4/30/2008

Can You Take Me Higher...

And now, another story from my past that shows how dumb I am...

The summer after I graduated college (2002) I decided that it would be a good idea to get a membership to a gym. This was partially motivated by boredom, and partially motivated by the fact that the YMCA downtown offered a discounted membership rate to CIU students.

So, every week day I'd go to the gym. All of the workout machines were on the sixth floor. Since I was there to work out, I resolved to always take the stairs instead of the elevator. I think it was a couple of weeks in before I noticed that, outside of the building was a fire escape. Over the next few days I would look at it from the inside of the building and wonder where it started and ended. But I had yet to achieve the level of boredom that would be required for me to make my dumb decision...

So, one Sunday afternoon, I decided that my curiosity and boredom had carried on their love affair in secret for too long. Their love child had grown too big to hide. I drove downtown, found a parking spot in the lot adjacent to the YMCA (which belonged to FBC) and began to explore how I could find the fire escape.

It didn't take me long to find out where it started and, too my delight, had a staircase at the bottom that used springs to lift itself after use. Editor's Note: I don't know why I think this is cool. I just do. So I began to climb. The above picture is of my everest.

Even though heights (or, more specifically, falling from them) is one of my two biggest fears (the other being the dark), I pressed on towards my goal of reaching the summit. Editor's Note: This was me practicing mental toughness before I even met McGill! I finally reached the roof and enjoyed a beautiful view of my city. Then, I decided to descend back to where people with far less courage than I dwelt: street level.

Here's where the problems started: about the time I decided to climb down, the church ended its service and everyone started pouring out into the parking lot. Knowing that my vertical adventure would probably be filed under the "illegal" column, I decided it would be best if I waited for the parking lot to clear out before I started down in full view of the congregation.

So I waited... and waited... After about 20 minutes I realized that I had to pee. After about 20 more I thought about relieving myself where I was, but I had already made that mistake once. (Don't worry. One day I'll blog about that story.) So, after 45 minutes of waiting, I couldn't take it anymore. I started down, praying all the way that no one would see me, arrest me, throw me in jail, and watch me pee myself while I sat next to my cellmate, "White Power" Bill.

As I stepped off of the previously mentioned awesome springy staircase, I ran into the YMCA's first floor. While I... emptied the tank, I realized the importance of factoring in your bladder when planning to scale a building. Remember kids, if you learn from your dumb decisions you seem like less of a moron when retelling the story.

By the way, there's a better than good chance I'll climb that fire escape again tomorrow...

American Idol: 4 for 8...

Looks like we're down to our final four...

Before I comment on the elimination of Brooke White, I need to vent a little about some of the choices that the idol producers have made so far this season.

First off, I'm beginning to think that you pick the season "mentors" by simply hitting shuffle on your iTunes. While I enjoyed the Dolly Parton night in general, choosing Andrew Lloyd Weber and Neil Diamond is like inviting your grandmother to your prom. Isn't this a pop singing competition? ALW is about as relevant to pop music as... well... Neil Diamond. Which brings us to the jewish Elvis. Let's start with the fact that none of the contestants knew any of his songs. Now let's go to how the most useful bit of advice he offered was "I liked it." or "He's a prodigy." I mean, everybody in their mid-thirties and beyond know about him (and fans of Saving Silverman I guess), but has he really made that big of an impact on music and entertainment to have him "teaching" others on how to make their mark?

OK, I'm done...

Now onto Brooke... I think she's talented, but not platinum record talented. She's just too old fashioned to be successful. Not to mention the two times she stopped and restarted songs. How Carly got voted off before her is a mystery that scientists will study hundreds of years from now.

Syesha will be next, even though she's got tons more talent than Jason Castro. (How has that guy made it so far?) Castro will go after her, and then it will be a war of the Davids...

Shealy's BBQ and About a Pound of Gizzards...

For my brother's 21st birthday, my whole family went to Shealy's BBQ. Now, normally I'm up for BBQ anytime. But Shealy's is about 30-45 minutes away. So I wasn't as stoked as I would normally be. But because I love my brother, I went quietly into the night.

It's not a well kept secret that, every time I'm a passenger in an automobile, I fall asleep. I'm not sure why. It might be because my parents would take me for car rides when I wouldn't stop crying as a baby, and this is a subconscious remnant of my childhood. But it's probably because I have a sleeping disorder and get bored easily. So on the way to the restaurant, I fell asleep in the car. When i awoke, I was greeted by this...

A giant grain silo. I thought to myself, "I hope this food is worth driving all the way out into 1950's era farmland."

The food was good, but not great. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten food as good or better within five minutes of home.

Now, it's often been commented by my friends in CA that when I put up pictures of Southern food here on my blog, they could easily be mistaken for canine expectorant. Well CA friends, hold onto your pepto. Because what I'm about to show you grossed even me out.

As we were driving to Shealy's, my brother kept talking about fried chicken gizzards. I used to watch my dad eat these when I was a kid. They grossed me out then, but since I'm grown up now and pride myself on my culinary openness, I figured I'd explore the possibility of eating a... gizzard.

Here's my brother with a gizzard...

So I asked various members of my family, "What exactly is a gizzard?" No one could really give me a straight answer. Since I make it a practice to know as much as I can about a food before I put it in my mouth (like what body part of the animal it is), unless it's a youth ministry game, I decided to abstain.

This is a close up of a friend chicken gizzard. And here's a definition (from wikipedia) of what, exactly, a gizzard is:

Birds swallow food and store it in their crop if necessary. Then the food passes into their glandular stomach, also called the proventriculus, which is also sometimes referred to as the true stomach. This is the secretory part of the stomach. Then the food passes into the ventriculus (also known as the muscular stomach or gizzard). The gizzard can grind the food with stones that have been swallowed and pass it back to the true stomach and vice versa. Bird gizzards are lined with a tough layer made of the protein keratin, to protect the muscles in the gizzard.

Which means that if you eat a gizzard, not only are you eating partially digested or re-digested food, there's a good chance you're eating rocks used to grind the aforementioned food.

So in conclusion, there seems to be some Southern food that even I won't eat...

Web Wednesday: The Battle at Kruger...

It's another South Carolina edition of Web Wednesday!

Tommy showed me this video on YouTube the other day and, I have to say, it's one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen. I think it provides a pretty good argument for intelligent thought in animals. It's about 8 1/2 minutes long, and doesn't get good until about the 4 1/2 minute mark.

But trust me, you're going to want to watch this. National Geographic saw it and is now making a documentary on it...

4/28/2008

Rising Higher...

After breakfast, D and I decided to stop by FBC Columbia and see my cousin, Janine. As we were leaving her office, I saw a fire escape/roof access (don't worry, another story like this is coming soon) and couldn't resist climbing it. As usual, I was fine making the ascent. But as soon as I arrived at my destination, my heart started pumping pretty fast. Man, I hate heights...

Rising High...

A couple of days ago, D and I went downtown for a late breakfast.

After some discussion of where to go, I suggested Rising High Bakery.

Such a cool spot on Main St. that's housed inside of an old building that used to be a dime store.

We grabbed some breakfast sandwiches, which were neither great nor terrible...

But, Rising High isn't known for their breakfast food. They''re known for their amazing pastries and breads.

I'll be purchasing loaves of the Sweet Brown and Southern Sourdough breads this week. So great...

R.I.P. Rocket...

I've decided to stay in SC for a few more days...

This decision was motivated by a teaching opportunity that came up, my desire to spend time with my family, and (of course) the chance to eat more southern food.

So, I decided to share some stories from home.

This is the grave of my hamster, Rocket.

I think I had him around 9th grade. He was a great pet... if you wanted your room to smell like pee and liked to be kept up at night from the sound of a plastic wheel turning. When he died, my dad made this cross out of stainless steel. I was walking through my backyard the other day and, it turns out, his grave has gone undisturbed for over 13 years. Awesome...

Maybe I'll buy another one to keep me company in SD. but probably not...

4/25/2008

Happy Birthday Caleb...

Today is my brother's 21st birthday!

Happy birthday little buddy! I'm so proud of you and I love you!

Editor's Note: My brother isn't actually that little. He is, in fact larger than me. But he know's I could take him out...

4/23/2008

American Idol: 3 for 7...

Since my computer was sick last week, I would just like the record to show that, after the elimination of Kristy Lee Cook, my predications have been 3 for 6. I suppose batting .500 halfway through the season isn't bad. But it could be better...

Too bad it's not getting better this week. I have to say, the elimination of Carly Smithson is the most shocking thing that's happened this season. I mean, this girl can sing! I had her picked for #2! So disappointing...

On to next week...

Web Wednesday: Perfect Class on Rap...

Web Wednesday coming to you from South Carolina!

Since I've been traveling for a good portion of this past week, I decided to bring along a few DVDs to keep me occupied. One of the sets that I brought was Perfect Strangers.

Now, some of you may be too young to remember when TV on Friday nights used to be good. Now, it's where networks send shows to die. But back in the mid-to-late 80's though the mid 90's, it was huge. TGIF was a big part of my childhood (which may explain a lot).

Today, Web Wednesday bring you an old school TGIF promo featuring the casts of Perfect Strangers and Head of the Class performing a rap. No, that's right. I wrote rap...

Enjoy...

4/22/2008

2008 Best Summer Movie Tournament...

Last summer, here on the blog, I had a tournament wherein you voted to determine your favorite summer movie. After a couple of months of voting, Transformers emerged as the first champion.

Here's the bracket for this summer. It all begins Friday, May 2 with Iron Man and ends on Friday, August 15 with Tropic Thunder.

As with last year, two movies will do battle and you'll vote for which one of the two you liked more. The winner moves on to face another challenger. And this summer is packed full of some amazing adventures!

I can't wait...

I've Been Everywhere Man...

Whoa... Long time no see.

I've been gone for a while. Here's a brief rundown of why:

Two weekends ago, my mac's superdrive died. After calling Applecare and talking with their representative, they sent me to the Apple store. The geniuses were super helpful and, after testing my machine, decided to admit it and work on it. So, for the majority of last week, I was computerless. Editor's Note: This is a terrible things to happen to someone with as much free time as me.

On Thursday, I picked up my Mac. I left straight from the store for Orange County. Taffy was throwing a casino night for our friend Matt in honor of the upcoming birth of his daughter. The buy-in was a bag of diapers. I've got to say, craps is not my game. I just couldn't figure it out. So I played black jack and did moderately well.

I crashed at the McGills' and, the next morning, hit the air.

I was invited to fly out to interview at a church for the weekend. On Friday, I spent most of the day traveling. I landed at my destination close to midnight on Friday. Starting with lunch on Saturday, my schedule was pretty much packed out. I had the chance to eat with, meet, talk with, and enjoy some java with a lot of incredible people. On top of that, I was treated like a king.

On Saturday night, I drove into town to hang with Stephen. Awesome time. Great conversation. Interesting waitress who, no kidding, leaned in and after smelling Stephen said, "You smell soft." Like I said... Interesting.

Sunday, after leaving the church, I had a chance to hang out with two of my best friends from college. It's been two years since I'd seen Ray-Ray and 4 years since I'd seen Todd. It was definitely medicine for my soul.

Next, and without telling my family, I flew home to South Carolina. I had a friend pick me up at the airport and bring me home. To say that my mom was surprised would be an understatement! She literally fell on the floor!

So, I'll be here in South Carolina for the next week. Enjoying family, friends, and the best food in the country. I'll also be guest teaching in a youth ministry class at my alma mater. And yes, I'll be back to blogging.

Awesome...

4/11/2008

Things That California Has That South Carolina Doesn't...

Yeah. California may have these over the greatest state in the country, but that doesn't matter. We've got things they don't too...

  • Red Vines...

  • Cactus Cooler...

  • In-N-Out...

  • Borders...

  • Patio Heaters...

  • Panda Express and Pick Up Stix...
  • It Takes a Thief...

    After I got home this afternoon, I turned on the Discovery Channel and found an amazing show I've never seen before. It's called It Takes a Thief.

    On the show, two former burglars (Matt and Jon) meet with a family and let them know that sometime in the near future, they're going to break in to their house and try to steal their stuff. They stake out the house, break in, take a bunch of stuff, and then wait for the family to come home and react. (They, of course, film it all with hidden cameras.) Then, they walk the family through how they broke in. This is all followed up with an extreme home security makeover.

    Maybe it's a sign that I'm a little more disturbed than I actually thought, but I love this show. The only thing I've ever stolen is a Tootsie Roll from the grocery store when I was a kid. And my mom made me tell the cashier and apologize (an event that still haunts me to this day). But I think about stealing all of the time. I blame it on movies like Ocean's 11, The Italian Job, Inside Man, and The Bank Job. It's mostly me wondering if I'm smart or sneaky enough to get away with something. Not so much I want what's not mine.

    Anyway, check the show out. Maybe we can plan a heist together...

    Wait... Was That...

    I have no idea what made me start thinking about this...

    When I was a kid, there were a couple of movies or TV shows that I watched that starred some of my favorite actors. But I had no idea. In fact, it wasn't until years later that I realized who the actor behind the character was.

    Here's a few...

  • Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester- This might have been a surprise to me because I thought that Christopher Lloyd looked like Doc Brown, and not like this. Such a great character actor...

  • Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook- I must have seen Hook four times before I realized who was playing Captain Hook. Hoffman has to be one my all time faves, and this must have been an incredibly fun role to play...

  • James Avery as The Shredder- I didn't make this connection until I was watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air some years after first seeing TMNT. Who knew Uncle Phil could be so evil...
  • American Idol: 2 for 5...

    Wow... I think it's safe to say that tonight's elimination was a surprise.

    My prediction was off for the second week in a row, because Michael Johns was voted into the bottom three for the first time and was sent home packing. I think this was the wrong move on America's part. Syesha should have been the one to go. Her terrible rendition of the terrible song that Fantasia sang when she won was, well, terrible...

    So, I'm down to 40% accuracy on my predictions. I'm not happy about this. Hopefully next week, I'll pull myself up to 50%...

    4/10/2008

    Not Much Longer to Go...

    Tonight brings us the first new episode of the office in what feels like 1,000,000 years...

    Just to help tide us over, USA Today has an interview with Jenna Fischer about tonight's episode. Check it out here.

    I can't wait...

    Things That Bring Me Joy...

    As I was watching the movie Run Fatboy Run, I began to think about joy, something which I've only been able to experience in fleeting moments for the past 2 1/2 months.

    In an effort to carpe the diem, I began to make a list (on my cell phone) of things that have, time and again, brought me joy. During the movie, I came up with three...

  • Climbing trees- This started, for me, in college with a tree that was behind my dorm. Someone had placed a hammock high up in it and, in order to reach it, one had to climb. What's interesting (at least to me) about this is I have a terrible fear of heights. Perhaps it brings me such joy because it is a tangible way to conquer my fear...

  • Taking Pictures- This is something that I haven't done in a while. In college, I was a little notorious for carrying around my camera. I think taking pictures at a couple of weddings killed it temporarily for me. Digital photography might have helped in this too. I used to only use film. Either way, I have to get back to this...

  • Laughing- This may seem like an obvious one, but I don't think it is. Something about laughing (and helping others laugh) fills my heart to its capacity. The last time I laughed in this way was a couple of weeks ago at dinner with the Witts. I love it...

    -And tonight, I added this to the list...-

  • Taco Bell's Caramel Apple Empanadas- Good night these are good! The Taco Bell by The Residence is almost always sold out. I'm pretty sure I could eat a thousand of them...

    As I continue to think on this, I'm sure I'll add more items to this list. I'll keep you updated...
  • 4/09/2008

    Why Don't You Check Your Donkey Door...

    Last May, I posted a commercial from Orbit gum that I loved.

    Lately, I've been seeing another commercial from Orbit. Not only does this one contain substitute curses, it also contains a certain Veronica Mars alumni that Ryanne named her phone after...

    Web Wednesday: You Have to Burn the Rope...

    I now pronounce you Web Wednesday!

    Today's edition comes to us from an amazing little web game. It's called You Have to Burn the Rope.

    Trust me on this one, guys. Spend about five minutes playing the game. The song at the end is worth it...

    4/08/2008

    You Melonhead...

    On Saturday, I had breakfast with McGill, Max, and two germans. Towards the end, I took out my butter knife, grabbed a slice of cantaloupe, and carved Max's name into it. Or rather, carved everything else away except his name. He loved it. Then, he ate it...

    Angels In the Outfield...

    Last night, I was invited by a friend to an Angels game. Here are some of the highlights...

  • As we walked up, we were greeted by the giant Angels baseball caps (which I love). As we got closer, Mike pointed out to me that they've actually sized the hats. As a person who is beginning to be insecure about the size of his head, this comforted me. As I know that I'll always be able to find a hat that fits my gigantic cranium...

  • As it turned out, Monday night was free wall clock night at Angel Stadium. This worked out well for me, as I swore off wristwatches a while ago. I'm rocking the Flavor Flav clock now...

  • What happens on the field before the game...

  • Schwanny and I went hunting for food some time around the fourth inning. He had an awesome idea to get it on the club level. This took some persuading, as you have to have a club level ticket to get in. Schwanny took care of it though. We ended up with a giant plate of chili cheese fries. This was, at the same time, an awesome and terrible decision. I don't think I need to tell you why...

  • In the eighth inning, this thing somehow made it's way into my jeans and all the way up to my knee. Now I should say that, anytime you feel something crawling on your leg (especially on the inside of your pants) it's a little freaky. So I freaked. Once I saw it was a moth, I was cool. But up until that moment, I thought it could have been anything...

  • Not only did all of these amazing things take place, but the Angels came from behind at the bottom of the ninth and won, thanks to a grand slam home run by Torii Hunter. It was an incredible end to an amazing night...
  • 4/07/2008

    Poetic License II...

    Both

    How can I believe myself
    when I preside over an internal struggle?
    My feet are stuck in mud.
    To go forward into the black
    or back to a world that seems to no longer want me?
    Either way, I’m scared.

    I’m of two minds and two hearts.
    I need you to light my lamp.
    Silence my confusion
    long enough to hear your voice.
    Give me your hand.
    Together, we can climb anything…

    4/05/2008

    Banner War...

    About a week ago, Chris stopped by after work to hang. We watched a sweet Jet Li movie, played some Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and talked about life (things both serious and crazy). He also told me that he had started a blog. So I headed over to take a look.

    I was dismayed to find a bannerless, plain looking blog. So, I decided to bless my friend with an amazing, Back to the Future inspired banner. I spent about 10 minutes working, then looked upon it and said it was good. Chris uploaded it, and the world was at peace.

    Then, five days later, another of Chris' friends created a banner for him. And while this banner was, in its own right, awesome, I felt, as Daniel Plainview would say, a competition rise up within me. And so, I declared a banner off.

    I promised Chris I would create, for him, the Sistine Chapel of blog banners. And here is what I delivered...

    Not bad...

    So, Chris' buddy, Tim, is up next. Head over to Chris' blog to see what he comes up with...

    4/04/2008

    More Truth From U2...

    Yesterday, I wrote a post on heaven that referenced a U2 song.

    I was sitting in Borders as I wrote that post. As I left to drive home, I plugged in my iPod and played the song. Already having it stuck in my head, it didn't take much more than half a listen to have it etched into my memory for the majority of today too. And even though I used one lyric from I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For in my previous post, it was a different lyric that drew my attention today.

    "I have spoke with the tongue of angels
    I have held the hand of a devil
    It was warm in the night
    I was cold as a stone."


    This particular lyric struck me because I think it communicates something about sin that we don't talk a lot about in the church. Bono sings of how, in a time when he was cold as a stone, he held the hand of a devil. And it kept him warm. I might be reading in to this a bit, but I think that this lyric is speaking of how, at times, we turn to sin to comfort.

    And sometimes, it works... Never in the long term. But still...

    I think that this is a symptom of our brokenness. I said yesterday that we are programmed to search outside of ourselves for our value. God's intent in doing this, was to draw us to search for Him to achieve wholeness. But our brokenness makes us think we can achieve this by turning to things which are only temporary. Bono goes on to sing, even after he held a devil's hand and was warmed by it, that he still hadn't found what he was looking for. He recognized that, even if he did receive temporary relief, ultimately, he didn't receive satisfaction.

    This is a truth that I've come to see played out in my own life. I've seen how, in the past, in wanting to fill a void left from dissatisfaction, I've turned to things that I know are wrong. Things that were awesome temporary band-aids. Things that ended up, in the long run, hurting me more than they helped.

    I think one conclusion to this would be a feeling of defeat. But I don't think that's the right conclusion. If anything, I feel like the recognition of our failure to find satisfaction in sin should propel us forward in our search for God.

    Jesus said in Matt. 7:7 that if we seek him, we'll find him. This gives me hope. I know that, one day, We'll find what we're looking for...

    You're the Best Around: VII...

    I got you blog...

  • Courtney steps on a barking spider...

  • Josh has a great idea for encouraging volunteers...

  • Allison mourns for today's generation's loss of a theme song...

  • Rod sees the benefit of working on a team...

  • Puddles finally gets clean...
  • Run Fatboy Run...

    "You know, I mean, I didn't do you any favours on that day, ok? I did a stupid, stupid thing. But it was only because I thought spoiling your day was better than ruining your life. Does that make any sense?"

    So here's the deal: Simon Pegg is amazing. I went to see this movie because he's in it. And, after seeing it, I want to say this: this movie isn't from the same guys who made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. This movie was directed by Ross. But, I still loved it...

    Here's a brief synopsis:
    Guy and pregnant girl are getting married. Girl is stoked. Guy is having a panic attack. Guy runs away. 5 years later. Guy is a security guard at a women's lingerie store. Girl has had kid and is in a relationship with The Blue Raja. Guy sees this, realizes he's been totally selfish and flaky and asks TBR for a pint. TBR brags about how he runs marathons. Guy decides to join in. Guy trains. Nipple joke. Guy starts marathon. Other things happen before the end of the movie...

    Run Fatboy Run
    Running Time:
    95 mins.
    Directed By: David Schwimmer
    Starring: Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Harish Patel, Dylan Moran, Hank Azaria

    What follows is a SPOILER FREE review.

    So, what was good?
  • Simon Pegg. I once said that I would see every movie that Mel Gibson is in. Add Pegg to that list. I love him and think he's great at what he does. He's a hero to red heads everywhere.

  • The supporting players. Dylan Moran and Harish Patel are incredibly funny in their roles as Dennis' (the main character) friend and landlord.

  • The script. Written by Michael Ian Black and Simon Pegg, how could it not be funny?


    But...
  • Nothing really new. You can guess the ending. It's got its share of romantic comedy clichés. Most of them are hilarious. But they're still clichés...


    I think that this movie has a great story of redemption while showing that, even when we try to make things right, we might still have to deal with the fallout of our mistakes. I could see myself using clips from it to teach on. And so, to Run Fatboy Run, I give the honor of being awarded a certified 3.5 Yarmulke™ rating.

    I teared up at the end of this movie. (Although, right now, it doesn't seem like it takes much to make me do that.) I loved it and would highly recommend it. Opening night movie that won't change your life, but might touch your heart... (Man, that was cheesy...)
  • There's No Place Like Home...

    Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about heaven...

    To be honest, this is a bit unusual for me. Heaven is typically a subject upon which I don’t normally like to dwell. Yet, in the past two months, I find myself (with increased frequency) meditating on my eternal home.

    I suppose I’ve always known about heaven. After all, I began attending a church when I was two years old, and they tend to talk about it quite a bit there. In fact, when I was around ten years old, it was one of the major selling points used when trying to convince someone how much better their life could be with God vs. without. However, looking back, my early years in walking with God were spent pretty much ignoring the thought of eternity. Or, at least, my eternity. And much of that was motivated (as many things in my life have been) by fear. I was afraid of heaven.

    I would love to tell you that this was a fear born simply out of immaturity. After all, I became a Christ-follower when I was ten years old. I should grow up and out of such a thing. I should step into being a “man of God” wanting nothing more than to join my creator in His home which was prepared exclusively for me. However, my immaturity was mixed with a rather large dose of ignorance, conceiving my fear.

    Sometimes, I imagined heaven as depicted in old warner bros. cartoons. You know, Wyle E. Coyote or Foghorn Leghorn would die, rise out of their body with wings, a halo and harp, and join those of a similar ilk to sit on their own cloud and spend eternity plunking out melodies. Other times, I imagined it as a place where millions of people (all wearing white robes, of course) are grouped together in a common location pointing toward God’s throne. Here, everyone would spend the rest of eternity bowing and singing. (With all of those robes, I would hope heaven wasn’t a drafty place.) And still, sometimes, I would imagine heaven as a place detached from, but still in sight of, earth. Here, I would spend my time watching over loved ones as they live their lives and search their searches.

    I hate all three of these scenarios.

    The thought of spending eternity engaged in any of these three activities makes me want to run screaming in the other direction. My problem (and I’ve only recently realized this) was in my perception (this could be true for most things in my life). You see, I was viewing heaven more as a place and less as a completion. I was viewing heaven more as a schedule and less as a restoration. And because of that misunderstanding, I’ve been missing out on a key truth about God: God wants nothing more than to finish what He started in me.

    Most of this line of thinking has been born out of the uncertainty I’ve been experiencing for the past three months as I’ve been looking for what God has next for me. Since I was about fourteen, my biggest desire (and naturally, the absence of being my biggest fear) has been to belong somewhere. To be in a place where I didn’t have to be afraid I’d be made to leave. To be in a place with people I didn’t have to worry would abandon me.

    To be home.

    In the past five years, I’ve moved my life two times. Should God desire for me to step out in faith and follow him to some uncharted territory again, it would make three. Each time, I’ve left behind people I’ve grown to love. Each time, I’ve left behind places I’ve lived in, investments I’ve grown, tears I’ve cried, blood I’ve bled, and mountains I’ve conquered, never knowing if I’d ever see them again. And each time it’s hurt. And so, as the baggage claim turns round, I pick up my emotional baggage and soldier on. Every time I leave, I leave feeling disappointed and scared: disappointed that the place I leave behind wasn’t home, and scared that I’ll never find it. That I’ll spend the rest of my life like the Incredible Hulk, doomed to walk the earth alone.

    In the past, each time major change has come in my life, I’ve realized that I’m not home yet. And it breaks my heart. Every time…

    And here I am again.

    Three Sundays ago, when I was up at Saddleback for the weekend, I sat in on one of the main services. Rick was speaking on “The Reality of Heaven”. As I sat and listened, a few things he said began to reinforce some things that had already been bumping around inside my head.

    I’ve never felt I have more in common with Bono than right now. I search and search and search, but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. And I’m not supposed to… yet. You see, God created me to be in an intimate, naked relationship with Him. But that relationship was severed with the introduction of sin (a ton of it, mine) into the world. And, even though Christ’s death and resurrection provided us the forgiveness necessary to go back to God, we’re still only able to get a taste of what he intended that relationship to be… for now. Heaven is the next stage in the completing of our restoration to God.

    It’s natural (and normal) for us to feel like we’re missing something in life. We all search for meaning. We all search for a place to belong. We were created in such a way as to realize we’re not whole and then to seek out our identity, our worth (value), in something outside of ourselves. The problems come when we think we can find it in other people, in possessions, in pleasure, or in praise. None of these things last. We were meant to find it in God.

    And, because of that, we can never really complete our search until we arrive home. A place where the Bible says our true citizenship lies (Philippians 3:20). A place that God has been preparing for us (Matt. 25:34, John 14:2-3). And so, in realizing this, my thoughts of heaven have turned away from fear, and turned toward longing.

    I want to be with the one who knows me better than anyone else. I want to be with the one who loves me more than I’ll ever fully know. I want to be with the one who will never abandon me. I want to be in a place I’ll never have to leave. I want to be made whole by being where I was created to be: in the presence of God.

    "I believe in the kingdom come. Then all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one. Well yes I’m still running.

    You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains. Carried the cross of my shame, of my shame. You know I believed it.

    But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…


    There’s no place like home…

    4/03/2008

    American Idol: 2 for 4...

    We now have our elite eight.

    I was off on my prediction for this week, but I shouldn't have been. Editor's Note: Are you allowed to adjust your predictions if someone you saw going farther than they did gets eliminated earlier on than you said? Oh well...

    This week saw the departure of Ramiele Malubay, which I think was right. She'd made it as far as she should have. It's pretty obvious that there's a big gap in talent on the show now. Carly, the Davids, and Michael are so many miles ahead of the others that they should be on a different show.

    Once again, David Cook proved he's a force to be reckoned with. I may not have predicted him to be the winner, but he's the guy I'm pulling for.

    I'm back down to 50%. Let's see if I can pull it up to 60% next week...

    4/02/2008

    Web Wednesday: Ouch...

    It's Web Wednesday again...

    Today's edition is brought to us from the wonderful world of martial arts movies. After seeing the trailer for The Forbidden Kingdom, I rented and watched Taffy's favorite Jet Li movie, Fearless. But today's internet treat comes from the The Forbidden Kingdom's other star, Jackie Chan.

    One of my favorite parts of any Jackie Chan movie is the blooper real that runs during the credits. This clip is some guy's opinion of what are the top ten Jackie Chan stunts of all time. Enjoy...

    4/01/2008

    Taco Hell...

    After watching Team Maximus take the field in a softball game, Schwanny and I hit Taco Bell for some cheap food. Who knew running for the border could be such a religious experience?

  • For those who abstain from meat during lent, they advertise their helpful alternatives...

  • And they provide, what I think is, a scary picture of a possible eternity (without God)...