About Me

Phoenix, AZ, United States

Monday, December 31, 2007

Hollywood


Being the avid tourists that we are, yesterday we headed over to the ever so famous Hollywood Blvd Strip, home of the "walk of stars." Although it was cold and windy it was heavily populated, which means there was lot's to see.



There were plenty of street performers, impersonators and photo opts. Pictured below are two youngin's who we assumed were a brother/sister duo. To my surprise, the guitarist blared a very familiar riff and the gal who must have been about 7 years of age started singing:

She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky


Of course, I liked her about a million times more than the excessive Axl Rose.

My favorite was probably a quirky magician that was sitting against a wall. I saw he had a black had and a deck of cards, but no people around so I approached him. He had some amazing tricks and soon after, a small crowd developed.



There was the Tree man covered in leaves, standing about 8 feet tall (on stilts), who would stand by tall palm trees and scare unsuspecting pedestrians. He even got Tim. :)



Ripley's Believe it or Not, I have been to this Strip several times now, but never actually made it into the exhibit...i'm too cheap, I think it's like 16 bucks for admission, yesterday was no exception, we just stepped in the foyer for a few pics.



If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be Stefano's Pizza... it's simply amazing. In fact, we stopped in here on a full stomach and shared a couple slices because it's that good.

The original :)



Elliot outside of the Ron Hubbard, Scientology building. Some interesting marketing, a stress test, a Christmas display and 3 young adults that were all intelligent, articulate, attractive, calm and confident, of course it would take much more to convince E.

Reminded me of home...the Mandarin Theatre... No, i'm not chinese, but close enough. \

More than meets the eye.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Quick update


It's Sunday morning and we're in Los Angeles, we arrived early Saturday Morning after a 19 hour drive from Seattle... We hit severe weather again up in Oregon and into Northern California. We rushed to meet Brad, who had arrived the night before and therefore we did not get to stop in San Francisco, or Fresno to see Steph. I was also planning on calling Louie and Vic since they weren't far from that region...but it didn't work out.

I just watched, literally 75 percent of our hotel empty out. I'm not sure what was going on, but there were hundreds of Latin folks here who just boarded a couple tour buses. At the moment, I'm sitting outside by the pool, alone.



Last night, I took Brad and Elliot to the Santa Monica Pier, but I think the cold weather toned down the commonly busy tourist attraction. There were only about half the normal amount of tourist merchants present and only one performer, an older asian fella who was literally a one man band.

He had a rig made of pvc pipe that had a couple of keyboards and cymbals. He had a harmonica around his neck, a guitar in hand, with drum sticks taped to the headstock..and of course a microphone for vocals. Evidently he had been on t.v. a few times in the past. It brought a smile to my face so I guess he was entertaining.

We then headed across the street to the 3rd St. Promenade which is a large strip of shops. We watched several street performers and even listened in on a Christian gentleman who had an area set up with 2 microphones, one for himself the other for whomever might want to ask a question. I didn't agree with a lot of his answers and I found him a bit abrasive, like he was looking for a fight... nevertheless, it was interesting.

There were two spanish guitar players that were pretty amazing, a solo artist from Alabama that we enjoyed, a legless beggar, dancers and a cute blonde gal who seemed to be just getting a start. I wish Phoenix had a place for all the creative at heart...

I do enjoy this city. The coastal air from the pacific has a distinct feel that's so familiar to me though I've only spent a limited amount of my life here. Most people complain about the traffic, but I love driving in LA. The PCH is one of my favorite drives...and of course there's Muholland and Beverly...

I'm not sure what our plans are for today, I think we're gonna hit up Koreatown because Tim seems to really miss the motherland.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Update

Pikes Place Market



As I type this we are back on the highway headed towards Portland, leaving Seattle with a deal of reluctance, next main destination is Los Angeles, CA.

The last 48 hours have felt like one endless day. Fast food, gas station snacks, ice cold weather, driving and more driving…fatigue...sheer joy. I had about a combined 5 hours of sleep between both days…my companions about the same, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

After leaving Boise, ID Thursday morning, we drove into Oregon. It was quite beautiful. Oregon is surrounded by giant hills blanketed by deep amounts of powdery snow… High in elevation, the air was thin, but as pure as one could imagine.



We made a stop when we realized we were traveling the Oregon Trail. Due to it being the end of December we found ourselves completely alone at the “Oregon Trail Interactive Center.” Of course, it was painfully cold. I was the only one with gloves, therefore I amused myself by throwing snowballs at Tim and Big Love, E.
Upon hitting the roads again, we saw warning signs indicating “Extremely Icy conditions,” and rows of large semi’s were pulled over to the right placing chains over their tires. On certain roads, a thin cloud of snow would float just over the blacktop…and it looked like we were driving on a cloud. We made a food and gas stop… and found that in the state of Oregon you were not allowed to pump your own gas… The poor attendants stood out there explaining this law to all the cars that pulled up.

I took over driving duties from there and after a few hours we found ourselves in Washington at about 5:00pm. Much to our dismay we hit pretty severe conditions from this point on. We tuned into a local radio station for a report, the message was concerning severe weather (snow) in the region we’d be driving right through. It was a blizzard, heavy snow fall and strong winds, to make matters worse our windshield would get a thin layer of moisture from the precipitation and then freeze over. Unfortunately, our washer fluid stopped working and so we had to put up with low visibility, did I mention it was really dark,the roads were curvy and slippery and we were in a Chrysler Sebring convertible? ☺ It was probably the scariest drive I’ve ever been a part of, although initially it was exciting after the second hour It started to wear on me.

At about 7:30 pm, we arrived in Seattle exhausted, hungry, and cold, but excited at the sight of the space needle. We checked in to a lovely hotel downtown, compliments of Tim and found ourselves with a gorgeous view of the city skyline from the 27th floor.

Dinner was Seattle’s world famous clam chowder and it was fabulous. We had it in this really neat shopping mall. From outside it doesn’t look like much, but once through the surface you find floor upon floor of shops and eateries. We did just a little walking around, mainly looking for a
Starbucks, I know, it’s Seattle home of Starbucks and there were 2 for every block, but for some reason they were all closed. Despite the cold and rain I just really loved the feel and smell of the City. We were in bed by 10pm. I can’t tell you how thankful I was for a bed.

In the morning, we headed down the street to the famous Pikes Marketplace. The vendors were just starting to set up so we walked around for a while, until we found a spot that served breakfast food. It was delicious, all you can eat Waffles for $ 6 and a chili omellete. Yum.

I finished eating first and stepped out for a moment, alone. It was a brisk morning, the air was slightly moist, cold and crisp… I loaded Amos Lee on my ipod, lit a cigarette and walked over to a flower shop and then to a newsstand (standard of larger cities). I picked up a few postcards and I watched…

I watch a restless city pass me by, I watch to trade the sting of emptiness within for the emptiness without…

And I felt something… difficult to describe with words…but profound… I think I fell in love with the City.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Halfway?

We are in Boise, Idaho and it's about 7:44 am, Thursday Morning. I've been sleeping in spurts of an hour here, a half hour there...crammed in a car with Big love and Big tim.
:) Tim has done the majority of driving so far because he got some sleep while Elliot and I did the "Vegas things" respectively. Generally, one person will drive, one person will sleep and the other will keep the driver company...well that was the idea, but it's been more like 2 sleep, 1 drive...our Life is in the pilots hands. We've had some scary moments, foggy freeways in Utah, snow and wind...but so far so good.

We've traveled over 1,000 miles in the last literal 24 hours... and I'm starting to feel it. Neck is stiff, back is stiff, and I'm really tired.

From Vegas we headed through Northern Nevada.


There were unspeakable sights in there...unspeakable :)


Utah was next. It was a beautiful drive through massive mountains scraping the clouds... and we drove through a good amount of snow... at night because of the headlights of the car it looks like you're traveling through a portal or at some sci-fi warp speed... and It was COLD!!! At one point the car thermometer read negative 7 degrees... I think Tim's right when he says I'm meant to live in Arizona all my life...or maybe So. Cal? In Salt Lake City, we pulled over at a truck stop and slept in the car. Elliot disappeared for a while and I woke up to the smell of truck fumes...we were sandwiched between to big rigs... no wonder I was so sleepy :)
Elliot had found a 24 hour diner nearby and so I joined him, while Tim slept in the parking lot. They had a full menu with steak, chicken, pasta what have you... but it was 2 a.m. and no one else in the restaurant but Me, Elliot and the server in a gas station restaurant.... I feared for my stomach and sincerely wondered if she would also be our cook... I opted for French toast because I figured it would be a safe bet.



Boise, ID



We are charging our laptops, blogging and drinking Starbucks. Idahoans are quickly populating the shop, it's business as usual...first impressions, Boise seems like a nice, quaint town... Next, it's back on the road for another 8 hours, continuing on the 84 North... Seattle here we come!





It's icy here... I nearly slipped, I'm such a tourist, look at the shoes i'm wearing...


Highlights so far, crowning Elliot "Big Love," Poker in Vegas, Snow, the scenery, Tim grabbing Big Love inappropriately, and spending all this time with my boys!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And that was vegas...

We started pretty dam early this morning. Tim was too dam late getting up :) so we left phoenix around 7 a.m. And then we went from one dam thing to another.
Ok that was horrible. Here is Hoover Dam in all of it's glory.


Here are Timothy and E in the Chrysler Sebring.



Viva Las Vegas, and we actually listened to Elvis in the Car.



Treasure Island on the Strip.



We had lunch at Caesars Palace upon arrival. Then Elliot went for a walk around the Strip, Tim took a nap in the car and I...well, I found the Poker tables. It was very enjoyable as usual and I left with a good chunk of change :) But of course no camera's aloud in the Poker room so you'll have to take my word for it.

We took a stop at Starbucks for internet access and some coffee...


It's just before 5 pm and the sun is starting to set on the desert...and Vegas will really come to life...but we're off to Idaho I think...which we will just be passing through on our way to Seattle, WA, I'm very excited. So far we're all going on very little sleep, but having a blast. 2 hours of sleep last night and I'm still up because it's mighty difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position, anyway, more to come! Oh and check Tim's blog (freakngenius) for other updates!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The day is done...

6 a.m. day after Christmas
I'll throw some clothes on in the dark.
The smell of cold, car seat is freezing
the world is sleeping, I am not... Ben Folds

Advent

I feel strangely numb. This time last year i was a well of emotions... and for the moment I feel "comfortably numb." I never imagined I'd ever have a chance to reference Pink Floyd in any of my blogs :)

It's quiet, and officially Christmas now. Just about half past 1 a.m. and exactly how one would imagine this time of this particular day to be... completely serene...cold, frozen...calm. And yet since i haven't laid my head down on my pillow yet, I'm convinced that it still remains the eve of...

I've been having difficult dreams the last few days so I sort of don't want to sleep... though my eyes grow heavier by the moment i'm fighting it with all I have.

It still doesn't feel like Christmas...everyone I have talked to today and even late this evening can relate. This year has been quite interesting to say the least...and I wonder if there's been just that much change, all around.

I'm not sure what it is I want to feel...what i'm waiting for, what i'm missing... If I did, perhaps I could do something to evoke this apparently mysterious sentiment...or at least something closely resembling it...but I really don't know. I know that I feel empty and I feel quite ambivalent about feeling empty. I know that I miss Christmas last year and that it just couldn't be more different today...

If I'm honest, it feels like just another day, just another late evening...but that just can't be right. Selah.

Over two millenia ago, God came to us in the form of a vulnerable Child, because we, left to ourselves had made such a great mess of everything. He came to us in a way that we might relate to Him...because we could not reach Him otherwise. He came to us. He came to us...

And so, despite my disappointments about how different and hollow this Christmas feels to me... I am confronted by this powerful truth...

He came to us...

"Unto us a Son is given, unto us a child is born."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Xmas Eve

It's Christmas eve, day... I must be one of the few people working today... well, I saw the garbage truck this morning in our neighborhood... and then there was the Fed EX guy I ran into in the store parking lot. I asked him how he was doing and he asked me the same...we both smiled with a level of understanding since we're at work when much of the country is not... :) The poor mall people are still working...and of course our soldiers both domestic and overseas... our public servants, like police officers and firefighters, paramedics... and gas station clerks...oh here comes mr. mailman too. So here's to all the people hard at work during the holidays.

I don't really feel "Christmasy" this year. Though I've been in Arizona for over a decade now, it has always struck me as strange to see blue skies, green plants and people wearing short sleeves during this time of year. Nevertheless, it's a beautiful morning... and I'm in good spirits. I've been having some great mornings... the afternoons and evenings are a different story, but the mornings I've been looking forward to :)

Tim (the best friend) is here from Korea, so i've been spending every waking moment with him since he got in on Friday. As evidenced in my blogs this year, I've been feeling more and more estranged here in my home of over a decade... with Tim here it feels a little more like familiar.

So on Wednesday morning, Elliot, Tim and I will begin our journey... Roadtrippin'!
We'll begin with a 5 hour drive to Las Vegas! We'll probably have lunch and spend a few hours at the poker tables (no limit holdem' of course). Then we'll be off, up to the North, seeing more of Nevada than I ever have, through Idaho (i've never been)to our second destination about 18 hours later: Seattle, Washington. The following day we'll head down the Golden state, to Fresno to meet Steph the artist/flight attendant, oh happy day. Then to Frisco maybe for clam chowder in a sourdough breadbowl and beer along fishermans warf? Then we'll drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to the City of Angeles. At LAX we'll meet Bradley. We'll spend a couple days there, including New years eve and then we'll make the 6 hour trek back home. I know, it's quite ambitious to travel 4,000 miles in a week... but we are ambitious people :)

I'm really going to make an effort to blog along the way.

I miss certain people today... I was telling Tim the other day that even knowing God will see us through the toughest valleys of our life, that He has a plan and all still doesn't keep us from sincerely missing those lost along the way. My Christmas won't be complete...it just won't.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to you all...or more accurately: joyous Advent!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blah, blah, blog

Usually I write with a degree of intention. Most often, with a heaviness in my heart or several specific thoughts in my head, which I feel the need to ponder further; writing provides a medium... this evening, I find myself writing because it serves as a form of company. I know it sound a bit odd, perhaps even a bit sad and I don't expect anyone to relate to this...but it is a true description of how i feel at the moment. So I can't promise much of a read since I feel anything, but grounded by purpose...in fact, something as light as this evenings chilly breeze could probably direct and redirect the substance of this blog...

I feel sort of like a zombie these days. A headless zombie if those should exist. Well, i am talking about zombies afterall...so there aren't really any "rules" :) So i'm a headless one, riding a unicorn, hunting fire breathing dragons... with a small company of elves...? sure why not.

Zombie...? what do i mean by that? Well, I'm not doing anything with any amount of passion. I work, keep myself entertained until bed time, and then work again. The small group and younglife are both things that I feel are important and significant, but passionate about it, I dunno. I am doing the best I can with the group... I care about the guys and have every desire to be diligent in this area... but am I passionate about it? not so sure. It doesn't excite me like rock n' roll... but nothing does.

At the same time, I feel pretty much stuck here for the moment. I've been in a holding pattern for months... waiting to hear from God... impatient, most of the time...but not really hearing anything even resembling an answer about where I should be headed... it's frustrating to say the least... and somehow I feel more exhausted than I ever have felt, in my entire life...(of course there have been other factors). Nevertheless, it seems as though for the moment, for the season, I may have to just wait...in vocational stagnation... but sometimes "waiting" feels so daunting a task. Ok, actually it's most often.

The thing is, I pretty much suck at it. That's why I appreciate things like the microwave and instant coffee so much, toaster strudles...Granted, we're an entire generation raised on such luxuries...(little did we know they could hurt us). To add insult to injury I'm definitely on the passionate side of human personalities...so i'm a ball of impatience at times. But i wait...

I just finished talking to Tim online... and through nothing he said directly, I thought about how many people i've met over the years. Perhaps thousands? And how sad it is that the vast majority of them are entirely insignificant (pragmatically speaking) to me (and I to them) in terms of our respective lives, today. For one reason or another, a relationship wasn't born...nurtured or built... and our lives just moved right along...

To take this further, we could look to friendships...many have come, many have gone...over the years, and this will continue to occur. I used to really hate the idea of certain friendships being very temporary... i mean i know: bigger picture, all friendships are...(due to death and sin),but what I mean is there are people that enter our lives and provide a function for a short time...and then for whatever reason... they are gone...relationships change...

It's a tragedy of life i think... because it speaks of how everything is so very fleeting... and I don't use the word "tragedy" lightly.

And yet, those relatively short moments can make an eternity of a difference...we can play extraordinary roles in another persons life even if for only a fragment of time... and perhaps the impact can be as significant in the grand scheme of things, as some lifelong friendships. And I suppose that's the poetry of it.

Now I don't think a touch of beauty redeems an intrinsically sad reality...not entirely or even close.... no more than a drop of red ink would turn a tub of water completely ruby... but I guess it would blend into the colorless fluid and create a faint pink...so as to ease the pain just a little.

I will always struggle with this because I'm extremely relational by nature...I want to keep every one of my friendships and continue to build on those relationships...but I guess I'm learning or beginning to accept certain realities...at least while we're here on earth...

methinks heaven will be vastly different with regards to relationships... I truly hope so.

I'm strangely tired, so I guess I'll leave it at that...I promise I'll write with more of a point tomorrow. :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

7 guys, 3 gals and baked goods under 1 roof.

The small group met last night at Louie and Vic's house. I'm thankful they've opened up their home to a group of noisy guys... Though I haven't spent an extensive amount of time there, the house just has a feeling of "home" to me... It's warm and comfortable.

I was preparing an outline for our discussion up until the very last minute, rushing to leave work, while talking on the phone with Tim. My hands were more than full and I was trying to close shop, while carrying my laptop bag and the remnants of the day's lunch; my small cell phone precariously fixed between my shoulder and my head...

I was exhausted because I stayed out too late the night before after the "progressive dinner" talking to Elliot in front of his house, it's good to have him home.

Truth be told, I really didn't want to meet with the group last night...I was emotionally drained and feeling pretty cynical...and just tired.
In the words of Kerouac:
"I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion..."


I made it just in time to meet up with one of the guys before the rest of the group had arrived... he asked if we could talk and shared with me some very heavy things...I mostly just listened... The older I get, the more I listen and the less I speak - I should say the less I feel the need to say something for the sake of saying something... I think before, due to my insecurities, I always felt a need to say something profound...you know so that I would prove myself as capable or knowledgeable; otherwise I thought I needed to say something to demonstrate to the other person that I was in fact interested... but I'm finding it shows, if sincere, albeit in non verbal ways. I'm still insecure though...just dealing with it or trying to deal with it very differently now.

After he spoke...I asked him several questions that he pondered for sometime. I witnessed the inner struggle...as we sat out in the patio...in the cold. Being critically honest with yourself is never an easy exercise...not necessarily because we don't want to be ...but we've also learned a million different ways to lie to ourselves...and we have to navigate through that maze...

there were moments of long pauses...

I could hear people arriving...the house was filling up...laughter could be heard at a distance through the sliding glass doors that separated us, but I decided not to turn around, not even for a glance... I think I needed to be right there in our conversation, and only there. I hope I was of some help to him, but I'm not sure.

To my pleasant suprise, Tweed and Wash were over helping Vic bake cookies and zucchini nut bread. I am always suprised at just how easily women change the dynamic of everything... I mean even if it's completely unbeknownst to them and entirely unintentional... they bring a gentleness, a unique sort of calm and soft warmth that's very different from what guys have to offer... granted, these three gals are exceptional people.

Due to the activity in the kitchen, Louie threw a couple logs of wood into their fire pit and we sat outside with mugs of coffee and blankets. The discussion went well. I think the guys are starting to get more comfortable with one another, which means more individual involvement, more sharing.

The discussion centered around John Eldredige's idea that Desire is central to who we are. That we lose by supressing our desire and how the aftermath of that actually destroys us. There is a war waging within our selves, because we fight to kill off the very thing that makes us human writes, Eldredge.

We also talked about diciphering good, legitimate desire from illegitimate. We talked about what makes a good desire, good and a bad, bad... we also talked about intrinsically good desires, gone bad... It naturally turned to a talk of romantic relationships... we concluded of course, that God must be our portion, that all else could not be relied on...could not be the source of our hope...because it would all fail us...or fall away, inevitably.

I challenged the guys to consider then, what this should look like in practical terms. What does it tangibly look like in your day to day if God is your focus, the center of your life? I asked this because within the body of Christ we always hear the statement, "make God your center," it's almost a cliche, but we often don't know what it really means...it's abstract and if we don't evaluate it, we'll just associate it with a feeling, which is never a good idea.

The conversation that emerged was centered around the concept of Worship, with our entire lives. A few of the guys presented the idea of allowing God to truly exercise authority, the final say in all parts of our lives and I fully agreed.

Hoping to dig a little deeper, I presented the idea that because we exist in a finite reality, time was the ever precious commodity... Therefore, we need to closely evaluate where all our time was being spent because it would speak volumes regarding our actual focus in life. It's like money in that regard, of course they say: "time is money." We spend both on that which we treasure... as Jesus said: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I think I spend a good amount of my time and $$$ on keeping my stomach full (literally and figuratively), trying to impress others by making myself look a certain way, and well, keeping myself entertained... it's sort of the American way. Of course I give of my time and money... but such a small percentage, in reality. I think I can safely say, God is far from being the center of my life... I am the center.

Vanauken, in his book A Severe Mercy, states that God was like a beautiful poem he would read once in a while to make him feel a certain something... but a true, real relationship it was not. I feel that way at times... and I'm realizing this whole "relationship with God" concept is something I'm still only beginning to unravel after all these years...

Anyway, It thrills me to see everyone within the group getting along. We stuck around afterwards, playing video games and shooting the breeze; it seemed everyone had a good time. For some, this is the only community they are truly a part of...

I talked to Tim on the way home and I could hardly keep my eyes open... I was afraid to go home... afraid of being met only by my lonliness. It was hard to get up this morning... but I'm here... taking each day as it comes and trying to find God in and through it all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Letting go.

She opened herself up to me after much resistance... she hurt me quite often...and I kept trying to change her. I was critical at times, I regret that so deeply... she remained guarded... through and through.

To break up with me, she tried on numerous occassions, said it would never work... I guess she knew better than I at the time...but I always talked her out of it... I knew all the right things to say. I was addicted to her...and her to me.
I just couldn't let go.

Amazing doesn't begin to describe her.

She hurt me more than anybody ever has. I hurt her more than I had earned the right to. We couldn't let each other go...even though we had decided it was for the best... we clung to each other... against all reason... it felt so good to hold her in my arms, her head nestled in my neck... we'd talk for hours... she was beautiful.

I didn't love her baby like she wanted me to...I couldn't commit, because I was so scared, so lost... and confused... I just knew they deserved so much more than me, so much more than my uncertainty. I hated myself for that...

I thought one day I might learn to... but couldn't ask her to wait around for maybe. I always knew...they deserved more... I was waiting...hoping I could become so much more. I miss the pair... more than I had ever imagined... reminders of what I lost come to me all too often.

She didn't call anymore... and then suddenly she said, we couldn't be friends... she'd moved on... and I should as well, but she refused to talk to me... only text messages. It has been sometime since I've heard her voice.

I couldn't breathe that day... and though time has past, at moments I still feel that way. I'm not sure of who she's become... but it seems the warmth of her heart has grown calloused and grey... and to some extent, I have myself to blame. A Redeemer we both need in a desperate way.

You see, last night she broke me again... armed with harsh words, some horrible things to say... though they weren't spoken aloud, they echoed in my head...i tossed and i turned trying to make sense of it all...

it's time to let go.

I don't know when we were broken...

two young lovers walking hand in hand,
'round the man made lake
at our favorite coffee plant.
I counted the stars to give them to you
you smiled in the night and faded the moon.
but nothing it seems remains anymore
nothing of us, nothing i fear...

but with effort I still remember, my dear...
our love was once true and our hearts were so near.
and nothing in life will take that away,
not distance, nor time nor your searing words yesterday...

And when years have long gone...
and only strangers, we've become...
a simple truth will always remain:

We were at one time...important to one another.

To this I'll cling when all memories i've lost
and remember your laughter, when the days are long...


always praying for you... and letting go.

A Christmas Song

Excerpts from River by Joni Mitchell

It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees.
they're putting up reindeer, singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river, I could skate away on.

But it don't snow here, it stays pretty green
I'm gonna make a lot of money
and then I'm gonna quit this crazy scene,
Oh I wish I had a river, I could skate away on.

I wish I had a river so long, I'd teach my feet to fly...
I wish I had a river I could skate away on.

I made my baby cry.

I'm so hard to handle
I'm selfish and I'm sad
Now I gone and lost the best baby that I ever had.
I wish I had a river, I could skate away on
Oh, I wish I had a river so long
I'd teach my feet to fly.

I made my baby say goodbye...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mix it up

I most often share only my thoughts and rarely the events...I often wonder if my blog is a pretty dull place of emotional weighty-ness, so today I'm going to share about my weekend, not that it was out of ordinary or anything...but just in the name of variety... As with most of my weekends, it zoomed by. (zoom, zoom). I can't help, but think of Mazda anytime I hear or read the word "zoom" or any tense of it. :)

Friday night I stayed out a bit late, but all in good fun. I arrived at my friend Josh's house after work. Josh lives with his girlfriend Lauren in Phoenix. They are both Jewish and were giving each other Hanukkah gifts, for the 4th night of the celebration. That was neat to watch, Lauren gave Josh a set of poker chips, and a poker table (which I was also thankful to her for) and Josh got Lauren (and himself) 2 tickets to the next Suns game, with press passes for the two of them, so that she might meet some of the players. They lit candles together and I very much enjoyed being a fly on the wall. Then we watched the Suns game.

They are both huge basketball fans, in fact Josh was once a Suns ball boy.

Everybody around these parts seems obsessed with the Suns lately. Now I do enjoy a good College football game once in a while, but I could also live without it.
I don't watch ESPN for highlights, ever. I don't particularly like talking about what happened to this player, or who's contract is up or what team has the winningest record... who should be traded, who should be the MVP this season...I don't ever have to know the score to any game at anytime, I've never had such figures texted to my phone... but most of my male friends and increasingly more female friends do...and it seems this way more and more.



I don't mind that they love it at all... in fact I often end up watching a game and enjoying it in the name of being a good sport...as more often than not anytime my boys and I get together it's inevitable...but I just don't seem to like it as much as everybody else... I guess I'm missing something?

When I was a kid, I did enjoy it a bit more. But nowadays... I just view it as a bunch of grown men, playing a game. And these grown men on occasion curse, cheat, get angry and emotional and even fight over this game...what is more, other grown adults, thousands of them...pay money to watch all this go on...

they're not playing...which is what makes it that much more bizarre to me. they are in no way involved with what happens on the field, court or ice... and yet they wear identical uniforms, hats and hoop and holler as if they were out there themselves...and as if it were a matter of life and death, some of them. But they are merely spectators, nothing more. Sometimes these spectators even curse, yell, lose their heads and in extreme cases fight themselves... but again it's all just a game...that they are merely watching unfold.

All this to say, that I just don't get it, it's completely lost on me...but to each his/her own.

I do know people want to feel a part of something...something significant... something bigger than themselves to identify with...which is why people often relate to the team closest to their hometown... or some to the "best" most winningest team or player.


Anyway, post suns game, I actually learned to play the Dreidel that night, which is like the Jewish equivalent of rolling dice. Josh kept winning, so I joked that he was spinning the thing like Jesus would. With all this tradition around me, (they also had gelt and several choice Hanukkah foods) I couldn't help, but consider how religious tradition is in and of itself far from being a real worldview, but many really don't understand a distinction exists. What I mean is my friends are Jewish in so far as they recognize all the holidays and understand much of the traditions... but know or believe very little about the worldview, as well, a worldview. It doesn't seem to truly work it's way into their lives...with regards to their day to day living and that pretty much sums up our culture. Religion, philosophy or a worldview is often just a small portion of a person's identity in post modern culture. Even though so contrary to what's implicitly suggested in the very term, worldview.

Anyway, I'm rambling on my thoughts again...

When the other guys arrived, Lauren left to hang out with the ladies...and we started our Texas Hold em' game... armed with Josh's New Poker chips (Purple and Orange; Phoenix Suns colours) and his new green felt table- with built in cup holders, great for ice cold beer :)

We talked our usual nonsense, making fun of one another at every possible point.
We laughed a great deal, had Burger King, got into some serious conversations regarding relationships, our futures, careers and the like... stepped outside and enjoyed the rain...and played until our eyes could hardly stay open. It had been a while since I got home at 3 am... but I really enjoyed it... Of course that meant saturday would be quite difficult...as my body doesn't seem to recover as quickly as it used to.

Saturday was dedicated to recording my other friend Josh (yeah I have a few Joshuas in my life). Cliff my old bandmate came over as well... following our session we had dinner... but after that I stayed in, feeling pretty exhausted.

Sunday was church, I slept in and made it to a later service... I sat next to a family who had 2 daughters. One of whom was probably about 6 or 7... she was adorable and kept starting at me... she made me smile...I must be getting old... it also made me really sad too... because I thought of Andrea and Maddie...

Following church I sat at a Starbucks that I hadn't been to in a long time... I was supposed to meet with one of the guys in my small group. He was quite late so I sat by myself for a while... I hadn't brought with me any books, so I found a corner of the cafe and sat observing people. Upon his arrival my small group friend and I talked a great deal about our longing and need for community... I'm not at liberty to talk about what he's been through...but his childhood looked vastly different from mine, or from most others. Interestingly enough though, his longings are similar to those of mine and everybody elses. We all feel so disconnected...so lost... we all just want to feel loved...and less alone.

Talking with my new friend really made me realize how much we as Christians really suck sometimes at being a church... We only prance around with the trappings of community... we think because a bunch of people are getting together once a week to sing songs and have a good time or because there are social events lining calendars, that we are a Christian community...but we forget the reaching out part... we don't really stop to get to know one another... a stranger...the outsiders, those who should most be reached out to. We don't do it like Jesus would. Jesus wasn't just trying to have a good time with his friends...he was always reaching out. I am very much guilty of this. People just want to be accepted and loved, invited to the movies, talked to, listend to, authentically cared about and I'm worried about how this person might not be my favorite person to talk to, or they're "weird" or not fun to be around... as if my having a good time is the most important thing...

I was grateful for the conversation...and I hope he learned half as much as I did. Afterwards, I headed over to Brad's and we hung out watching Miami Ink and talking about our next tattoos and how I'd like to marry a tattoo artist...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rain is the rhythm of my song for you.

I'm at my desk after having just propped open the front door; it started to sprinkle and I wanted to feel somehow closer to the rain (without having to get wet).

Storm clouds rolled in late last night... It's mostly pale and grey outside...a brisk morning. A beautiful storm.

On rare ocassion the sun pokes through the thick blanket of dust and moisture leaving a momentary beam of gold, it shimmers, but for a second, bringing to life the dull sidewalk...and though a heavenly sight, it couldn't appear more out of place on a day as this.

I'm flooded by feelings... a vast array of them... but not one, too intensley... I have not the words...

Motionless like a stone.
Watching clouds drift along.
Gently, slowly, East to West
every soul, encircling...

With eyes closed,
every breathe on hold
To feel the world revolve.
Spinning, turning, carelessly
moving along in apathy.

Time: the cars that pass me by.

Patiently I wait for rain,
to soak the streets
and wash away the pain...

Soggy trees will dip
burdened with ladened leaves,
and oily puddles will fade
like weathered dreams.

As the dry storm clouds
after giving away
will quietly float on...
every season must change.

Like you and I
and what we've become.

The room is freezing now...but I'm burning up inside.

I wrote a song for you, there's nothing left for me to do.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I'm still afraid of hope...

Dreams, by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.


"To desire is to open our hearts to the possibility of pain; to shut down our hearts is to die altogether."
-John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire


and yet from my soul is an ever flowing well of desire...a spring of dreams.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ebay

This is pretty funny... I can't say I read it all, but the idea behind the whole situation made me laugh. And look at the bids! People are truly insane... although i think i'd take these over a grilled cheese sandwich with Jesus' face on it. :)

Check it out

just in case the hyperlink doesn't work:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=130144061675

Small Group

So last Thursday, my small group met at Borders on 75th Ave and Bell. It was our first official meeting, it was brisk out, but we opted to meet outside, huddled around two round, aluminum tables pressed together, the chairs were terribly uncomfortable also having been created out of the light pliable metal. We spent several minutes shooting the breeze and introducing ourselves. Some shared a great deal, others not so much...but everyone showed up, which is a good sign.

I've never done anything like this, nor have I ever even been a part of a small group myself, so I really don't know what I'm doing :).

Nevertheless, we will be exploring a book together as one of our main tasks. I took the liberty of recommending two books to choose from.

The Journey of Desire, Eldredge (of course) and Searching for God Knows What, which I've spent some time talking about in recent blogs.

I copied 3 quotes from each book onto a single sheet of paper and had everyone spend a few moments reading through them. Then as a group, we discussed which book we wanted to work through in the coming months.

Earlier that day, as I was searching for "good" excerpts, I found it was quite easy with Donald Miller's book, and not so much with Elderedge... and by "good" excerpts I mean short paragraphs that captured the writing style as well as some of the main ideas of each writer, but in a concise and accurate manner... Both authors are great and either book has so much to offer... but they are essentially, so very different.

Miller is afforded more freedom I think, and his off beat humour is completely welcomed within the context of his topics, which I assumed would make his book more accessible to a group of college aged guys. While, Eldredge sets out to discuss a "weightier" concept if you will, namely of loss and disappointment. Miller weaves in and out of several ideas with ease and a bit more generality... while Eldredge is much more focused on one major theme, and so consequently, finding shorter quotes that might sum up Eldredge's core idea proved to be a challenge...interestingly enough, The Journey of Desire, is really best represented by a Journey... from cover to cover, the ideas are all deeply interconnected and each principle gradually leading to the next. For some reason I keep picturing a slinky, walking down a case of stairs, influenced by gravity, but also requiring each previous step to get to the next one...

Anyway, I was convinced that the guys would go with the former, but not because it was necessarily a better book, but based on my inability to represent each book with all fairness. To my suprise though, most everybody expressed more interest in Eldredge's, The Journey of Desire. Of course being a group of guys, we came to the decision in a matter of minutes :)

Since I realized we weren't going to be working through Miller's book, I read several pages of Searching For..., to the group. Yes, I read to a group of grown men, in public. We spent some time discussing some of the significant ideas presented by Miller and I got a glimpse of where each person was in terms of their respective journey's, but just a glimpse. Human dynamics are so interesting, complicated and yet beautiful.

Much to my satisifaction, after all was said and done, we stuck around for sometime, just hanging out, which I believe will prove to be an integral part of what we're trying to do with this group. I observed a mixture of excitement, uncertainty, deep wounds and paper cuts, questions, answers, struggles, flaws, strengths, hopes and dreams and hopelessness...but from everyone, a real longing that only Christ alone can fill...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Meatloaf Monday

Quiet day at the store. I did some reading and then went across to street to Safeway for a minute to pick up lunch. I stood in line at the express check out (9 items or less) with the following:

1 Safeway brand meatloaf (so bad, but so good)
1 Loaf of Bread (wheat to make myself feel better about the meatloaf)
1/2 lbs of Deviled egg, potato salad (pure yummy)
1 bag of Cesear Salad (fiber)
1 Bottle of Mayonnaise (squeezable containter because it makes life so much easier)

I have to report it was pretty delicious. This particular meal against the cold afternoon made me think a bit about December of last year. Obviously things have changed so dramatically since then...

We were still able to employ Mr. Bill then and we had a great deal of fun together. One day, Bill ran off to get us lunch... He returned with a smirk on his face and several bags bearing the Safeway logo. With the enthusiasm of a 7 year old on Christmas morning, he pulled out the above items, plus a case of what he called "DP" (dr. pepper). It was the first time I had ever had a "meatloaf sandwich," but not the last. We made it a tradition...from then on out... in celebration of when business was rampant...or as a means of drowning our sorrows during the slow months... we consumed quite a bit of this grocery store delicacy. I haven't had any of course for several months, that is until today... I miss Bill.

The weekend came and went in a flash, I spent most of it working... A friend of mine, a singer/songwriter wanted to do some recordings, so I'm helping him out.

It's strange to find myself in a sort of mentorship role... He had so many questions about everything...and I recall a time when I was where he currently is. There's much I miss about those days... when I was interning at Dream Catcher Recording in Mesa... Everything seemed so overwhelming at the time and I wondered how I would ever learn the ins and outs of recording music. I was 19 when I started that...

Tim and I were just talking about how the last few years have been such a blur...

I spent sometime looking through job classifieds today. Specifically within the music industry and entertainment industry. There are some internship programs I might be interested in, of course they are in Hollywood or New York... and I have to be enrolled in school... so I'll have to consider that. I also spent some time looking at the Berklee School of Music, in Boston. They have a unique program for contemporary music with degrees in music business, songwriting/composition, publishing, performance and much much more... but it's all geared towards contemp styles like Jazz, Pop and Rock... they have a neat Alumni list.

Somedays I'm perfectly fine with where I'm at... with regards to not knowing what I'm supposed to do with my life, in specific terms. But on days as these, I get pretty anxious... Vanauken, In A Severe Mercy talks about time. About how we can't escape the reality of it. How we carry this constant pressure of the clock ticking away... and I think that provides some of my anxiety... reality is, i'm not 19 anymore...though I wish I were :) So I do feel like I need to figure some things out, sooner than later... but of course that's what I'd very much like... so for now I wait.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Winter night

The rain was so beautiful. The cold even more so... It feels like winter now, fully, but winter in a distant place.

I stepped outside this evening to have a smoke... and the clouds had cleared a substantial path up above... and I could see stars and a reddish planet in the deep blue heavens.
Both belt and Warrior were enormous, stretching across the darkly skies... leaving but a small corner for a shimmering ladle and a cluster of stray diamonds...

but as hard as i looked I couldn't find Cassiopeia...not without you here to point her out for me... I sat until i could no longer feel my finger tips... i waited because i've lost my way...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Certainly uncertain

I was blessed with another beautiful, overcast morning. It is under these conditions that I seem to come to life in some unexplainable way. There was a time when I disliked sunny days, it was always too bright for my eyes so as a default I welcomed today's conditions, but I don't necessarily feel that way any more. Lately, I prefer the clouds because here in Arizona, they are a pure novelty... people love the novel. With a small stretch of the imagination I can imagine I'm somewhere, well anywhere but here... perhaps Seattle, I've always wanted to head that way.

Nearing the end of Donald Millers book, I picked up a new one this weekend. It's one that was recommended to me by Tracey titled, A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. I like the sound of his last name, it's kind of fun to say aloud, try it.

Now to say this is a "good" book would be like calling Monet's Water Lillies, "pretty." Not only a gross understatement, it just wouldn't be quite accurate. I think C.S. Lewis makes a similar distinction in his Abolition of Man, where he quotes a comment Samuel Colderidge made regarding proper adjectives used to depict a waterfall. Although descriptions may appear purely subjective, perhaps some are closer to the truth than others.

Honestly, I haven't been able to put the book down. It's brought me laughter, heart ache and tears, to feeling warm and fuzzy, to places of deep reflection. It's a memoir, so it's non fiction, but truly reads like a grand novel. Vanauken is an intelligent writer, interweaving great moments of truth, with creative story telling and poetry. This book is a love story, a conversion story, a story about immense loss and ultimate surrender, a story about life.

I'll have to dedicate a blog to some of the ideas, but perhaps at a later time.

At the moment, I just have so much going on in my head, in my soul... I want to put words to it, but I don't know really where to begin.

I feel ok. Perhaps quite restless and completely disconnected... but in some strange way, I feel comfortable with that. I feel like a drifter, though I live in surroundings almost too familiar to me at times. I feel liberated from neediness, though on any given day I may fall on my knees on numerous occasions. I feel free even though I fight a constant threat of being closed in...And though I deeply long for community, I am also becoming ok with allowing the longing to be left unfulfilled, In some ways I feel a strange freedom from others.

This is not to say I don't appreciate my friendships, I just don't need a group of people surrounding me to give me a false sense of worth... I don't need to be everybody's favorite person, life isn't a political campaign, and to borrow from Donald Miller, a lifeboat or a circus.

At the end of the day, I feel that I am at least nearly doing the best I can with the cards I've been dealt... and I must find contentment in what I have and also in that which I don't (of course i'm not talking about literal possesions). Everybody is dealt a hand in this life...and I'm learning we all have our own unique situations, different destinies, realities...and these are in turn influenced by a number of other factors (who we are) which only provides more possible cards in the deck. (I realize I could define this more succinctly but I'm choosing to remain somewhat ambiguous intentionally.)

When all is said and done we have to be ok with our place in life we have to be ok with life, our lives... I must do life, I must do my life. It may not in anyway reflect the reality of another, at least in specific terms, but it's what I have.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Heights nor depths

I ran into the phrase "heights and depths" a couple times today. Once during my Quiet time this morning and then again in a book I'm reading, but the idea didn't fully affect me until I was driving home from a delivery this evening...

Life is filled with a good degree of both. I can start on a mountain top in the morning and feel like I'm lost in a valley by early afternoon... the inverse occurs equally as often.

During my long commute home from East Mesa (it's amazing how enormous this city is) I had a thought in passing that it really is something to know that neither Heights nor depths can separate us from His love.

I am consistently inconsistent. I waiver daily. I doubt, I struggle with each passing hour. I feel immense highs and severe lows...and everything in between each and every day. Somedays I truly desire to lay down my life in serving others for His name sake, others I simply want to lay down my life so I don't have to face another moment... in spite of this topsy turvy, whirlwind, roller coaster ride i call my existence... through my endless fears, my doubts, successes and failures, joys and perils, my angels and my demons, in my darkest hour...God is with me. Sometimes very apparently, other times almost too distantly... yet He remains.

I have nothing without you...


I wish I could say I'm doing well. but I think i'm just barely getting by. I wish I could say that life was grand, but it isn't, it's mostly disappointing and discouraging and wearing me thin.

But nothing, nothing can separate me from His tender love, His beauty, His mercy... for that, I will give thanks. For that I offer a song of praise.

blessed are the broken in spirit, for they shall be comforted...

Friday, November 16, 2007

wow blog, continued....

Continuing the discussion...

Miller in subsequent chapters adds:

A child learns early there is a fashionable and an unfashionable in the world, an ugly and a pretty, a valued and an unvalued. Where this system comes from, God only knows, but it is rarely questioned, and though completely illogical and agreed upon by everyone as evil, it remains in play... And here is what is terrible: There will be a sort of punishment being dealt to those at the end of the line, each person dealing out castigation as a way of dissociation from the geeks, driven by the fear that associating with somebody at the end of the line might cost them position...


This really touched a nerve with me.

See it's quite apparent in grade school. There is a system with clear boundaries that separates the cool with the uncool, the attractive and the unattractive...we have all had our share of experiences...regardless of what side of the spectrum we belonged too...

The thing is, I am forced to ask myself at this moment...how much of this is still going on in my life today, albeit in more subtle ways? Are we still in such a system?

Association vs. Disassociation.

The author states that we associate with those on the upper end of the scale and disassociate with those on the lower for fear of it hurting our "position..."

Now let me take an honest look at how this might play out in real life...

Being nice to a homeless person and spending time with someone less fortunate...well that's almost easy. People will only perceive you as an altruist, and think highly of you for helping and associating with the homeless or less fortunate. I wonder though about the socially akward, or the person that nobody likes to be around, the "unatrractive," the outcast I think that's a truer example. Am I not to some level inhibitied because I'm afraid of what people will think about me based on my association with them? Sure one part of it is that I might not greatly enjoy my time with someone I and others think of as a "weirdo," but maybe there remains a part of me that is afraid of my "position" in this invisible, social hierachical chain. Because I myself want to be valued, loved, thought of highly by others, my friends, family, and complete strangers. I am concerned about my place in this system... because what these people think and say about me (the people also in the system) defines me and my value.

Miller writes:
Here are some of the things the alien pointed out to Grant and me, you know about how to be loved on earth.

1) Slam Dunking a basketball
2) Good looks
3) Intelligence
4) Wealth
5) Rightness


He expanded on each of those points, but I think you get the jist from the list.

Lifeboat theory? Miller expands on the discussion with these words:

When I was in elementary school my teacher, Mrs. Wunch, asked our class a question that I've come back to about a million times, trying to figure out the answer: If there were a lifeboat adrift at sea, and in the lifeboat were a male lawyer, a female doctor, a crippled child, a stay-at-home mome, and a garbageman, and one person had to be thrown overboard to save the others, which person would we choose? I don't remember which person we threw out of the boat. I think it came down to the lawyer, but I do remember however, that the class did not hesitate in deciding who had value and who didn't. The idea that all people are equal never came up...

I wanted to feel what it would be like to explain to everybody else in a lifeboat why I shouldn't be thrown over board. The reason I wanted to feel this was because I wondered if those emotions, the emotions you would feel in a lifeboat, were anything like the feelings we all feel when we are living our lives, just hanging out at the house or going to the grocery store. The thing is, if people are in a lifeboat, the reason they feel passaionately about being a good person and all is because if they aren't they are going to be thrown overboard; they are going to be killed...when you really think about it, these wants we have, like wanting to be right, wanting to be good, wanting to be perceived as humble, wanting to be important to be people and wanting to be loved, feel perilous, as though by not getting them something terrible is going to happen. People wouldn't get upset about being disrespected if there weren't some kind of penalty at play.


How much of my actions, the way I relate to people, talk to people, the clothes I wear, the words I use, the things i purchase, things I do and the way that I do them...is influenced by this fear of being thrown out of the lifeboat? How much of it is about my self worth, about receving validation from others? Don't I want to be perceived as Intelligent? Attractive? Charming? Kind? Generous? Strong? Humourous? Whether from those closest to me or complete strangers...And when I feel that I have not received such positive feedback from others how does it make me feel...? Pretty worthless at times...other imperfect, fundamentally insecure people dictate to me my very value...

Just some thoughts...but sure to be continued...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

wow

What a beautiful morning it is. I woke up as usual, showered and then sat in my chair. I have this tacky, red velvety chair inherited from my dad. He had it before we became a part of his family and we've kept it through the years. Of course my mom changed most of his house around when it became their house..but this item somehow survived through the years. I can't seem to part with it, I mean it's not even comfortable and it's bulky and tall and has an unsightly dark brown frame, but it's a chair that reminds me of our old house, the house I grew up in and when we used to do things as a family. Once upon a time, when my dad was still full of life... when he was passionate about life, and painted, took photographs, when we'd take trips to the lake...

i love that chair.

I often sit in it to do my quiet time in the morning, or just sit and ponder and it's set up right beside my bedroom window. My bedroom looks out from the second floor of the house, I enjoy the elevated view even if it's of a suburban neighborhood in which every house looks identical. Anyway, this morning I was pleasantly suprised to see the skies were dark and grey, filled with clouds... The drive to work was exhilirating, I blared music with my windows rolled down and found comfort in the cold, wintry air... and I felt God. Today was a day that He had specifically crafted... each intricate detail the work of His hands- the temperature, the scents, the colours, the clouds... my soul.

So I'm wrapping up the last few pages of Miller's book, Searching For God Knows What. Like Miller's other works, it is a written in a very accesible way, and some might consider his style to be sophmoric or what have you, but I think he expresses some significant ideas here... I've been pondering some of them the last couple of days, one major string of concepts in particular has grabbed my attention.

See the main concept of Miller's book, to give you a little context, is that we seek our value and self worth in other people. This is no radical idea, but I really don't think people give it much thought.

At least for me, this is true. See I didn't realize the extent of how much the opinions of others determined my self worth, or if I did, I didn't see it as necessarily being a problem. I always told myself, "we all want to be loved and accepted and appreciated" and left it at that...without seeing the imperative.

In one chapter, Miller imagines being an alien who comes down to earth and sits with him and his roommate Grant. The author thinks an alien might make some observations about our "normal" ways of life, with some objectivity i suppose. He writes (in alien voice):

But after I got over all of this and sat down to have a beer with some people, really finding out what they were interested in, what they loved and hated, there would be one thing I would notice that would kind of explain everything. And by everything, I mean all the stuff that makes a person want to live his life a certain way or the stuff that drives a person's thoughts... I told Grant that I would say to the head alien, "The thing that defines human personalities is that they are constantly comparing themselves to one another." That is how an alien would see the world, in my opinion It is obvious to me there is something wrong with us; there is something incomplete.


Miller carries on this imaginary pow wow with his roomate Grant and the alien. They are watching the Trailblazers game on t.v. and the alien just can't understand why 20,000 people go to see who the better team is. They flip through shows like Rank, that ranks people based on their physical features, and Survivor, The Bachelor, Fear factor...etc. All of course have similar themes... comparing people... comparing their value, worth...

More on this later...so stay tuned.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday

Recently having finished the books that I've previously mentioned in this blog... I found a strange void this weekend. I don't know how people go without literature... So I went to Borders last night and picked up a couple new writings.

Searching for GOD knows What, by Donald Miller and A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.
I started on the former today...and read a great deal of it. I enjoy Miller's writing style, although I think he tends to meander at times on tangents- which i realize is part of his charm for some. Not so much with this reader. I think I like his authenticity, he writes with a hint of hopeful cynicism and quirky humor that I can relate to and presents ideas of Christianity in a very accessible way that I really appreciate. In the 70 or so pages I got through, he's been talking about his own journey in evaluating his concept of the nature of God. I've been hearing that theme a great deal lately and it's one that's definitely been hitting home for me. As I struggle each day to evaluate my own thoughts on who God really is. Sometimes it seems simply absurd to even begin to pontificate on such an enormous entity as the Alpha and Omega... sometimes it seems pointless... but through and through it is the most significant pursuit...

That sentence had to end there... I had more typed in an attempt to clarify this thought I had in my mind, but it didn't seem quite fitting...

I hope by saying less, I expressed much more...

This weekend proved to be quite difficult for me. I woke up this morning feeling like I hardly wanted to stick around...I'm just being real honest. I wanted to run away, flee this town, flee the country and every thing and everyone that was familiar to me... I wanted to flee life itself. As I sat at the store in the morning, I started reading Miller's book. And it spoke to me... it comforted me not because it's full of enormous revelations although I think he has some great ideas... it was more like someone sitting next to me at a coffee shop...listening to my heart and telling me they felt the same way I did... and left it at that. Quiet validation. I just felt less alone.

It was a long day of work...and I'm home now. Fighting, but mostly ok. I can't help feeling like an enormous mess of a person in many regards. I downloaded a few songs recently that incidentally had similar themes, both writers in their own words expressing an anxiety about God finding them once again where they started... I fear that at times myself. God found me years ago in a very dark place...and I've come quite a ways... but it lurks over me at times...this fear that I might fall again.

Church was interesting this Sabbath. I learned this church does communion every week...and I really like that idea. When you consider it was a command from Christ himself the night he was arrested... I don't think we can do it often enough, really.

How amazing would it be if every time a group of believers got together...whether for a social event or a service...or just to hang out... we participated in communion...just spent a few moments remembering what He did for us...I think that was the idea...just a thought.

Today I had a rockstar in my store. No not me... :) David Ellefson. I know didn't ring a bell for me either, but he was really famous at one time. He was a founding member and bassist for Megadeth. They were huge at one time... anyway his wife has been coming to my store for a couple weeks now...I just had no idea she was married to a metal god. He was a neat guy and didn't play up who he was or anything like that... and I appreciated that. If it were me I'd probably be extremely proud...because i'm flawed and insecure like that.

Oh, the second book I got sounds quite profound. I guess that kind of goes with out saying since it was penned by C.S. Lewis. Although Victoria told me it might not be the best time for me to read something so heart wrenching. Lewis wrote that book as he dealt with the loss of his wife.

The other day Tracey and I were talking about relationships and she stated a very obvious but profound thought...actually it was the way she said it that struck a cord with me. She said that every single relationship would one day be broken in my life... in all our lives. I have shared that idea with many others when expressing the idea that only God can be our center...because relationships would fail us...inevitably...but the way she put it was in some ways more tangible...and focused the attention on loss as the incurable existential dilemma... it was jarring and made me gasp for air. Take a moment to think about it.

Also, going back to Donald Miller's book again for a moment I have to mention an idea that he has regarding modern Christianity. He takes several pages to state how we often look to the bible as if it contained a simple formula... like if we follow a few steps then we'll be sure to succeed in life and gain riches and live a wonderful life. God becomes our magic genie in a bottle... the bible reduced to a chart...I really like this observation. Instead, Miller offers that we risk losing when we take this approach. The bible is God communicating to us in the richness of language and literature. It is God relating to us. I would add that the bible isn't a quick how to get what you want... rather a deep explanation of what it means to live... i mean really live...

The bible is God communicating to us what it actually means and looks like to live in a dying world... as eternal beings, in a temporary life, in a temporary, wretched body, in light of His holiness and in light of the life to come. Worship.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The mystery of divine personality...

An Excerpt from James Stewart (The Strong Name)

He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men. Yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable, that the children loved to play with him and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding, was like the presence of sunshine. No one was half so kind or compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red-hot scorching words about sin.

A bruised reed he would not break. His whole life was love. Yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees, how they were expected to escape the damnation of hell.

He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism, he has all of us self-styled realists soundly beaten. He was the servant of all, washing the disciples' feet, yet masterfully he strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away in their mad rush from the fire they saw blazing in his eyes. He saved others, yet at the last, he himself did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels; the mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A reminder...

My favorite customer... is an older lady in her late 60's named Marilyn.

She's not hip or charismatic, vocationally successful or wealthy... like a few of the other clients that i enjoy... but she's easily my favorite.

Marilyn is a Coloradan, transplanted here this year to take care of her aging Aunt and Uncle. Truth be told I hardly took notice of her when she first started coming to my store... but one day i sat next to the bed she was laying on and we began to chat.

She's been through quite a bit in her life... her husband one day left her... and more recently a man that she thought was someone God brought into her life... did the same... She misses home a lot... but realizes there would be nobody to take care of her Aunt and Uncle so she's sacrificed her life in many ways. Marilyn is a Christian and it's quite apparent. She feels pretty alone at times...

She enjoys listening to a "young person" so excited about God... so she says. :) I talk her ear off and she attentively listens... and thanks me for sharing... i often thank her for listening...

In the middle of our conversations, I'll have this thought that it's so amazing how God can bring two people from entirely different walks...together like this... and how He can use that to mutually encourage us... Another thing I realize is just how much people generally have in common... when she talks to me about her recent heart break she expresses feelings that i know very well... i also like the idea that she still has all these emotions... and then i'm a bit embarrassed at myself for being a little surprised by this fact... she's old, not dead.

She came in today feeling pretty exhausted and worn... i couldn't help but tell her: "he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed..." i think that's in Proverbs...i'll be praying for her to get an opportunity to go home to her family for Thanksgiving...though she says it's looking slim.

I guess we never really know how God will speak to us. Today it was Marilyn who through her own troubles... took the time to listen...and care and bless me. God used her to encourage me... Yesterday it was Tracey.

At the moment, I am thankful. I am thankful for the people God has brought into my life... in a time when it is difficult to remember His Presence...He reminds me that's He's still around... I am thankful that these people cared enough to do their part...

may I be this type of a person to others... a reminder of God's presence... is there really any greater purpose or calling to our lives?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wandering

What a long week it's been.

I had a draining week...it's astonishing when i consider the amount of happenings that can occur in that relatively small space between the ears... a seemingly infinite galaxy exists...it's often a smokey battlefield... of course the heart as we often euphemistically refer to it as plays an enormous role as well. sometimes i wish both organs were merely anatomical. physiology is easier to deal with, less abstract at least. Each day of this week, i wrestled with myself, with the enemy, with a world i can't seem to understand and though I refuse to lose, by the end I was simply exhausted.

where's the soul i wanna know?


I spent friday night and most of saturday locked up in a recording studio... I really had to make myself do it...and during the session yesterday a piece of my equipment crapped out on me... I thought, "are you kidding me?" Nevertheless, I drove down to guitar center and picked up a new unit because I was determined to proceed. Did i mention I nailed my little toe right into the wall also? It bled and swelled and caused me a good amount of grief...but again I was very intent on finishing my project... and so i kept on... until my throat was raw and it literally hurt to swallow... 8 hours of singing...sweating...and working... and i loved it.

in some ways i really felt more like myself this weekend than i have in months...and i needed it i think.

The apologetics thing on Wednesday went pretty well I believe... again i didn't feel quite prepared because my partner in the venture had a rough week as well... so i did what i could... this time it was very low tech (as opposed to hi tech) and i just really...talked to the attendees... and felt more in my element... at some point i really started to lose the nervousness i get from public speaking... i felt like myself, just communicating...and that was neat.

Today, i helped Brad move out of his broken house... my soar and achy arms tell me that i'm much too out of shape... i can't believe how much furniture he has...

it was a big day of transition...

change, change...change is everywhere, and all the time. as surely as the world revolves...with precise consistency...so our lives revolve, dissolve in some cases...and then evolve.

Time it tells us what we're left with...


We attended a new church today, suffice it to say it was Good. My initial impulse is to say that "I enjoyed it," but i've been trying to shy away from using that sort of trite terminology when referring to church sermons, services and the like. Often times we talk about a worship service as we do a movie we just viewed... with an equal amount of irreverence.. "i liked it," "i didn't like it..." we forget that the word of God has been spoken...that people have gathered to seek God.

Of course the sermon today was on relationships... a real part of me thought, "oh great like i'm interested in one of those..." nevertheless, I listened attentively.

At some point I felt a little hope for the future... Truth of the matter is I might one day be married, I might not... But, should my life bring me to a partner some day I do really desire to be the best husband i can be... i want to learn from the million mistakes i've made in my life time... equally as imperative is that i learn from the mistakes and successes of others... the author who spoke today had some very insightful, relevant and practical things to say about the differences between men and women... she conducted extensive surveys for her book and shared many of the findings with us this morning...

I think we'll attend this church again next week. Though I hope to get plugged in to a home church eventually, for the moment i don't mind the search...

I feel at ease, wandering...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Carpe Diem

I'm home now...it's a little late and I should start thinking about bed, but there's caffeine in my system compliments of starbucks at 59th and T-bird, plus I haven't been sleeping well as of late. It was a quiet day... this morning I drove my car on fumes and had it actually coughing as I rolled into the gas station... after I filled up and headed off to work I can't tell you how thankfull i was at that moment for something as simple as a full tank of gas.

I've been thinking more about gratitude lately... how it goes hand in hand with seizing the day. It's virtually impossible to live in the moment without appreciation... Last night during prayer I simply thanked God for two functioning legs and arms, a sound mind, eyes that could experience the vibrant colours of life... ears that could receive music... family, friends... shelter...my salvation... all the things i take for granted so often, the smell of fall.

At this point in my life it's difficult to look to the future... i am still just scared to hope because i'm scared of disappointment... and the past is mixed at best...with as many sorrows as fond memories... plus, even the good times cannot again be retrieved... I can look to the distant future beyond the few measily years ahead to the eternal... but anything less of that makes me anxious... so i look to the finer details of each day... the small moments and things that are beautiful... the things i tend to miss quite easily... this is my best attempt at living more in the moment.

today it was gasoline in my truck, my imperfect family, the beauty of the skies in my rear view mirror as i drove into the setting sun this evening... seeing God work in my friend, an international phone call, the feeling of cold...

I know eventually I will hope and dream again....and i know i will again face disappointments, that's life. but for now... i'm ok with the details... counting my bite sized blessings...

i might not be laughing to the point of tears right now, but there is beauty in a soft, understated smile...