong to just me and God. My job has also helped teach me this lesson. While I have worked with some of my best friends, I have also been forced to go into some pretty tough spots on my own. In these moments, I have learned a lot about the resolve and strength that I can lean on God to provide. This confidence and comfort is a marked difference from my cross country trip that I spent much of feeling disappointed and lonely despite awesome experiences. I just had a tough time fully appreciating them on my own. Now I know that I can experience joy by myself and with God. I know that in the future as I get to share more of these moments, the joy will be that much more grandiose, because I was able to fully feel it on my own.
Joy in Sadness
You don't have to be happy to be joyful. I've met some pretty large challenges this year and some pretty significant disappointments. I've left home, left my dog, lost relationships, dealt with my mother's sickness, broken bikes, worked hard to have expectations unmet and sometimes been alone. These disappointments have invariably left me unhappy to some degree. I have also been identified as a person who's emotional responses resemble spaghetti fare more than a waffle (I don't compartmentalize, I let everything get tangled together). Despite my initial and expansive emotional responses, I am able to find joy because I learned that each and everyone of these experiences is shaping me into a man more capable of following Christ and serving others. It is a very strange place to be able to feel sorrowful and joyful at the same time, but I have found it to be a very healthy place. When I am comfortable, I rarely grow. It's the times I have something to battle, something to find or something to accomplish that I learn.
Mumford & Sons
At least half a dozen people that are reading this are either rolling their eyes, throwing up on their keyboard, or both. That's fine, Mumford wasn't going to be a part of this post at all, but as I cued them up on my iphone while typing, it occurred to me that I never would have expected to find music that would mean this much to me this year, so they meet the criteria to be mentioned. Unfortunately, Mumford made it on the radio initially with a song that exhorted "I really f---ed it up this time, didn't I my dear‽" If you listen beyond these lyrics, these guys have a lot going on. Since I was introduced to them in earnest in October, they have been the soundtrack for my life. They consistently deal with faith, loss, grace and love in a very insightful manner. Over and over again, they manage to describe a redemptive, restorative, lasting love, one that my beliefs dictate comes from God. Their music is not in a hymnal and I don't know what their intent was when they wrote and recorded it, but I can truly worship to much of it. I will still see them live one day and it will be superawesomewonderfulradmagnificentincrediblefantastic. If you do not have Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons, buy it immediately and listen to it immediately after that. Don't listen to the song with the f-word though. This is a family friendly site and I will not support that.
When I came out to San Diego, I left all of the people that knew me best. Those people have not been replaced, but a lot have been added to their numbers. I thought that it would take a long time until I met people that I could trust and be intimate with. Perhaps it was the challenges inherent in my move and the openness with which I shared them but I have several incredible people that really know me well who I can share anything with. The most recent lesson I have had to learn now is that although I can share anything with my friends and family, I shouldn't share everything. Regardless, reaching new levels of honesty, grace and accountability with those around me has been a really awesome gift.
I have learned a lot of different types of patience this year, but waiting on God is a good things. It seems he's always on time.
I am so thankful for the year I have had and that this experience is not over. At the beginning, this seemed like a sort of year long experiment that would probably change me, but possibly drop me right back where I was to begin with. Instead, the adventure continues. I get to remain with Amor and remain in San Diego. I can only pray that this coming year will be as formative as the one I just experienced.
Thanks for reading along with me so far. It's been great to share my experiences with everyone who keeps up with me here. I have received comments, e-mails, texts, phone calls and facebook messages from people I never would have expected thanks to the fact that I express myself through this medium. The heart of my desire to write this blog is all about this kind of communication. It's fun to be entertaining and it's nice to get things off my chest sometimes, but the fact that this is a vessel to share in mutual experiences and help each other through life is the best part. I'm getting a little more consistent in writing again, and given that, I would like to ask some favors of everyone that reads here.
1. Become a follower and leave comments. Most people have a google account and this is fairly easy to do with your account. Commenting is awesome. It lets me know you guys are reading and that you care and let's me talk to you directly via the blog.
2. If you think this thing is worth reading, tell some more people about it. I'd love to share my experiences with as many people as possible.
3. Link this site via facebook or any other networking tools you use. Again, I'd love to spread the word more.
4. Donate some money at www.amor.org. Two of our biggest needs are staff support and our equipment fund (we need some new vehicles and trailers). For staff support, make sure you get my name in the comments so that I can get lots of credit for all the people that will donate at my encouragement. If you'd like to donate to the equipment fund (this would be great, because we are getting a to point where we really need some newer, safer vehicles), shoot me an e-mail and let me know your interest. I'm not asking for a lot from anyone. Just think about how much this blog has been worth to you in the past year, if that's only a dime, then donate a dime.
5. Keep reading.
6. Pray for Amor, my family and me. That's really what this thing is all about. I came out here to be part of an incredible ministry. Please pray that we keep doing what we are doing according to God's will. My Mom is doing well right now, but things are always changing and she's still got a tough battle. I am a total work in progress and pray that I can just keep getting better for all the people around me. Thanks.
7. Watch these videos:
Friday, May 6, 2011
My close friend, Kamar, had her golden birthday earlier this spring, but she had a desire to do something a little more extreme to commemorate the year. Something that came to mind for her was getting a tattoo. Once she heard me talking about my tattoo idea, she started to discuss us going to get our first tattoos together. I tried not returning her calls, text messages and e-mails concerning the matter, but eventually I had to acknowledge her existence. This was the catalyst that led to me eventually following through on all that talk I had been doing.
The day before Easter was the day everyone was planning to celebrate Kamar's birthday, and I had spoken to some friends and found a reputable tattoo parlor. We had a couple of hours available to us in the afternoon, so we went together to check it out. Full Disclosure: I really hadn't committed myself to getting the tattoo at all at this point. I had been told that this particular tattoo artist would be happy to do a mock up of the tattoo and let me walk around with it a little bit. Sort of see how it fit. In my mind, I was going to having him draw it on, walk out of the parlor and in all likelihood, back out. I would still save face, though, because we would have gone to the parlor and had the experience and actually gotten ink put on us, I just wouldn't have to make a life long commitment. The tattoo parlor was busy enough that they couldn't fit us in that day. Again, I saw an opportunity to back out. Unfortunately, the very friendly (and covered in ink) girl that worked the counter was happy to make us an appointment for the next day. While I considered what I was getting myself into, Kamar responded, "Awesome! Tomorrow's Easter! Resurrection Tats!" I did my best to feign the same level of excitement, but as I was handed an appointment card for the next afternoon, I had a sinking feeling that I would actually be getting a tattoo the next day.
I picked Kamar up the next morning still thinking that I wasn't going to actually get a tattoo. I still figured I could get away with simply having it drawn on and walking away, giving myself time to get used to the idea and decide if this was really something I wanted to do. When we arrived at the tattoo parlor, things started to change. Mark, the tattoo artist, was an exceedingly nice guy, but he prepared the needles at the same time he prepared our stencils. It seemed that by getting our designs stenciled on, we were already committing to the entire process.
(This smile remained fixed on Kamar's face throughout the whole process. Never go to a tattoo parlor with the toughest woman you know, it makes you look bad.)
Now I was in a very tough spot. I had walked into the tattoo parlor uncertain the prior day and my condition had not changed by this morning. Kamar's tattoo looked great, but I was still not sure that I wanted to have something permanently put on my body. The problem was, I had made several fatal mistakes. First, I went to a tattoo parlor in my pastel aquamarine polo on Easter. Second, I had allowed a girl to go before me. Third, the girl I chose to go with is totally BA. Fourth, all of this had transpired in front of a very nice guy who tattoos people for a living and has a son who is a Hell's angel.
I had chosen the location for my hypothetical tattoo - the inside of my upper arm - and asked Mark to determine the size and exact placement. I had him stencil it on, then immediately texted a picture of it to my mother for confirmation. She argued with me about it, claiming that I should have it done in "nice" writing rather than her handwriting, while also inquiring about several aspects of my personal life, all in front of everyone in the tattoo parlor (Thankfully, mostly close friends at that point). When this stall had finished, I asked Mark a series of stupid questions to further delay the inevitable. Ultimately, I knew that I just had to man up and do it, so I laid down on the table and Mark got to work.
He told me he was getting started, but I didn't feel a thing. Within minutes, I could feel some pain, but it wasn't too bad. Of course I was talking with friends much of the time and laughed once or twice, shaking in such a manner that could possibly make a mess of the lines that would be on me for the rest of my life. Mark did a great job of not allowing me to screw the whole thing up. He finished up at the beginning of the phrase, in the area closest to my armpit, which did start to sting a bit.
It was surreal to know that when he was finished I actually had a tattoo, in fact, it still is surreal. I looked at it for awhile and loved it. I am glad I didn't have an idea for a second tattoo, because as we walked out, I had the compulsion to walk right back in and get a second one.
The moments afterward were filled with a lot of excitement as Kamar and I enjoyed the fact that we had actually done what we had talked about. Since then, the excitement has quickly calmed down. For the most part, I don't really think about it. Sometimes when I am reminded that it is there I get really psyched. Occasionally, I go into a very brief but complete panic over the fact that I actually have something permanently inscribed on my body. When this happens, I am quickly comforted by it's meaning. I have a message for myself and others to see that will hold me accountable to my beliefs, remind me of my brokenness and the many blessings I did nothing to deserve, and hopefully be tribute to my mother.