Monday, February 23, 2009

A Waxing Moon in Rabbit Season

In case you didn't know, I made it to Maine. I'm all settled in at the Godins' and working on figuring out job and other stuff. Things are going very well. I'm quickly making friends and gaining clear vision on my purpose for this season of life. I don't think I ever mentioned that I sprained (or something similar... I didn't go to the doctor) my knee about 6 weeks ago. Before you get too concerned, it's doing much better now. See, I just saved you weeks of worrying. I'm rehabbing it right now by riding my bicycle on my trainer down in the basement. I've been doing this and that around town and running into all kinds of people, including some pretty interesting neighbors, which brings me to a couple amusing anecdotes from this morning...

It snowed a good 6 or 7 inches last night, and it wasn't your run of the mill powder. No, it was the thick and nasty kind; the kind of snow you don't want to leave lying around for fear it will turn into cold, heavy concrete. I woke at 7:15 this morning to my alarm, the snow blower cranking up right outside my bedroom window, and suited up for shoveling. After clearing the driveway enough for Debbie to get out to go to work, we headed down the street to make our daily rounds. Second on the list was one of the aforementioned neighbors, Dennis (Not to be confused with the guy I live with, Dennis, or his youngest son, Dennis, Jr., who is off in NY in college). I don't know much of this guy's story, but I do know that he broke his arm last week and came over to ask us to clear his driveway for him. I think it's also relevant to what I'm about to tell you to mention he has a large round nose, a thick New England accent (they don't really say r's unless it's to add an extra 'r' after an 'a'. "Park the car, Brenda" becomes "Pahk the cah, Brender") and speaks slowly. Back to the story. Dennis got going with the snow blower while Joey and I started shoveling out around the deck. Everything was going according to plan until I heard a crunch-crunch-crunch behind me and saw brown chunks of something shooting out of the snow blower. We all stopped to see what we just destroyed. What we found was the remains of a decorative porcelain porch bunny. Neighbor Dennis let out a bellowing, rapid fire "huh-huh-huh-huh" laugh and blurted out, "Dennis is a wabbit killa!" I busted out laughing, and so he just repeated it again and again. "He's a wabbit killa! A wabbit killa!" (Go ahead and say it out loud.) I don't think he could have done a better Elmer Fudd impression if he was actually trying.

We did a couple more driveways before we made it to our last one where Bob and his wife live. Now Bob is quite an interesting guy. He's a Vietnam vet in his seventies and spent time in France as a translator for doctors. A few days ago, Bob took a spill on his front steps (wearing house slippers on ice is not a good idea) and bruised his back pretty badly. He saw me shoveling by the front door, so he peeked out to talk a bit. He was finely attired in an undershirt and boxers... of course his fly was open. I asked him how he was doing, and he gave me a full account of how he had hurt himself on the front steps last week. Well, as you may or may not know, no story about an injury is complete without showing off the scar or wound received from said event. So Bob starts to turn around and pull up his shirt while trying to hold the screen door open at the same time. He realizes that's not going to work, so he locks the door closer in place as to have free use of both hands. Both hands. That's when I realized what was about to happen. As he goes for his shirt with his left hand and his boxers with his right hand, I think to myself, "Am I really about to get mooned by an old man? Surely not. I'm practically a complete stranger. Surely, he wouldn't do.." And then it happened. I couldn't look away as the 72 year old, wrinkly, white, black, blue, green and purple behind was unveiled in all its glory before my unsuspecting eyes. He held his pose to make sure I got a good look, and all I could do was say, "Oh ya, that's bad". The conversation/exposition died pretty quickly after that, and I got right back to shoveling. Oh the joys of neighbors.

Monday, February 2, 2009

En Route

I'm in Chicago right now slowly making my way to Maine. I first began my journey up north on Tuesday last week, only to have my attempt blocked. I knew the weather was calling for icy roads, but I wanted to try anyways. I made it a good 75 or 80 miles before I started to fishtail as I went over bridges. As I was coming to the TX/OK border, I saw a flashing sign saying that I-35 was closed ahead. So, I turned around after 90 miles and slip-slided my way back to Arlington. Nearly every overpass I went over for the next 15 or 20 miles, there was a car spun out that had hit the wall or went into the grass. I made it back without any mishaps, but it was obvious I would be waiting a couple days before I made another attempt. I woke up early again the next morning on the off chance the roads had cleared up, but all the news people were freaking out and talking to the audience like they were concerned parents. Finally, on Thursday morning, the roads cleared up sufficiently for me to go. I drove 10 hours through Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska before coming to my first stop, Council Bluffs, IA. I got to spend the evening with the Smiths who I was staying with that night. I enjoyed some good times playing with the kiddos, eating dinner and then going to downtown Omaha.

The next morning, I headed out around 8 after saying goodbyes and made my way across the entirety of Iowa and into Illinois until I reached my second destination, Chicago. I've enjoyed spending some good quality time with Mark, Katrina and Candice which has included good food, gallons of hot tea, and various excursions into the city. I was planning on leaving tomorrow morning, but it looks like it will be snowing across the U.S. between here and Maine for the next 2 days. So, my plan (for the moment) is to stick around a couple more days and leave for Bouckville, NY early, early Thursday morning. I'll be staying with Anne, my friend (from Alaska) Adam's mom and then drive the final leg to Sanford, ME Friday. I'm finding that driving 2000+ miles in the middle of winter is a little tricky, so I'm being patient and enjoying each opportunity I get for rest, quality time and productivity. I'm itching to begin my next season of life in Maine, but I'm not at all bitter I'm getting to spend time with good friends in the meantime.

I'm starting to get used to starting life practically from scratch over and over again. It's both exciting and tiresome. There's new freedom and discovery to be had, but a lot of patience and self discipline needed at the same time. Thankfully, that is the fruit of God's Spirit in us. I'm continually asking God if this pattern is what I should be expecting for the rest of my life. The answer seems to be 'yes' or at least 'for a while'. I'm okay with that, but with each move, I value the things I leave behind more and more. Still, I find so much freedom and power in letting go of what makes sense to my natural self and obediently walking with God. I am confident in God's transforming presence, knowing I am becoming a strong and loving man. I have only the faintest clue of what my new life will be like in Maine, but I know that surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. That's all I need to know for now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm a Rock Star

I'm not really into New Year's resolutions, but I have decided to begin a year long project for 2009. As you may or may not know, I'm an aspiring musician. In order to continue growing and being disciplined in pursuit of that, I've decided to write one song per month about whatever is significant (or just interesting) in that month; a musical journal, if you will. This will be good motivation for me to finish at least one song a month and also push me to write about a broader range of subjects. It's nearing the end of January and so far, so good. I don't know if I'll share every month's song with the general public, but I am going to share the song for January with yall. It's about always being on the move and leaving behind people I love. So this one goes out to all my homies (and family). My myspace page is I also realize I am not the best annunciator and my mom couldn't understand me even if I was, so here's the lyrics:

Eastern Standard (January)

The evening air is filled with
The expectation of what this year brings
I know you said you'd better make it on this song
So listen as I sing

I'm so thankful for this time spent
These days have been a much needed relief
This autumn came and left me feeling isolated
I think you would agree

It's always warm in Texas
The winter months can hardly hold it down, I can't be held in place
I must leave in January or so I think

You've let me into your life
I'm sorry I can't stay
It seems I'm always on the run
Maybe you could hold my place
For when I return
I hope this is the case
There always is another town
You know that I can't stay

I've taken it for granted
I see it clear, I have acted selfishly
My friends and my family have always shown
Their love waits there for me

I could be happy in Chicago
I hope that I will make it on my way, I'd have a place to stay
The same goes for Alaska and my home state

You've let me into your life
I'm sorry I can't stay
It seems I'm always on the run
Maybe you could hold my place
For when I return
I hope this is the case
There always is another town
You know that I can't stay

Now I'm headed to the East Coast
My course is set, and I must follow through
But that doesn't mean that I won't
Miss your face, I always think of you
You know that I look forward to
When I can board that plane and come to see you
And if you're ever coming through, I will make room

You've let me into your life
I'm sorry I can't stay
It seems I'm always on the run
Maybe you could hold my place
For when I return
I hope this is the case
There always is another town

I won't you let go just because
I'm in another state
It's always good to hear your voice
And it's always worth the wait
Stay close to your phone
You know I stay up late
Eastern Standard can't keep me from
Staying wide awake

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm (Going to Be) A Mainiac

So... I moving to Maine. I finally know where I'm going next. I totally thought God was going to tell me what to do next before the end of the bike trip. Obviously, that was not the case. At that point, God lovingly slapped me upside the head and was like, "you haven't finished what I already told you to do!" I felt pretty lame about that and redoubled my efforts to complete my tasks. It was pretty ridiculous of me to think that I could just move right along to the next thing when I wasn't done preparing for it. Sheesh.

A week later, a missionary couple from Maine, the Godins, came down to stay with my parents. They've been working with Pleasant Ridge for several years now. One thing led to another (there was free food involved), and I ended up inviting myself to go hear them share with the missions committee. When they were sharing their struggles and joys, I had one of those moments. I can only call it the Spirit moving. I don't know if this is the way God works in your life, but for me, there are instants when I just know something. I don't necessarily understand it, but I am sure of it. That's what happened. I was like, "Of course I'm moving to Maine. Of course." It was the most obvious thing in the world. That night I didn't understand anything beyond the fact that I was going to move up there to serve the Godins. Everything had clicked in my spirit. My mind has been a little slower in coming around, but I'm slowly starting to see the wisdom and purpose of God (i.e. the last year of my life is making a whole lot more sense).

At this point, I'll hold off saying anything about what I think is going to happen. All I'm completely confident of is that God is moving as always.... and laughing at me, but I don't mind.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Revelations From the Saddle, Part 1: Creativity

As promised, I'm going to share with you some of the interesting things I thought about/realized/were revelated upon me. Part of the awesomeness of the trip was getting into a focused rhythm and having very few distractions. For instance, I did not once get onto a computer. I normally check my email/facebook/myspace about 5 times a day, plus read blogs, news articles and the like. I also am a music monger. At some points in my life, I've listened to music averaging over 10 hours a day. That's when I was an accountant. I didn't bring any music with me whatsoever. All I had was what was in my head or playing at whatever diner we were at.

As a result, my imagination/creativity was going nuts, in a good way. Every night, I had at least 3 or 4 vivid dreams that I remembered in detail when I woke up. It was awesome! I was so intrigued by it that I wrote them down every day. One dream in particular, I felt like God was speaking to me through. That may be another post altogether.

Besides crazy dreams, my musical creativity was piqued. In those 3 weeks, I began writing 4 songs without even having a guitar as an aid. I've been writing songs since my junior year in college, and I usually don't even write 4 songs a year!

I came to the realization that my habit of passively taking in so much stimuli via Internet and music (I don't really watch much TV, but that fits, too), was essentially numbing my brain and stunting my creativity. That's a pretty big deal for me, because I feel like exercising my creativity, through music or other means, is a very real calling on my life and one of the ways that I reflect the image of God. Now that I'm aware of this consequence, you better believe I've cut back on Internet and music. It's been great. Not only have I been about %1000 more productive in songwriting, but when I do listen to music, I notice everything that's going on. I hear all the lyrics, what the drums, bass, and guitars are doing, etc.

If you hadn't picked up on it, I'm pretty excited about this and I'll hopefully have some of my music for y'all to listen to in the not so distant future. If I keep going like this, I'll finish an entire album's worth of songs during this year. Get excited.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Overview of the Bike Trip

Man, I've had a really hard time putting the bike trip into words, especially story form. It's weird, because nothing exciting happened on the trip, in an event sense, yet the trip was amazing and most enjoyable. I'm going to try and tell you more than, "we rode from here to here in this many days and averaged this many miles" without going into every detail of where we slept, what we ate, who I talked to, what I felt, what I dreamed about, etc, because that would be pretty boring after about 3 days (like I said, it wasn't exciting as far as stuff happening). So I'm going to keep it to an overview for this blog and fill you in on important thoughts/dreams/revelations/themes in later blogs. Now that I've sufficiently danced around without actually writing about anything yet, here it goes...

Well, before I really get started, you can see pictures from the trip on my Facebook albums here and here. I pared it down from 350 pictures to 100.

OK. We left from DFW airport on the morning of September 4th. United airlines charged us $120 to fly our bikes! That's just immoral. On the way to Vancouver, we had a planned, 4 hour layover in Chicago, because I realized I could go see my friends, Mark and Katrina, for free! It was good to see them, as always. We and our bikes successfully made it to Canada in working order. After eating massive amounts of continental breakfastses, we assembled our bikes and hit the road the next morning from our hotel.
We had maps made by Adventure Cycling that we mostly followed on the trip. We had some trouble getting on route in Vancouver, especially with the construction and faulty directions from a stop sign holding guy. But, once we made it out of Vancouver it was smooth sailing. We didn't really didn't hit any big cities after that until San Francisco, 2 1/2 states later. It was quickly apparent I had aquired a nice little poison ivy allergic reaction the day before we left. That'll teach me to weed eat in shorts. It was also quickly apparent that my dad is a beast. I already knew this to be true, but it was reinforced after a couple days of biking, and every day henceforth.

The weather for the first few days in Washington was amazing. It was sunny and beautiful, but not too hot. The natives thought it was burning up, but it felt quite pleasant compared to the upper 90's in Texas. On day five, my left knee started hurting a little. We adjusted the left pedal position which seemed to help... for about half a day. My knee would end up being a problem the rest of the trip, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the trip.On day 7, we made it to Oregon and decided to take a day off in Astoria. I think it's safe to say that the Oregon coast trumps the Washington coast. The rocky cliffs and beaches are so beautiful, like this:

We met my friend Dan, in Newport on the 14th. He's a totally rad guy that I know from my time in Alaska who's down in Oregon for seminary. Towards southern Oregon, we got into some chilly/foggy weather. We were disappointed, because we couldn't see the ocean most of the day. On the 18th, we made it to California. Northern California lived up to our expectations. Both of our favorite days of the trip were going through the redwood forrest along the Ave of Giants. There will definitely be an entire blog about this day in the future.

I'll sum it up for now by saying that there are awesome, massive trees and an ease for connecting with God. That day changed my life and the way I see the Creation.

The best day of the trip was followed by the hardest day of the trip. We started around a couple hundred feet above sea level and went up and down until we made it to 2000 ft. above sea level. This was followed by 5 or so miles of racing downhill riding the brakes half the time to keep from flying off the road. It was nuts. We ended the day with 5400 ft. of vertical climbing over 70 miles. So tired. We had a couple 87 mile/day days after that which were just gorgeous.

After 11 days of straight riding, we took a day off in Corte Madera (which means something like "cut wood" in Spanish). On my day off, I realized I was just about out of money. Whoa. The next morning, I talked over with my dad whether I should borrow from him and keep going or rent a car in San Francisco and call it good. After praying about it, we both felt pretty good about stopping a week early, so that's exactly what we did. We had pretty much accomplished what we had set out to do. So we rented a car and drove the 1800 miles back to Arlington straight through the night in 30 hours.

Funny story. When we decided to come back early, we played with the idea of not telling people we were back yet, so that we could be sneaky and stuff. So we told my mom to not tell anyone. She told my brother and sister, not thinking to tell them not to not tell anyone. I mean, it's not like my brother was hanging out with a bunch of my friends in Abilene that next day or my sister was hanging out with some of my friends in Dallas the day after that. Oh ya, no one's going to find out. So ya, a lot of my friends knew I was coming back early before we hit Texas. Good times.

Monday, September 29, 2008

We're Back

It'd be hard to try and sum up what happened in the last few weeks in a single blog entry, so I'm not going to try. I'm just going to write about it as it comes. I still have a lot left to process and figure out how to put into words. So hold your horses, and it'll surely flow. I mostly just wanted to let everyone know that we're back safe and sound. It was a great, life-changing adventure. More to come soon.