Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Pepsi Truck Pit Maneuver

This morning, I donned long johns, a flannel shirt, jeans, a hoody, wool socks, a beanie and gloves in preparation for the drive from Abilene to Arlington, and it wasn't just because I wanted to look cool. This was the result of an exciting week for the Stinson brothers' cars...

We started off the week right with Jonathan coming out of his office to find his car smashed up. Someone decided it'd be fun to bust in a window, hit the taillights and randomly hit other spots on his car. It was so random. They didn't even steal anything.

The next bit of excitement came yesterday morning. I was driving down Ambler, headed towards ACU, when I suddenly felt a nudge and the back end of my car started to slide to the right. My car did a 180 around the front of the Pepsi delivery truck to the left of me into the center lane where I smashed into a huge F-250 in the middle turning lane rear first. Don't worry. Everyone was okay. The Pepsi semi ended up with a scratch on the bumper, the F-250 just had the huge grill on the front of it bent a bit, and my car was totaled. The back bumper ended up touching the back seat, about 3 feet further forward than it should have been. Apparently, the Pepsi driver didn't see me when he decided to occupy my lane.

So now you know why Jonathan and I bundled up this morning to drive 175 miles with the temperature in the 30's without a driver's side window. Good times, great oldies.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Because All the Cool Kids Are Doing It...

My 7 Things:

1. Pearl Snap Shirts- I just can't get enough of them. I love to go to thrift stores, and though I try and pretend to keep an open mind about what kind of clothes I am looking for, most of the time I only take the pearl snap shirt selection seriously. Only because of an amazing amount of self-control do I only own 8 of them. Let's face it. The epitome of what I aim for, as far as clothes are concerned (and somewhat in lifestyle, too), is to dress like an old-man-hippie-punk, in that order of significance. Similarly, I'm a little irritated with Texas for being so warm most of the time, because I can no longer justify buying flannel shirts: a close runner-up to pearl snap shirts (even better when they're combined).

2. Places- On any given day, I can easily be talked into going to a coffee shop, library, airport, bar, late-night diner, college, hotel or park. I think what I love about these places is the intermingling of people there. These are the kinds of places where such a variety of people can be found. I cannot help finding people endlessly intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable to watch and talk to. I often find myself pondering what someone who I'm not even talking to or don't even know is thinking about or experiencing.

3. Tedium- Though I am thoroughly opposed to living a mundane, task-oriented life, every once in a while, I find great enjoyment in mindlessly doing simple things like running paper through a shredder, organizing and labeling music in a media player, filing papers into folders, cutting and dicing veggies, or sanding down wood.

4. Domination- Related to #2, I love it when people dominate. It so cool when someone does what they do best. There's nothing like seeing an amazing musician play or sing, an athlete make an amazing play, a great cook make a meal (and then me eat it), a carpenter turn wood into a masterpiece, a teacher effortlessly and simply convey wisdom and truth, a father wrestle with his children, a mathematician figure out a staggering problem, a janitor sing and smile as he mops the floor, a doctor diagnose and explain the intricacies of your ailment, a little kid build a Lego castle, or a friend lovingly console a broken-hearted companion. I think it all goes back to God's first command of taking dominion over the earth and us being his image-bearers. In my own life, I am continually on a search to find those things I dominate in and hone those skills.

5. Haircuts and Dentist Appointments- This is highly ironic, since I rarely go to do either, but I love to get my hair cut or my teeth cleaned. I think it's because I can just sit there and get worked on. I'm sure part of it is the sensory input.

6. Music- I'm sure it's no surprise to you that most of my day is influenced by music, whether it be playing it, listening to it, looking for it or finding out about it. This is related to #4. I can easily play guitar and sing for hours without realizing it. When I get a new CD, I will normally just sit and listen to it, sometimes reading the lyrics, and do nothing else so that I can take in everything that's happening in each song. Chances are, if I'm awake and not listening to music, there's a song playing in my head. Most albums and songs that I own quickly become tied to an experience or period in my life, and I usually harken back to that time when I listen to it.

7. 'Staches- I am secretly (okay, maybe not secretly) waiting for the mustache to make a comeback. Truth be told, I'm okay waiting for a few years more, because my 'stache-growing aptitude is lower than I currently desire and will hopefully be far greater by the time the 'stache is socially acceptable, nay encouraged and once again heralded as the epitome of manliness. STEV, grow a 'stache!!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My American Gladiators Name Is ARSENAL

On my quest to recover from a month's stay in the hospital, run a marathon in May, bike from Canada to Mexico this summer and compete on the new American Gladiators in '09, I've been doing a lot of research on diet and fitness to maximize my eating and exercising so that I can be ripped like the guys from the movie, 300. To sum it all up, pretty much everyone tells you to expend more than you consume, eat your veggies, and do stuff that makes you sore (Duh). During my internet meanderings in search of said healthful wisdom, I've run across many plans including Getting Ripped Like Jason Statham In 6 Weeks, Workout Like Genghis Khan, and Lifting Heavy Stuff. The one that Mark and I have most closely (maybe loosely) adhered to is the TNT Diet and Exercise Plan. TNT stands for Targeted Nutrition Tactics. The paradigm TNT pushes is that calories, fat and carbs aren't bad like everyone makes them out to be, but rather employing them at the proper time is essential. The key is to get your body to draw from your fat stores and use up carbs before they can turn into new fat while building lots of muscle. This is done by eating a lot of protein and only eating carbs around weight lifting time and on refuel days, or as Mark and I like to call them, "shock days." Admittedly, the shock days are what drew us to this particular program, because you can do nothing and eat whatever you want 1 or 2 days a week. We've adapted the TNT a bit by adding workouts, racquetball, running, Ultimate, and being a little less (okay, sometimes a lot less) strict on our diet and are calling it the TMNT plan. We're not sure exactly what TMNT stands for yet, but we figure it's gotta be a gooder if it shares an acronym with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's been pretty sweet so far. I've gained about 6 lbs. of muscle and Mark's gone down a few percentages in body fat in our month of doing the TMNT.

At 4 this morning, when I was suddenly wide awake, I was hit with a little godly wisdom on the TNT for the heart/spirit. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can confidently say that I am spiritually obese and it's been getting worse. Before I lose you trying to visualize what that looks like, let me explain what I mean. From the time I was a wee lad, I’ve been fed in church and at home with tons of Bible knowledge and theology. I can rattle off lots of Bible verses, I know the popular theology on mission, discipleship and worship, and have read all the “cool” modern spiritual books. Oh yeah, I’ve been fillin up on the “spiritual carbs” for years. The problem is my consumption of spiritual calories has grossly outweighed my expenditure. What I end up with is a weak spirit with a nice, round and pudgy pride-gut, scarcely ready to move with God’s cadence. I am found breathing heavily with my hands on my hips when it’s time to be running the race as to win.

I think the carbs of the spirit are the words, commands and wisdom of God. Just as the TNT points out, carbs must be used up in a timely manner, or they will turn into fat. If we aren’t acting on God’s voice, His words get stored away as fatty knowledge instead of being fuel for the muscles of faith, hope and love. As 1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “Knowledge puffs up.” Bit by bit, we’re more insulated from the presence of God and embarrassed to show our spiritual body when summer rolls around. For example, you might ask me what the most important commands of God are, and I would nonchalantly reply with “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I’ve had plenty of caloric intake in these areas. I’ve brainstormed ways to be an agent of change in my community. I’ve gone through plenty of hypothetical situations in my mind on what I would do if someone asked me for help in some way. I’ve even prayed many times to be used in people’s lives around me. So what’s the problem? I honestly do not know any of my neighbors. Not a single one. I’m embarrassed to admit that. Sure, I can avoid having loud parties, keep my lawn trimmed (ehem), wave from across the street and even be tolerant of the loud mariachi music from down the street at 2 a.m. That kind of “love” for my neighbors is hardly life-changing, if even noticed. Must I have more depth of interaction with them before I can practically love and serve them?

I too often find myself jumping at the chance to fill up at a spiritual buffet multiple times a week, but usually get sweaty palms and a dry throat at the thought of walking 25 feet to my neighbors’ door to introduce myself and invite them over for dinner. Sick and wrong. SICK and WRONG. My priorities are grotesquely unhealthy. I’m the fat guy at McDonalds with the tray full of double cheeseburgers who has trouble fitting through doors. Why does my supposed “abundant life” result in a double chin, love handles and chicken legs instead of huge biceps, chiseled abs and runner’s calves? Truth be told, I dream of being a mighty warrior in God’s kingdom. I want to do amazing things. But just as running a marathon, biking across the U.S., or competing on American Gladiators (I’m kind of joking about that one… kind of) takes months of repeating motions and cross training, I have to practice one act of obedience after another until I am powerfully joining God in his redemption of the world and battling the forces of darkness.

So, right now, I am committing to go on the spiritual TNT diet and exercise plan. It’s time to let the Spirit burn away all the excess that keeps me from living and enjoying the rhythm of God. Part of that is walking to my neighbors’ house today, not tomorrow, and inviting them over for dinner. Goodbye love handles.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Earlier in the week, my friend Mark told me that Kent, a teacher at ACU and good friend of Mark's (my friend, too), asked if I wanted to be part of what the missions class he teaches was doing on Friday. They had been talking about prayer walking, and I had told Kent about some of my experiences doing that, so I assumed he wanted me to share a little with the class or something. A couple days later, Mark informed me that Kent would be out of own, and in fact, we would be teaching the class... the graduate-level missions class. I thought this was pretty funny considering I not only don't have an undergraduate Bible degree, but I'm not in grad school either. All I've got is that little 'ol business degree. Our duties for the class were to facilitate discussion and to send the students out to prayer walk. Thankfully, I didn't have to prepare a lecture.

We met the class at Monk's (local coffee shop), grabbed drinks and prepared to head out into "downtown" Abilene. We went out in 2's and 3's and, being that Mark and I were the "teachers", we ended up together for the hour of prayer walking. Nothing totally amazing happened, but I could definitely see God joining us (or rather us joining God) in our meanderings. After walking a couple minutes, I felt like we should go up on the roof of the Wooten, an old hotel that has recently been converted into apartments. I told Mark and he informed me you had to have a card to get in. We went for it anyways. As we were approaching the front door, a resident walked out and held the door for us. We went for the elevators where a sign informed us we had to have a card to operate them. So we headed up the stairs, passing by the maintenance guy who told us we couldn't get onto any of the floors, because of locked doors, and eventually ended up looking out a 16th floor window in the stairwell. We gave up getting to the roof and had some sweet prayer time for the city while looking at the rooftops. On the way back down, the maintenance guy asked how far we went up and then without us saying anything about the roof, offered to personally take us up on the roof. He took us up the elevator, through a maintenance closet, up a rickety spiral staircase and through a 3x3 door onto the roof. It was awesome to see and pray for the entire city from 18 stories up.

On the way down, we "coincidentally" ran into Mark's friend, who I vaguely knew, who lives on the 17th floor of the Wooten. She took us to see her business, In Focus, which is located on the bottom floor of the same building. After that, time was up and we headed back to Monk's to debrief with the class. Each group shared what they had experienced and then we had a great discussion about how we can authentically express the hope we have to a dying world. To finish things off, I shared one of my experiences prayer walking which had been absolutely miraculous. All in all, I'd say my first shot at teaching a graduate-level missions class was a success.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What a Studd

"Christ's call is to feed the hungry, not the full; to save the lost, not the stiff-necked; not to call the scoffers, but sinners to repentance; not to build and furnish comfortable chapels, churches and cathedrals at home in which to rock Christian professors to sleep by means of clever essays, stereotyped prayers and artistic musical performances, but to raise living churches of souls among the destitute, to capture men from the devil's clutches and snatch them from the very jaws of hell, to enlist and train them for Jesus, and make them into an Almighty Army of God. But this can only be accomplished by red-hot, unconventional, unfettered Holy Ghost religion, where neither Church nor State, neither man nor traditions are worshiped or preached, but only Christ and Him crucified. Not to confess Christ by fancy collars, clothes, silver croziers or gold watch-chain crosses, church steeples or richly embroidered altar-cloths, but by reckless sacrifice and heroism in the foremost trenches.

"When in hand-to-hand conflict with the world and the devil, neat little biblical confectionery is like shooting lions with a pea-shooter; one needs a man who will let himself go and deliver blows right and left as hard as he can hit, trusting in the Holy Ghost. It's experience, not preaching, that hurts the devil and confounds the world, because unanswerable; the training is not that of the schools, but of the market; it's the hot, free heart and no the balanced head that knocks the devil out. Nothing but forked-lightning Christians will count. A lost reputation is the best degree for Christ's service.

"I am more than determined that no ring nor limit shall be placed around us, other than that of our Lord Himself, 'to the uttermost parts,' 'To every creature.' I belong and will ever belong to 'The Great God' party. I will have nought to do with 'The Little God' party.

"The difficulty is to believe that he can deign to use such scallywags as us, but of course He wants Faith and Fools rather than talents and culture. All God wants is a heart, any old turnip will do for a head; so long as we are empty, all is well, for then He fills with the Holy Ghost.

"The fiery baptism of the Holy Ghost will change soft, sleek Christians into hot, lively heroes for Christ, who will advance and fight and die, but not mark time. Let us race to heaven; an accident means dashing into the arms of Jesus- such accidents are God's choicest blessings. Don't be a luggage train.

"Fools would 'cut' the devil, pretending they do not see him; others erect a tablet over his supposed grave. Be wise; don't cut nor bury him; kill him with the bayonet of evangelism.

"Hugh Latimer was an inextinguishable candle; the devil lit him, and ever since has been kicking himself for his folly. Won't someone else tempt the devil to make a fool of himself again?

"Nail the colours to the mast! That is the right thing to do, and, therefore, that is what we must do, and do it now. What colours? The colours of Christ, the work He has given us to do- evangelization of all the unevangelized. Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible, by faith in the omnipotence, fidelity and wisdom of the Almighty Saviour who gave the command. Is there a wall in our path? By our God we will leap over it! Are there lions and scorpions in our way? We will trample them under our feet! Does a mountain bar progress? Saying, 'Be thou removed and cast into the sea,' we will march on. Soldiers of Jesus, never surrender! Nail the colours to the mast!

"Such who look to Jesus are grasshoppers in their own sight, but giants in the estimation of the devil.

"'Follow Me,' says Jesus. 'I will,' we reply, yet somehow forget that Christ pleased not Himself, deliberately made Himself poor to save others and became the first foreign missionary. We all pray to be like Jesus, yet refuse to pay the price. How can Dives be like Jesus?

"The crumbs of Dives are not a dainty dish to set before King Jesus. Try 'cake' for a change, and don't forget to put all you've got into it.

"'What if C.T. dies?' This frequent and foolish question must have its answer. Here it is from C.T. himself, 'We will all shout Hallelujah. The world will have lost its biggest fool, and with one fool less to handicap Him, God will do greater wonders still. There shall be no funeral, no wreaths, crape, nor tears, not even the Death March. Congratulations all round will take place. "And I, if I be offered up, rejoice and congratulate you; do ye also rejoice and congratulate me." Phil. 2:17 and 18 (Lightfoot's Translation). The Wedding March, by special request. Our God will still be alive and nothing else matters. The first Heart of Africa Mission funeral will take place when God dies, but as that will not be till after eternity, cheer up all. Forward! Every man straight before him. Hallelujah! "To die is gain."

"Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell,
I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell."

~C.T. Studd (November 2, 1915)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Women Folk

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't notice there were a generous number of attractive women in Abilene. I'd also be lying if I said I haven't given any thought to potentially dating/wifing any of them. Likewise, it wouldn't be the truth if I were to say that I've been employing an abundance of discernment on which girls I give priority in my thoughts.

In the midst of spending a lot of time with married/engaged couples, who all want to hook me up, and singles, many of whom are looking for a significant other, I finally received some wisdom and direction on the subject. A sister in Christ sent me a book called C.T. Studd: Cricketer and Pioneer. It's a biography, written in the 1930's, about some rich English dude who dominated in cricket and then found life in Christ and ended up becoming a sweet missionary to China and... well, I haven't finished the book yet. BUT, I read a few more chapters yesterday which focused on C.T. meeting and wifing this feisty Irish lass who was in the Salvation Army, also in China. She was quite a catch, let me tell ya. The thing that was so cool about their getting engaged/married was how it was just a natural step in what they were already doing as they followed God. They were both just toodling around China, being persecuted as "foreign devils" and bringing tons of Chinese people to Christ, neither of them wanting to get married. All of the sudden, they ran into each other and realized they'd make a killer team, since they were called to do the same thing for the rest of their lives. The best part is that after they got married, they didn't slow down a bit. There wasn't a doctor around when the wife got pregnant, and they didn't want to take months off from spreading the Gospel while traveling, so they just decided to have the baby right there in the house. They ended up repeating that 3 times with all their daughters. That's so cool.

Needless to say, reading that account gave me a little clarity on what potentially dating/marrying a girl can and must look like if I'm going to do it. I'm not sure if I'm even going to get married, but if I do, it has to be to a girl who's truckin along with God and is placed on the same path I am. I don't know for sure, because I've never been married, but I would guess that all Christ-following couples dream of working together for the advancement of God's kingdom in complimentary roles which God made them for. If you're called to marriage, what could be better?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dear John

Well, I got a generic email from Farmers saying:
Thank you for your interest in our company and your recent submission to our Waco, TX (Abilene) - Property Claims Representative position.
We have reviewed your resume and have decided to continue our search for candidates whose skills and experience more closely match the position. We encourage you to review other open positions at our career site and wish you the best of success in your career search.
Thank you.

I'm a bit disappointed and feel a little deceived. If they didn't think I was qualified simply based on my resume, they should have told me so 3 steps ago before I spent hours filling out questionnaires and applications and driving to Lubbock and back.

This whole Farmers thing strikingly resembles a dating relationship that sputters out just as it's getting off the ground. You know the kind. After a few good dates and lots of flirting (maybe you even hang out with her friends), you're thinking about maybe making it "official", having a DTR (Determine The Relationship) and becoming bf/gf, but then out of nowhere comes, "oh, by the way, I don't like you. But, I still wanna be friends"... Not that that's happened to me before or anything...ahem.

So anyways, that's about how I feel right now, and I'm back to square one again... again. I definitely need some prayer help for some perseverance and encouragement.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Three Flats in Three Days (beat that!)

I know all of you are dying to know about how my job search is going, so I'll tell you. A couple weeks ago, I put in an application for a Claims Representative at Farmers Insurance. I've put in other apps, but I don't really want those jobs. Last week, a guy from Farmers called me and emailed me a questionnaire to fill out. After I emailed it back, he called me back and I had a phone interview. Then, on Monday, I drove to Lubbock, of all places, and took 4 tests: grammar, communication, math and personality. The first 3 were pass/fail, and I guess the personality test was subjective. Can you really fail a personality test? Anyways, the lady told me I was only the 2nd applicant to pass the 3 tests. So, I should have a face-to-face interview very soon. If I get this job, I'll have a 2 week training in L.A., then 2 weeks of training on the job somewhere outside of Abilene. I'd also get a company car, laptop and digital camera plus sweet benefits and stuff.

In the last 3 days, I've had 3 flat tires. I'm dead serious. On Sunday, the back-left tire on my car went flat. I put on the spare. On Monday, the spare went flat. On Tuesday, I went bike riding and the front tire on my bicycle went flat! (I didn't have a spare either) I couldn't believe it. This is just bizarre. It feels like God's trying to tell me something or the enemy's trying to discourage me. Either way, I have no clue why I've had 3 flats in 3 days. I'm praying I'll be flatless today and break the streak and/or God will shed a little light on the situation. Something else I should add is that I got a flat in almost the exact same spot (11 miles out) the last time I rode out to Ft. Phantom Lake 3 years ago. Weird.

I wonder if there's some sort of World Record that I can break...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sneeze of Death No More

This last weekend I headed to Brownwood, TX for a missions retreat hosted by the Halbert Institute for Missions (read ACU) also known as H.I.M. (they're so clever). If you didn't know, I've been strongly considering joining Mark and Katrina Willis (and possibly others) in moving to Chicago next summer/fall to take part in what God's doing there. I'm not going to say 100% that I'm moving there, but I'm definitely keeping my ears open for that possibility. The retreat was pretty intense- not in the playing rugby kind of way. They hit us with 6 hours of lectures, discussions and tests on Friday night, then another 12 hours of the same on Saturday. Needless to say, by the time 9 p.m. and the 9th self-evaluating test rolled around, I was toast. Although it was a bit exhausting, it was definitely fruitful. It gave the Willis clan and I (and sometimes others) some great time to have some needed discussions, thought-sharing, and relationship building.

Something awesome happened the other day. I sneezed. It was unlike any other sneeze ever experienced by any man even to grace the planet earth with his/her rocket-propelled snot, I mean... it was,well... normal, which is what was awesome about it. That's right. It didn't make me tear up or groan or anything. It felt so good I proceeded to sneeze 3 more times. Boo-yuh.

I don't know what's been up lately, but my sleeping schedule has been jacked up. It seems I can only sleep between the hours of 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. I'm lucky if I get more than 5 hours. The latest installment of jacked-up-ness was this morning. I woke up at freakin 5 a.m.! I was wide awake and hatin life. I popped in a CD thinking I could ease back into sleep, but no-a-o. So I popped in CD #2 to no avail. I gave in and got out of bed at 7, played some guitar and decided to attempt my first jog since 0 A.D. (Almost Death). I geared up and headed for my old friend, the ACU jogging track (the 2 mile series of sidewalks circumnavigating campus). It was nice and cool and there was some sweet fog limiting vision to 20 feet. After much strain and heavy breathing, I completed 1 single lap (2 whole miles) without stopping. It felt so good. I guess I can start training for that marathon now. I snagged a shower then headed to Monks for a chai latte, a little Bible reading and some writing. Ephesians was so good this time through. Although it's not my preference to wake up at 5 a.m., it was a pretty good way to start the day. I can't complain.

Friday, October 5, 2007

"The Big Country"

It still gets me every time when someone, usually on the radio or TV, refers to Abilene and/or West Texas as "the big country". Haha. So anyways...

It's been great to be a little more active this week. Last night I played ultimate frisbee for a couple hours. I prewarned all the players I wouldn't be doing too much running due to being shot and stuff. After playing a while, I got to where I could jog without hurting too much. The problem arose when I reached out to catch a touchdown and did a roll (don't worry I scored). The roll didn't feel all that great, but that triggered some nasty allergies. For the next hour, I fought the urge to sneeze (because it still hurts a lot) to no avail. Finally the battle subsided after showering. I also geared up and went for a bike ride this afternoon. I was cruisin along at 18 mph or so and feelin pretty good, so I figured I'd go to Hodges, 11 miles away, and then come back. What I realized after turning around what there was a reason for the first half ease. Apparently, I had a nice 15 mph tail wind (which translates into a 15 mph head wind) and more down hills than up on the way out. I had much time to ponder upon my miscalculation for the next hour as I trudged back to Abilene, just barely finishing my 22.23 mile ride. Nevertheless, it feels so good to be tired from exercising and not just from walking 15 ft.

Another little fun thing that happened today was coming back to my house this morning, after doing some bike accessory shopping, to find the power off. Good times. When I changed the electricity over to my name earlier in the week, they informed me the wouldn't be able to accomplish this until Monday. Gotta love it. Thankfully I have gracious friends, the Pattersons, who are letting me crash at their place while they're gone this weekend.

In other news, I'm still looking for a job. I'd love some prayers for that. Thanks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Not As Holey As I Used to Be (In a Good Way)

When I took off the dressing on my back hole (or the artist formerly known as the back hole) on Sunday morning, I realized there wasn't any drainage on the bandage. I quickly turned around to look in the mirror. Sure enough, there's no more hole. There's just a scar and divot, which will be great for keeping my back from flooding when I'm laying face down in the rain.

I had my last ET nurse visit yesterday, which consisted of marveling at the lack of hole where they don't naturally occur and saying goodbyes. Also, as of today, I'm finished taking antibiotics. It's hard to believe there's no one left to visit or nothing left to do aside from restoring my body to its former perfection, which will be a cinch I'm sure.

I spent the first half of this week in Abilene doing some house and job hunting. I was successful in the housing department and am somewhat hopeful in the job arena. My brother, who's going to be my roommate as soon as he gets a job in Abilene, drove down on Monday, and we hit the real estate market hard. After scouring the four corners of the earth, our eyes rested on 1949 Beckham, which I can now proudly say is my current residence. It was pretty sweet how it worked out. We didn't have to sign a year lease and she gave me the keys before I even paid her rent. I'm officially moving to Abilene on Saturday. So, if anyone has extra furniture, kitchen stuff or anything you think would be useful to me, I'd be glad to relieve you of it.

This whole move to Abilene is still so weird to me. Most days I'm pretty bipolar in how I feel about it. On one hand, moving there is great, because I already have a dozen good friends there and I know the town. On the other hand, it seems so much less exciting than what I've become accustomed (maybe a little addicted) to, and I can already tell I'm going to have to fight the cynicism I left Abilene with after college. What I'm starting to see is that I have to learn to marry the mundane with the magnificent, dovetail the dull with the dynamic, and orchestrate the ordinary with the outrageous. With the simplest of actions and thoughts, I can take part in the Kingdom of Heaven coming - the most exciting thing happening on this planet. There is adventure in Abilene, no matter how disguised it may seem.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Quick Health Update

I had my tri-weekly dressing change with the ET nurse today. The hole on my back is small enough now that she's using this super glue type stuff called Cellerate to finish off the back wound. It's made of collagen and smells like foot sweat (Don't worry. You can't smell it unless you put your nose up to the tube it comes out of). What's really exciting is that I got rid of my Wound V.A.C. today. That's right! No more man-purse. I feel a little naked now though. It feels weird to not have to pick it up and watch out for tubes all the time... but not a bad feeling. All that's left to do is a few more checkups and applying the Cellerate daily until it's all healed up. Also, the shingles I had were knocked out quick once I started taking the medicine five times a day. I was blessed enough to not have much pain. Thanks for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Change of Plans

Part of me still can't believe I'm typing this right now, but here it goes... I'm not moving to Seattle, and I'm moving back to Abilene. I know that quickly you have 1 of 2 reactions (I know, because I've had both of these on some level). You're either excited, because I'll be closer to family and (some of my) friends or disappointed, because it sounds like I'm taking the easy, less adventurous road moving back to the ACU bubble. Before you rush to any conclusions, let me tell you how this U-turn jumped onto my path and why I'm excited about it.

When I made the decision to move to Seattle, it wasn't in response to some writing-on-the-wall occurrence, but rather looking for what I saw as the best option so that I could begin moving forward again and God could order my path. When I told a friend about my change of plans he made a really good point. He exhorted me to be more careful in saying something was God's will. He's totally right. I went back and reread the blog where I announced I was moving to Seattle and I really did use some strong language. The things I cited as pros were true, but I definitely gave them more weight than I should have. So I feel I need to apologize about being deceptive even if I wasn't purposely doing it with evil intent. What I should have said is "here are the facts, so I'm going to start heading that direction", or as it says in the Bible, "if it is God's will I'll do this or that tomorrow." With that being said, I'm doing my best to not over or under exaggerate what my perception of God's voice is. It's exciting to personally interact with the living God, and I'm learning to be zealous about acting upon what I see and hear God showing me while at the same time not doing or saying things in God's name that are in fact not. I never want to make a decision out of fear or making myself feel better, but only seek to be a part of showing God's glory to the world as I honor Him in my body. So here's what I got now...

As I began making plans and telling people I was moving to Seattle, what God was telling me through prayer, scripture and people wasn't meshing as well with the Seattle move as I'm used to happening normally. I wasn't super bothered by this, not wanting to put God into a formula, but knew I needed to still attentively listen God about the direction of my next season in life. What I began hearing from God was basically, "Don't try and take control of this and make it your own thing. Don't rush, but wait for me to show you a different purpose that you don't already know. I'm preparing good things for you, but don't get caught up in the place you're going." After hearing that, the purpose I felt God giving me through scripture was that I had started to learned to follow the Spirit (as you can see not perfectly yet), but it was time to start fully walking out the simplest parts of the Gospel like taking caring widows and orphans, giving to the poor, loving my enemies, praying for those who persecute me, giving to anyone who asks of me, loving God with every part of me and loving my neighbor as myself. I could see God telling me through scripture, that without these foundational things in my life, having "spiritual" experiences or finding my "calling" would only be like gilding my life. Doing the things God already tells us He blesses and loves is so important. God's not tricky when he tells us to do these things. In addition to this, there were things I wanted to happen in Seattle, that as I prayed about them, I was getting an unexpected 'no'. I didn't know how to take all of this until a few days ago, when fuzzy things started coming into focus and pieces started falling into place.

Last weekend, I went to Abilene just to catch up with friends before I took off for the northwest. You have to understand that when I graduated, I couldn't wait to get out of Abilene for multiple reasons which is a whole other story, and I had not once considered Abilene as the next step in my path. On Saturday, I grabbed some Whataburger breakfast with a friend and we talked about many things. As we plotted and dreamed about our roles in the kingdom of God, I was excited about doing God's work like I haven't been in a months. As we encouraged and counseled each other, I could see certain hopes and dreams taking on flesh for the first time. Late that night, I was restless and couldn't sleep. I got out of bed and wrote some emails hoping to wear my brain out. I got back into bed and talked with God. I asked Him what in the world He was doing with me right now, because I couldn't see it and admitted to Him how helpless and unable to do anything truly good I was without Him. At the moment, I felt totally paralyzed and realized my desire to go to Seattle was gone. The only things I was holding onto there were my friendship with Ross and maybe a little bit of my ego. So I gave up and asked God, "What now? What does your will being done on earth as it is in heaven look like right now?" At 4 a.m., I finally drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I felt a dim peace. As the day went on I continued to wrestle with it and discussed it with a few friends. Finally, on the drive back to Arlington, I started to see clearly what God had been doing all along. I saw God's guidance and the puzzling answers to prayer all fit together one by one. After about an hour of driving, I felt like I emerged from a cloudy haze and all the sudden, I was filled with joy about moving to Abilene and not Seattle. It was so weird, but the feeling was so familiar. I don't know about you, but it usually seems that when God powerfully leads me, it's never anything close to my idea. It's usually not something I was thinking about at all (the whole "His ways are not like our ways" thing). This is another stellar example for sure. After doing a little self-examination making sure this wasn't my flesh seeking the easy route, the only source of apprehension I had left was not being able to partner in God's work with Ross. When I got back in Arlington, I called him up to discuss my moving to Seattle. After talking through some things, I told him what I had been experiencing in Abilene and my possible change of plans. After conversing about it, he agreed that I should stay in Texas. Even though he was saddened we wouldn't be living together, he was excited about my new direction. After I hung up the phone, I just sat there wide-eyed and thought to myself, "I can't believe I'm moving back to Abilene."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Surgeons and Shingles

Last Friday, I had a checkup with my surgeon. He checked me out and cleared me for any physical activity I feel like! That means on Saturday, I drove for the first time in 2 months. It was glorious. It felt so good to feel independent again. In general, I've just been feeling so much better. My energy level has improved so much. At this point, the only thing holding me back is the wound on my back closing up. It's very small, but not quite there yet.

Before I get carried away with too much good news, I might as well throw in that I've got shingles. For those of you who don't know what that is (I didn't before today), it's related to the chicken pox. Basically, I have a few bumps on the left side of the back of my neck and head running up a nerve. So far, it's been pretty uncomfortable and occasionally itchy, but I hear it can be extremely painful. So, it looks like it's more good times ahead for me. It's viral and usually related to being stressed (I haven't felt too emotionally stressed, but my body's gone through a bit), but not very contagious. You only have to worry about catching it from me if you've never had chicken pox and you use my towel or something of the like. I'm taking pills 5 times a day for it, and it should run its course in a few weeks.

In summary, I continue to improve rapidly, but I'd appreciate your continued prayers for the wound on my back and my newly acquired shingles.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Appointments, Appointments

On Saturday, I had a visit with Dr. Hendrickson, my overseeing doctor. She said she was really pleased with how I'm healing up. She then went on to give us the rest of the story that all the doctors had danced around while I was in the hospital. She told us that a couple of the doctors had been impressed with me when I entered the hospital. Not because of my stunning good looks or my boyish charm, but because of how badly my insides were infected. She then went on to say that the doctors weren't sure if I was going to make it. Hearing that was really sobering, realizing just how close to death I was. It also made me so thankful for all the prayers and for God choosing to heal me. She also stressed how important it is that I wait to move to Seattle until the wound on my back is completely closed up which brings me to my next visit.

Yesterday, I had my normal Monday appointment with the ET nurses to have the dressing on my back changed. After Kaleen took the sponge out, we talked about how much more time it will take. She estimated 3 or 4 more weeks. At this point, one side of the wound is about 2.5 cm deep while the other side is pretty much zero. It's weird how it's not healing evenly anymore, but it's sweeping in from one side and standing still on the other. So, we're still praying for the miracle of my back being completely healed in the next few days. Keep praying. The only other thing that has to be taken care of besides the back-wound is making sure the infection is gone which brings me to my next visit.

This morning was my check-up with the infectious disease doctor. I had a C/T scan on Friday, which the results of would determine if he would take me off of IV antibiotics. As we walked towards the examination room, I snuck a peak over towards the counter where my next round of antibiotics usually waits for me. I didn't get a good look at all the bags, but I didn't see one with my name on it which gave me more hope. The nurse came in and checked my vitals and told us the doctor would be right in. In a few minutes, he came in and immediately told us the C/T scan had shown that all the infection was gone and the nurse would come back to take out the P.I.C.C. line. The doctor told me how "lucky" I was and how bad I had been when he first saw me. He prescribed a couple antibiotics that I'll take orally for another month, but otherwise I'm done with all that stuff. Thank you God! I can finally wash my left elbow regions again!

So all in all, good stuff is happening and God is working. My prayer for today is that God's will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, especially in my life.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pictures from Ecuador and Texas

For all of you that don't have Facebook or MySpace, here's a few pictures from my time in the hospital click this.

Monday, August 6, 2007

It's Working

The prayers are doing their job and God is working. We went in today to get the sponge and dressing on my back changed. They measured the size of the wound and it had reduced from 5cm to 4 cm deep and from 6 cm to 5 cm long: a complete cm both ways in only 3 days! That's some quick healing. Thank you for your prayers for my speedy healing. At this rate, it will be completely healed in only 2 more weeks. Keep at it!

Also, here's an update on the funds. After a check I know is coming comes in, I'll be up to $9,000. That's great. My goal is $14,000 which includes the insurance deductible and plane tickets. So only $5,000 more to go. I've been incredibly humbled by people's generosity. I've received hundreds of dollars from people who've never met me and thousands from people I know well. It's been so cool to see God provide for me through family, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. Thank you so much for your support.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Movin on up

This has been a decision long in coming, but I feel really good about telling y'all I'm moving to Seattle this fall. You may be wondering, "why Seattle." Straight and simple, that's where I've been seeing God lead me. Firstly, this spring I had complete peace and sureness that my time was done in Anchorage, so I knew it was time for a new place. Another part of seeing that leading is my partner in crime, Ross, being there for his 2nd year of med school at the University of Washington. I greatly value that friendship. Another piece is just plain liking the Northwest US. I like the laid back attitude, the cooler weather and the natural beauty found there. So I'm excited to see what God is preparing for me in Seattle.

I just looked at tickets for early September and a one-way only costs $125... so much cheaper than flying to Alaska! That's right, I said early September. That is the timetable I'm praying for and am asking you to join in agreement with me. In order for that to happen, the wound on my back has to be healed and my infectious disease doctor has to clear me and take me off antibiotics at the 4 week checkup. So let's boldly approach the throne of God together and eagerly await good things from our Good Father. The doctors have been telling me to not get my hopes up too much as it might take up to 2 months to be independent, so that I don't get depressed if it's slow-going. BUT, we are not a people called to be confined to and limited by normalcy and mediocrity. We are part of a heavenly kingdom with a King who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). We are a pure and holy people with a perfect High Priest and Savior who is at the right hand of God interceding for us (Romans 8:34). We possessors of the mind of Christ by the indwelling of the Spirit who intercedes for us in accordance with God's will (1 Cor. 2:16, Romans 8:26,27). When you think about it that way, no goal or obstacle seems so big (assuming you're seeking to walk in God's will). Thank you for your support and prayers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

That's right. At about 9:30 this morning, I checked out of the hospital. We then headed over to one of the doctors' offices so I could learn how to self-administer antibiotics into my P.I.C.C. line (this semi-permanent IV thing that goes into my bicep) where the nurse told us all about meeting her Brazilian husband online, him staying over the first night, them living together and then them deciding to have many kids as fast as possible since they were already in their 30's (they stopped at 4, but may adopt). Ya, sounds fun doesn't it? It gets better. My dad picked up Taco Bueno for lunch and I had my first fast food in a month. Sadly I have to avoid spicy stuff for a little while, so no salsa. I already feel so much better just being free from my hospital cell and not always having tubes running this way and that out of me. I'm pretty tired now, but it's been a good day. One more highlight. I peed standing up and no one monitored or measured it... makes you feel like a man.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I like me some morphine

Right now, I'm feelin pretty dang good. I have this vacuum sucky thing on my back called a Wound V.A.C. that is helping bring together the wound on my back. Inside the wound, they put a sponge that has to be changed every MWF (just like a college class) and today was the day. The past changes have been excruciating, so today, my nurse gave me a couple pain pills and 2 shots of morphine before the Wound V.A.C. lady came to put in a new sponge and change the dressing. I barely felt a thing. Now I know why people abuse and become addicted to morphine.

Yesterday, something glorious happened. I was awakened at 8:15 (for the 8th time that morning) by the food delivery lady. I opened the lid to find toast, bacon and eggs. Oh yeah. It was such a weird experience. I looked at it and knew it was crappy hospital food, but it was the first solid food I have eaten in 4 weeks. It tasted heavenly. I now have 6 solid meals under my belt/gown. Next up tonight.... my first real shower in 4 weeks. Thank you Lord.

Everything's coming together and I should be out of the hospital Wednesday. I need it. I'm starting to feel pretty antsy. I'll have a while still to heal up before I can continue life as usual. I'll be hanging out at my parents' house for up to 2 months. Please pray it's not that long (not that I wouldn't love to be with my parents another 2 months). I'm starting to feel like me again. God is so good.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

It's been a while

I'm in Harris HEB hospital in Texas right now. If you didn't know, I was shot in the stomach on July 2nd in Ecuador, almost a month ago, and have spent the last month in hospitals in Ecuador and Texas. It's hard to know where to start talking about this experience, so I'm not going to attempt to yet. I'm hoping to get out of the hospital next week, so keep your prayers, cards and phone calls coming. Thanks for you love.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

San Pedro and Mantañita

I´ve been in Ecuador almost a week now and spent a total of only $20 here. It´s crazy cheap and God has provided us with several free meals. After a 4 hour bus ride, we arrived in San Pablo (Saint Paul) on Tuesday. As we headed from the bus stop to the beach to pitch a tent, we saw a church that was open, so we ventured in. After an 1 1/2 hours of singing, praying and teaching, the whole church of 20 people surrounded us and tag-teamed us with questions, handshakes and smiles. They were so warm and loving, so we talked to them for about an hour and they gave us some really good coffee. The next morning, we hooked up with a Rotary group from the east coast, consisting of half 40-70 year olds and half college freshmen, which Ross had encountered on his way to Ecuador. We spent 4 days working building a garden and in a clinic. Ross got to work with some doctors, nurses and a dentist while I was a pharmacist and laborer. We got to play with lots of kids and tell a lot of people, mostly the Americans, about God´s purpose for us in Ecuador. Some seeds were definitely planted and we got to tell people about the life God has shown us. The Rotarians fed us every meal and let us sleep behind their huge beach house under a cabana: God´s provision. This morning after breakfast, we jumped on a bus and went an hour north to a little town famous for its surfing, Montañita. After waffling back and forth a bit, we decided to stay the day. Ross tried to surf a bit while I did a little Spanish studying, then we tossed a frisbee. Everyone stared at us while we played on the beach. I´m starting to get used to being stared at. Apparently being over 6 foot and having blonde hair isn´t normal at all here. I think we´re about to grab some dinner and wonder around town a bit. Keep the prayers coming.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Estoy aqui

That´s right. I´m in Ecuador. I´m not feeling too talkative at the moment, so this is going to be a short one. I arrived last night at about 11 pm and Roberto and some of his friends were there to pick me up. We took a quick look around town, climbed the tallest hill in Guayaquil, Cerro Santo (meaning Holy Hill) which was a staggering 400 or so steps to the top. They call Guayaquil the flattest city in Ecuador. After that, we went back to the airport to pick up Ross and headed over to Roberto´s Aunt and Uncle´s house where we stayed the night. This morning Ross, Roberto and I prayed together and it was awesome. Roberto prayed in Spanish and I understood most of it which is good. That´s a cool connection and I look forward to hearing about Roberto´s time in Alaska. I definitely have the peace of God, but my flesh is trying to get me to start worrying about the weeks and months to come instead of just living now. God is my provider. I have nothing to fear. I don´t know the plans for the day, but already there are a couple different options emerging for this week. I´ll let you know what God says when I find out what I´m doing. That´s all for now. I´ll try to keep everyone updated as much as I can.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

And I'm Off...

Tomorrow morning, at 7:15, I'm leaving. It's starting to set in. As I look at all the things I'm taking on the trip, I wonder if they're all going to fit in my backpack. As I peak around the corner at the next 3 months of my life, I'm starting to realize the enormity of the unknowns. I knew it would be like this, but knowing it and living it aren't the same. I feel as though I'm at the top of the first big drop of a roller coaster juuuust starting to cross the apex and am catching a glimpse of the steepness of the slope. There's no stoppin now.

Here's what I want you to pray for me:
1. That above all things, my motivation and drive will be love for God and people. (Luke 10:27)
2. That I will be perfected in love and fear will be driven out. (1 John 4:18)
3. That I will offer my body as a living sacrifice, my mind will be transformed and I will be able to perceive and follow God's will daily. (Romans 12:1,2)
4. That I will trust God and not myself, acknowledging Him in all things. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
5. That I will set an example in speech, life, love, faith and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
6. That I will choose life and not death. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I'm sure there's many more things I need prayer for. Please be careful in what you pray for me and exercise wisdom through the Holy Spirit. Thank you all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No Promise of Safety

"But how will I know limits from lies if I never try?
There's no promise of safety with these secondhand wings
But I'm willing to find out what impossible means."
Thrice, The Melting Point of Wax

"Be safe."
"Be careful."

As I've been saying my goodbyes, these are the frequent parting words of friends, family, acquaintances, and people I don't even know. Are safety and being careful really the prime objectives on my trip or even my life? Our culture tells us that comfort, safety and longevity of life are of utmost importance, but Matthew 16:25 says, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."

This verse comes right after Jesus tells His disciples he's about to be taken to be tortured and executed. Peter responds, "Never Lord! This shall never happen to You!" In other words, "You can't die! It's too important that you stay alive! We're all going to live long, happy, safe lives together in our new air-tight kingdom!" (maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, maybe not). Jesus powerfully rebukes Peter saying, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Jesus knew he would do everything he possibly needed to do in 33 years of life and that there were things he could accomplish only in death.

In Acts 20:22-24, Paul tells the Ephesian elders, "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I know that in every city, the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." On the way, other Christ-followers, through the Holy Spirit, see Paul's fate if he continues to Jerusalem and plead with him not to go. He tells them he is full aware of his impending pain and death and must continue.

Over and over, followers of the Way die prematurely in the worst ways, many as they are in the midst of sharing the gospel. Are death and pain as bad as they're made out to be? Matthew 10:28 says, "Do not be afraid of those that kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in Hell." Phillipians 1:20,21 reads, "I eagerly expect and hope that in no way will I be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Following Jesus isn't a cuddly, snuggly, gooey existence. He promises us persecution, hatred and trials. When I'm brutally honest with myself, I have barely begun to experience those promises and there's reason why. I have been safe. I have been careful.

I'm not trying to go all emo on everyone and blow a few words out of proportion, but words really are important aren't they? Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death..." I understand you are well-meaning when you say this to me and care about me. I really do appreciate that. I don't want love to be lost in this posting. If you're going to tell me to be safe, only remind me of my safety in the hand of the Father. If you're going to tell me to be careful, only remind me to be careful to listen to and obey God.

I know this post has been a bit dark, so I want to let everyone know that God hasn't been telling me that I'm going to die or be imprisoned in Ecuador. I know God has good things prepared for me there and the road to receiving some of those blessings might be rough. I'm ready and waiting. Thank you everyone for your continued prayers, support and love.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm Really Going to Ecuador

Here's my itinerary:

Mon 25JUN DELTA 948         OK     T   LV DALLAS/FTWOR  715A           40F


And Back...



That's definitely when I'm leaving, but there's no guarantee my return
date won't change. Only God knows.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Brief Jaunt to Italy

I woke up Friday morning and spent a little time reading Matthew. I forget what I read specifically, but afterwards I felt like I really needed to get out and serve someone and soon. Right after I logged that thought away, I told my dad I was about to head over to the job (I'm working for him doing construction, if you didn't know) and he informed me he wasn't going. Apparently, it was the set up day for the Tour 'd Italia, the yearly bicycle ride my parent's bike club puts on in Italy, Texas that raises money for some non-profs. *Ding*. So I went ahead and obeyed the Holy Spirit on that one and told my dad I wanted to go and help. Man did I get what I wanted the next 2 days. I won't go into all the details, but I'll just leave it at, I was dang tired after Saturday afternoon rolled around and there were 20 tables and 600 gallons of water to blame. There were a couple things God showed me this weekend. The first came at about 6 am Saturday morning.

It had been pouring down raining since 4:30 am (I know because that's when I got up) and it was flooding. We were distributing the supplies for the rest stops at the bank across the street from the main rest stop, because it was way too muddy for us to unload across the street and we didn't want to mess up the town sheriff's yard. The ice machine was still plugged in over in the sheriff's yard so the rest stop teams had to walk there to grab bags of ice. One of the guys, driving his truck and trailer, decided he'd make this quick and easy and drive through the muddy yard. (I think it's important to give light to the fact that this same guy had already decided to not park his travel trailer in the same yard as he was afraid it would get stuck in the mud.) Sure enough. He got stuck. None of us across the street realized he was doing this until it was too late. As my dad began to walk across the street to start unloading the trailer so we could put it in another, I was a bit frustrated. My thought process went from "I should just stay here and let him fix his own mess" to "okay, fine, I'll go help" to God saying "this is the grace that I offer." Everyone pitched in and rushed around and pulled everything together to get stuff where it needed to go and the ride started on time. My dad even offered, as a representative of the bike club, to pay for the cost of the wrecker and fixing the yard showing that not only did they still accept him, but that they were in it with him. What a powerful image of what God's grace is. When we were at our lowest and worst, having looked and still leaped, God steps in and pulls us out of the mud. As Romans 5:6-8 says:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We, as His body, are agents of that grace-administration (1 Peter 4:10) saying we still love you and we're beside you in your stupidest, most embarrassing moment. Of course, you still have to accept that grace.

The other thing was my surprise at people's behavior. At the bike race, I was taken aback at how many adults in their 40's, 50's and 60's were still desperately grabbing for life both from having control over others (no matter how false their facade of control actually was) and from being accepted by their peers. I expect this kind of behavior from kids, adolescents and 20 somethings, but from grandparents??? I guess I had always assumed people get past their insecurity and neediness by the time they have grand kids, but you can never be filled that way. This behavior was sharply contrasted with that of my dad (formerly the bike club prez) who everyone kept asking what to do (even the ones acting like they were in control of everything) and he has no title or position in the bike club now. He was only there to serve and be least among them. How true is it that there's only one source of water that never leaves you thirsty? Our identity and security has to be in the completeness only found through God's adoption.

All and all, I am again amazed and incredibly thankful for God's love, mercy, hope and life that He freely offers all who call upon the name of his Son. Thank you Jesus. Amen.

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Ten Mile "Run" and Some Conviction

WARNING! If you read this, you might realize I'm not perfect (like I'm sure you all think) and it's a bit on the long side of things, but worth reading (if you really care about me) in my humble opinion.

I got off work early today and decided I would go for a 10 mile run. Now you have to realize, I've just started running again in the last few months and usually run 3 miles 2 or 3 times a week. The last time I had run 10 miles was 4 years ago when, for a year or 2, I had been consistently running 4 times a week, playing ultimate frisbee 3 or 4 times a week and lifting weights 2 or 3 times a week. To say I was being a little overambitious wouldn't be a stretch. A cold front and some showers had just come through and had brought it down into the 70's (ya, that's cool for 2 pm in Texas in June). So I threw on my running gear and took off down the service road of 287. At about the three mile mark, I was starting to think maybe I should go ahead and head back under the next overpass. But, I asked God what he thought and asked for the light to turn green if I should keep going. Sure enough, as soon as I was within 5 feet of the intersection, it turned green and I continued on my way. As I was running, I noticed there were a butt-load of churches. There were seriously 4 within 1 1/2 miles. As I approached the 5 mile mark, there was a huge hill and a head wind, so I decided I would walk a bit and then continue on with my run as I turned the corner and went back up the other side of the highway. I walked under the overpass and ran about another 1/2 mile and then the reality of the situation hit me as I stopped to walk again. I looked up and realized that not only had the clouds disappeared, but it was approaching the 90's and my much-anticipated tailwind had vanished (along with my desire to run another step). So there I was, mad at the weather man for lying to me and stuck with 4 plus miles to walk back home. Lame.

I decided I would make the best of it and talk a bit with God (since He was the one who got me into this back at the stoplight!). As I thought and prayed (and hoped a car would come to take me out of my misery, give me a ride or at least give me a little breeze) I began to notice that not only was this road traveled much more quickly by car and I was developing a sweet farmer's tan/burn, but there was a lot of trash on the side of the road. That's when God nudged me and this whole long run-walk-thing became a huge parable for my recent life.

My first 18 months in Alaska were amazing and spiritually tranforming with continual growth. I learned so much about God, had awesome brothers and sisters to partner with and was blessed to be apart of what He was doing in the world. [Parallel: when I was in awesome shape in college]. During that time many supernatural things happened including receiving the call to go to Ecuador this summer. But... after Christmas, I started slipping into disobedience. It was an easy, smooth, slipperly and slow slide. I barely noticed. I won't go into all the details, but my biggest form of rebellion was not working-- physically, not having a job--mentally, not being serious about learning spanish--spiritually, walking in obedience to where I knew God was leading (very related to the physical and mental). [Parallel: the 2 years after college when I wasn't super physically active]. So what happens when you stop exercising? Your energy level drops, you sleep more and you're just less there. On top of that, you quickly forget how much better it was when you were taking care of yourself. The same priniciple is so true in other areas of life.

As I finished my time in Alaska, I was drained and cynical. I wasn't walking in darkness, but I was sure walking in lethargy. Not only that but God was clearly telling me how important it was that I prepare to meet His work in Ecuador [Parallel: all the churches on the side of the road]. I have to admit to you that my flesh is crying out for me to justify myself, to tell you about all the good things I did and how I was still better than a lot of people, but that's deceptive and unimportant. All I can really say to you is "sorry", because I robbed God and you. God had so much more for me and, by association, the whole Body fo Christ, but I basically said "No, I'll be fine living off the blessings of the past and my own effort." [Parallel: the 5 miles I actually did accomplish running while it was still cool outside]. So, I'm asking for your forgiveness, no matter if you think I actually wronged you or not, because I did.

So does that mean my life's ruined and I'm stuck with the consequences of a 5 months of disobedience? NO!!! As I was about to finish the 10 miles, the lyrics from the song I was listening to (the 3rd time through the same CD, yep it takes me a while to get things sometimes) really hit home. They're from the song "The Tease" by Evans Blue (not a Christian band). The chorus goes:

Hold your hands into the sky
Pray for mercy, instead of time

So true! My first instinct is to want to have more time, words, rest or whatever, so that I can fix all my wrongs instead of falling on the grace of Jesus as He redeems all things. That's the beauty of God! As I walked down the service road of the highway, I did just that: raised my hands to God and prayed for mercy, because I really can't make up for my sins. It was an awesome moment, and I'm sure onlookers just thought I was trying to catch my breath. Hehe. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 says:

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

What that says to me, is that God's uses everything and everyone for his purpose, but he lets us choose whether or not we're going to enjoy it. In other words, we can be the fancy silverwear or the toilet. We can be feeding the body or serving it in other ways... Not only that, but we can be can be promoted from one end of the spectrum to the other (take a second to let that one sink in) if we so choose. So what do we do about it? The next verse says, "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." Not easy, but so simple and so good.

So where does that leave me? Yes, God wants me to take this journey [the green light], but it's going to take a bit longer and be a bit more painful getting there than I was anticipating [the five miles of walking and looking at trash as the Texas sun beat down on me]. I was planning on leaving for Ecuador this week, but it looks like it might be another week or 2 before I can go. The last few weeks in Texas have healed and rejuvenated me as I remember what it's like to walk to God's rhythm. Praise be to God for His continual patience, His enduring love and yes, His disipline! Amen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In Texas

I've been in Texas a few weeks now and it's been insane. It seems everyone I know is moving and I'm "conveniently" around. Lucky me. But really, it's been good to serve people (I need it). I've been cramming as much Spanish down my throat as I can handle and have been pleasantly surprised with how much I can understand now. I still suck at speaking, but I guess that's what Ecuador's for, right?

God's definitely been humbling me these last few weeks. I'm beginning to realize how safe and comfortable I was starting to get in Anchorage. You have to keep pushing or you start to stagnate. That's one of the reason's I'm looking forward to Ecuador. God always does His best work in me when I'm uncomfortable. I can't wait to just take it and like it. As I promised you all (or maybe both of you who read the last blog), I will now tell more about why the nut I'm going to Ecuador.

It all started one dark lonely rainy night in a little cabin a.k.a. "The Trap" in Girdwood... Actually it was summer and Ross was there, but it was almost definitely raining (as all you Alaskans can vouch for). Ross and I were discussing possible possibilities for the following summer seeing as it would be his last chance for freedom before becoming like a slave to medicine (but more importantly to grace). Independently, we both desired to go to Latin America, so we decided to start scanning the globe for our impending travels. Instantly, while looking at a map of S. America, I was drawn to Ecuador. Didn't know why. Then, I talked to my friend Kristen and she recommended Ecuador as a good choice upon my mentioning of said Latin American trip (I had not told her of Ecuador). Then, Ross received a MySpace message from a high school buddy who was in the Peace Corp stationed in... you guessed it... Ecuador. This was starting to be more than mere coincidence. At this point, we were pretty sure God was directing us. To seal the deal, we were talking to some kids (I say kids, but they were college freshmen) at Sal's in Soldotna (always a good place for an important decision) and told them of our plans to travel to S. America the following summer. When they asked where, we told them to tell us. They looked at us a little funny and then Christie said that momentous word... Ecuador. Can I get a witness?!?!? I don't know about you, but that's Gospel to me. All of that happened within about a week. Right from the start, because of how much warning God has given us, I'm expecting huge things from God this summer. I should also say, that God showed me I should start learning another language about 6 months before that. Sadly, I kind of blew it off and forgot about it until Christmas time. His grace is sufficient! Thank God He makes us worthy of His calling and finishes our resolves for good. Amen!

Monday, May 21, 2007

It begins...

Seeing as I'm going to be far and away this summer, I thought it might be a good idea to start a blog as to keep communication time to a minimum. Plus, I know all of you have been dying to know what I do EVERYDAY of my life. Not really. I'm not going to be that guy. I guess I'll start by explaining the name of my blog since it probably intrigues/offends/bores all of you. Recently, I was (or maybe still am) in a band with Ross called "Too Restless For Texas." I think the name of the band is pretty self-explanatory. I would describe our sound as indie/folk/britpop/hippy/trancecore/salsa, but that's a little wordy, so I'll just tell you I play guitar and sing and Ross plays the djembe (a hand drum) and occasionally the trumpet (always a treat!). In an effort to keep you thoroughly entertained, I'll quickly move to a slightly amusing anecdote (as my mom and aunts would say) about a cool God thing that happened today.

So I'm going to Ecuador. Wasn't that a gooder?!?!

Okay, just (mostly) kidding. Here's the real story that I'll somehow manage to tie into my fake anecdote (ya, I'm that good). One of the things God's really been speaking to me about Ecuador is being prepared. In an effort to comply with that, I decided to find some Christian Ecuadorians via Facebook and MySpace. I ended up emailing about 15 people and have been sporadically receiving responses of varying lengths and proficiencies in English. There have been some good responses, but the highlight would have to be one I got today. One of the Ecuadorian guys who emailed back not only loves Jesus, but is going to travel to Girdwood, AK and work at the very same hotel/resort I worked at!!! Isn't that crazy. Seriously, what are the odds?? I have no doubt God's hand was in this and he's just whetting my appetite for things to come. Man, this summer's going to be amazing! I can't wait!!!

This concludes my maiden blogger voyage. I hope it was both enjoyable and beneficial. I'm sorry if my humor was totally lame and you wish you could have your 3 minutes back. I promise all my blogs won't be so corny!!! Adios.

...In the next episode of "I'll hopefully come up with something," Daniel will explain the intricacies of Columbian 7.5"x10.5" envelopes and perhaps touch a bit upon his travels abroad.