Monday, October 31, 2005

Monkey Bars

when i was a kid i liked to play on monkey bars, and i was pretty good at them. i had quick speed between reaches and the ability to skip bars. i was a 7-year-old pro, the envy of the first grade playground.

lately i find myself back on those monkey bars. it seems life right now is a lot like swinging from those rungs. as much as you would like to have a safe, two-handed grip on life, i'm discovering that won't get you anywhere. you have to let go to move forward. now this is an interesting concept because letting go is never easy. whether it be of a person, your home, or your comfort, it's simply not a natural human response.

when you let go on the monkey bars you are left dangling by one arm. you feel helpless, unsure, vulnerable even. it is tough to let go of the familiar and swing out in faith. but i think that is what Christ calls us to--a life of self denial and dependence on him as we steadily advance through his kingdom. and when we do let go, it is imperative that our grip be fastened to Him. for apart from Him we can do nothing.

you have to let go to move forward. i'm still not completely sure what this looks like for me everyday, yet i feel there is truth and nesessity in this idea. for i know the life God has for me is one that is full and satisfying. and a story as adventurous as His can only be lived if i let go of those safe rungs, hold fast to him, and swing forward. "don't let your hearts be troubled. trust in God, trust also in me."
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pic of the day (from Mize): Ashley and Erika at night

Thursday, October 27, 2005


breakfast is not a consistent meal of mine. no real reasoning for that. i love breakfasty foods (such as waffles, bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese and ham, hash browns, cinnamon toast) but not necessarily for breakfast. every morning i drink orange juice, my favorite beverage, but usually don't eat until lunch. breakfast doesn't have to be about food though. it can be about people, like it was this morning. and people are more important than meals and should not be skipped. instead of a muffin or cereal, i started off my day with Mary Beth, Rosalyn, and Lindsay. today they provided me with more sustenance and energy than they know; a real blessing to spend some time with these great friends. to top it off, the sunrise was beautiful this morning. haven't seen one of those in awhile, but maybe i need to start having more "breakfasts."
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Here's some well written words on last night's victory for the White Sox by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post:
After the final out, the White Sox formed a scrum at the pitcher's mound, often hugging each other until they toppled to the ground. Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio, Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura, Ray Durham and Carlos Lee -- all of whom played and lost in past postseasons for the Pale Hose -- were not there. But all their efforts, fallen short over the decades, were fully honored by the work of a team, managed passionately by Ozzie Guillen, that respected every baseball fundamental. The Chisox preached pitching, defense and situational hitting -- a doctrine as valid in 2005 as it was in 1917, when the South Side of Chicago last ruled the sport.

Sweet words to close a memorable season.
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pic of the day (mize's pic) brent drawing portraits:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Him:why I love Jesus

he saved me, gives fullness, he's a mystery, bigger than everything, knows me, he's true, always faithful, without limits, uses ordinary for extraordinary, sunsets, the cross, his passion, he's gentle, he understands, loves children, not partial, focused, concerned about people, listens, he speaks, miraculous, can change lives, brings hope out of sorrow, creates, transcends all barriers, stars, 2nd chances, discipline, his example, his friends, makes an impact, is the adventure, friend, brother, Father, took my place, risen, returning, he's living, pursuing, can empathize, sincere, genuine, owned nothing, devoted, submissive, cleans up my messes, fixes me, equipps, calls, kicks my butt, peace, satisfies my thirst, unchanging, constant, infinite, powerful
(please bless others by adding your list to the comments--thanks)
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pic of the day (another reason why I love Him):

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Make a List

i enjoy making lists. before i go on a trip, i make a list. when i go to walmart, i make a list. on mondays at the office, i make a list. i know, i'm a huge dork. but that's how i roll.

on friday night i decided to make a list, but one i had never attempted before. at the top of the page i wrote the words Him: why i love Jesus. i had been thinking about Him a lot that day, and wanted to get some of those thoughts down on paper. then i started listing all the things i love about Christ. before i knew it i found myself consumed with his presence, soaking up his Spirit. it turned out to be an incredible experience as it allowed me to truly examine who He is and what He means to me.

so here's what i'm thinking: today, tonight, sometime in the next 24 hours, take some time to think about/brainstrom/list out why or what you love about Jesus. ask yourself, "why do i love Him?" reflect, pray, mediate, whatever. but see what you come up with. then tomorrow, hopefully, we can ALL post our lists or ideas on here for others to share. it can be 2 words long, it can be 100 things. it can be words, phrases, names, events, people, whatever you want. search your heart and see what happens. and what an incredible blessing it will be to have all these reminders to carry us through out our days; to lift us up when we're down; to affirm our hope and spur us on to be like Christ. so set aside some time in the next day or two, and make a list. make a list, then come back and share it tomorrow. we'd all be blessed if you did.
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pic of the day (sunset in Crimea):

Monday, October 24, 2005

Random Stuff

Last week was pretty hectic, so I'm making up for it by posting everyday this week. There's a lot in my head (and heart) right now, so I'm unsure of how random this will be:

--I missed game 1 of the World Series Saturday, but saw the end of last night's game. What a finish. I don't care who you're rooting for, if you appreciate baseball and all it's absurdness then that classic game won't be forgotten. I hope the 'Stros make it a long series (they probably will).

--Ate at Joe T Garcia's Saturday night for Val's birthday, which is the best mexican food restaraunt ever (no disrespect to Alamo Cafe Brent), although their food's not the best. Clay and I both agree the ambiance of that place pushes it above the rest. It's definitely worth the hour wait on a Sat. night. I love sitting outside on the patio with friends to the sounds of my fajitas sizzle on the table and two old vaqueros strumming Spanish guitars.

--One of young girls in the Youth Group was buried with Christ in baptism yesterday. She had the biggest, sweetest smile on her face all day--a true relection of God's glory. The joy expressed in her face moved me still this morning.

--I'm going to go ahead and say it, even at the cost of jinxing their season...UT is legit, and headed to the Rose Bowl. I was very nervous watching the first half Saturday, both because of Tech's score-from-anywhere-offense and because Mack still strolls the sideline. His team's have a history of collapses, but not this year's team. They're different, both sides of the ball are. I still can't put my finger on it, but I know for sure that Chizek has a lot to do with it. I also feel that this team isn't "all about me" this year, but that they're playing selfless football, as all great teams do. I hope the special season continues.

--Yeah for fall weather.

--I often grow tired of loving someone and not having it returned. I don't feel like saying anything more, but I realized something. Now I don't know much, but I'm confident of this: no matter what, God will ALWAYS love you back.
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pic of the day: Mize's pic of Brandon and me forming one "giant mega person" a.k.a. Goliath...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Pure Heart

Lately I've been trying to be intentional with my prayers, and have spent some time reflecting on the nature of prayer. Now in no way have I got the essence/nature of prayer completely figured out, but God has been revealing some insights to me. I finished up Nouwen's The Way of the Heart last night. Here's something he wrote on the prayer of the heart that I thought was worth sharing:

The prayer of the heart is a prayer that does not allow us to limit our relationship with God to interesting words or pious emotions. By its very nature such prayer transforms our whole being into Christ precisely because it opens the eyes of our soul to the truth of ourselves as well as to the truth of God. In our heart we come to see ourselves as sinners embraced by the mercy of God....The Prayer of the heart challenges us to hide absolutely nothing from God and to surrender ourselves unconditionally to his mercy. Thus the prayer of the heart is the prayer of truth.

These powerful words really humbled me last night. Simplicity in prayer is valuable; the position of our heart is valuable; my nifty words or thoughts are not. The truth is I'm a sinner, God is full of mercy, and my prayers should remind me of that. This truth has the ability to fill my soul and bring peace to my chaotic life. It cleanses my heart of worry and makes my life more pure, less distracted. This truth brings us into the very presence of God, and it's there we can find rest. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God--so true, so true.
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I was thinking I'd start a picture of the day, mainly because I love pictures. We'll see how it goes the next couple of times. Many of these will probably be from Ukraine (because I love it there), and will be the work of Ashley Mize (because she's incredible). Pics of extraordinarily special people, in an unforgettable place, by an extremely talented person.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


even though this was the 100th year for ACU, honestly, it still felt like an ordinary homecoming. but that isn't to say that i didn't enjoy it, because it was a blessed weekend. now i'm not gonna lie, i was pretty frustrated on the drive home last night, mainly because i didn't have enough time to see all the people i wanted to, or spend enough time with the ones i did see. but at least God afforded me the opportunity to return to a place that is so special to my heart.

homecoming isn't about breakfasts (although i attended mine); it isn't about parades (although that's my favorite event); it isn't about football games or musicals (didn't go to either); it's about people. it's about hugging the necks of friends you only see twice a year now. it's about looking guys in the eye who have helped shape the person you have become. it's about reliving old stories and sharing your current one. it's about loving on your family, both immediate and spiritual ones. it's about quality time with people whom you love more than they'll know, people who've touched your life in ways that words can describe. it's about being thankful for God's faithfulness, and looking forward to the years to come.
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This is the last Lonesome Dove quote i'll share for awhile (but I'm starting a new series of everday item next time :)) I'm going to end my L.D. quote of the days with this one, from Gus, at the end of his life:

"My God Woodrow, it's been quite a party."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


kids are interesting people, with much to say. lately i find myself being very intentional and patient in my listening. more than half the time they're talking about some video game they conquered or the latest happenings on the WB--things i know little about. but i continue to listen, because listening is ministry, and it's a two-way street.

some of my friends spend huge chunks of their week counseling others. i have a ton of respect for these friends, not because they have all the answers, but because they listen, and listen well. they train themselves to slow down and focus on people, not on problems. God has been reminding me lately of how to make a real difference in the lives of my kids. it's not the lessons i've prepared or the activity we have planned. it's listening like Christ did. being personal and engaged in our conversations is important. give them my attention, my ears and my heart--that's valuable. listening is ministry.

i love the way kids can speak great truths at random times. out of nowhere they'll hit you with a seemingly simple answer, but with profound implication. working with kids may be tiring (ok, very tiring) but the rewards recieved are many, although unwarranted. without a doubt i learn way more from these kids than they could from me, and i have God to thank for that. He's constantly humbling me, constantly revealing His nature, his truth.
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L.D. quote of the day: (from Gus to Lorie as he's about to leave her at Clara's. he's explaining why it's a good thing for her to stay)

"Because you'll have discoverd that there's more to this world than me. You'll find that there are others that treat you decent."

p.s. I finished L.D. the novel last night. That's one story I'll never get tired of reading, or watching.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


this is an interesting season of life for me and for i'm sure for many of my peers. everyday i'm met with things unfamiliar, though it's not at all bad. however i'm not sure what exactly to make of the way my life has shifted; my location, my home, my priorities, my peers, my surroundings, my community...all are shifting. the world is spinning all around me but sometimes i catch myself standing still. that is, i approach situations like they're temporary; like in a few months i'll move back to abilene to begin a familiar routine and continue the relationships established there. that i'll "finish" this task of ministry here and move on to something else. afterall, that's what i've been doing for the past 6 years or so--accomplish one feat/come to the end of a time period, and then jump into whatever is next. but this is different; this is still new. and there's no sign of life growing old any time soon. for the first time in a long time, i can't see "what's next" on the grander scale of life, and it's somewhat frightening.

but that's a good thing. it reminds me to live in the present. to avoid the temptation to look off in the distance and miss the here and now. to put down roots; invest myself fully in the place I've been placed. and yet i still wrestle with all the shifting. i find myself trying to catch up with the train i'm already on; to get on that train and enjoy the ride, even if i'm unsure of where it will take me.

as change occurs and new seasons of life roll in it's important to embrace the freshness it brings. days constantly move forward and the people and opportunities i'm surrounded with today aren't temporary. they aren't temporary in the sense i'll return to the (familiar) past tomorrow, but they're not permanent either. there's an interesting balance there, and i'm not sure i have a good grasp on it yet. what i do know is this: nothing is permanent, except the faithfulness of God...
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L.D. quote of the day (from Gus): "A lady can slice your jugular quick as a Commanche. Clara's got a sharp tongue. She's tomahawked me many a time in the past."

Friday, October 07, 2005


there's so much i want to say today, so many thought running through my head. but i'm lacking the time to put it all down. i've been thinking about my family a lot this week. that's probably a result of praying for several other families lately who've experienced loss. on top of this, my spiritual family i'm a part of here has been filling me in numerous ways. i hope to write more on that later, but for now my thoughts are occupied with my family and how much i love them.

my parents are incredible examples of Christ to me, and have done nothing but cover my life with support, prayer, and love. i'm thankful for them as i remember how fortunate i've been to grow up with two faithful parents. my niece, Madison, has not though. i admire my sister Cayce for the way she has raised such a beautiful, sweet-spirited girl. this is her on the right, with her favorite cousin and best friend Hattie Jane: Madison has had 4 uncles to influence her life, as well some amazing grandparents and countless other people to shower her with love. but little girls don't need uncles, they need fathers. a father to be there for them everyday; to play with her, hug on her, pray with before bed. and sweet school teacher moms don't need brothers, they deserve husbands. a husband to care for her and show her affection. a husband to cook with, to take care of her when she's sick, and to take her out on dates. today i'm thankful that God has brought Matty into Cayce and Madison's life. he's going to be a part of our family, and a big part at that. today i'm praying for their family that will be joined together soon. i love my family, and am thinking about them today.

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L.D. quote of the day: (from Gus as he spoke to Clara and Laurie, the two loves of his life, when they asked whether he would return to Clara's farm, where her two daughters lives as well)

"Sure I'll come back. A ladies man like me could hardly be expected to resist such a passel of beauties."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Robots in Disguise

in a few days i'll be with 20 middle schoolers on a retreat trying to teach them the basics of faith, belief, and spiritual transformation in Christ. probably not the easiest job, but I know the Lord is up to the task. i'm excited to spend time with these energetic kids and see how God works through our high school counselors this weekend.

studying the idea of transformation last night brought me several insights, none of which are breaking any new ground. just what God has been teaching me.

1. this transformation is a journey, not a destination. it's a process, not an event. Ephesians talks about "growing up into Christ," and i love that image. from the time we're conceived we're growing, and our spiritual growth is no different. once Jesus has invaded our life the process begins (you could even make the point it begins before our encounter with him). it's crazy that mike cope wrote about this very thing today, reminding us not to look too far ahead and miss the moments occuring right now. i feel it's imperative to take in what's around us; to soak up all we can as we make strides toward Christ. these words from Counting Crows come to mind: "i can't remember all the times i've tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass." great advice.

2. when Paul says in Ephesians that we can be blown off course by "every wind of teaching," i don't think he's just talking about false ones, but Christian ones. i think this can be especially true for new Christians, but older ones are not exempt either. as we undergo this process of transformation we have to seek out what's most important to God; ask the question, "what does he value most?" and pursue that with our lives. things like loving people, making disciples, and walking as Christ did stand out. i'm guilty of chasing rabbit trails and making myself busy with good actions--but that's not transformation. in fact, i think seeking to be busy or just morally good is stagnation.

3. the maturity of Christ can't be measured by human standards. the ultimate goal of all this is attaining the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ." what an incredible thought! being completely filled with Christ and empty of myself. so why am i satisfied with anything less? i wouldn't want half a strawberry cream slush from sonic, or a bite of a joe allen's ribeye. God's design for us in the beginning was to be like him, made in his image. we were "created to be like God," and he still wants that for us today. i pray that God would transform me into his image.
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L.D. quote of the day: "I hate rude behavior in a man. Won't tolerate it."
(From Captain Call right after he nearly beat an old army scout to death who was whipping Newt, his son)