Life in our new office… Day 1

Today was C2IT’s first day in our new office on Clark’s Creek Road in Plainfield. One of my employees commented, “this must be a pretty big thing for you,” and he’s spot on.

We’ve been in business for almost 15 years now and in all that time, I’ve never had my own office. Never had my own door. Never had to get up and walk down the hall to talk to someone or wonder if they’re even in the building.

It is a big thing. A bit surreal to be honest. And awkward. And incomplete. And exciting. And scary.

And all of that’s ok. We have a lot to figure out at the new place. Who will sit where and when. How much we will spend on furniture and decorations. How we will make it feel like “home.” Who our first guest will be. What our first issue will be over.

Im glad this day has come. In a way I don’t want to let it go, but I must. There weren’t any bells and whistles. In fact, we scratched the floor. It may get more scary before it gets exciting. The bumps may bruise us. But we will come out stretched and stronger. All of us.

Day one is behind us. Day two is right around the corner.

Two Hits and a Quit

My son’s first year of Minor League Baseball has just ended. Not the grownup minor leagues of course, the kid version, which is those two years of baseball in between years of coaches tossing you the best pitch they can and those “naturals” hurling 50mph balls down your throat once you reach “The Majors.” They wrapped up the season with a win before the tournament and a decent game in their first tournament game, but all is now done.

Watching my son and his friends play baseball is such an adventure. There’s the boys and their skills, some of which appear almost natural, others are trying their best and improving every day, and there’s always a couple who just don’t want to be there. Then there’s the parents, the coaches, and that guy who’s complaining because he got too much cheese with his pretzel.

This year has brought back memories for me. Deep seated memories that either changed something in me or that were part of a season of change in me as a child. I have few memories of of my days as a 8-10 year old, but playing one – and just one – year of Minor baseball is one of them.

This is that story. Or at least a bit of it.

Two Hits and a Quit

 

My family had just moved to Plainfield. I was in 4th grade, and had never really played organized sports before. But here I was, living in a nice neat neighborhood with a back yard and a neighbor with a big field to play in. Kids everywhere. Friends to play with from down the street or across town from church. And so I found myself signed up for baseball.

I don’t remember much about my team – other than we had purple jerseys, and that I think I was number 7. Why I have that memory, I don’t know, but I do. I remember not being good, being rather fearful of the ball, maybe, just maybe, making a catch in the outfield. Those memories are faded and mostly gone, though.

What I do remember, though, are two hits and a quit.

The first hit, the good one, was that triple I got one time. I have no idea if it was a triple courtesy of errors on the other team or if it was a legit triple where I knocked the ball out into the outfield and made some other poor kid chase it down. But I remember it.

The other hit, the not-so-good one, was the one that came flying at me from a monster of a pitcher (he had to be a pro), that smacked me upside the arm and left my teary eyed and wondering how I’d ever make it to first base. I remember (eventually) being somewhat proud of the fact that I could see the stitches of the baseball in the bruise.

Beyond those memories, though, I don’t remember much more. Other than that I never played baseball again. For some reason, I quit. Was it because I was too scared? Parents pushed me too hard? Coach didn’t push me enough? I hated the color purple? Who knows… but what I do know is that I never played again. I quit. Two hits and a quit. And that was it.

Fast forward 30 years, and here’s my son, taking his first hit on a pitch (from me in the back yard), hurt and angry at me, and these memories come flooding back. “Don’t push him too far,” I tell myself. “Push him harder,” myself tells I. “There’s no reason to cry.” “Come here, son, I love you.”

How these boys even have a chance to develop a love for the game is a wonder to me. Sometimes it seems like the most “natural” athletes are the ones walking to the dug-out, head hanging, after that rare strikeout, knowing they’ve let their parents down and that they’ll take a scolding for it later. And the most excited boy is that one standing in right field, playing in the grass, who just happened to stop a ball by tripping over a dirt clod and falling in front of it.

It’s amazing.

Colton Night Baseball MinorsWill my son play baseball for the rest of his childhood? I have no idea. Is he growing in it, getting better, and having fun? I believe so. But the thing is, it’s not up to me. This isn’t a childhood memory I’m going to erase or “get right this time.” This is my son’s life, and while I love being part of his making memories, that’s a daunting task as a father. Because I DO want to see him succeed, and I want to succeed as his dad, too… and often “my success” hinges on his, or so it seems. But that’s not how it should be.

What will my son’s memories of baseball be when he’s grown, married, and raising a kid of his own (if life goes that way)? Who knows. I hope they’re good. I hope they’re of doing his best, making friends, catching a fly ball and hearing the world erupt in cheers, and knowing that if he does his best, he’s already succeeded. Those moments may not live with him forever, but they’ll do their part in preparing him for real life.

What an adventure we’re on, parents. What an opportunity we have.

I love you son. I’m proud of you. I love watching you play the game, grow in confidence and strength, and when I hear that bat WHOOSH through the air as you swing it with all you’ve got, please know that You Have What It Takes.

Leaning Into Fear

Interesting thing about fear that I’ve learned lately – it leaves you off balance and unsafe. The more you allow it to have hold the more off balance and unsafe you are. When you lean into that which you fear, you become balanced and safer and stronger.

– My Wife, Erin

Big Days, Small Days

There are days so big that you wake up with butterflies in your stomach. And then there are days when you really don’t even see the point of waking up at all. The heart of the matter, though, is that every “today” is part of “tomorrow.” If I treat the days that seem inconsequential as such, my future will probably be rather dull as well. If I allow the stress of “big days” to do my spirit harm over and over again, I’ll fall into a life of timidity or drivenness.

I choose to engage today. To be confident in the person God has made me to be. To ask questions. To learn. To explore. To risk failure. Because in the opportunities that cause me fear, uncertainty, and even pain… on the flip side of the hardship is so much of what I long for – peace, success, rewards, a fruitful life.

Today feels “big.” But in the end, it’s really just another 1,440 minutes that will be gone in a flash. In fact, over 450 of them are already history.

Destructive Path – A Lesson for Teens that is Supposed to be about Alcohol

I’m leading our church’s high school youth group tomorrow in a discussion that seems to focus on the “destructive path” of alcohol. I’m having a tough time with some of it’s arguments, as I feel they are a bit more of a fear tactic than a a logical progression of thought involving the Bible’s complete perspective on the topic, alcohol’s real affects (especially on young bodies and brains), and more than anything else, personal convictions. While there is something to be said about statistics and slippery slopes, there is much more to to be said about real-life experiences and thought out decisions based on values, priorities, and convictions. These are my thoughts on the lesson as I prepare to both teach it, and move from simply talking about the dangers of alcohol to the importance of personal decisions in every area of life, from alcohol and drugs to cheating, lust, and anger.

[Note: This is still a work in progress. There are definitely some areas I want to add to on personal convictions and hopefully a testimony or two from someone who’s walked down the wrong side of this path.]

The question of the week, according to the literature, is “Why is drinking such a big deal?” The answer? According to the book, “Drinking alcohol can lead to tragic consequenses.” Couldn’t I present this same argument for any number of areas of teenage life, from alcohol and drugs to speeding, driving without seat belts, and fighting? How many things in life lead to tragic consequenses, when abused? And I think that’s where this lesson leaves something out in it’s argument. In every-single-point, it’s “Alcohol can.” Alcohol can do this. Alcohol can do that. Alcohol can kill you, you know. I’m all for presenting facts, figures, and accurately used proof-texts to support an argument, but I sure don’t see any Sunday School lessons entitled “why is having money such a big deal… because it can KILL you!” No, when it comes to money, we know it’s greed and misuse (abuse) that lead to the tragic consequenses. Used correctly, money is a tool. I don’t believe alcohol is a tool, especially in the hands of children and teens whose brains are still developing, who are confronted on all sides by peer pressure and inexperience. I also do not, personally, believe it is taboo.

So I’m going into tomorrow’s lesson by texting all teens whose numbers I have with that very question… “why is drinking such a big deal.” Here are the answers I received:

  • It’s a big deal because it boggles the mind.
  • It’s a big deal because anyone can drink it, and it more than often makes for bad choices.
  • It’s a big deal because it’s often a way to “prove” yourself.
  • It’s a big deal because it has a lot of bad effects on your liver.
  • I don’t think drinking is bad. I think getting drunk is bad.
  • It’s a big deal because some people feel like they can “escape” their life for awhile and others do it cause it’s fun for the rush.
  • Teenagers think it’s a big deal because it’s portrayed as something fun and exciting and they get a rush because it’s illegal and they know it. They want to drink to get back at their parents, the government, and anyone who thinks underage drinking is wrong. For the most part they drink at parties because “it’s fun” or simply because it’s there.
  • Drinking for me is a big deal because so many bad things happen, like unplanned pregnancies, DUI, murders, domestic abuse, fornication… in other words many of the things that we all talk about as terrible have a root in alcohol. I know that “if you don’t get drunk then it’s ok” to drink, by the Bible even, but for me I’m against it 100% because, even if it’s controlled, it only takes one mistake to ruin multiple lives and that’s not a chance I will ever take.

It’s clear to me that a good portion of the youth I’m teaching either have an understanding of the fact that “alcohol is bad for me,” at least in the stage of life they are in at this time. The argument made in this week’s Sunday School lesson, while legitimately factual, is not where I feel we really need to focus with our group. I want to spend time covering it with them for the sake of those who may not have any experience or knowledge:

1. ALCOHOL CAN LEAD TO TROUBLE

Proverbs 22:29-30 – Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has conflicts? Who has complaints? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has red eyes? Those who linger over wine, those whogo looking for mixed wine.

As we go through this lesson today, I want to spend the time we spend on the points covered in your book focused on alcohol as it relates to you, your friends, and your peers. I don’t feel that these arguments are the same you’d make in a group of college students, for example, or with adults. The facts are still the facts, but what motivates people does change over time. In a book I look to often for facts and figures, Youth Culture 101 by Walt Mueller, he lists his own “top 10” reasons teenagers use alcohol (and drugs). I’ll list them here:

  1. Curiosity and Experimentation: “I’ve never met a teenager who used drugs and alcohol with the intention of getting hooked.”
  2. Peer Pressure: “My own conversations with middle and high school students indicates that pressure to drink alcohol is one of the most intense pressures churched kids feel from their peers.” True or false in your world? Give an example. “With a constant desire to fit in, be accepted, and be loved, teenagers who feel insecure and unloved at home are more susceptible and will give in to the pressure more easily.” (“it’s worth the risk”)
  3. It’s Fun: Boredom… cheap, easy, fun to do with a group
  4. To Look Grown Up: Don’t want to look like kids, it’s a rite of passage
  5. Availability: More than 60% of 8th greaders and more than 80% of 10th graders say that alcohol is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get. Parents providing, or not limiting access.
  6. Advertising: What message does advertising give to alcohol (Homer quote: “Alcohol – the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems”)
  7. Pop-Culture Presence: Where do you see it here – what’s the pressure?
  8. Family Problems: Divorce, sepratation, absenct parents… discord, pressure, expectations, poor communication… sends teens looking for relief.
  9. Escape: Get away from stress and problems, even if temporary.
  10. To Cope: “Self medicating” to perform better? Take the edge off?
  11. Addiction: Experimentation, social use, misuse, abuse, chemical dependency

I’m going to give these items to the teens in the form of 3×5 cards (probably do two people per card so they can think through it together) and let them line up in the order they think the pressure to drink comes from. I’m curious if it will match Mueller’s findings.

Look back to the proverb we read. Does that make sense when it comes to drunkenness? What about the “happy drunk” who seems to be the life of the party? What about your friend who “doesn’t get drunk?” What types of trouble can you imagine – types of sorrow, conflice, complaints – come from alcohol abuse?

What do you think of this Shakespeare quote:

O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! THat we should with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!

2. ALCOHOL CAN CAUSE LOSS OF JUDGEMENT

Again, I think it would be appropriate to put the word abuse between “alcohol” and “can” in this statement. Actually, if you did that, you could probably change “can” to “will.” Is it appropriate for us to kind of up the ante here and say it’s “a drop of” alcohol that will lead to that loss of judgement? That’s how that statement comes across to me. I think these teens can see through that. I’d think they can see that it’s a slippery slope argument… “you’d better steer completely clear of this, because if you don’t… you won’t be able to stop.” I don’t want my teens to be confronted with this type of argument, because in the initial stages, it simply may not ring true. If you accept the truth of that statement as “down the road” a bit and that keeps from doing anything, fine… but if you see past the statement to the fact that your initial experience with alcohol (or drugs, or sex, or whatever) may actually not have any of the “bad” consequenses anyone has warned you about, will it stop you? I’d rather my teens develop personal convictions for both this time of their life, and as they enter adulthood, based on more than just “I don’t want to go near it because it might reach out and hurt me.” Life is full of things that can trip us up and literally KILL us if we give them control, and alcohol is definitely one of those.

The book we’re using has a graphic that shows the different levels of blood alcohol content and the effect they produce on our brains and judgement. I went to www.bloodalcoholcalculator.org and plugged in some figures for my own weight to see just how much drinking it would take to get to these points (based on a  60 minute drinking timeframe). This is by no means an endorsement of “just one or two” but rather a realistic look at the “average” effect of alcohol on a brain like mine.

  • Euphoria (.03 – .12 %): 3 – 8 beers
  • Lethargy (.09 – .25 %): 6 – 16 beers
  • Confusion (.18 – .30 %): 11 – 19 beers
  • Stupor (.24 – .40%): 16 – 25 beers
  • Coma (.35 – .50 %):  22 – 31 beers

Wow, isn’t that a relief! I’d have to drink two 12-packs to put myself into a coma. Ha. What I find interesting is that the top level of “lethargy” is the same as the bottom level of “stupor.” The difference between (1) my body slowing down, losing coordination, and being obviously unfit to drive and (2) lapses in consciousness, possibility of alcohol poisoning, and loss of bladder control … the difference there can be quite negligable. I’m not totally sure what I learn from this.

Proverbs 22:31-33: Don’t gaze at wine when it is red, when it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and you will say absurd things.

To be honest… that Proverb (written by the wisest man that ever lived) sounds like it is spoken out of experience, doesn’t it? And how many things are there in life that, unfortunately, we will only learn by experience.

I can look back to a specific day in my life that built much of my own personal conviction about alcohol and drug abuse (and even use). I used to live behind a strip mall, and almost every day I’d walk over to the Hook’s Drug Store to buy a candy bar or can of pop. I remember walking over there one day, and up by the highway, seeing a mangled mess of a car surrounded by fire fighters, a couple ambulances, and a large group of people. I went over to watch, and for 10 minutes looked on as the paramedics worked to cut open the car to gain access to the person inside, barely hanging onto their life. Rumor circulated that the driver was drunk and had crashed right there in the parking lot, and that he probably wasn’t going to make it. It only became apparent to me later on that this entire event was staged as an effort to show the dangers of alcohol. For me, it worked. Scare tactic or not, it was a reality check I can still picture in my mind. I think before we develop almost any personal conviction, we need some sort of reality check like this. We need to look the substance (or the action, or the emotion) in the face and say, “I don’t want you. You are not worth it.” I didn’t put it into words until years later, but as I look at my life now and my view on alcohol, that image played a part in my conviction: “I will not lose control. I will not come close to losing control.” What that means to me, is very personal, and even hard to explain. But I know it, I live by it, and it holds personal value to me.

3. ALCOHOL CAN LEAD TO ADDICTION

That thought, that “loss of control,” leads to this final point as outlined in the lesson. When do you cross that line of controlling yourself and your actions and your actions controlling you? Is it a black and white line? Will you see it before you cross it or do you need to head it off way beforehand?

Proverbs 23:34-35: You’ll be like someone sleeping out at sea or lying down on the top of a ship’s mast. “They struck me, but I feel no pain! They beat me, but I didn’t know it! When will I wake up? I’ll look for another drink.”

I’m not totally sure what this verse has to do with addiction, other than the last portion, where the man who’s drunk out of his mind sets out to reply the journey he just spoke of. But is that what an addiction truly is? Does it have to go that far, that we are totally under the control of the substance, habit, or feeling?

I like this definition of alcohol addiction: “Addiction is the repeated involvement with any substance or activity, despite the excessive costs of this involvement, because of craving (intense desire).” The key portion of that definition, I believe, is the words “despite the excessive costs.” In other words, it’s worth the pain. It’s worth the side effects. It’s worth the risk that I will get hurt or killed, or that I might hurt or kill someone else should I make just a few wrong decisions.

Take a look at this quote by Denzel Washington, one of my favorite actors:

I made a commitment to completely cut out drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together. And the floodgates of goodness have opened upon me.

Was it “worth it” to Denzel to competely remove alcohol from his life? Why? Why wasn’t a bit of social drinking with the risk for him?

WRAP IT UP

This is where I really wanted to wind up from this entire lesson. “Is it really worth it?” I don’t ask that just in the context of, “is it worth it for me to give into peer pressure” or “is it worth it for me to try just one?” I ask that in the sense of, Is it worth it for me to decide right here, right now, what I’m going to do with alcohol? Is it worth it for me to put into words my feelings of how it’s (1) not worth the immediate brain and body function risk, (2) not worth the long-term risks of addiction or the lifestyle.

The things we read today are something of truths. They are facts. They are statistics. They are true. But simply knowing they are true, acknowledging they are true, and even saying we “believe them” does not mean we will have the strength to stand when confronted with something uniquely designed to trap and defeat us.

Think about the areas of life where you’re confronted with something you don’t want to give into. It might be alcohol. It might be drugs. It might be the wrong boy or girl that’s trying to develop a friendship with you. It might be pornography. Or it might be something small that could LEAD to those areas. Is it worth it for you to take that “first drink” in terms of a first date, a first smoke, a first flip-through-a-magazine-in-the-grocery-store. Or will you say, here and now, that your allegience is with God, His word, and come up with a statement describing your feelings and commitment?

Social Development – Where I Stand Now

Much has changed in my social life over the past four years. Through some events and crises in my life at that part of my life, I was confronted with a side of myself I’d never really wanted to know – immaturity that showed up through self-imposed isolation, avoidance of confrontation, and even dishonesty through lack of true communication and openness. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like now if that year had not occurred, and while it was not centered around social relationships, they were impacted tremendously.

Throughout most of my life, my closest relationships have consistently been within the realm of my local church. While this is still true in many cases, the fact that I see these people on Sundays no longer defines the breadth of the relationship. Most of my close friends, be they from church, a shared ministry, or a common interest/activity, are close because they are actually my friends, and not just because I see them on a routine basis. I now find myself frequently making lunch appointments with no particular agenda, not even to “catch up.” I now have friends who just like to be with me, and I with them.

As I went through the social development evaluation, a few things did become apparent to me. I think  I’m generally a decent person to be around, but there are still situations and times where I “shut down,” or “crawl into my shell.” As I looked at the times these occur, they seem to be in places where I am not 100% comfortable with my opinion or what I have to say. I seem to be completely fine as an uninformed person in the conversation where I’m learning or questioning, and also fine when I AM informed, have an informed opinion that I can support to offer, and so on. Where I’m not comfortable, however, is when ideas are bouncing around, and I simply don’t fully know where I stand, or I can’t keep up fast enough to fully have a developed and explainable thought. I don’t seem to be comfortable with my spontaneous self.

I’ve found this part of my life is already being worked on in several areas. One of the simplest is a kind of strange one, but it has worked for me. I’ve come to phrase this to myself as “not being comfortable in my own skin.” I seem to take myself to seriously, to think I have to have a conversation under control to participate in it. I’ve since taken up making funny faces, or at least smiling, to get a reaction out of certain of my friends, or just to respond to their own smile or funny face. I want to laugh more. I want to hug more. I want to simply be comfortable with who I am, where I am, right here and now.

The primary weaknesses I noted were in areas where I’m unfamiliar, yet there is an unspoken expectation (to me at least) to have something to say. Things like a networking group, or a small group discussing politics, or even teaching a subject where the subject matter to be discussed doesn’t totally match up with my own beliefs or thought process. I also see difficulty in transitioning / guiding conversations to a substantial topic that needs to be discussed or kept on topic but just won’t come up or stay focused.

I do find that through the past several years, I have developed strengths in reaching out to my friends. Whether it’s through things such as inviting them to / buying lunch, thinking and purchasing a book for them, sharing my own undeveloped thoughts before they’re fully figured out… so much has changed in this area that I haven’t taken much time to look back on it over the past several years.

I’ve come to believe in specific delegating; of empowering people by both letting them come up with ideas and then be the catalyst to turn those ideas into actions. I’ve been told I am an encouraging writer of notes, and that my teaching / discussion leading skills are both down to earth, practical, and try to focus on a key concept or two.  I also believe and enjoy helping others crystallize their own thoughts, perhaps offering suggestions here and there, but not doing their thinking for them, even if they don’t “get it” right away (or ever). I enjoy positions of leadership where I can facilitate conversation and discussion, but not necessarily drive it.

As previously mentioned, my escape from social situations I don’t want to be in is to shut down, to isolate myself. I may not necessarily appear unfriendly, but at the same time, I stop seeking out conversation, and I move into short-worded answers that don’t toss the conversation back to the other person/people.

One specific instance in which I’ve seen my social skills improve as I would like them to is in my church softball league. Over the years, I’ve gone from simply playing my best and doing what I’m told to tryin to encourage my other teammates, shouting what’s going on or needs to be done, and even making a few bad base-coaching decisions resulting in outs or my own being yelled at, but I keep going now. I’ve chewed out members of my own team for discouraging remarks they’ve made, and also talked to them in a more controlled setting to try and help them not only see where they’re tearing the team down, but also ways and opportunities they have to put that influence to good work instead of bad. There is still work do be done in following up in some of these areas, but I feel I am becoming more consistent in my ability to say what I think without constantly pre-evaluating my thoughts as to how it might come back and hurt my feelings.

Topics for Youth

Some topics I’d like to cover in youth group…

  • Freedom
  • Fear
  • Promises / Language / Words “Matter”
  • “The Bigger Picture” / Finding your place in the story

Some Resources

  • Games
  • Movie / Video clips
  • Music
  • Stories

More thoughts and comments to come…

My Jericho

This weekend I head off to Indiana Outpost Boot Camp. This will be my second trip to this men’s retreat; I think the last time I went was two years ago. I was in the middle of discovering a lot of new things about myself as a man, husband, and child of God. I filled a journal with thoughts, words cried out to God, and words I heard back from Him (a very new experience for me – listening doesn’t come easy). My eyes were opened to passions on my heart I didn’t know existed, and that I couldn’t even talk about the first time they really hit me. Since that time, life has been different. I won’t say I’ve chosen the “red pill” (or was it blue?) every day, but my eyes have been opened. I know there’s more out there than I can see. I know I have a purpose, a battle to be part of, and brothers to grow with. I know that my relationship with my wife is more than just a partnership, more than just 2 people living in the same house who are occasionally in love, and more than a hopeful mess of emotions, hurt feelings, and highs and lows.

As I drove towards the retreat last time, I was considering this concept of “advance words” going into the weekend. Looking for a theme that God might have for me, something he wanted be on the back of my heart the whole time. I found it as I was about to leave Morgan County. As I drove into the little town of Morgantown, I saw this sign… “Welcome to Morgantown, home of the Braves.” That was it. BRAVE. I was venturing into something brand new. I was nervous, frightened, and totally in the dark as to what I was going into. I had very little expectations, and I liked that. But my nature is to maintain control and keep myself containable, if not fully contained. I had to let that go. I had to be BRAVE. And so it went. I pulled in, met the guys of my little platoon, and immersed myself in the experience. It was a blast.

This year as I go into this, God’s been opening my eyes to some walls I’ve built up in my life (or that have been built up around me with the help of others). Things like that “maintaining control” thing, having a managable sphere of influence (also known as my little bubble), and more or less, maintaining a comfort level with my life. I live in the country, but still maintain most of my life in the town I grew up in. I know a few people out here, but have very little opportunity to reach out to them or even know how to because my life is still so “under control.” The same things pop up in my life related to food, related to exercise, related to work. I like that comfortable medium between healthy and “easy.” That comfort level between “able to endure” and truly strong. Emotionally. Spiritually. Physically. It’s all over the map, and as I go into this weekend, I think that wall is the one to keep on my heart.

I want to see it fall. I want to see the city inside become vulnerable. I want to see God’s life flood into the places I’ve held back.

And so… Jericho. Jericho was not defeated through strength or might, intelligence or cunning. It was defeated by obedience, faith, and the power of God. Obedience to some rather simple things, actually… but also rather mundane, to be honest. Walk around the wall every day for a week? Yeah, right. I’d rather bust down the gate or die trying… or maybe just find a way around the city.

So where must I obey? Where must I step up, do what I know I’m to do, and trust God to do the rest? Well, for starters, I’ve got to show up. I was really hoping to go with at least one close friend I’ve developed in the past year, but that wound up not working out. For completely legit reasons, it just can’t hapen. And so I begin to doubt. “Maybe I should wait until next spring when we can go?” “Maybe I should have tried harder to bring someone with me?” “Maybe I should just take the weekend and go camping for a night by myself.”… “NO,” I hear. “GO.” And so I will – and this time, I won’t drive past the entrance and have to come back out of fear. 🙂

What else… find comfort. That’s a big one. It’s time to find the balance between being comfortable with where I am and where I feel God is leading us in the future, but also being comfortable with not knowing where those things are… to just be comfortable being me. Living in my own skin.

Another… build strength. I’ve never been much for commitment when it comes to strength, or even losing excess baggage. I can do it on a plan, but I’ve never found the reason for me that is going to take me from where I am to where I need to be. Not a plan. Not a diet. Not even a fear of something I might have to face if I didn’t change. I want a reason to eat right, exercise right, and, in general I guess, just live for something. A way to fit the day to day parts of life into that bigger picture. To be in the Matrix but not part of the Matrix. To be in the world, but not of it.

So that’s my Jericho. That’s the wall I choose to march around, around, and around this week, expecting God to show up.

I can’t wait for the command to SHOUT.

Afterthought… I went for a run between the cornfields tonight and found a creek with a big tree that had fallen across it. I decided to cross it. Then I decided to try a different way. Then I thought about giving up. Then I made up my mind that I was going to do it, in my strength and skill or not. So I walked, shimmied, and crawled across… and as I now think about Jericho, I wonder if that was my Jordan River crossing, and this blog post is my pile of rocks to look back on and See What God Does.

Heading back to school

Going back to my high school’s FCA meeting this morning. The last time I went I think the message I got was, “You can do this.” I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t say anything in front of everybody. I didn’t lead anything. I didn’t get introduced. I just said “hi” to some people I knew (a teacher and a couple kids from church) and sat there and watched.

But I was there. Conquering that nervous feeling of going somewhere new, where you don’t know what to expect, has been a big barrier for me. When I did this a couple weeks ago I found myself sitting in the parking lot for 10 minutes, not really trying to think of a way out, but just… I don’t know… delaying? I don’t know if that’s the right word or not.

So today I’m going in with eyes wide open. I don’t know what’s going on this week, if it’ll be the same type of crowd or something a little different. And I guess…. now I can say that I don’t care.

For my own retrospecting, I’m gonna list a few fears I dealt with last time that, as I think about them today, are being wiped out of my head, both for this event and who knows, things to come.

    I will see some people I know and not know what to say when they ask my why I’m here…. who cares? There was one girl from my church there, I think she’s a senior, and she spotted me from across the room and mouthed to me what I think was “what are you doing here?” with that big question look on her face… I don’t remember what I mouthed back, probably something dumb, because the answer is still, “I really don’t know.”

    I will be the only non-teacher or non-student in the building… who cares?

    I will not find where I’m supposed to go and will have to ask for help… who cares?

    I will see a teacher from 12 years ago and not know what to say… (this happened, and I really stumbled through it)… but now, I don’t care…

That is very weird. There are some things not on that list of fears that I am thinking of right now that I can’t figure out why I’m not afraid of. Well, maybe I can, but it’s not natural, I know that.

OH well… I must be off because it’s cold out and I’ll have to warm the car up before I get going.