Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Nature of ME.

Who am I? What was I created to be? I seem to wrestle with this question over and over and over again. I have been toying with the idea of blogging about my story and taking the time and energy to put my "testimony" on here. I guess it never hurts to try..........

So the start of me begins with my family. I have two brothers and a younger sister. I am the oldest of us four and we have all had a pretty eventful life to put it in a positive spin. We were all born in the Denver/ Aurora Colorado area and we are all products of the late 70's early 80's. My sister and I are only 11 months apart (apparently my sister was the 6 weeks after baby....) and we have shared quite a few moments and pains together as we grew up. My two younger brothers are a few years behind us, but in all we are clustered together in a 5 year gap from oldest to youngest. My parents are products of dysfunctional homes. Both of my grandfathers had tempers and had no problems expressing that anger through physical violence. This had deep and profound affects on both of my parents. My pop met my mom while they were hitchhiking in California and at the young age of 17 my mom married my 22 year old dad. My mom ran from an abusive father to a man who made her feel safe, only later to find that he was more like her dad than she realized. My mom gave birth to me at 17 - 10 months after they got married- or so the story goes. We have already covered the earlier parts so you know that my sister came less than a year later and both brothers arrived before my mom turned 23. She had a crazy teen life and an even crazier young adult experience. Later in life my mom would tell me that she never had a chance to be a kid- I guess that was an excuse to not have to be a mom later on.

Our childhood was full of adventure. In the midst of my parents dysfunction and pain they did everything they could to love the four of us. I have pictures of when I was a baby and my parents took us (my sister and I) camping. My mom told me he would take me for a walk and have talks with me about girls and the meaning of life. Of course I was only eleven or twelve months old so I don't remember one word, but I believe that he loved us the best that he could. One day after a counseling session I was remembering a camping trip and called my dad to ask him a few questions. He commented right away saying "we only tied you and Amy up to keep you from falling in the river" not quite what I was recalling, but very interesting all the same. It's funny how counseling will make every one nervous about what stories are going to be revealed to a random stranger who may or may not be able to help you get "fixed" emotionally (is anyone ever really "fixed" emotionally or are we all in some state of brokenness that influences our reactions to our surroundings?). So we talked about the camping trip and my parents were surprised that I was recalling things from when I was 2 years old.

My siblings and I spent our childhood drifting from one rental house to another. My parents struggled with alcohol and marijuana. This is relevant because we never had a lot of money growing up. My mom took on a job babysitting some kids from down the street. At this time when I say down the street it means 5-15 miles away from our house. We lived in a house on the side of a small mountain. You needed a four by four to get to the front door of our house and we were tucked away in a forest of evergreens and often snow. We would walk the distance of our driveway to get to the bus stop down at the road. For a kindergartner it felt like a mile although it was probably about 400 meters (a track length) to get from the bus stop to the house. This 400 meters by the way was up the side of a "mountain". Part of our rental agreement was to care for a pair of hound dogs for the owner. One of the dogs (the old male) was named Duke and the other (a young female) was named Amy. These dogs used to walk me to the bus stop in the morning. One of those mornings as I walked to the bus stop a mountain lion appeared and screamed at the three of us as we were heading to the stop. That was a day that I was grateful for dogs as Duke and Amy popped to a guarding stance and barked loudly keeping the cougar at bay. Eventually the bus came and honked the horn scaring off the big cat and I made it to school just fine. My parents didn't believe the story, but I remember it clear as day. My dad was a framer (construction) and during the winter months work was always slow so my mom worked also. She worked the night shift at a gas station in the next little town from us. Sometimes when she came home she would bring us Charleston Chews. My sister and I loved the strawberry ones and would always get really excited for the cheapest treats my parents could afford. Even to this day when I find those candy's I have to get one just for the nostalgia. Those were such a big treat because we rarely had the luxury of nice food. We had a month straight of beans and if we were lucky we would get cornbread with them. It took me most of my life to ever like beans again. In fact it has only been the last five years that I have actually allowed myself to enjoy the thought of eating beans. One of these months was really hard and we were having a hard time paying rent and getting food so my mom took on a baby sitting for a family down the road. These kids were a brother and sister and they came from a good family.Now my parents would randomly have "weed" stashed in these little red sandwich meat tuperware dishes that had white-sh lids that sealed shut. One day the boy (who was much older than I was) wanted to get some bologna meat and grabbed the container. I yelled at him telling him that is where my parents kept their "special" stuff. This led to my mom losing the job that was feeding us and a very un-happy parental unit to say the least. We had lots of adventures in that house although we probably only lived there for a year or so before we moved to Glenwood Springs. That will have to be another post though for another day.

One night we were all sitting in the living room. We had a potbellied wood-burning stove that we used for heat because we couldn't afford to pay for the gas it took to heat the house. We kept a large pile of chopped wood on the back porch to keep the fire burning. We also had a dog door on one of the rear doors to allow Amy and Duke in and out during the night so my parents did not have to get up to let them out. One night when we were all sleeping close to the wood-burning stove (again there was no heat and the house was freezing)the dogs began to bark at the dog door. My dad got up and grabbed his gun not knowing what was going on. As the dogs tried to get out the door we heard the animal outside let out a scream and we all knew what was outside trying to get in. My mom grabbed all of us kids and huddled us together and my dad made a dash to push a heavy chair against the dog door. After a few more barks from Amy and Duke (they made it out before the chair got pushed on the door) and a few screams from the big cat we heard silence. A few moments later there were some scratching on the door and we were relieved to find that both dogs were safe and trying to get in.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Shack

I finally finished reading "The Shack" this morning. I know that this book was just a story written by a guy riding a subway train to work, but I have experienced my own personal retreat with God. There were so many ideas and images that were presented in the story that tugged on every belief and emotion that I have felt towards God. To put the father in a picture that demolishes our perceptions and western thought on God in a way that doesn't cause me to curse a man for blasphemy was amazing. Then to push deeper int o the thought and idea that maybe God wants a relationship that is deeper and more profound than a rule or the walls of a church captured the essence of my being and escalated my fervor to find God and to be found by God. My friend Dan wrote about a spiritual battle and the awkwardness of how it can sound if you have never considered those types of things and for me this book touches on some of the deeper ideas of the spiritual nature of God.

It's hard to get it all out on paper smoothly and with a solid line of thought so I may not even try. I believe that everything we do is an act of worship to God. What healed in me during the reading of the Shack, I can not pinpoint, but there was a peace that fell on my soul and calmed the turmoil that has been eve present all my life. It was not that the Shack is a book of biblical stature, but it helped the loose connections of the ideas I have had of God and connect them in a way that only a child like story could do. I believe that I have found God again and that possibly God has found me again.

OOh and also, I have fallen deeper in love with the most beautiful woman I know. I love you my wife. Please know that as I grow closer to God I am able to grow closer to you. It is through Him that I can even love you at all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where The Wild Things Are

I can not be held captive. I was created to run free- to gallop with horses and chariots - to be a wild creation divinely built by my creator. The rules that have been created by men do not apply to me - though I will willingly and lovingly submit for the good of those around me, I am not held bound by these rules. I do Not have to say the politically correct thing, I do not have to manage the emotions of those around me, I do not have to make everyone feel good for the sake of their loyalty to me. I serve one master and one Master only. To him I am bound held by the heart of the One who has created me. It is He who has captivated my loyalty and to Him I will for ever have my knee bent. I do not serve a man and I never want to. I will serve people and do this under the tutelage of The King, but that is a different thought all together. I am rebellious, but not against what is right. I am rebellious against the message of this culture of the culture that says I am meant to be slave to people and to things. I am rebellious against the "do what feels good" culture that is in the heart of every advertisement and commercial, because I know the end result is always death and emotional pain. No I was not meant to be tethered and held bound to these rules that have been set before me. I was meant to live free and to run with wild horses and chariots.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Waiting and praying

We have been waiting and watching Facebook for the past few days to see how our friends are doing. He has had brain surgery- two if I am correct and they are waiting for the results. It sucks having to sit and wait and not being able to do anything to help them. I am confident in faith that they will be o.k. and that God has them in His hands right now- geeze could I sound anymore churchy with that answer- but its hard being helpless. I want to be able to pick up a sword and fight this great evil that is causing these seizures, but I am rendered helpless behind a computer screen in my living room. I don't know if they will ever read this, but I am constantly praying as I think of you and your situation. My heart is burdened when I read your post. I love you guys.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Tuesday for the Ages

I have had the opportunity to volunteer with a youth group in North Omaha for the past few months. It has been an incredible journey of learning and struggle. Tonight we had a couple people decide they had beef with each other. One of these people was an ADULT who hangs with their cousins and family (about 25% of the kids are related somehow). It is an interesting thing to watch as an adult partakes in the emotions and the craziness even egging it on a little. It's hard to explain exactly what goes on during an urban youth group service. It's an experience that only can be explained by being present one's self. I found that being white there are certain challenges that I face in trying to reach out to these kids. The biggest obstacle I believe is the lack of quality volunteerism in this community. The majority of the white people they know are fly-by volunteers that have good intentions, but lack the understanding of the effort true transformation requires. It has taken three months just for me to get some of the kids to acknowledge that I exist. Even tonight I had a girl who walked right by me and ignored my greetings of "hey it's good to see you and I am glad that you are here tonight". Even though I say this to her every week she continues to ignore the fact that I am looking at her and only standing two feet away from her. Of course that triggers the "I will not be ignored" button deep down inside me, so I just repeat it to her and make sure she has at least seen me out of the corner of her eye. No response still - other than a concerted effort to avoid any eye contact at all and a brisker pace as she gallops by me. It is good to live a life that reflects the values that are centered around a belief system. Most of the time I feel misunderstood when I tell people about our church about why we drag our children to a church where there may be weapons and fights in the middle of a service. There is something in me that screams we can't live an insulated life. There is no where that is "safe" because every where is surrounded by imperfect people. Yet even tonight as my family was leaving to get loaded in the van I had to escort them to the van and lift all six foot four inches and two-hundred and fifty pounds to the largest possible swell too make sure that everyone knew by a glimpse that any horse play or threats would mean certain catastrophe to all foolish enough to impose a beef or an accidental shove. It is nerve racking to think there is a real possibility of a stray bullet or a misplaced shank of a weapon. I worry about my kids although the day we got in the van and my daughter said "what the hell was that" as a flash from a passing car caught her eye caused my wife and I to giggle after a stern correction of what we do and don't say. Apparently Jesus walking on water was not the only lesson learned in Sunday school that morning. I haven't seen my wife this invested in a long time as she is starting a parenting class for a group of the pregnant teenagers in our group. It seems that there are quite a few as the group started with three and in the past week or so and my wife has found two or three more making at least six in a group of under a hundred. I believe that it was James that said true religion is this to take care of the orphaned and the widowed. I don't think that we will be here forever, but I know that we are here right now and that right now we get to try to fulfill what we believe about being a follower of Jesus Christ. That it is more than a Sunday service and a song on the radio. That truly following Jesus means allowing ourselves to be led into a life that requires faith and sacrifice. That following God means that we don't wait for the poor and the hopeless to come to us, but we go to them. Not everyone needs to do what we are doing, but I believe that we all need to be straining forward to discover what it is our faith is demanding from us.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The First Post

So I guess that this will be random spewing of emotions and opinions mostly left unheard. I have a friend who is going to have brain surgery this week. I am a little nervous for him and I am praying that he will be o.k. I have been feeling this need to think more to the future today. I want to make sure that my family is well taken care of and that D and I have a place to rest our heads at the end of our lives. Money is not the answer to any of lives issues, relationship is. Real tangible relationship. The kind that has understanding at the lightest touch of the fingers when its time to finally leave church or the gentle squeeze of the hand as you share the emotions of that first ultra-sound. It's the tears spent at an altar as you wrestle out an issue with God and the moments you spend pleading for a change in the hearts of those you care the most for, or perhaps those you have the hardest time loving. Life is about the moments that you have with each of your children- when you have your daddy daughter dates or your daddy son adventures.
The moments when your 5 year old daughter sings crazy made up songs or when your children point out the craziness of something that you did. When you take your son to the bathroom in the dollar theater and you ask him not to touch anything and he gets as close to the pot as he can and wizzez all over the back wall. Or when you have to take your daughter with you and you are trying to protect her from seeing anything crazy- in the mens room of a dollar theater mind you- and she points out the filthiness of the whole thing. Life is about the kids hiding in plain sight when I walk in the door and scream surprise as soon as I get inside. Life is about the cuddling with your spouse when she has Mastitis and can't stop shivering because she is too cold under two or three sets of blankets (and you are sweating like a pig in August). Or the time you spend with your best friend in your underwear fishing in ankle deep water in the middle of Harlan Reservoir. Yeah lifes not about how much you can get or even how much you can accomplish, but really who you get to accomplish it with.

I have to say that I have been blessed to accomplish life with my best friend as my wife and with the best people in the world as my closest friends.