Today, I spent the better part of the afternoon hanging out with my brother. He and I worked at establishing a new website for him to use. Like me, he is feeling a greater desire to write, and he knows that a personal site will provide him with the opportunity to do that. (Of course, I have had this one up and running forever, and we see how much writing I do!)
At any rate, Matt and I are both looking to be more faithful in our blogging. This includes writing as well as video blogging!
Back in high school, I was lucky enough to be a part of a great group of friends. Some people spend high school looking for a place to belong, but I was lucky enough to find that place early on.
My family had attended First Baptist Church of Enterprise ever since we had moved to town when I was in third grade. Dad had wanted us to visit other churches (mainly because I think he would have been happier at a smaller church), but we joined FBC without ever visiting another church.
I was faithful in my attendance on Sundays and Wednesdays for years. I had become a Christian before we moved to Enterprise, and FBC contributed to my spiritual formation. There were some great men and women who invested in me in those early years, and I am thankful for their doing so. Nevertheless, as high school drew near, I found myself longing for something more.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was invited to attend the youth group at First United Methodist Church. Today, student ministries have dynamic names like FireFall, DV8, and The Well… In 1986, First Methodist just called it “youth group.” That first night, I found a place of acceptance. I found encouragement. I was challenged to pursue Christ as never before. I had known Christ as my Savior for years by that time, but that first night, the youth minister spoke to us about seeking to surrender our lives to Christ completely, allowing Him to be Lord of our lives. That night was a turning point in my young life.
Over the next several years, I continued to be a part of that youth group. I was discipled by some Godly men, including that youth minister, Ralph Sigler. I saw the youth group grow from an average of 40 or so meeting every Sunday night to more than 100 teenagers. I participated in retreats, ski trips, dart gun wars, backwards hide and seek, and countless other fun activities. I also built relationships that will outlive this world.
This afternoon, I get to see some of those friends. A group of us are getting together this afternoon, and I will see some friends that I haven’t seen in years. We will talk, we will laugh, and we will just enjoy being with one another.
I can hardly wait.
I recently saw this on another blog that I frequent, but it moved me so deeply that I thought I would post it here. The fact is, I have never been a big fan of prosperity doctrine. I find myself wondering if those people who truly embrace have read the whole Bible. Sure, they may be verses that seem to imply health, wealth, and a BMW for every believer, but if you read the entire Bible, you see the big picture.
I was handling this video just fine… until Piper took me somewhere I didn’t want to go. Then it got a bit too real for me. What do you think?
The side of me that is incredibly superficial and shallow is willing to concede that maybe it is because I like his glasses. He even has cool hair, even though it is much shorter than I could get away with wearing.
The part of me that is nauseated by the utter cheesiness that is found in many Christian bookstores likes Bell’s creativity. Followers of Christ claim to have a relationship with the Almighty Creator of all that is, and yet Christian bookstores across this nation are filled with utter crap with “Jesus” or “The Prayer of Jabez” stamped on it. This mediocrity permeates not just the Jesus Junk but also much of the music and multimedia that is available as well. Rob Bell has a non-profit company, Nooma, that creates incredibly imaginative videos that can be used as part of group studies, sermons, or just as stand-alone experiences.
The side of me that is somewhat rebellious in all things, even the spiritual, likes the fact that he is willing to challenge the norm. I love his approach to things, his willingness to question. In his book Velvet Elvis, he affirms many of the traditional Christian beliefs while simultaneously confessing that some of these, while certainly important, are not the main thing to him. I appreciate his willingness to address some of the taboo subjects of evangelicalism.
You know what I truly love about Rob Bell? His honesty, his openness, his willingness to admit that he is a flawed creation. Unlike many people who fill church pews Sunday after Sunday… much less the pastors who fill the pulpits… Rob Bell doesn’t try to pretend that he has his crap together.
Recently, I was watching a Nooma video that featured Rob Bell sharing about a conversation that he had recently experienced with his counselor. His willingness to admit that he had a counselor was refreshing for me. So often today, there is still a stigma associated with counseling or mental health situation. We don’t think a thing about the person who takes prescription medication to lower the amount of acid her stomach produces, but we judge the person who needs antidepressants. We don’t give a second thought about a person who has regular appointments with a physician to monitor a heart condition, but we pity the person who has regular appointments with a counselor.
Thank you, Rob Bell, for your honesty and openness.
For the record, I had a conversation with my counselor this morning. I found it to be insightful, encouraging, and helpful.
Accent: Southern, though I like to think that my years of education coupled with my years of work in radio have enabled me to tone it down somewhat. I am proud of my heritage, and resent the implication that southern accents equal ignorance.
Book that I like: I am an avid reader, so this is a tough question. I really like anything by Donald Miller, and Brennan Manning is an all-time fave.
Chore I don’t care for: Anything in the yard… period. If it were up to me, I would pour concrete and paint it green. Instead of mowing it, I could hose it down once a week.
Dog or Cat: Neither right now, but I am trying to persuade my bride to let us get another miniature dachshund. We have even decided to name him Starbuck, a compromise between my bride’s love for coffee and my love for Battlestar Galactica.
Essential Electronics: iPod, cell phone, and MacBook. (With an iPhone, I could narrow that list down to two. Unfortunately, AT&T can’t compete with the plan I have with Alltel. <sadness>)
Favorite Cologne: Obsession because Miranda says it is her favorite. (My bottle is almost empty, so if she likes it, she might want to get me a replacement for Father’s Day!)
Gold or Silver: Silver…. or just cash.
Handbag I carry most often: I teach high school and I am a grad student… I carry a backpack over one shoulder like all the other cool kids.
Insomnia: Nothing that benadryl or nyquil can’t handle.
Job Title: Teacher.
Kids: Two, Jordyn and Chloe (Coco).
Living Arrangements: I live with my bride of eleven and a half years. She is also my baby momma… the two babies (ages four and six) live with us, too.
Most Admirable Trait: Top two: My ability to forgive and my ability to think on my feet.
Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: When I was in seventh grade, I faked sick. I know, I know… everybody does that. But did you fake sick to the point where you had surgery to have your perfectly fine appendix removed?
Overnight hospital stays: Twice. Double hernia at the age of four and emergency (unnecessary) appendectomy at the age of twelve.
Quote: “I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some kind of pietistic illusion of moral excellence… not that I don’t want to be morally excellent, but my faith isn’t in the idea that I’m more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit.” – Rich Mullins
Religion: Is over-rated and rather empty. I prefer to think of things in a different way… rather than religion’s empty attempts to reach God, I prefer to accept the way that God has reached out to humanity.
Siblings: 1 older sister and 1 younger brother. Yep, I am sooooo the middle child.
Time I wake up: Depending on the need of the day, anywhere between 5:00 and 9:00.
Unusual Talent or Skill: I have a thorough command of a vast array of totally useless trivia. I am not quite Cliff from Cheers, but I am pretty darn close.
Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Too many to name. I prefer vegetable that are fresh from the garden or put up in the freezer from a garden nearby. I am not all that enamored with the idea of buying vegetables that come from God knows where. I have no health reasons… I have TASTE reasons.
Worst Habit: I have admitted that the past six weeks have been really rough on us personally… I won’t go into details of the habit I have picked back up, but I will share that I am well on my way to kicking it again.
X-rays: Show broken bones. I have broken one bone twice… my right collar bone.
Yummy Stuff: Steaks. And pizza. Not at the same time.
Zoo Animal I Like Most: Chimpanzees. They make me laugh… and not just because they throw poo.
What about you? What are your ABCs?
Recently, Miranda and I have been intentional about trying to do a devotional together on a regular basis. We are not legalistic about it, but we are trying to do it more nights than not. In other words, we are sensitive to the mood of one another. If one of us is too tired or frustrated after a long day, we might just say a quick prayer instead of reading the devotional and discussing it.
I think the part of the devotional that I like best are the discussion points down at the bottom of each. Each page starts with a scripture, and then one of the authors (a husband and wife team) offers some thoughts about the topic. After the author’s thoughts, there is a usually a question or statement for starting discussion between the husband and wife.
The past two nights, we have read about our need for one another. The authors pointed out that sometimes it is difficult for husbands and wives to admit their need for one another. To be honest, I am sure I struggle with many things in life (and many things in my marriage as well), but I don’t think I really struggle with admitting my need for my bride. Last night’s devotion challenged us to take the general (admitting our need for one another) and make it specific (why do we need one another). We were challenged to write a list of specific reasons why we need one another.I hope she doesn’t mind my choosing to do this in a public forum, but I have decided to write my five reasons here. (If I get in trouble, I will let you know!)
I need Miranda because she offers a different point of view. She often challenges me to see situations and people from a point of view that doesn’t come naturally to me. By doing this, she often causes me to see things in a more realistic way than I am naturally prone to.
I need Miranda because she is my best friend. The fact is, I like people. I truly enjoy them, and I tend to be drawn to them wherever I go. I want to know their names and their stories… EVERYBODY’S story. I like knowing the name of the gay guy who rings up my purchases at the gas station when I am on my way to class at AUM, and I like hearing more of my waitress’s story… what brought her from a life in Italy to waiting tables in Prattville? Even though my life is filled with friendly acquaintances and some close friends, Miranda alone knows me completely. She is not only my friend, she is my best friend. When something wonderful happens in my day, she is the one that I want to tell. When something horrible happens, she is the one I want to be with.
I need Miranda because she knows me completely, and she accepts me. All of my life, I have struggled with acceptance. Some people may find complete acceptance with their families of origin, but I have never felt completely accepted there. I am casting no stones… I am sure that I am as much to blame for that as anyone else. Nevertheless, the fact remains that my family of origin has never been a place where I have felt accepted completely. Various groups of friends over the years have offered various levels of acceptance, and I am certainly appreciative of that. However, only my bride knows me completely… and accepts me. That acceptance brings a level of comfort and intimacy that is unrivaled.
I need Miranda because she is my partner. When I proposed to Miranda, I told her that every dream I had for the future involved her… that I couldn’t picture any part of the future without her by my side. I still can’t. Every dream… personal, spiritual, professional… she is my partner. She is right there by my side, and together we can face anything.
I need Miranda because she is my other half. Scripture refers to the two becoming one, and I don’t believe that this is just a lovely little metaphor for sex. I believe that a married couple does in fact become something new when they marry, and I honestly believe she is my other half. I told her recently that I would rather die than live without her, and I didn’t mean that in any kind of dysfunctional, unhealthy way. If God gave me a choice between living with only half a body or dying and going to heaven… then take me to heaven. I am not talking about half of my body being paralyzed…. I am talking about half of my body being physically REMOVED…. like the left half from the top of my head to the soles of my feet…. GONE. What kind of life could I live as half a man? I feel the same way about Miranda… she is not merely my wife, she is truly the other half of who I am. Just as I can’t imagine living with half a head, half a torso, one arm, one butt cheek, one leg…. I can’t imagine a life without her in it.
So what about you? Why do you need your spouse?
Updated at 10:13 p.m. – Miranda had her list ready to share tonight… she just didn’t post it on her blog.
Okay, so I am totally ripping this off from my bride. She posted this months ago, and I figured I might as well just go crazy and post twice in one day.
Today’s date & time: Monday, May 12 at 9:15 am
1. Inside, I feel like I’m (what age): Some days… 15…. other days, 65
2. A goal I’m working on right now: Finishing my Ed.S. then transferring to Auburn to finish my doctorate
3. My most recent achievement: I was inducted into an educational honor society a couple of weeks back. Not a huge deal, I don’t suppose… but for me, the former reigning King of Slackers, maintaining a 4.0 as a grad student is a pretty big deal.
4. The last gift I bought for someone: Mother’s Day presents for Miranda.
5. The last CD I bought: Sarah Kelly for Miranda.
6. My current favorite song: Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton or anything by DMB
7. The last movie I saw in a theater: In a theater? Hmmmm…. maybe Knocked Up? I have seen more on airplanes and on DVD.
8. The last book I read: Stuart Woods has a new one in paperback that I read this weekend… Shoot Him if He Runs
9. The last new thing I learned: Well, I attended a two-day workshop last week to prepare me to implement new curriculum for a ninth grade academy next year. Does that count?
10. What I’m wearing right now: Cargo pants, navy polo with horizontal stripes across the chest, sandals
11. The last person I talked to on the phone: My bride
12. What I ate for breakfast today: McDonald’s chicken biscuit
13. What I thought I’d be doing by this age: You know, I didn’t really think about the future. I am pretty confident that I didn’t think I would be teaching high school English.
14. Something I’m saving up for right now: Not really saving as much as paying off some debts. Two big purchases for the summer / early fall… more ink for me and my bride and a new computer. I have been delaying my purchase of an iMac for entirely too long.
15. Someone I think about a lot: Honestly… my wife and children. Beyond the three of them, my buddy Pooch, an Air Force fighter pilot who is now stationed out in Arizona.
16. The last person I helped: Probably a student in one capacity or another.
17. The last thing I apologized for: Not sure exactly… I am sure it was for something between me and Miranda.
18. Something I’m worried about: I honestly don’t worry a whole lot… perhaps not as much as I should. I am concerned about a great number of things… but that is not the same thing as worrying.
19. What I wish for when I see a shooting star: A long life with my bride… one that leaves us able to look back and say what a wild and crazy ride it was!
20. What my plans are for the rest of this day: Teach my next three classes, take the girls home after school, get them bathed and fed, hang out with them for a while, put them down, and wait for my bride to come home!
A few weeks back, a friend of mine shot me a message and asked when I was going to start blogging again. I handled her message the same way that I have been handling this blog as of late… I ignored it.I have a variety of excuses reasons for not blogging over the past few months. I am not sure any of them are really valid, but I offer the three biggest nonetheless.
I have been busy. I have taken nine hours this past semester as I continue working on what is now my Ed.S. (Educational Specialist) degree, but what I hope will turn into my Ed.D. (Educational Doctorate). I am currently in a bit of a lull as I have finished spring semester and have not yet begun my summer semester. In addition to my responsibilities as a full time student, I have been busy as a full time teacher… a full time dad… and a part-time world traveler.
My personal life has been in the crapper. Okay, I am being dramatic. The truth is that Miranda and I have been going through a really rough time. We are in a much better place now, but the past couple of months have been rough ones. I would dare say that they have been the roughest we have experienced over the past ten years. As a person who values authenticity and transparency, I just couldn’t bring myself to lie on here… and I sure as heck wasn’t going to bare my soul, either. (For those of you who might be tempted to ask, no, we didn’t even contemplate or discuss the big “D.”)
I am not really sure I have had anything to say. I am not so sure that I have much to share that is worth sharing… and even if I did, I am not sure anyone is reading. So, am I back on the radar? I am not sure… time will tell. Frankly, writing is sometimes therapeutic for me… so maybe so.