25.10.10

Sunflower Seeds

Some of my most vivid memories as a kid are from the construction sites my dad used to work at. My dad was a contractor in east Texas for many years before he became a vocational minister, just before my 4th grade year. During the summer, I would sometimes go to work with him. Though I had no reason to expect it then, those memories played a large role in who I am today. 
In Donald Miller's new book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, he writes about a friend of his that records all the memories he can recall. Here's what he says about him.

"The saddest thing about life is you don’t remember half of it. You don’t even remember half of half of it. Not even a tiny percentage, if you want to know the truth. I have this friend Bob who writes down everything he remembers. If he remembers dropping an ice cream cone on his lap when he was seven, he’ll write it down. The last time I talked to Bob, he had written more than five hundred pages of memories. He’s the only guy I know who remembers his life. He said he captures memories, because if he forgets them, it’s as though they didn’t happen; it’s as though he hadn’t lived the parts he doesn’t remember." - Donald Miller

I think Bob might be on to something. So before I get to my point, I'm going to record some of my memories from those days when I went to work with my dad and maybe you can catch a glimpse of what those times were like. 
I remember waking up before the sun rose and falling asleep again before we made it to the gas station for breakfast. 
I remember getting sunflower seeds at the gas station because that's what my dad got. 
I remember accidentally swallowing most of the sunflower seed shells due to lack of experience with the art. 
I thought the guys on my dad's crew were the funniest people in the world. 
I remember cutting my thumb with a utility knife that I was trying to carve a stick with, and then having to show my dad. (I still have the scar)
One day, I was throwing dirt clods into a hole in a tree and an owl stuck its head out. It scared me so bad, I fell backwards into the dirt. I told my dad and the rest crew, but they didn't believe me until everyone stopped working and saw the pissed off bird for themselves. 
I remember interrupting my dad one day while he was talking business with the owner of the house he was building and, consequently, learning a lesson I never forgot. Talk less, listen more.
I remember seeing the framework of spiral staircase my dad had built and thinking it was the most amazing thing my 8 year old eyes had ever seen. 

A few days ago I was at a small group gathering at my friend Brad's house. We meet every Tuesday night and study the bible. We are all in our 20's and some come and go, but there is always an eclectic group of thinkers sitting in that circle around Brad's living room. I really love going and I know that God wants me there because he speaks to me each time I come.
We are going through Ephesians right now and on Tuesday we covered the first ten verses of chapter two. In those ten verses Paul gives one of the most beautiful and clear portrayals of the Gospel in all the bible. I love how that story never gets old. The verse that He used to speak to me that night was verse ten. 

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10

Words like "workmanship" are powerful to me in light of the environment that God has chosen for me to mature. Reading this that night served as a timely reminder that God has a perfect plan for me and that He has been working on me long before I was born. 
My life has taken some turns in the last few years that I didn't expect, but those turns didn't surprise Him. I never expected to be 23 and still two years shy of a bachelors degree. In my career plans I did not dream of taking a year and a half off from school and doing carpentry work instead, but I can see how that story makes sense. I can see, now, how I ended up back  in east Texas, at the age of 22, at a gas station, at 6 in the morning, on my way to a job site, buying sunflower seeds. Our Father is a master storyteller.
I don't know all that God has crafted me to do on this earth yet, but I am so thankful for what He has allowed me to experience and that the work he has done in me is meant to be used for His glory. 

18.9.10

Memories People Don't Want To Hear

When K'Lynn and I returned to the states after fifteen days in Europe, we had some stories to tell. 
We told about walking through the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and seeing the sun set among the ancient ruins on Palatnine Hill. 
We described, to the best of our abilities, La Sagrada Familia, and the beautiful streets of Barcelona.
We told them about going to midnight mass at Notre Dame on Christmas eve, the Mona Lisa, the Venus De' Milo, and the anti-climactic Eiffel Tower.
We told them how cold it was in London and how much we loved their British accents. 

But out of all the memories I have about that trip, I think the ones I value the most are the ones I didn't tell anyone about. The memories that people don't want to hear. Those times grew me. For those times, I am grateful. 

We flew into Heathrow Airport from Houston IAH about a week before Christmas 2008. We crossed the pond overnight and landed about 8 am local time. I didn't sleep a wink on the flight. It was the result of built up excitement and a cramped seat in coach. We weren't even through customs yet and I was already exhausted. 
We found our hostel after an hour or so of searching. I still remember the name of the street it was on, Borough. Not far from London Bridge. Since we exited the plane onto english soil there was an escalating sense between us that, while many things are familiar here, we were in a foreign place. The architecture, the clothes, the accents, the money, they all subtlety remind you that this is not your home; which is all together invigorating and humbling. 

My first few minutes on the streets of London.

Barcelona, Arc de Triumph

My sophomore year at the University of New Mexico, I interviewed for a study abroad program. A friend and I planned to study for a semester at Link√∂ping University in Sweden. We chose Link√∂ping because it was the cheapest of the schools offered in Europe. For us it was about the travel, not the scholastic experience. We just needed a launching pad from which we could see the world once class let out on the Friday's. 
In my interview, the director of the Study Abroad program asked me how I would deal with homesickness while abroad. I believe I chuckled, then rattled off a few reasons why that would NOT be a problem for me. But she continued to question me about it. I was surprised that she didn't accept my answers and move on. I had been out of the country before, I traveled during the summer for three months at a time; done. Let's continue with the interview, lady. 
She began to tell me about how, during the winter, the sun rarely ever shines in Sweden, how cold it gets there, and how international students often become depressed as a result. 
I left that interview a little frustrated, thinking she had grossly underestimated my John Wayneness. 
I never actually went on that study abroad trip, but I did buy a non-refundable ticket to Stockholm and back in preparation for it. It was this ticket, which I rebooked, that got me to London about 4 months later. 
Roman Forum

On our second night in London we rode the Tube to Piccadilly Circus to see a production of Rain Man. K'Lynn bought the tickets way in advance, but we were on a tight budget, so they were in the balcony. So high in the balcony in fact, and at such a steep incline from the floor, I didn't want to lean forward because I was literally afraid I would tumble to my death. K'Lynn was very excited about the show and so was I. I don't care much about theatre, but couldn't wait to sit in that chair and turn my wandering brain off for a while.
So there I was. At the top of the Apollo Theatre in London, England, finally ready to admit that the woman from my study abroad interview was right. I was homesick.
I had never been homesick before that day, I'm quite sure of this. The culmination of all that was foreign to me in England found its way into my chest. I was tired of pretending that staying in a room with 13 drunk twenty something's didn't freak me out. I was tired of guessing what language the couple in the bed next to me was speaking and tired of telling myself they weren't plotting to kill and rob me in the night. I knew that England should have been the easiest country to travel in, so I worried about the next three countries that each spoke their own foreign language. But I couldn't let K'Lynn to see my fear because I knew her's was greater than mine.




I remember being excited that Josh Hartnett had a part in the play. I just wanted to hear a familiar accent. 

I'd love to tie this story up in a nice bow and say that, after that night, nothing else freaked me out as we toured europe. But that's not true. I can say this though, that trip was perfect. I learned things about myself that I truly did not know before I left. It was an adventure and by the end of our days in Paris, I realized that I was made for such things. 

God, continue to remind me that this world is not my home.

Click to hear Stranger by, Mandi Mapes

14.8.10

Psalm 51:12

if you have not had the privilege of meeting my sisters, stop what you are doing and make it happen.
seriously, do it. you will love them.
i had the privilege of meeting both of them at an early age. k'lynn first, then hannah about 10 years later. met them both in a hospital, come to think of it...
last wednesday night i got to hang out with k'lynn as she worked in the nursery at our church. she is one of the few women in the church that are brave enough volunteer for such a position. and she does it so well. those kids think she is a god.
i watched from my seat on the colorful foam mats as they crowded around her and begged her, in their cute voices, to read them books. she sat down and they quickly climbed into her lap. they were so excited. she knew all their favorite books and even their favorite lines in each. it was as if she were mother goose.
i was not as popular as my sister in the nursery. as a matter of fact, when k'lynn left the room at one point in the night, maylee ran to the corner and buried her head in the carpet. she was terrified of me. i tried to imitate my sisters voice as i assured her that i was a good guy, but she wasnt having it.
i'll fast forward through the tears to happier times, later on the playground. the rest of this story is a series of sermon illustrations and psychological theory put into motion that i wont try to decode. what i took from it was much more simplistic.
maylee has a friend named braden. they are about the same age and will probably marry each other one day. hes real quiet, but she says enough for the both of them. i think they work well together.
maylee wanted to be pushed down the slide and braden was quite happy to be the pusher. however, he did not want to be pushed. he also did not see the need to communicate this with maylee. so she would get to the bottom of the slide and yell, “im coming, braden!”, but he would slide down himself before maylee could get back to the top to push him. k'lynn and i thought this was hilarious. but maylee didnt care. she just wanted braden to push her down the slide.
she could not contain her excitement while she waited on him to climb back up to the top. she would kick her feet on the slide and tell k'lynn and i, “hes coming, hes coming!”.
she celebrated every step he made in her direction and when he finally emerged from the tunnel and onto the platform, she would look at me and say, “he made it!”. this went on for 15 minutes and i was mesmerized.
i dont get that excited about anything.
why dont i?
im praying that God will restore unto me any joy that i may have lost over the years -Psalm 51:12. im praying that my joy will be a clear reflection of what God has done in my life. i have so much to be thankful for, so much cause for celebration.
im also praying for other, obvious, parallels.

7.6.10

Want and Hate

I'm spending a lot of time in the cab of a penske truck these days. Yesterday, we drove from Ruston, LA to Perry, OK, where we spent the night on our way to Estes Park, CO. After an hour of recapping the previous week of camp, my co driver and I started telling stories about girls we dated who now hate us. Well, the story time didn't last very long, but an idea came out of it that I'm begining to wrap my head around.
You can't hate someone without wanting something from them.
Ex-girlfriends don't hate their ex-boyfriends unless they still want them and/or the personal validation that the relationship gave them. Children sometimes hate their parents when the approval and love they so want is seemingly missing. Whites during the Civil Rights Movement hated the African Americans because they wanted to keep the feeling of supremacy that wide-spread racism afforded them. And the Jewish people hated and crucified Christ because they wanted redemption, sadly their desire for a Savior was overshadowed by their sinful desires.
I want to be hated.
I guess everyone wants to have something that others want and i suppose thats the same reason some people abuse their power and wealth, but I want my something to be Christ living in me. 


17.5.10

if youre reading this, i need your prayers this summer.

if youre reading this, i need your prayers this summer. yes you.
may 3rd marked the beginning of my fifth summer as a staff member with the student life camps and it will be my most challenging summer yet.
we will be traveling across the country many times in the next few months. we will drive over 11,000 miles between june and august. (see schedule below) i also have a new position this summer, with new responsibilities and new challenges, which i am very excited about, but humbled by as well. there are 7 incredible people looking to me for their direct leadership as we do ministry this summer, a responsibility that i dont want to take lightly. i know God has great things in store for our staff and all the students and adults who load up on those old church vans and come to camp. and i want to be a part of His plans for this nation.

here are some things i need you to pray for:
for the Gospel to be spread by our mouths and actions.
that lives will be saved through Christ.
safe travel for our team and the churches coming to the campuses.
for our production staff to be unified by a common bond of love for our God and His children.
that i will be the leader that God wants me to be for my staff.
for august and whatever God has for me then.


Date...Location...Speaker/Worship Leader
May 31-Jun 4...Louisiana Tech...Ed Newton/David Walker
Jun 7-11...Estes Park, CO...Matt Carter/Todd Agnew
Jun 14-18...Wake Forest...David Rhodes/Rush of Fools
Jun 21-25...Angelo State...Wade Morris/Justin Cofield Band
Jun 28-Jul 2...Lousiana Tech...Neil McClendon/Aaron Ivey
Jul
 5-9...Cedarville, OH...Chad Norris/Matt Maher
Jul 12-16...Durango, CO...Ben Stuart/Jeff Johnson
Jul 19-23...Wheaton College (IL)...David Nasser/Rush of Fools
Jul 26-30...University of North Texas...Ben Stuart/Tenth Ave North
Aug 1-5...Texas Women's University...Chad Norris/Chris Orr

7.5.10

Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Compassion International

ive been trying to gather my thought in order to make this post. there has been much to take in.

with thousands of twinkling lights sown into the mountains like candles on a birthday cake, tegucigalpa is a beautiful sight at night. but while driving back to our safe and comfortable mission house last week in central america, i knew why i loved the sight of those lights against the darkness of the city.

poverty is ugly.

poverty is more than cute little kids who just need a piece of bread and a hug. (though there are a lot of these) i really wanted that to be the entire reality. i think many of us do. but the call of Christ is not safe. thats why we have to take up our cross daily to spread His Gospel to the Least Of These, because with poverty comes murder and thievery. poverty breeds disease and death. it produces sexual assault and slavery. prostitution and drug abuse. poverty destroys hope and futures; its so much more than simply having no money.
that night, driving to the mission house, was beautiful to me because the darkness veiled the ugly in the city, leaving only a familiar glow of amber, flickering on the mountainsides.
i dont know a lot about Gods call on my life, but i know my heart aches for the children i met there. theres a village about an hour outside teguc, called el naranja. some friends of ours provide care for the children of this village through a program that gives out cookies containing all the vitamins and nutrients the children need in a day. they also provide small clinics and classes in hygiene and english for the kids.
i had the privilege of playing with these children. they all enthusiastically told me their names and how old they were. (because thats about all i was able to ask them) they loved the attention. we held hands as we walked up the dirt paths. Mario and Kayla told me that they were all provided with shoes, once a year, through the program, but as soon as they get home from school they are barefooted again. it sounded cute to me then, but Kayla then told me that because they dont wear shoes the children are much more susceptible to parasites. combine that with poor cleanliness all around... what she told me next ive been trying to forget ever since. last year they gave all the kids of the village worming medication to kill the parasites. about 100 children. she said the worms were fleeing out of the childrens mouths.
this village is also a home for drug traffickers and dealers that supply the the area with narcotics and violence.
but now let me tell you of the beauty there.
the Gospel is being spread in this country. mission teams and churches throughout the country are showing these people the love of Christ and the work is selfless and spirit-led.
there is a church in the city called, Iglesia Baptista Renecer. the pastor is a great man of God and his church is thriving. im overwhelmed by their worship and love. the church is active in the surrounding villages, bring funds, labor, and the Gospel to them on a regular basis.
Compassion International is a child sponsorship program that "Releases Children From Poverty In Jesus' Name". and thats not just a slogan. about three years ago i began sponsoring Olvin Ronaldo Rosa Benitez through the Compassion program. we write letters to each other and i donate the money needed to keep him in the program that provides health care, education, and most importantly, the Gospel being taught to him. last week i met Olvin.
with Compassion's help, i arranged a day in Tegucigalpa for us to meet face to face. the experience was unforgettable. i was able to see, first hand, how the ugliness of poverty can be removed from a family and the light of Christ left to shine. check out the pictures from my visit, here.





22.4.10

Musical Gear

Here are a couple projects I made for myself within the last year.



Three creations here; keyboard consol, guitar pedal board, and djembe kick stand. 








This I the console I made for my m-audio keystation. Inside there is space for my sustain pedal, USB and other cables to connect to my mac, headphones, etc, all without ever having to unplug any of them. I love this thing, even though it's heavy. Made of 3/4 in china birch.












Above is my latest pedal board. It's made of 3/4 in pine I salvaged from a house I remodeled last year. I like the aged white paint. Lights underneath shine around the edges and through the top. (overkill, I know, but pretty cool.)

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12.4.10

I'd Love To Try Jesus's Wine

i wonder why he didnt change the water into lemonade, grape juice or sweet tea? arent those the mandated beverages of the church? wine? really Jesus?
as a kid, my church did vacation bible school every summer and mrs. stokes was one of the old ladies that helped corral us youngsters. i truly believe that mrs. stokes was under the delusion that the amount of lemonade mix she put into the coolers for refreshment time had a direct effect on the number of children that found Christ that day. so she made it strong. she served the potion in small cups and only filled them halfway. needless to say, i knew what shots were like long before id ever tasted alcohol. we'd toss those solo cups back, wincing until the burn subsided. then me and my boys would order another round, which mrs. stokes would serve with a smile.
perhaps she was simply following the ways of Christ, he was apparently a master of fruit-based drinks as well. (of course, he is also THE master of everything else too). generally speaking, i think wine is one of the worst things i can allow to contact my tongue, but i would love to try Jesus's wine.
i wonder what it tasted like. theres something so fascinating to me about Jesus performing this miracle. beyond the fact that most of our Protestant american churches today would ask him to leave after pulling a stunt like this, theres the fact that Jesus chose to make his first demonstration of his Son of Godness taking one of his most beautiful creations (water) and turning it into such a worldly, man-made, beverage. to me, this is the essence of who Jesus and God is. (gramatical error used for emphasis on the oneness of Trinity)
so God, Creator of the universe, decides to take his most magnificent creation, a version of himself, and turn him into a man. to be consumed by the creation he loves, despite their repeated adultery.
Jesus came to be apart of the human race and you can see these qualities in him in this passage in john chapter two.
i love to read the bible and see myself or my family in the characters. though the text is thousands of years old i can see my mom and i in this passage just as if it was wrote about us. mary knows that her son can supply the party with wine, so she prods him to show the world. and it works. mary tells the Son of God, the Messiah, to begin his ministry on earth and he does. amazing. but i love is that Jesus didnt do so without argument.
when i was in junior high my mom wanted me to take band class for my elective at school. she was in band and she thought that i had musical talent of some sort so she really wanted me to try it. i didnt want to. i was starting athletics that year and had just started getting some peach fuzz on my upper lip so i didnt see the need for such girly behavior. but i did try band because she made me consider it and now im so thankful. im not using much of what i learned in that class today, but music has been huge in my development as a person and a christian, and that was the beginning.
so, in conclusion, Jesus made great wine, the Trinity is so cool, and moms are great.

feel free to post some feedback.


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2.4.10

New Projects for Upcoming Trades Day


Outdoor chairs and table. Made of sun bleached western cedar.





Chair from the back.




This is an outdoor bar. For soft drinks, iced tea and other PG rated beverages of course.
I'm really loving the look of the cedar right now.
I'll be set up in Anderson, Texas at the park on April 10th with more pieces and with many other vendors. Come check it out.

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30.3.10

the crowd will wave their lighters in approval.

where are you not?
i saw your smile tonight at the concert. i found it parading through the crowd on a young boy's face as he danced to the rhythm of his innocence and john mark mcmillian's carolina rock. it made me smile too.
you were at dinner too. your laughter found me, a few tables away, in the company of too few friends.
years ago i thought i was a paul. that there was no you for me. and that i would be ok with that. that my kingdom didnt need a queen. maybe that was just my ego hoping my life and calling could be more specialer than everyone else's (this is quite typical). but no. i am absolutely not a paul. i am man who waits, in expectancy, the day your path stumbles upon mine.
after two verses of ballading anticipation, OUR chorus will crescendo into chilling harmony and the crowd will wave their lighters in approval.
im thinking of you tonight.

if you like singer/songwriters of the hooky and cute variety, check out jillian edwards.


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25.3.10

Trailer Life: The Renovation


In the spring of 2009 I bought, gutted, remodeled, and lived in a this travel trailer for 3 months. Bought it for $200 from a guy in north east Texas and hauled it home to my parents house in Anderson, Texas to start the process. I sold the trailer later that year for a small profit, but regardless, the experience was worth the time and money. 
This will likely be story I'll tell for the rest of my life, but a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few.

The day I bought it.






Tearing out the front of the trailer. There was a table and two benches that turned into a bed. I just wanted a real bed. 






Had to replace and strengthen some of the floor joists. 






I did all the walls in bleached western cedar. the bed lifts up to store things beneath. 






A couch that I built with storage underneath where I stored all my clothes. 







Looking from the outside through the window. Wishing now that I would have taken more pictures.


Special thanks to Kyle Childress for help with cabinets and various consults, and Hannah Childress for help with painting.



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20.3.10

Seven Hours Souther


i spent this last week exactly where i was meant to be.
God and I decided that place was on the texas/mexico border, building a house.
a few members of our church took the seven hour road trip down south to edinburg, tx. its still amazes me that i can start driving in south texas (houston) and drive seven hours souther (yeah thats a word now)(why? cause i like it) and never leave the state. though we were very close. my phone even switched to an international cell tower at one point.
the valley is great. (for you non-texans, thats what we call the border area and what i now call “souther” texas. cause i like it)
why the valley is great: reason number one is stripes. the stripes gas stations in the valley will change your life. after experiencing them you will henceforth harbor hostility towards all other stations. authentic mexican food made to order, fresh tortillas, fresh local fruit bar, rows of mexican and american coffees, all at convenient store prices. reason number two is the weather. produce comes out of the valley, by the truck loads, year-round. oranges, watermelons, you name it. reason number three is culture. it kinda feels like mexico in the valley. im addicted to travel and experiences in foreign areas and being down there gives you a bit of that thrill. i like going into a store that doesnt have an english word in it, spoken or written, and getting to use my weak language skills. and attending a spanish church service that assures you God is working all over the world, in every language and in all cultures.
but this trip was great for me personally as well. this week i saw clearly why God has made my path to twist and wind the way it has, why ive been learning to be a builder on job sites and not learning to be a professional money maker in a classroom these past few semesters.
my dad said in one of his sermons a while back that we should be looking for the ways God can use the most of us. i think thats truth. and i think that God used a lot of me this week. a whole lot.
ive felt the same about student life since the first summer i worked. i told my sister on the phone that summer that it seemed as though all my lifes experiences had led up to my work there.
so ill continue to seek those places where God can utilize the most of me. cause God and i like those places. 


here are the AFTER pics of the house we built. for the BEFORE, imagine nothing.




1.3.10

on the examination table.

my friend maggie the business woman introduced me to john mark mcmillians blog. you probably know him for the song, "how he loves", which also inspired a previous blog of mine. i really like his last post. it something i think ive often been guilty of in my journey.
lately, ive been thinking a lot about cynicism and putting the Church on the examination table. i just started listening to derek webbs stockholm syndrome and ill confess, it hasnt helped. im a huge fan of his work, but this last album's "means" to its "end", left me with a bad taste in my mouth. (and this is not about him saying shit and damn)
he has, without a doubt, created one of the most important albums of this era of christian music and i dont want to downplay that. i commend him for his courage. im not done forming my opinion on the album, im about to watch "paradise is a parking lot"(the making of video) to get more of his thoughts on the album.
there is just such a fine line to walk when you point a finger at the Church. at times it desperately needs to be done, like Jesus with the pharisees, martin luther during the reformation, but you must have your motives in check.
i know i can look back to sunday school classes and community groups where i spoke controversially for all the selfish reasons mccmillian points out in his post. i just wanted attention, affirmation. i think most of what i said in those discussions was probably true, but my motives cheapened my words to shear shock value.


i am tried of pointing fingers. 
but im tired of being disappointed.


im going to see the robbie seay band and john mark mcmillian in bryan this month. im pumped. 
also i moved in to my refurbished camper yesterday. pics coming soon.

18.2.10

namely, john wayne

somewhere between lather, rinse, and repeat; i had a revelation (sorry) a realization. i will now relay to you the truth i found in the shower tonight.
pride in one's self is a sin.
now, i know youre thinking, "thats so basic, how could this guy not know that? he seemed smart...".
haha.
but theres a difference between a realization and a revelation. a revelation is the discovering something previously unknown, while a realization is to understand clearly. i now understand clearly that ALL pride in one's self is sin. i think that i have been subconsciously suppressing this truth all my life.
if you were to ask me if pride was a sin, i would have surely answered yes with a prideful smirk that says, "well its about time someone recognized my spiritual savvy. are there any other mysteries of the Word i can assistance you with?".
i think a part of me has always thought that having pride in one's self radiates the pivotal vibes that prove one's masculinity. thats the same part of me that wishes i lived back in the days of the real cowboys. you know; herding cattle across the deserts of new mexico into the rocky mountains, sleeping under the stars, drinking from a canteen, all that. and like every other male on the planet (every male that doesnt wear eyeliner and/or watch the view, that is), i too have idolized the illusive "self-made man". namely, john wayne.
but no matter how self-sufficient a man is, or how quick his guns are, he is nothing without Christ.
still every time these words come on the radio, "shoulda been a cowboy. shoulda learned to rope and ride...", this particular part of me envisions myself as one of the cartwright boys, riding full speed across the desert chasing after the rightful owner to the bag of gold that hoss accidentally found in a ghost town we passed through, while searching for water for the wounded native american we rescued named Runs For Fun, on our way to save the blind girl that joe is in love with from her crazy father. we cartwrights are nothing short of amazing. (if you have never seen bonanza or listened to country music, this whole paragraph will make zero sense to you).
basically, i should boast in the Lord and in Him alone. and ill take pride in myself only because Christ lives in me. one could argue that what im getting at is simply semantics, but truth is found in those small details at times. it was for me tonight.

11.2.10

The Alchemist

I quit my job last week.
I'm fairly certain it would have been hypocrisy to have stayed there any longer. It wasn't the job, the job was a huge blessing. not pursuing what Paulo Coelho calls my "Personal Legend" was the problem.
That's right, a novel, The Alchemist, made me quit my job. (in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, of course)
The novel is the story of a boy who has a vision. In his vision he sees a treasure near the pyrmids of Egypt and so leaves Spain, his sheep, and all he knows to find it.
It's a fable. Not so much like Animal Farm or Charlotte's Web though. In this fable Coelho personifies all of creation, thus creating a wonderfully foreign, yet deeply familiar, journey for the boy and reader. I recomend it. I've read it three times.
It's message resonates in the unfurnished chambers of my heart. It screams, "go and be!", not, "stay and remain". You would need to read the book to truly see where I'm coming from, but basically my "Personal Legend" wasn't being sought. I don't actually know what mine is, but at least now Im actively seeking it.
Every friday when I got paid, I saw myself, two summers ago, standing in front of a couple hundred junior high and high school students passionately giving a devotional about the emptiness to be found in the treasures of this world. Not that there is anything wrong with getting paid, I just know God wants me to live for more than a paycheck. To live for more than comforts and security.
In more practical terms, I've saved enought money to survive till may when I go back to work with student life. I'll be working a few days a week on a cabin outside of Hempstead, Texas and the rest of my days will be spent exploring my God-given passions and getting moved in to my home on wheels.
I'm poor again and it's actually very refreshing.
Consider yourself updated on my life.

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6.2.10

this song hit me like a small feather in a light breeze.

"he is jealous for me" - john mark mcmillian
its quite intriguing to me.
merely speaking the word sends a barrage of tainted ideals into my head.
jealousy.
its a heavy word.

ive been called jealous before. in high school i dated a girl that was way out of my league. it still amazes me that she didn't see me for the weirdo i was. besides the fact that she was a ten and i was somewhere between laughable and mostly avoided, she was also two years ahead of me in school. on a different campus even the whole first year we were together.
id sit in geometry class thinking about her and the elaborate con id created, hatching up schemes to appear charming and mature. all the while, luring the target closer and closer until…. well, i never got that far. ladies, just so you know, that is how we work at that age, and beyond for many males. we cannot understand what a real relationship with a female looks like until the hormones stop surging through our strange little bodies long enough for us to sit down and read the sacred text that is Captivating. haha. i actually have a friend whos girlfriend broke up with him after reading that book, which i think is beyond hilarious.
but really, we are horny and stupid. especially at that age. you have been warned.
my jealousy was juvenile, rooted in insecurities and distrust. but for my God to say he is jealous for me and my affections… thats profound.
it wasnt my self-sacrificing, unconditional love that made me a jealous boyfriend, it was the deep love for myself that saw a relationship with her as an opportunity to build my ego and then protect it at all costs.
hosea is jealous for gomer though, time and time again, she commits adultery. the bride/bridegroom relationship between Creator and created blows right over my head when i try to push the metaphor, but this i get. this is the most beautifully simple concept in creation. this is redemption.
to be honest, when i first heard that song, he loves us, i dismissed it. i was at the lobo theatre in albuquerque and kristian stanfield was preforming that night. i imagination took it as the timid ramblings of a hippy-turned-christian that was no longer allowed to cover songs like, "all you need is love", now that he was a church member. i could see him singing it on a white stage with pastel flowers and peace signs. oh and a rainbow.
the new derek webb album came out that week and i was in this "the church sucks at doing church and i suck at being a christian"-kind of mood as a result of it, so this song hit me like a small feather in a light breeze.
i was like,"really? thats the best you've got? that didn't even begin to discipline me or tear me down! hahahahaha! "
only God is not honored in our constant self-deprecation.
being bold is just submitting to the ocean of love we are sinking in.
that is the meat of our faith.

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2.2.10

Cue slap bass.

Sometimes I feel like my life is a Seinfeld episode.
Myself (Playing the part of Jerry, of course) and the rest of the cast go about our ridiculous day-to-day storylines, and somehow unite around a specific theme, our sub-plots intertwined, before the credits roll on a climactic still shot. Cue slap bass.
What I mean is that my days seem to carry themes in their happenings. Perhaps this is why we can relate to sit-coms so well.
Themes such as, the power of God's Word. That was last weekends theme.
I left the piney woods, crossed over the Louisiana state line and headed down south to Pineville, LA to accompany a friend of mine as he lead worship for a disciple now at the first baptist church.
Lately I've been reading through Matthew as though it were a novel, not a divine problem solver or the topic of my next religious debate. I just want to hear the story of redemption. Jesus, merely as a character, becomes more and more amazing each time I read and this experience has begun to change the way I interact with scripture. But this is just one element of this theme.
While at the dnow, some of us went to see The Book Of Eli. I was blown away. Does Hollywood have more faith in the Word of God than believers?
To further convey the message, verses were read aloud from the stage on Sunday morning. We played Tell Me Story of Jesus and following each verse a student read a verse that told the story of Christ's life here on earth. I wept behind my djembe kit at the power of the Words.
I think God likes to reveal truth to me in this way. Like little thematic tidbits on life.
I've never really asked for input on my blog before but I'd like to know if you have felt the same.

I think I'll take this paragraph as an opportunity to recognize a few of the cast members in my version of Seinfeld. The part of Elaine is played by Jill. For obvious reasons, but also cause we have a history. (Crucial to the part.) George is currently being played by Andrew. That could be taken as an insult but I don't actually know anyone as pathetic as George so I make this paralell based solely on our long standing friendship. David will be playing the role of Cramer. David you may not see the similarities but I assure you Amy does.
I would also like to point out that I am not responsible for the casting. If you have complaints, take them up with my Creator.
Like Derek Webb says, " you can't chose your friends but you can chose your enemies."
If would have cast it Rachel McAdams would play Elaine. Sorry Jill. I'd find another part for you.
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25.1.10

Community. Thursdays on NBC.

Community on NBC. Thursday's at 7. You should watch. The Church should watch.
It's so cool to me how God orchestrates every minute of our existence into a beautiful particle of Redemptions Story. Like how a few weeks ago I found Blue Like Jazz in the storage building where I keep all my stuff (well some of it is at Andrew's house, thanks man). I read it in high school but decided to read it again.
I tend to read books a little at a time. Right now Im in the middle of four books.
But back to my point, reading the chapter of Blue Like Jazz when Miller lives with the hippies, while watching Community proved to be a powerful way for God to get His point across.
Just like the hippies, those community college students have a created something i have always, obliviously wanted. Something more caring, more accepting than any Christian community I've ever been apart of. And the difference is unconditional vs. conditional love.
For the last four summers I've served with a summer camp staff doing ministry throughout the states. When I was a camper attending these camps, I thought the staff members must be the most divinly inspired individuals in the world I would imagine the prospective staff hopefulls going through a spiritual boot camp of sorts, complete with bible drills, fasting competitions, and of course written exams that test their knowlege of obscure biblical texts. (upon applying I would find out that this was only partially true cause there was also a coolness test that trumped all other assessments)
The truth is that the staffs ive served on were solid. People of character and conviction. Yet it never failed that each summer the staff would single out someone that didn't seem to belong and thus withhold our love until that person had learned their lesson.
Only it doesn't work that way.
None of the "normal" staff would have labled our actions that way then, but that's the way it looks in hindsight. And you know what they say about hindsight.
I've been guilty of this my whole life. And somehow perversely proud of it. Holding grudges was my thing. that little girl crawling through the tv in that movie, her issues seemed like a mere temper tantrum compared to my bitterness. I don't want to be that guy anymore.
I want to show and experience unconditional love through human interaction and a further realize the source of that love; Jesus Christ.
I'm changing and this is good.

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24.1.10

Carterville, Texas


This is another project I'm working on, a less fun/ more work kind of project. This is the house I've been remodeling in Carterville, TX.
I started at this place in September to fill like a two month gap while I figured out what I was going to do about school and such. Here I am in January still working full-time. It has been a blessing though. I've paid off debt, saved a good bit of money, and gained more confidence in building, which I know will come in handy in the future. I know a trade. Not everything about it, sure, but enough. Im kinda proud of that.
So far we've added this dormer, added on to the back porch and covered it, extended the breakfast room with a bay, and finished out attic space to make a ridiculously huge closet (10 by 40). Just finished the Sheetrock inside and now were retrimming the outside with wider trim. I'll post more as it progresses.

23.1.10

im not wearing Toms yet...

i think my dad thinks i have a not-so-personal vendetta against the local church.
hes a brilliant pastor at a beautiful church in south texas. his ability to lead and love people, despite their resistance, is something remarkable. something i hope to possess someday.
my dad believes in the power of the church body. and for good reason.
we often talk about church. every conversation just seems to end up there and let me tell you weve had our share of disagreements over this topic. a lot of this stems from one issue in my spiritual life that i most likely exaggerate in my avoidance of it.
as i look at the churches ive been apart of; i see cowardice. i see people hiding behind institutions (church programs, groups, and ideals) to legitimize their actions, petrified of embracing a personal conviction to the call of Christ.
the Church is a powerful tool to spread the Gospel, but, to me, true change happens through inward passions and convictions. i think this is the sort of faith that makes "church goers" cringe. i dont want to simply attend church, i attend work... i want to be consumed.
i know this is not all members of the Body, but through this thinking, i confess, ive fostered an unhealthy distaste for "church outreach".
i supposed my passions in this area and my input into the discussions my dad and i have are just apart of Redemption's continual story. otherwise im just another 20-something church brat attempting to "fix" the church. oh man i hope im not one of those. im not wearing Toms yet, and i dont have a tatoo of scripture written in greek on my wrist... so thats a good sign. haha, that was wrong...

ps. if you read that last post i am very impressed. it was pretty long.

10.1.10

Found this today. Wrote it a few years ago.

Who would you want to meet if you could meet anyone, past or present? This question was sprung on me at a "get to know each other" thing for the summer camp staff i served with. Most people stuck with your basic heroic and/or amazing people such as, Moses and Anne Frank. I believe I chose Johnny Cash.
It was an impromptu answer, but it is clear to me now that during those few seconds while everyone was staring directly into my soul awaiting my answer, the most influential of the forces in my brain was Original Oscar. (yeah, i named a section of my subconscious and gave it a persona, just for arguments sake. im not crazy, yet.)
I call him that because he is completely obsessed with being original in everything he suggests to me. He was the reason for my eye-catching hairdo in the 5th grade. Lets just say it was extremely novel. Original Oscar had prevailed once again over Smart Bart, Smooth Steve, Sensitive Sam (of course he rarely wins because he refuses to pull his thumb out of his mouth long enough to get a word in), and the rest of the eclectic group of thinkers that day.
I guess it kind of works like that show, Whos Line Is It Anyway. You know when Drew Carry asks the audience for a suggestion for a game. No matter how loud someone shouts for Ryan Stiles to play an accountant, Drew will always hear the guy in the very back say, "Stripper!". Drew will then burst into laughter and through his cackle manage to say, "Stripper, thank you sir in the back. Ryan you will be playing a stripper who…"
Its unique. People like unique.
Now dont get me wrong, originality was not my only motivation for choosing Mr. Cash. Im a big fan of the Man in Black and firmly believe that if you cannot appreciate Folsom Prison Blues on some level, perhaps your Sensitive Sam should put his thumb back in his mouth. But looking back on that question I think I would have answered it differently. I genuinely believe if someone asked me that question today I would say, Peter. I put the emphasis on the word "genuinely" because, to be quite honest, Biblical characters are not typically on the top of my "I Want to Be You" list.
I think what intrigues me most about Peter is summed up in two passages in the book of Acts. First, let me briefly put the story in context. After healing a crippled begger outside the temple gates, Peter and John began to preach the gospel to those who witnessed the miracle.
Im not exactly sure what kind relationship Peter and John had, but I imagine it as a Batman and Robin-like operation. Peter does most all the talking and John just follows Peters lead, starring at the crippled beggars when Peter does (3:4). I also envision John right beside Peter as he is preaching to the witnesses saying, "Amen!", in the most random places during Peters sermon, forcing Peter to give John these, "I cant take you anywhere" looks.
So, right about the time Peter was thinking of sending John back to the Batmobile, the entire anti-Jesus entourage showed up (4:1). They booked them, took them downtown, and threw them in the slammer for the night.
Cant you hear the conversations they had with the other inmates?
"What you in for?", one convict would say with a scruffy voice.
To which John would awkwardly clear his throat and reply, "Oh, we were, um,
preaching' and stuff", trying to avoid eye contact.
The next day, all the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law met to sentence Peter and John, but they clearly didn't know what they were up against. When asked by what power or what name they performed the miracle. Scripture says Peter became filled with the Holy Sprit.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a truly amazing experience. While I know that once one has accepted Christ the Holy Spirit is always present in their life, I believe there are also times when the Holy Spirit saturates every inch of you like the sustaining notes of a thousand piece orchestra reverberating through your flesh, and before you realize it you are singing along at the top of your lungs to a song you didnt know that you knew, completely fearless.
I can only remember a few instances in my life where I could say, without a doubt, that I was filled by the Holy Spirit. One came in my high school speech class. We were assigned to give a speech which explained how to do something. My teacher, the strangest lady I have ever met, bar none, said it could be over any topic, so I chose to inform the class on how to present the plan of salvation. I say I chose, but it was more like God chose; I wanted to do how to pick up girls.
Once I accepted that I was going to obey God, I actually became very excited about the speech. My church and I had recently returned from a spring break mission trip to Honduras where we were taught to use the Evaga-cube. It was a fancy little contraption that resembled a rubrics cube (both in appearance and difficulty to operate) that through pictures, told the plan of salvation. Standing in front of that class and going through each step to salvation was one of the greatest encounters with God I have ever experienced.
But my classroom of 20 pimple-faced sophomores could in no way compare to the pressure Peter and John faced before the Sanhedrin. Yet Peter boldly says:
"Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
11 He is " 'the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the capstone.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
You see, Peter is either out of his mind here or completely saturated by the Holy Spirit. I think Peter probably felt like he had just ran full speed off a cliff, grinning ear to ear, because he knew that he was about to fly. I believe God has called all of us to these leaps of faith.
I often have dreams of flying. No plane, no assistance at all; just me and the open skies. If I could have those dreams every night for the rest of my life I would. My sister thinks they mean something psychologically, maybe they do. But it has occurred to me that the feeling I get when I am flying in my dreams is the closest sensation I have experienced to compare with being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is truly incredible. If the Christian life ever feels boring or dull to us, perhaps we are not releasing our worldly inhibitions and soaring on wings like eagles, as the prophet Isaiah writes.
The Sanhedrin is so astonished by Peters reply they had to send them away to reorganize their thoughts.
I bet John was about to wet his robe. "Dude… what? That was awesome."
Upon their return, they command Peter and John they could no longer speak or teach in the name of Jesus. At this point most people would have said,"Yes Sir!", and left in a hurry, but not these two.
Scripture says that they both answered (maybe it was in unison, in true Batman and Robin fashion, like an episodes final words to The Penguin. With his high-tech umbrellas).
19 But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
This is why I would change my answer from Johnny Cash to Peter. Can you imagine how contagious Peters devotion to Jesus would be?


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7.1.10

MacBook case

This is a new project I'm working on. Made of white pine. I was about as excited about getting my new computer as I was about making the case. I'll post more pics as it progresses.




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