About Me

Phoenix, AZ, United States

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Message received...

Today is the first day of the year that I am without a sweater or extra layer of clothing. I sit at work, with the front and back doors wide open, allowing the balmy air to flow through the store. I feel good, really good and I must say I like it, the feeling good part.

I read through 2 Peter last night which opens with the idea that God has "given us all things that pertain to Godliness," and that this would equip us to fulfill the call to live a life of virtue.

This morning I made it through some chapters in 1 John which spends it's pages expressing the idea of striving to live a holy life, and not loving the conventions of the world...then I listened to a podcast from Chip Ingram on my way to work about finding the right motivation for change. Chip states that guilt and selfish ambition were common motivators for people, but were ineffective.

When I arrived at work, I found an email forward from my cousin Kathy about finding the blessings behind things we generally complain about. For instance:
"I am thankful for the parking spot I find at the far end of the lot, because it means I am capable of walking."
And now, I feel the beginnings of spring, the warmth of sun against my skin...

I guess I've itemized these tiny happenings to suggest maybe, they are all speaking to me today. And though I'm not quite sure how it all comes together or what it might be that God is trying to communicate, I find comfort in the fact that they were expressed in the first place...

What I wouldn't give to go for a hike right now...! I am thankful for being alive to enjoy a day like this.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hard times by Eastmountainsouth

I came across this song from a rather obscure folk duo. It's a lovely tune, pure in sound with lyrics that remind me of an old classic poem. It's speaking to me now.

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
while we all sup sorrow with the poor
there's a song that will linger forever in our ears
oh, hard times come again no more

'tis a song… a sigh of the weary
hard times… hard times come again no more
many days you have lingered around my cabin door
oh… hard times come again no more

while we seek mirth and beauty
and music light and gay
there are frail ones fainting at the door
though their voices are silent
their pleading looks will say
oh, hard times come again no more

'tis a song… a sigh of the weary
hard times... hard times come again no more
many days you have lingered around my cabin door
oh, hard times come again no more

'tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave
'tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
'tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
oh, hard times come again no more...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Leaving Prescott

Light is quickly fading along a horizon I cannot see due to the enormous hills surrounding me. The skies are dark blue with random streaks of pink, from sparse clouds that are soaking up what few rays of light the sun has to offer today. The moon sits high above me, shyly glowing, merely a speck like a shimmering pearl lost in the ocean... it's cold and another day is turning over... My time here is up, but the beauty I simply can't seem to part with.

At times like these, the rare moments of peace, tranquility and beauty I usually feel a longing... a longing for someone to share it with... but somehow, right now I feel just fine in my solitude...

Since my last boring entry, I took a walk, then a nap and then ordered room service. Shortly thereafter I read through a few chapters of "This Beautiful Mess," by Rick McKinley, I've more or less stayed within the comforts of my comfy room. In "This Beautiful Mess," the author suggests that the Kingdom of God is partially here with us, now. But not in the New Age, Sedonan, healing crystals sort of way... Rather that the wheels of arrival are turning. He sites the scripture where Jesus said "the Kingdom is within you"(translated more accurately as, in the midst/among you) to the Pharisees who were asking about Heaven... McKinnely takes that to mean that perhaps Jesus was saying the Kingdom's arrival, the process is underway post His coming to this earth. The author discusses how there is evidence of this everyday...and then evidence to the contrary...that life is far from the way things were meant to be and will one day be...we live confronted by this paradox, daily... that is the beautiful mess.

I had trouble sleeping last night. I tossed and turned and didn't find sleep to come until about 5 am. I felt anxious..I've been having this haunting thought that perhaps the last several years of my life, the time I spent pursuing my music have been meandered... Like I've wasted a good chunk of my life. Rationally, I know that God works all things for the good... so it's a matter of this truth really sinking in that I'm struggling with. That scripture is so beautiful by the way. I'm also struggling a great deal with my relational failures. It still hurts, and I asked God last night, why it still caused me so much pain. I had a real honest prayer last night, more of a wrestling match with God... I expressed everything I felt, the good the bad and the ugly... I need to do that more often.

I just received a phone call from a friend who lives in New York. She left Phoenix 5 years ago to pursue play writing and production... she relates to my feelings of defeat and uncertainty. Life is just flying by us all isn't it, and somehow I'm still asking what it means to be alive.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm really cut out to serve God... like whether I am really able and willing to sacrifice. Whether I'm really prepared to follow Him...whether I'm good enough. Most days I feel like I'm not. I feel like the hugest failure this side of heaven... and I feel like an enormous mess of a person and that I have little to offer anybody. I'm only good at self destructing...and running away... I'm a pro at that.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose..." Romans 8:28


On a whim, late yesterday afternoon I decided to drive up to Prescott. I ended up booking a hotel room and staying the night, and I'm still here. Not sure what prompted me to make the trip, especially alone, but I'm glad I decided to. I guess I wanted different surroundings, I wanted to do some reading without the normal background noise I've grown so accustomed to. I wanted to think and talk to God with less of the common distractions. I wanted to feel alone, because I was in fact alone for a change...

Anyway, I chose about the perfect time to make the drive...I only wish I had a camera (not on my phone) to capture some of the sights. The sun was setting when I got into the mountains somewhere around Yernell and I was surrounded by some breathtaking views. Honestly, I had trouble keeping my eyes on the road...I love how the hills change colors as the sun sets...first from brown to red and then to a regal purple. Being Sunday afternoon, traffic was light...actually it was lighter than light. At one point on highway 89, I was able to walk out onto the middle of the freeway; there wasn't a soul around for miles...I found only complete silence, with the exception my shoes crackling against the lonely asphalt. Here's a poor photo I took with my phone camera- I was standing more or less on a yellow line...

It's a two way road with a highway speed limit...I think I've always wanted to be able to do this...but for no deep reason. I think I could have taken a short nap right there, completely undisturbed. There was just vastness, a wide open desert, no signs of life...no clutter...just complete serenity.

At the moment, I'm sitting in my hotel room after having had lunch at a local B.B.Q place in downtown Prescott, it was pretty delicious...pulled pork, cold slaw and mash potatoes, it was very homemade and very fulfilling.

I'll be heading home shortly so I should enjoy what hours I have left here... I think I might just sit on the patio (yeah the rooms are pretty nice), light up a cigarette, sip some coffee and maybe do a little reading before I start the drive back into the city... I really like this town.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

From Where You Are, by Lifehouse

So far away from where you are,
These miles have torn us worlds apart.
And I miss you,
Yeah, I miss you.

So far away from where you are,
Standing underneath the stars,
And I wish you were here.

I miss the years that were erased,
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face.
I miss all the little things,
I never thought that they’d mean everything to me...

Yeah, I miss you
And I wish you were here.

I feel the beating of your heart,
I see the shadows of your face.
Just know that wherever you are...
Yeah, I miss you
And I wish you were here...

This world has torn us miles apart....

Monday, February 11, 2008

I'm all smiles today.

Rough day, but nevermind that...

This morning, as soon as I opened the store a woman came in, wearing skimpy gym apparell... bearing cleavage that revealed tattoos of a couple of red cherries on her ha ha's. Regretful, drunken night in mexico? I think so... It was hard not to laugh a little... Then at the close of my day...I had a Sikh gentleman come in and try to read my fortune... I wanted to ask him if he could guess what my answer would be...but I held my tongue. :)

"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world."

Sunday, February 10, 2008


In a recent sermon, Mark Driscoll spoke briefly on the social phenomenon that coffee shops have created. People gather under one roof, to sip caffeine, plug into an ipod and read a book, thumb through a magazine or to bury themselves in a laptop… to be among the illusion of company, but wanting to remain without. Together to be alone, perhaps.

I’m at a coffee shop, not an overpopulated Starbucks, but a chain coffee shop nonetheless… sitting among only a few people, wanting to be alone, but I suppose not too alone. I’m hoping to ease the heaviness in my soul, as I have done so many times before, through a series of words, but as always not sure that I have all that much to say.

It’s warm enough today for me to sport only a t-shirt (and jeans silly) and I find the cover of shade to be a welcomed companion. It’s a fabulous day, a preview of spring and I feel an urge to make most of the day, and equally that sitting in silence might just achieve that…but I’m not sure. I think I'm looking for something...I always am.

Sometimes I dream of running off to somewhere much quieter than here. I’d like to find myself far from the crackling of motorbikes, the screech of halting SUV’s and the voice of a rising metropolis, straining to be heard…away from all the clamor of television and movies, and the constant stream of three minute pop songs about love lost, sung by whiney adolescents…I want to get far away from the prodigious conglomerates of our free market economy, that provide the infrastructure for millions of busy families headed nowhere fast. I want to get away from all the hollowed promises of happiness offered by the manufacturers of sodas, furniture and over priced clothing…I want to escape from the pride of tall buildings and the placid, suburban communities, populated only by carbon copy floor plans; away from man made lakes and the ambient glow of power grids; I want to get away from all the other wandering, faceless people who often serve only as a reminder of how alone I am… I want to get away from all the suffocating ideas circling my mind… the noise that seems ubiquitous.

and I want to find quiet, a moment to rest...a moment to breathe.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Storm, by Lifehouse

How long have I been in this storm?
So overwhelmed by the ocean's shapeless form
Water's getting harder to tread
With these waves crashing over my head.

If I could just see you...
Everything would be alright.
If I'd see you...
This darkness would turn to light.

And I will walk on water,
And you will catch me if I fall.
And I will get lost into your eyes,
And know everything will be alright.
And know everything is alright...

I know you didn't bring me out here to drown,
So why am I ten feet under and upside down?

Barely surviving has become my purpose,
Because I'm so used to living underneath the surface...

If I could just see you,
Everything would be alright.
If I'd see you,
This darkness would turn to light.

And I will walk on water,
And you will catch me if I fall.
And I will get lost into your eyes,
And know everything will be alright.

And know everything is alright
Everything is alright...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Through Painted Deserts.

My favorite part of the book is the Author's note at the beginning, so I've included part of it here... It makes me feel things, but the words elude me...

Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.

I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.

Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning. And the closest thing I can liken life to is a book, the way it stretches out on paper, page after page, as if to trick the mind into thinking it isn't all happening at once.

Time has pressed you and me into a book, too, this tiny chapter we share together, this vapor of a scene, pulling our seconds into minutes and minutes into hours. Everything we were is no more, and what we will become, will become what was. This is from where story stems, the stuff of its construction lying at our feet like cut strips of philosophy. I sometimes look into the endless heavens, the cosmos of which we can't find the edge, and ask God what it means. Did You really do all of this to dazzle us? Do You really keep it shifting, rolling round the pinions to stave off boredom? God forbid Your glory would be our distraction. And God forbid we would ignore Your glory.

Here is something I found to be true: You don't start processing death until you turn thirty. I live in visions, for instance, and they are cast out some fifty years, and just now, just last year I realized my visions were cast too far, they were out beyond my life span. It frightened me to think of it, that I passed up an early marriage or children to write these silly books, that I bought the lie that the academic life had to be separate from relational experience, as though God only wanted us to learn cognitive ideas, as if the heart of a man were only created to resonate with movies. No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath:

I'll tell you how the sun rose
A ribbon at a time...

It's a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn't matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in cold and still and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were . . . and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be.

So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative, that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself slowly toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification.

And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:


Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Huge wonder.

Today is a beautiful day. I'm still very much in love with the weather and it should be raining again soon... it's brisk outside, heavy with rain clouds, dark and melodic like a Radiohead song.

I was quite opposed to waking up this morning, but as I write this now a couple hours removed, I feel pretty well rested, could just be the coffee talking though.

My standard mornings begin with a couple firm taps to the snooze button and an immediate, warm to hot shower. I know some evening showerers and some morning showerers, and some twice a day showerers.. I'm a morning showerer because It helps me to wake up. There have been times when I could not bathe in the morning and I actually felt off (not to mention dirty) the entire day, like I had never fully awakened. You know, "showerer" is not a word, but I've now used it a total of five times in a single paragraph.

Anyway, following the wash, I'll throw some clothes on and then find my favorite chair, where I will have my devotional time... Nearby, there stands my piece of crap acoustic guitar in case I feel up to singing, but this rarely occurs first thing in the morning and it's a piece of crap acoustic because I have yet to invest in a nice Taylor cutaway...(sigh). Though I had originally learned to play on an acoustic, for the last several years I've become more of an electric guy...

So, a couple weeks ago, I started incorporating this book that my mom gave me as a Christmas gift into my quiet time. It is a year long guide through the Psalms.

The commentary is simplistic, concise maybe even a tad superficial (for biblical commentary), but I appreciate it for all these reasons. After turning a few pages, I sat for several moments in the quiet of the morning...I asked God to speak to me and then I prayed for a couple people that were as they say "on my heart," though I don't normally pray for folks during my quiet time...

On my drive to work, I listened to the playlist titled, "Encouragement" on my ipod... this is where I've stored my favorite "Christian" songs. The truth is, I listen to this list more than all my rock n' roll compilations, combined...and for those of you who know me, you know how much i loves me that sweet, sweet rock. This forenoon, I lifted my voice hoping it would be heard beyond the steel of my truck, beyond the busy highway, even beyond the massive hills...

So take me as you find me, all my fears and failures, fill my life again... (Mighty To Save, Hillsong United)

...I will lift my eyes in the darkest night, for I know my savior lives, and I will walk with you knowing you'll see me through... (How Can I keep From Singing, Christ Tomlin)

Take these hands and lift them up for I have not the strength to praise you near enough. I have nothing, I have nothing, without you... (Nothing Without You, Bebo Norman)

Your will above all else, my purpose remains. The art of losing myself in bringing you praise.... Consume me from the inside out... (Inside Out, Hillsong United)

You look down from heaven and melt me with your gaze. Then you come down from heaven and wrap me in your wings, and it makes me feel loved again. So close in your arms and it makes me feel home again... (Close to your heart, The Glorious Unseen)

And I found God... Not because things have lined up, or because I found the answers to the questions I've been asking, or a new job or direction or any of that... because I haven't yet. But I found that God was here, in my life, in my morning. I guess it's what we within the body might call, experiencing "God's presence." I don't know exactly how that all works or what it all means, but my feelings were of peace, joy grandeur, and wonder... and they reiterated the propositional knowledge that I that hold as truth in my mind... I felt Him, God and that's no small incidence...(though if I'm not careful I tend to minimize it). It's huge isn't it? Huge.

Here's to enjoying the day...