28 December 2010

Ice and Stars

In summer months,
I've explored these waters
In small boats,
Propelled by paddles and arms and back -
But now, in winter,
The dock lights shine off the ice and snow
Which crunches eerily under my moccasins.
By these lights I guide my steps,
For the sky is dark,
And the stars too faint to illuminate
The water's frozen pathways.
Yet Orion is not too faint to see
And I look at him and think of you.
Can you see him? No.
Day is gathering
On your side of the world,
Preparing to thrust itself
Over the eastern horizon.
I hope you find - and spread -
Joy in that day.
And when this earth spins round,
And day finds me,
And night finds you,
May you find joy in the stars, too.

23 December 2010

Darkness and Light

Darkness is a harsh term, don't you think? And yet it dominates the things I see. - Mumford and Sons

Flint is gray city. The snow is gray, the sky is gray, the buildings are gray. With the gray comes a certain gloom.

Andrew is disabled. He can't - or won't - eat, and he can't - or won't - speak. He's five, but has the body of a two-year-old.

One of my friends just lost his sister and her husband in a plane crash. The plane smashed to the ground and burst into flames. They were a young, vivacious couple, spreading joy everywhere they went.

And yet, there is color in the grayness. There's joy in Andrew's face. And the young couple now knows the joy of heaven.

Flintians are still enjoying life. My friends and I walk around downtown, go to the Torch, have fun. One of them lives downtown, walks to work at the Flint Institute of Art, and lives Life. Andrew is delighted with an old phone as a toy, walking around with it, offering it to me so I can take the call. He crawls in bed when I tell him, waits for me to kiss him and tuck him in before he dozes off. The news story about the great young couple who so tragically left this earth has given their families opportunities to share the hope that they have with audiences large and small.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:5

19 December 2010

Mist

My spinouts in the BSU driveway hadn't prepared me for this. Now both front and rear wheels were sliding.

The conditions had changed so fast. One minute, the pavement was dry and clear. The next, with light, floating snow, my back end slipped. I slowed, got it under control, kept my speed down.

Going 45, my back spins out. I start drifting into the other lane. I overcorrect. Start spinning to the right.

"No, no, NO, NO, NO!"

I remember it all. The stars lit up the snow and the mountains as they twisted around me. I faced back down the road. I was going in the ditch. I remember wondering - and recalling, calculating - how fast I was going. Too fast. I wouldn't be able to drive out of this one. My Jeep would be crushed.

My rear end slid off the road, into the ditch. Suddenly, I was stopped. I paused. I'm alive. My Jeep isn't crushed. I slipped in four-wheel, off the brake, off the clutch, on the gas. Nothing. Am I spinning? That would suck.

No. It stalled. Let's turn it back on. Four-wheel. Easy. Drive out. Got it. Pull off the road, push on the four-ways. Grab my Surefire and check for damage.

Jeep looks fine - not even a scratch. There are no parts in the snow where I went off. A couple cars go by. I get back in, pray, thank God for keeping me safe. Drive off. Stay in third gear, four-wheel drive.

Whew. Thank you, Lord.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. - James 4:14

06 December 2010

Grin

If you're up against a bruiser and you're getting knocked about --

Grin.

If you're feeling pretty groggy, and you're licked beyond a doubt --

Grin.

Don't let him see you're funking, let him know with every clout,
Though your face is battered to a pulp, your blooming heart is stout;
Just stand upon your pins until the beggar knocks you out --

And grin.

This life's a bally battle, and the same advice holds true

Of grin.

If you're up against it badly, then it's only one on you,

So grin.

If the future's black as thunder, don't let people see you're blue;
Just cultivate a cast-iron smile of joy the whole day through;
If they call you "Little Sunshine", wish that they'd no troubles, too --

You may -- grin.

Rise up in the morning with the will that, smooth or rough,

You'll grin.

Sink to sleep at midnight, and although you're feeling tough,

Yet grin.

There's nothing gained by whining, and you're not that kind of stuff;
You're a fighter from away back, and you won't take a rebuff;
Your trouble is that you don't know when you have had enough --

Don't give in.

If Fate should down you, just get up and take another cuff;
You may bank on it that there is no philosophy like bluff,

And grin.

Robert William Service (1907)

05 December 2010

Manhattan Declaration

Christians have a reputation of being judgemental bigots, holier-than-thou hypocrites, and oppressive preachers.

And, truth be told, many who call themselves Christians are all of the above. But there are many others who are much more like Christ, who love the unloved, defend the defenseless, free the oppressed, heal the sick, clothe the naked, and house the homeless.

And Christians are right about the dangers of modern culture: the devaluation of human life, the glorification of promiscuity, and the oppression of all religions by governments.

Those grievances are carefully and thoughtfully explained in the Manhattan Declaration. It's definitely a worthwhile read.

Here's a few pithy quotes to whet your appetite:

We must be willing to defend, even at risk and cost to ourselves and our institutions, the lives of our brothers and sisters at every stage of development and in every condition.

We confess with sadness that Christians and our institutions have too often scandalously failed to uphold the institution of marriage and to model for the world the true meaning of marriage.

We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's

25 November 2010

Thank You

Thank You for Life, pomegranates, air rifles, turkey, Mythbusters, little brothers to wrestle with, a beautiful Colorado hippie girl, nights at the range with Dad, 1911's, light and fluffy rolls, birch trees, moccasins, apples, late night movies with little brother, squash, raspberry-rhubarb pie, woodstoves, Euchre, Levi jeans, clementines, Google Voice, Grandparents, and everything else.

22 November 2010

Six months

Six months ago, I took a beautiful blonde Colorado hippie girl to dinner at The Sunbird. Her mom and my mentor's wife were jealous - their husbands had never taken them there. I borrowed a car from a friend's dad - a Pastor who tried to convince me that dating isn't Biblical.

I'm glad he didn't. Today, that beautiful girl is in England following Jesus, and our relationship remains strong: in fact, it grows stronger. To be fair to the Pastor, I think he's right to some degree, and our relationship was more than simply dating. From the start, we knew there was a very strong possibility of marriage. Otherwise, there'd be no point.

The day after that first date, I went to the zoo with her whole family, and gave her five-year-old twin sisters rides on my shoulders. The day after that, I left for four weeks in the Dominican Republic. I came back for two nights, one of which we spent up on the ridge, laying on our backs, watching shooting stars. I held her soft hand on the way down. Then I left for three more weeks.

After that, I was in town the rest of the summer. We worshiped together at Woodmen Valley Chapel and at theMILL. I bought a Jeep and we went exploring in the mountains a bit. Labor Day weekend, I took her home to meet my family - and all of my close friends. She sat on the deck and Kurtis interviewed her while I played frisbee in the backyard. We went to my grandparents' in the thumb and walked out onto the Port Austin Pier in a storm. The waves crashed over us, soaking our jeans. The rain and hail blew sideways, but we held each other close and wondered at the beauty of it all. Back at home, we stood in the backyard and craned our necks at the stars. Then we buried our faces in each other's shoulders and I held her. A prayer sprang up in my heart, and I let it out. I had prayed in this very spot so many times before. I couldn't believe I was praying there with such an amazing woman in my arms.

We came back to Colorado and I called her mom to let her know her beautiful daughter was home safe. Three weeks later, she left for England. It was raining when we said goodbye; I held her close and prayed and wondered if the water on her cheeks was from her tears or from the sky.

She's going to India at the end of December: Is she in your village, when can I meet her? Her faith is incredible. I know that God is leading her, and that makes it easier to be an ocean - or two - away. But I long to have her in my arms again, to feel her heart beat as I pray for her and for us.

11 November 2010

The most beautiful sea:
hasn't been crossed yet.
The most beautiful child:
hasn't grown up yet.
Our most beautiful days:
we haven't seen yet.
And the most beautiful words I wanted to tell you
I haven't said yet...

-Nazim Hikmet
Stolen from J-Team's blog.

Breakfast.

God's love is meteoric, 
     his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
     his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness 
     nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
    slips through the cracks.
Psalm 36:5-6 MSG

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
John 21:9-13


When you're wondering if God cares about the little things you're dealing with, remember: Jesus made breakfast. The Jewish equivalent of bacon and eggs. Over a fire of hot coals. While his friends were working.

He loves us.

09 November 2010

Religion

“Religion is the attempt of the human race to explain the inexplicable: Where did we come from? What is our role here? What happens when we die?” - Geopolitics Professor

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless as this: to look after orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - Jesus Christ, John 10:10


03 November 2010

There's more than one way to skin a cat...

"One particularly interesting kill was scored by a Marine Lieutenant R. R. Klingman of VMF-312 Checkerboards, over Okinawa. Klingman was in pursuit of a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu ("Nick") twin engine fighter at extremely high altitude when his guns jammed due to the gun lubrication thickening from the extreme cold. He simply flew up and chopped off the Ki-45's tail with the big propeller of the Corsair. Despite missing five inches (127 mm) off the end of his propeller blades, he managed to land safely after this ramming attack. He was awarded the Navy Cross."


From the Wikipedia page on the Corsair fighter.

01 November 2010

Laughing with

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God
When they're starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one's laughing at God
When it's gotten real late and their kid's not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God
When their airplane starts to uncontrollably shake
No one's laughing at God
When they see the one they love hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they're mistaken

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one's laughing at God
When there's a famine or fire or flood

But God could be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God themed joke or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they're 'bout to choke

God could be funny
When told he'll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God
When they've lost all they've got and they don't know what for

No one laughs at God
On the day they realize that the last sight they'll ever see
Is a pair of hateful eyes
No one's laughing at God
When they're saying their goodbyes

But God could be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God themed joke or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they're 'bout to choke

God could be funny
When told he'll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
When they're starving or freezing or so very poor


No one's laughing at God
We're all laughing with God


"Laughing with" by Regina Spektor

31 October 2010

Things I learned this weekend

-When you wear running moccasins in an airport or at a marathon expo, you get a lot of questions.
-Tiger Tail actually works.
-When you wear huarache sandals at a marathon, you get a lot of questions.
-Copious amounts of Chamois Butt'r do a man good at a marathon.
-If you put a Gu in a pocket next to your tailbone and then sit on your tailbone, it may burst. Then you'll have Gu in your buttcrack for 26.2 miles.
-Buying a goodwill hoodie and throwing it away in the first few miles is a good idea for a fall marathon
-You should do at least twenty miles before your marathon.
-You should make sure your feet are used to your shoes before a marathon.
-Family and funny signs go a long way to motivate you during a marathon ("Why do all the cute ones run away?" "26.2: because 26.3 would be crazy.")
-Bible verses and worship songs go even farther.
-Navy medical corpsman know what they're doing. ("If you were my guy in the field, I'd wrap it up and tell you to press on.")
-USAFA parents are always proud of their cadets. And they make great host families.
-It's a lot easier to run when there's a beautiful blonde at the finish line. If that beautiful blonde happens to be in England, you'll think about her a lot during the run.
-Purple umbrellas make it easy to find your family.
-Buff headwear, UA shorts, and Oakley glasses are worth it.
-Having a Marine LT put a medal over your head feels pretty darn good.
-Flying back the day of the race sucks.
-Arctic Ease is the best way to ice an injury I've ever used.
-I can wake up at 0520, start running 26.2 miles at 0800, walk a few miles afterwards, catch two flights, get in at 2130 (2330 where I woke up), and drive for an hour.
-When you walk down stairs backwards, people give you weird looks.
-26.2 miles? Worth it.

29 October 2010

Bullet's in the gun

Never see it comin'
It just hits you by surprise
It's that cold place in your soul
And the fire in her eyes
That makes you come together
Like wild horses when they run
Now the cards are on the table
And the bullet's in the gun.

-Toby Keith

23 October 2010

For the Painter of the skies

The snowy mountains are hidden by the rain
Falling like a tattered curtain,
Its edges fringed with golden sunlight.
But there's a hole in the wall
And the sunbeams break through
Shining on the roof of clouds.
The peaks to the west
Darken the fiery sky with their silhouettes
And the clouds to the east show off their colors:
Purple, pink, and red.
The big red barn gives it all perspective
And my feet patter on.

You walk on waves
You run with clouds
You print the skies
For me to see
Your majesty
Your majesty
Is why I sing.

20 October 2010

Crouch. Leap.

My fingertips cling to small holds near my chest; my toes rest on holds under the overhang.

I crouch, then come up, then crouch again, three times. I eye the hold I'm going for, wondering if I'll have enough power to reach it and hold it. I leap.

Not enough power. Slipped off.

Jason gives me some tips: crouch only once. Fully extend your arms. Then go for it.

I wait a bit, then get back on the wall. Find the holds, crouch, eyes on the target.

Leap.

Nail it. I feel the rough hold under my fingers as they wrap around to the back. My hand hooks over the top, and I hang there, smiling and twisting. Got it.

As I walk back up to my room, I think about this, and other things that have happened in my life recently. My interview for a scholarship went poorly, and my name was taken off the list. I was taken aback.

But there's no point in crouching and coming back, wondering if I'll get there. In fact, that will only hurt my chances to get there. But if I concentrate, crouch slowly, keep my eye on the goal, then go for it with all I've got, I'll make it.

Of course, I'm not sure exactly what I'm going for yet. That's where God comes in. He knows where I'm going; there's no reason to be afraid because He's by my side. And right now, He's making sure I'm fully extended, stretching my muscles to get the most power out of them.

And then one day, I'll leap.

17 October 2010

Work

I've never had to worry about finding work. And until recently, I haven't realized how much of a blessing that is.

I met a new friend at theMILL last week and asked him how he was doing. The first thing he said? "Pretty darn good - I finally found some work. Praise God!" I could tell from his handshake and his clothes that this was a hard-working good 'ol boy. He isn't lazy, but finding work is still a struggle.

Two weeks ago, as I hauled rock and shoveled dirt with my girlfriend's dad, I began to realize what it's like to live without a guaranteed paycheck. Certainly, he runs his landscaping business well, but he never knows when a drought might come or a depression hit and put him out of work. "I never got a job from a poor man," he said. Trickle-down economics works - but when there's a shortage of money at the top, there's a lot less trickling down.

As I think about all this, my dad's words echo in my head: "Son, you've got a lot of problems a lot of people would like to have."

08 October 2010

Man up.

The average age of video game users is 35. Men ages 18-42 will change jobs 11 times. In the last twenty years, there has been a 100% increase in the number of men in their twenties and early thirties living with their parents. Every second, $3,000 is spent on porn.


"Church Planter" by Darrin Patrick from Crossway on Vimeo.


It's time to man up. It's time to put down the video game controller. It's time to commit. It's time to move out. It's time to quit porn.

It's time to respect the women around us. When Saul had his servants ask David to marry his daughter, David responded, "Do you think it is a small matter to become the king's son-in-law? I am only a poor man and little known."

David's humility is an example for us all. We all pursue daughters of the King. Do you think that is a small matter? Are you ready to become the King's son-in-law?

Men, we need to step up to the plate. We need to set boundaries and take responsibility for breaking them. We need to lay our lives down for women. We need to lead, to protect, to prepare.

It is no small matter, this life we're called to live. Are you ready?

02 October 2010

Thank You

There's a fire in the western sky
Framed by the mountains.
As the sun sinks down
And day turns to dusk
My feet quicken.
I move like a shadow through the grayness
Silent
Save the soft patter of my feet.
Clad in gray,
Swift and smooth,
Running towards a destination
Unseen.
As the clouds thicken
And night gathers,
And the stars begin to shine,
I thank God
For these mountains
For this trail
For these legs
For this heart.
For what is man that You are mindful of him?
Thank you, Lord.

28 September 2010

Loyalty

Loyalty is "one of the greatest virtues that there can be in any person, and especially in a knight, who ought to keep himself loyal in many ways. But the principal ways are two: first to keep loyalty to his lord, and secondly to love her truly in whom he has placed his heart."

-Order of the Band of Castille

26 September 2010

Jeepin'

The trees get scrawnier and the path gets sketchier as we near the treeline. Then we roll out of it, over rocks, with the mountain climbing to our right and falling to our left. The moon shines on the valley floor thousands of feet below us.

We come to the end of the trail and park, get out and walk around. It's all gray rock and a little scrub pine, orange and green lichen on the ground. We can see the Milky Way and the Big Dipper and the other fourteeners around us, the moon casting shadows on their faces. In the valley behind the peak, a campfire flickers; other than that, there is no sign of civilization.

We gather around a cross someone placed there and open the Bibles on our phones. Gordon reads Psalm 19; I read Psalm 8:3-4.

When I consider the heavens,
The work of your fingers,
The moon and the stars,
Which you have set in place,

What is man that you are mindful of him?
The son of man that you care for him?

23 September 2010

Stupid things

"Rationally speaking, what kind of fool would walk an hour and a half hoping for 180 feet of delaminating slush and horror? But we do all kinds of stupid things when you think about it. We work too much, don’t make the most of our pre- and post-work time, or our lunch breaks, or our time with friends, and the list continues. Hell, people mow their lawns. Why? For what? Step away from the 'well, everyone does it' thing and you realize that mowing your lawn makes September ice climbers look like rocket surgeons."
-From "Chasing Friday" on The Cleanest Line.

Yeah. I'd bet that would work on my dad as well as the "Mom, if we clean before company comes, it's like we're lying to them. We're saying the house always looks this nice, but it really doesn't."

But, I think it's true.

In other news, I went for my first run with the marathon club today. The guy who led it - my coachee from last year - took us on a pretty sweet trail through the woods. Marine Corps Marathon in five weeks.

22 September 2010

Rain

You ride on my back
As the rain softens our skin
I don't know what to say:
It's strange to me
That you should go and I should stay.
Hay tanto sentido en mi pecho
Y yo no puedo expresarlo.
I don't have words to whisper
As you prepare to go and follow:
Those three words
Are said too much
And not enough.
So I quote scripture and hold you tight
And pray for you
And for us.
What if this is our last embrace?
May His will be done.
We hold back the tears
As I climb in my Jeep
And I realize how fitting
Is this rain that's falling.

20 September 2010

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning

As virtuous men pass mildly away, 
    And whisper to their souls to go, 
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."
                     
So let us melt, and make no noise,                                       5
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys 
    To tell the laity our love. 

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant ;                              10
But trepidation of the spheres, 
    Though greater far, is innocent. 

Dull sublunary lovers' love 
    —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit 
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove                                     15
    The thing which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is, 
Inter-assurèd of the mind, 
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.                           20

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
    Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
    Like gold to aery thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are two so                                          25
    As stiff twin compasses are two ; 
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show 
    To move, but doth, if th' other do. 

And though it in the centre sit, 
    Yet, when the other far doth roam,                                30
It leans, and hearkens after it, 
    And grows erect, as that comes home. 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,                                    35
    And makes me end where I begun.  

By John Donne (1896)

18 September 2010

Sun come up through them trees

As everyone leaves the dying fire and heads for bed, I reach into my pack and pull out my Bible, flipping to a verse that's been running through my head the whole night:

When I consider the heavens, 
The work of your fingers, 
The moon and the stars, 
Which you have set in place,
What is man that you are mindful of him?
The son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8:4

In the morning, I hear voices around our campsite, and peek out of my sleeping bag to see Bill and Matt packing up. They had to head back down for Matt's game, but I lay back in my hammock and stare at the sky.

The wind blows, and golden aspen leaves float down, riding on the wind, twisting this way and that. The sun lights up the western ridge, covered in pine and rock and aspen. A bird wings across above me: every time it opens its wings, the sun shines on its bright breast with a golden gleam. Then it closes its wings and it becomes a brown speck, launching itself through the air.

I reach down and grab my JetBoil fuel and stuff it in my bag with me so it warms up. Later, I climb out and start boiling water for oatmeal. Carly crawls out of her tent and eats it, then I make myself a bowl. Once everyone's up and packed up and the fire's out, we head up to the peak.

The aspens are beautiful, golden patches in the evergreen forest.

Up on the highest mountaintop, just wanna hold that breath forever...
"Changes in the Weather" by Barefoot Truth

13 September 2010

Marine Corps Marathon 2010

I went to an informational meeting for the Marathon Club last week, but I never imagined that would earn me a slot for the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon. When I was offered the slot, I hesitated at first - I probably have to pay my own airfare - but decided to take it. How could I pass up 26.2 miles through D.C., especially Arlington?

So, I have 47 days to train for a marathon. I did 14.5 miles on Saturday morning, on Falcon Trail: tons of elevation change. The low point is Stadium Boulevard; the high point is the Stanley Canyon trailhead - plus three huge ridges and several other smaller ones. It took me 2 hours and 50 minutes, including stops to grab stuff out of my pack and check maps. That's an 11:45 mile - very slow. However, it's at 7,000 feet, and it's hilly.

I hope to finish the MCM in 3:45, fast enough to qualify for Phase 1 of the Pikes Peak Ascent at the end of next summer. We'll see.

I'm also thinking about turning this into a charity run. Maybe you'd sponsor me a quarter or a dime for every minute it takes me. The faster I go, the less you pay. I'd donate the money to an orphanage in Guatemala.

Stay posted for details on that.

Leadership


LtGen Gould, our USAFA Superintendent, is obviously well liked. After crowd-surfing the bird and the cadet wing commander, we started chanting, "We want Gould! We want Gould!" Cheers erupted as he ran across the field and crowd-surfed to the top of the stands.

12 September 2010

Death by PowerPoint - and how to fix it

Thoughts of late

"Religion" is bogus
"Jesus didn't come to make us religious. He came to make us human." - Pastor Matt Heard
Christianity isn't about rules or regulations - it's about freedom. His grace sets us free.

Today in church, we sang "How he loves" while a video of little kids acting out Jesus' life played. It brought me to tears. My body shook as I sang

He is our portion and we are His prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking...


Communion isn't about rules
It's about remembering. You don't have to be a member of the church. It doesn't have to be unleavened bread and real wine. It can be leftover dinner rolls and red Powerade, or a loaf of bread and some grape juice.

"This is my body, given for you... do this in remembrance of me."


The man's got to lead
In a relationship, it's the man's job to lead. It's his job to protect and care, to make decisions and guide the relationship. To say what needs to be said and to hold back what shouldn't be said yet. He must always be honest. He should pray, to himself at first, then out loud, with her.

06 September 2010

Something old, something new

The clouds are creeping across the sky
And the jack pines creak in the breeze.
The grass is wet and it's cold
But we stay and stare at the heavens.
Then I pray and I feel your heart.

The waves crash over the pier
And the hail flies horizontally.
I shield you with my body
But soon we're both soaked.
Then your smile brings out the sun.

The breeze ruffles the target
And the sun glints off the barrel.
You try shooting from a sitting position
But you're frustrated 'cause you miss
Then you lie prone, and hit the bull's eye.

The grass is green and the breeze is light
And Josh Turner plays on the deck.
I play frisbee in the grass
But you stay on the porch
Then I see you, watching me.

The sun is starting to get low
And the air is beginning to cool.
In my park, we walk along
But you stop to take pictures.
Then you put your hand in mine.

The coals flicker in the wind
And the fire smells like hardwood.
My dad cracks his old jokes
But you find them hilarious.
Then they head in and we talk and pray.

02 September 2010

That college thing

"I've taught for twenty years and I never talk about my personal life in class.

"But I buried my best friend on Sunday and my mom's had two heart attacks this week. I didn't think it would bother too much, but it did.

"Ukranians came to North Dakota to be wheat farmers. I grew up a roughneck. I worked the night shift on oil rigs and went to college during the day.

"When the drill bit wore out, we had to pull up all the pipe to get to the bit. So I was 100 feet up on the platform, opening up the hole, pulling out 90 foot sections of pipe and stacking to them side. Then, putting the pipe back in, you had to throw the section in and latch up the hole, all in one smooth motion.

"One night, we had an engine malfunction, so I had to go down and fix that. When I came back up, I forget to reconnect my harness. I threw in a section of pipe and just kept going, leaping across and down 25 feet, 100 feet above the ground. I climbed around the outside the platform and went right back to work.

"One of the guys I worked with as nicknamed 'Ick.' He put rodents in his mouth. On the platform.

"Another guy got caught in a blowup. 80% burned. I visited him in the hospital, he was all bandaged up. He told me, 'It's ok, they're gonna replace everything in my locker.' I thought, dude, you're never gonna walk again. You're never gonna work again. You won't need steel-toed boots and gloves.

"So I went to college so I wouldn't have to work on oil rigs the rest of my life. We had to tear down and rebuild the rig every 7-10 days to drill a new hole. I was terrible at dying knots. They'd say, 'H put one of those college knots on it.' They made fun of me - I was the guy who went to school.

"I came back about ten years after I got my PhD and wound up in Greeley. I was in a bar, saw a guy I used to work with. 'How's that college thing workin' out?' He asked.

"It works."

This is from my geopolitics teacher, a man who spent his summer flying around the world, making youtube videos for class. He's written three geopolitics books. He owns a house in France.

"Yeah, it works."

29 August 2010

Stress

Life's been busy lately, and there's been a lot hanging over my head: GR's (Graded Reviews, USAFA-speak for "test"), scholarship application, honor cases... it piles up. It stresses me out. What if I don't study enough? What if I don't get selected for the scholarship? What if it doesn't work out?

I go to climb and I go to run to reduce stress. But, as Matt Heard talked about at Woodmen Valley Chapel this morning, sometimes we get distracted by painkillers. When Peter denied Jesus, he was always "warming himself by the fire". Am I "warming myself by the fire" of the climbing wall? Of the trail?

But what God's shown me is that He has it under control. I need to do my part and do my best, but I don't need to worry about the future. If I'll need a joint master's degree in public policy and business administration, He'll get me one. If I don't, He won't waste my time.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

25 August 2010

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living 
Just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives.



-Lyrics: Bill and Gloria Gaither

23 August 2010

El niño

There's a little poor kid in Guatemala, praying for me every day.

That just blows my mind. He asked me if I've been healthy.

You know, I've never really had to worry about my health. Sickness passes quickly; strains don't slow me down.

But health is a serious issue in poor Guatemala. And this guy cares about my health.

This guy matters. Jesus loves this guy. I love this guy.

I'm making a difference in his life. But he's making a difference in mine.

You can make a difference in the life of a child. Check it out: Compassion International

17 August 2010

Simple.

It started with hammocks. Now the back-to-basics idea has permeated a lot of my life.

I wear my huaraches nearly everywhere. They're simple, cheap, and comfortable. People have been wearing them for thousands of years. People have been running in them for thousands of years. Who needs EVA foam and Shox and arch support? No one, really. Simple.

I climb. I've been climbing since I was a toddler. It started with the kitchen counter - and I have the scars to prove it. I climbed in trees; my mom yelled at me for getting sap on my clothes. Now, I climb in the base rock gym three times a week, building strength, trying to learn form. Climbing, like running, is a simple, inborn sport. It doesn't take much to get started. All I have is a pair of climbing shoes, and I boulder. Simple.

I check ingredients lists. If the ingredients list is longer than three short lines or has any words I can't pronounce or High Fructose Corn Syrup, I try to avoid it. I go for organic foods, foods with less than ten ingredients, for 100% juice. I make pancakes with heirloom seeds and cornmeal. They're delicious. Simple.

I backpack. I'm becoming a minimalist. I take a hammock, a tarp if it looks like rain, a sleeping bag, and some food. I want to camp, as for night, to avoid settling down on earth and forgetting eternity. Simple.

The truth is, Jesus lived simply. He didn't let society or materialism or anything else get in his way. Now, I'm not saying Jesus was a tree-hugger. Now that I think about it, that's morbid. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and He has much more to teach us than what kind of shoes to wear.

But a simple life is a better life. I want to "learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." - Philippians 4:12

Security

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. - Hellen Keller

15 August 2010

Justice. Mercy. Humility.

With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come to him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has showed, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:6-8

Risky Business




"Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you."

That's Mr. Beaver, telling the children in Narnia about Aslan, the lion-king.

Today's message at Woodmen Valley Chapel reminded me of that. Jimmy Dodd taught about getting outside your comfort zone, about going and caring. (Sermon will be available here soon. The first sermon in the series is already available.)

He went on a trip to China with his son. As you know, Chinese parents are allowed one child, and they want a boy - if they don't have a boy, there will be no one to care for them when they get old. As a result, many girls are abandoned and wind up in orphanages. Jimmy asked what happens to the girls. "Well, when they get older, they're not so cute, so they don't get adopted." Then what happens? "Some find a job; most wind up in prostitution." So those little girls turn into women, staring at a ceiling.

While some man - who might give them enough food to get through the day - abuses them.

That's heartbreaking. So Jimmy came back, and started looking into adoption. When the approval came, he and his wife dropped everything, flew to China, and came back with their little girl. God was still stirring in their hearts. So they prayed, "Lord, why shouldn't we go back?" Notice the difference - not 'why should we go?' 'Why shouldn't we go?'

Why shouldn't you go?

None of us were born into God's family. We were adopted. All of us. "Church is a gathering of rescued children." Why don't we give back? There are one hundred orphans in Colorado Springs - according to some, this city is the evangelical capital of the world. So why are there 100 orphans?

Every Christian must be involved in orphan care. It's part of the job description. Is there a risk? Of course there's a risk. To go outside your comfort zone, to go after the heart of God, there's a risk. But my friends, safety is an illusion. We don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Mike Fox, a successful businessman who gave up his fortune to help orphans, also spoke. Great man. "When you're in God's will for your life, risk avoidance is not an option." He runs The Global Orphan Project - check it out. Get involved. I'm exploring options for a mission trip with them.

As for Aslan? As for Jesus? 'Course He's not safe. But He's good.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - James 1:27

12 August 2010

The part they left out in the admissions brochure

According to Princeton Review, the US Air Force Academy ranks:

#1 Most Accessible Professors
#8 "Is it food?"
#13 Least happy students

Although I've heard Academy leadership tout the first ranking on many occasions, I've never heard them mention the other two. Strange.

Cynicism is a big problem here - and stuff like this will cause it. I'm a pretty happy camper here at Camp USAFA, as we affectionately call it sometimes, but there are a lot of unhappy cadets.

I think it has to due mostly with a lack of communication from leadership: why are we doing weekly reveille formations? Why was our group commander not there? Why can't we get the music and the commands coordinated, so everyone can actually salute when the flag goes up?

My dad sent me an article last year about how important it is for leadership to communicate policies and the reasons for those policies. If workers understand the reasons, they'll be more happy about the policy. If they feel they have a say in deciding policy, they'll be even happier.

But here, we don't know the reasons and we don't have a say.

Don't get me wrong - the Academy is a great place. Like I said, I'm a happy camper: usually because I can walk into the mountains and camp. But there's always room for improvement.

06 August 2010

Profess

"Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live." - Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It's the second day of class, and those words wouldn't stop running through my head. I don't want to sit in a class and listen to an instructor who hasn't lived. One who's spent his whole life in academia.

For the most part, I won't. My GeoPolitics instructor spent his summer travelling literally around the world. My thermodynamics instructor worked on kill vehicles as part of the missile defense system. My lab instructor has six kids. In my history class, we'll read The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education by Craig Mullaney: West Point Grad, Rhodes Scholar and US Army Ranger.

It should be a good semester. Another quote running through my head in Ethics class, talking about the morality of war:

"Many that live deserve death. And many that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be so quick to deal out death in judgement." - Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings

04 August 2010

A Man of substantial character

"I was at a small Air Force Base in Germany, flying OV-10's, keeping the east Germans out of the west. On December 24th, my wife and I had a serious issue: our daughter had been lethargic for four or five days. It was 17 kilometers to the base clinic. It was snowing cats and dogs.

"We got there, and the flight doc didn't care. I was a forceful 2nd Lt, and I got my daughter to the emergency room doctor. He looked her over for thirty seconds and said, "She has spinal meningitis. And he said it like he didn't care. The world stopped spinning. My wife and I stared at each other: we couldn't say anything. And right then, LT tapped me on the shoulder and said, Magoo, what do you need? And I said, I just need a hug.

"I don't know where I'd be without LT, a member of the class of 1982. A man of substantial character.

"A few years later, I'd done pretty well in the flying world, and I got to take the squadron I'd been serving in over to Operation Desert Storm. One day, I was mission lead, and we had a rough day: two aircraft down. It was a three-hour jaunt back to base. I got there, and walked over to base ops in the 150 degree heat, shoulders slumped - it was a sad day. And I thought, whoever the commander of these forces is must be feeling terrible right now. And then someone tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to an old gray-haired man, the commander of those forces. And he had a huge smile on his face, and he put his arm around me, and he said, Magoo, how ya doin'? And I said, Right now I'm fantastic, sir. Brigadier General Bethurem was a member of the class of 1966.

"The General. A man of fantastic character.

"I was the commander, and my squadron had just returned from the sandbox. I was with my wife and the members of my squadron, my group, my wing. It was about 2000, and something dropped inside me. I told me wife, let's get out of here, let's go home. That wasn't normal for me. About 0200, I got a call. I knew it was bad. My mom was hysteric. My dad was dying.

"I made a few phone calls and got a 0600 flight from Dover to Colorado Springs. I had to leave base at 0400 to get there. When I walked out to my care, two men were waiting for me: LtCol and LtCol. They asked, Magoo, what do you need? I said, right now, all I need is a hug. Those men were from the class of 1981 and 1983.

"Men of outstanding character.

"I look around this room, having been in your shoes. And I've already spoken too long, but I want to leave you with this. I see 2500 eyeballs looking back at me. You've all volunteered to serve during a time of war. And I know the enemy had better be afraid.

"God bless you all."

Brigadier General Tod Walters is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a member of the class of 1982. He has over 4900 hours in the F-22, F-15, OV-10 and T-38. He spoke at the class of 2012 Commitment Dinner tonight.

Commit

Tonight, I commit to at least seven more years in the Air Force: two more at USAFA, five on active duty.

It means I'll have a job for at least seven years.

It means, if I leave tomorrow, I owe the Air Force at least $200,000.

It means I could wind up in combat in three years.

I'm ready for it. Just like when I started dating my girlfriend, my overall commitment won't change: I'm still committed to God, and I'll do whatever His will is. All other commitments are subject to that one.

And that's a good place to be.

03 August 2010

BCT: Things I learned

Consistency.
It looks simple on paper: leaders have to be consistent. But it's not that simple, especially in an environment like BCT. It's hard to be hard all the time, and it's hard to find the middle ground between hard and soft, but closer to hard.

BCT's not supposed to be easy: there's gotta be yelling, there's gotta be lots of PT, there's gotta be early mornings. Sometimes, we do things just to stress out the basics, see if they can handle it. But they're only gonna follow if they know you care. So they have to know you care, without you coming off as a softie. And you have to stay in the same spot - the hard-but-caring cadre spot - the whole time.

One way to do this is simply to serve your suboordinates.

Service.
Give them the tools to do their job: in this situation, mainly water and food, and even PT. If they're legitamately injured, take care of them. The USAFA Command Chief told us today that "sergeant" means "servant". It's who you gotta be. Love the ones you serve. Love the ones you lead.

Presence.
I never knew a command voice could earn you respect. But if you're loud, clear, and confident, people listen and people act, whether or marching a flight or getting in someone's face.

Cadre don't make mistakes. They have to be that perfect example, that shining cadet who never screws up. they have to stay on top of things. Who wants to follow a screw-up?

Or, worse, who wants to follow someone who screws up but doesn't do anything about it? I was texting my brother at the BCT graduation dinner. Stupid. A major came up and asked if the dinner was boring me. In front of the basics - that was embarassing. I knew I screwed up. She took my phone.

Knowing I screwed up, I apologized to my basics for my poor leadership and the bad example I set. They left, and the major was waiting for me. She told me she wouldn't normally correct cadre in front of basics, but what I was doing was agregious. She was right. She talked about setting an example and have pride in all we do. Taught me a good lesson.

The next day, one of my basics told me he thought the way I handled the situation was very honorable. Today, I found out that kid asked me to pin on a shoulderboard for him.

So, don't screw up. But if you do, own up to it.

Respect.
"He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them respect for himself..." - Major General John M. Schofield, 1879 graduation address at West Point.

It's true. If you respect your subordinates, they will respect you. And when BCT is over, they just might ask you to pin on their shoulderboards.

I think it feels better to pin on shoulderboards than to have them pinned on yourself.

01 August 2010

Hands

My left hand in yours
My right, lifted high
Worshipping You
Worshipping with you
And I never thought
I'd find myself here
But it's a good place to be.

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25 July 2010

Born to Run

Someone once told me that if he saw someone running with a smile, he'd try running.

If that was you, you should come run with me. I smile all the time when I run.

I'm not sure if it's the mountain air or the fiery skies or the twisty singletrack or the better-than-barefoot shoes, but running puts a smile on my face.

When you run on the earth and you run with the earth, you can run forever. - Tarahumara proverb, Born to Run

It sounds a little strange, but it's true. When you run light and soft, feeling the ground and listening to its feedback and to your body, you can go as far as you want. I only had time for thirty minutes tonight, but I could've done thirteen miles. It felt so good.

I've realized why the Tarahumara have been wearing huaraches for hundreds of years. Huaraches are the greatest running footwear I've ever worn. These people call themselves Rarámuri, which means "runners on foot". They run between villages for transportation and communication. 100 miles at a pop.

We're all designed to do the same. Besides...

When I run, I feel His pleasure. - Eric Liddell