Tuesday, December 13, 2011

vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit

I tweeted this phrase this past Sunday. One translation goes like this:

"Called or not called, God is there."

But what does that mean? And why was it encouraging to me?

When I first read it I felt a stirring somewhere behind my sternum. Because I took astronomy instead of a real science class I can't tell you exactly where, so I hope you understand where I'm talking about.  And this stirring, almost a wrenching, let me know that the words that I had just read meant something. Before I had any clue about what they meant, I knew that they were for me.

I think that these words mean so much to me because I have been struggling with the idea of my calling.

What is it?

And the bigger question still:

Do I have one?

And the reason why I have the last question is because I haven't been pursuing anything. I haven't been moving.

It reminds me of my Dad's GPS. When we are out geocaching the thing points the direction that we need to go. But sometimes there's an odd little quirk: if you're not moving in a direction, if you are stationary, it can get mixed up. As soon as you start walking though it gets it all sorted out and you're good to go. I'm not smart enough (see my course choices above)to tell you why, though I could probably make something up that sounds about right. Ask me and I'll do that, if you like.

I'm currently working at Subway as a "Shift Leader." I'm doing that because I turned down two jobs in the area because I didn't feel good about them, because I thought that I wasn't going to be too long for KC. And that may be true, but I'm now reeping the fruits of that decision. I have a desire in me to go places: to be better at the job, to move about geographically, etc. And the job I'm in right now has no place else for me to go.

But, according to the Latin, none of that matters. Forget it all. Because

Called or not called, God is there.

But there's another interpretation from Buechner:

"in the long run, whether you call on him or don't call on him, God will be present with you. That if we really had our eyes open, we would see that all moments are key moments. That he who does not love remains in death. That Jesus is the Word made flesh who dwells among us full of grace and truth."

So called or uncalled, God is with me. If I have a calling or have no calling, God is with me. God is with mean whether or not I call on Him.

Blessed Assurance.


Friday, December 9, 2011

fifteen minutes

Because I am behind in my writing I thought I would come up to Starbuck's, sit down, and write. Unfortunatly I spent the majority of the time reading about Robert Benson on his website, so I only have fifteen minutes left until the store closes. I'm going to write for those fifteen minutes and see what happens, let me know what you think.

Right after I wrote the last blog post I went to a used book store (Steel's Used Christian Book, in Northtowne) in the hopes of finding a copy of C.S. Lewis' "Space Trilogy." I found all three (two matching, one not) in addition to a book by Frederick Buechner, "Now and Then." I read "Telling Secrets" for my Spiritual Formation class at Belmont, so I thought I would give him a second thought. Glad I did.

In "Now and Then" Buechner attempts to tell the story of his life, or the second part at least. He writes about his time in New York at Union, in Exeter as the head of the fledgling Religion department, and Vermont as writer, husband, and father. He does a fantastic job of communicating what his life was actually like, breezing over the fun times and spending pages on the nothing time. It seems that life is like that some times: the places and times we want to last forever zip by, and the hard times drag.

The quote that struck me most was on page eighty-two: "I felt like a rat in a trap, and the trap I was in was myself and the new life I had chosen." I'm certian that if you are a regular reader of this little blog you'll understand why I liked that post. Some background for Buechner: he had just quit a job in New Hampshire that he was good at, that he enjoyed. He had grown a department that didn't exist into on that was on par with the English and History schools. He was connected to friends, he had a family. And yet he felt the need to move on to something more, something different. The parallel was too obvious for me.

"A rat in a trap, and the trap I was in was myself and the new life I had chosen." So what I do I do to get out of that trap? No clue. None whatsoever. But, you know, I'm ok with that right now. Life isn't how I thought it would be, but as I read on Benson's site:

"We tend to think the happy people are grateful because they got what they like. In reality the grateful people are happy because they like what they got." - David Steindl-Rast

So I'm working on being happy with what I have. Smelly sandwich-hands and all.

Look at that, four minutes to spare.


Monday, December 5, 2011

don't worry, it'll all get better?

For the majority of my life well meaning people have told me, whenever I complained about how tough things are, "don't worry, it'll be ok. You'll be fine. God'll take care of you."

When I confessed my desire for a romantic relationship and my commitment to the singleness God had deemed apropriate for who knows what reason the response was:

"Oh, you'll find that person when you least expect them."

"You're a great guy, you won't be single for long."

"Good for you, but you're the 'marriage type.' You'll find someone soon."

And while I appreciate the sentiment, I can't help but think about what the words actually mean. I may be picking apart the meaning too much, but no one has ever accused me about thinking to little about anything. In fact one of my co-workers at Subway, an eighteen-year old who I met less than a month ago, told me that I thought too much about everything. Well said, Tiffany.

If I find that person when I least expect them I'll never find them because I'm always going to be thinking about it. Or thinking about not thinking about it. So far, that's been my m.o. It's how I'm wired. That's not to say that I shouldn't change, but it's just how I've been for the past twenty-four years (or so).

Being a great guy and being single can be mutually exclusive. Just because someone is great doesn't mean they're gonna get married. Jesus wasn't, and he was pretty great.

Sure, I may be the "marriage type" but there are all sorts of people out there who are married who probably shouldn't be, right? Not thinking of anyone in particular, just the odds are pretty good.

What brought all of this up? Well, I was sitting in church yesterday (Redeemer down in Midtown KC) and the pastor was preaching on Hebrews 10:1-25, one of my favorite books in the Bible. The writer writes about how we have a High Priest who can identify with us, because He was tempted in every way. This is one of the great Truths of Christianity, and one that we should all hold fast to. It's something I don't think about nearly enough and that leads to a whole lot of whining. But this train of thought led me someplace familiar, and someplace I didn't like too much. The logic goes like this: God's got it taken care of, so don't worry. He will come through and make you clean. You don't need to trouble yourself over life because, eventually, God will take over and everything will be ok.

This made me think of coffee. What else? When I make a good cup of coffee it takes some things: good coffee, a good grinder, a good brew method, good water, and time. The time doesn't need to be good, there just needs to be enough of it, FYI. If I try to rush the process the coffee doesn't turn out. If I buy the coffee pre-ground and don't wet the filter and don't take enough time usually I end up with an under-extracted (weak) cup of coffee that isn't even worth drinking. On the other hand, if I take too much time I wind up with an overly strong, over-extracted cup that hurts to drink. There is an appropriate amount of time that it should take me to make a cup of coffee, and if I don't take it I won't get a good cup. It's as simple as that. I'm working on a chemical reaction and if I try to speed up that reaction it goes wrong. If I take ten minutes brewing the cup instead of four it won't be much good. If I try to brew sixteen ounces of coffee in my Chemex in two minutes it won't be any better. But if I take the time to heat my water, pre-wet the filter, wait to grind until my water is ready, and brew for three to four minutes I'll have something that I can enjoy. You can probably enjoy it with me, I usually make enough for two.

Our redemption takes an appropriate amount of time. Or, I should say, our sanctification takes an appropriate amount of time. As I write this I am being sanctified by God. I am being purified from sin. I have been redeemed by the sacrifice of our high priest, as have you (I assume if you're reading this). But the sanctification is something I'd like to focus on. To rush it is to rush the plan of an omnipotent God, to stall it is to claim that we know better. Just like a cup of coffee we take time to be purified. We have already be justified, set apart. But our purification is a process. And it is one that must take the time set aside for it. I have, often, caught myself looking ahead to what is to come. I'm, unfortunately, not above time like God is. I'm doomed to live in the present as a three-dimensional creature, crawling along my time-line in always the same direction. So the only time I see with any clarity is the now. The future is an uncertainty, the past is past.

I know that everything will be ok. Well, I at least hope that everything will be ok. But please, let me have the time to get there.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

back into the swing of things

I'm currently fifteen posts away from achieving my goal of writing in this blog "every week." I don't know for sure if that will happen, as lately I don't have either the motivation or the material for a new post. That isn't much different today, except I got a call from Chris (and a couple of tweets) the other day that boosted my motivation a bit. It was amazing to talk to someone my age who is feeling the same things that I'm feeling and is in a similar place that I am. Chris gave the metaphor that it's as if we are both in Latin American countries: miles apart, but in the midst of cultures that are speaking the same language. And that language isn't one that we speak. Great great point and one that really struck home with me. That conversation led me to feel a bit better about my circumstances, and also led to this post.

So why the absence of Luke from the blogworld? To be perfectly honest I just haven't felt good enough to write anything positive. I know that when I started this blog and a couple of times since I've said that I would write whatever I was feeling so that other people who may be feeling the same thing wouldn't feel alone. But lately everything that I've been feeling has been such a bummer that I don't want to share it with everyone (who reads this) because I don't want to be that much of a bummer on your life. So this will be a true, but it might be a slightly more censored version of the truth than if you were to talk to me face to face. I don't know how else to get the thoughts out there than to just dive in, so forgive me if I'm all over the place and hard to follow.

  • I don't know what I'm doing with my life or where I'm supposed to be. Any attempt I make at heading in a single direction leaves me feeling better for a while, but then I get back to "normal" soon. It's the same feeling I had when I broke up with the couple of girlfriends I have had in the past: I knew it needed to happen, but put it off for however long for whatever reason. I would try to come up with reasons why I didn't need to break it off, but in the end the only thing that made me feel better was doing the deed. And now I know that something needs to happen, I just don't know what that something is. So my mode of operation, right now, is to take as many stabs in the dark until I stab the right thing. I might need a better phrase here.
  • I am doubting everything in my life right now for the first time. I don't know what I believe or, ironically, why I believe it. I want to believe what I've been told to but I can't transfer that want into reality right now. This could be because I lack concrete-ness in my life. Or it may be because, for the first time, I have the occasion to be whoever I actually am. A liquid takes the shape of the container that holds it, and right now I don't know what shape of container I'm in. I don't even know if I'm in any container at all. I could be poured all over the ground. I simply do not know. For the entriety of my live I have had the benifit of being around people that believe a certain way, who are thier own shape. And the sum of those shapes (or the inversion of those shapes surrounding me) were the shape of my life. Now I get to explore who I actually am without that. Funny that it would happen at twenty-four. I would have expected it earlier. But then, I've always been a bit of a slow-developer.
  • I think one of my greatest fears is the lack of something to do. I was explaining this to Chris yesterday on the phone, and it goes a bit like this: I have a couple of tasks that I've needed to get done for a while now. And I have been putting them of for that while. It could be as simple as laziness on my part, but I like to over-think things so this is the "actual" reason that I came up with: if I don't do these things I'll always have something to do; I will never be without. I realize this is silly and not incredibly logical, but I fear what will happen the day I don't have anything to do. I'll probably watch more TV or play more video games I suppose.
  • Speaking of that, I recently played the Uncharted series on PS3. Great. Not a ten out of ten, but still great. Mom was even getting into it, wondering what happened to Elena and Sully while I was wondering around as Nathan Drake shooting people whose heads were on fire. I then traded those in for the new Assassins Creed game, which is also solid. Very similar to the previous one, but still a lot of fun. This has been the video game review section of the post, thanks for reading.
  • Saw J. Edgar with Neal. Watching Leonardo Dicaprio roll around on the floor with the Winklevoss twins was really weird. And I still don't really know what happened in the movie. Would have been better with robot boxing I bet.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Irish Sea

On the edge of last spring I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Wales to assist a photography project on the process of charcoal making.  After the project we drove out to the coast and I got my first look at the Irish Sea.  The sea water is dark and stormy - surrounded by whipping grass and quiet inter-coastal streams.  The sand is wet up to the walls of grass and sticks to your feet like mud.  I loved how the water and the sky didn't really define each other - instead they blend and became one sea.

These photographs were taken on film off a Pentax 6x7.  There is something incredible about film and I am starting to prefer it over anything. It is risky and frustrating -  not being able to use countless frames due to exposure or just way to much dust.  I love how you take photographs and don't see them for a long time - during which I constantly worry something isn't going to come out right. But, I tend to be pleasantly surprised most of the time.  The great war documentary photographer Robert Capa had 35mm rolls of D-Day film that he didn't see for months. Unfortunately due to an assistant error in the darkroom out of the 106 frames fired, 8 negatives came out. 8 beautiful negatives, along with the rest of Capa's WWII work, not only capture a few minutes on the bloody beaches of Normandy but also the entire canon of emotion of America soldiers during WWII. 

I hope one day to create photographs that will convey feelings or ideas that represent a greater truth.  A project of four or five more photographs from the Welsh coast will be on the website soon.

Be blessed,

Cody O'Loughlin

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

off the cuff

You may be surprised to find out that I (usually) put a lot of thought into what I write on this blog. Is it too long, or short? Does it sound too much like C.S. Lewis? Do I sound stupid or whiny? Among others, these are the things I consider. But tonight, for the post I was supposed to do on Monday, I'm just going to "riff" for a bit. I hope you'll indulge me and read on.

For the past three days I was working at PT's Coffee in Topeka, Kansas. Ask anyone in the coffee business and they'll probably agree that PT's is one of the finest coffee roasters around. They're mentioned in the same breath as Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, Stumptown, Terroir, and the like. One of the reasons why they are so good at what they do is a dedication to excellence throughout the supply chain. "From seed to cup," as people in the coffee industry are fond of saying. PT's has relationships with farms around the globe and spends good money ensuring that these farms meet their high standards. And I got to spend three days working with these people, learning from them. I was offered a job with PT's about a month ago, and at that time I didn't have anything else so I accepted.

Right now, I don't have anything else. And I intend to un-accept the position here very soon. The biggest reason you may already have figured out. If not, read the first sentance of the second paragraph of this post. That's right, one of the finest coffee roasters in the country is in Topeka, Kansas. And if I took a job with them that is where I would be located as well. After three days I'm positive that I don't want to be there. But why? Why don't I want to be there? I think it has more to do with me than Topeka, to be honest.

There's a desire within me to be on the move. A couple of posts ago I claimed that I was a ramblin' man. And I'm afraid that if I take a job in Topeka with a company that I respect so much I'll quit ramblin'. I'll sit down, I'll work too much (it's in my nature), and I will look back on my life disappointed that I sold my soul for a bean. I don't want to regret not being able to do anything, and what I want right now more than anything is to be back at camp next summer. I can't take a position that I see as a career move, just to leave it six months later. I respect those people far too much for that. And though it may be crazy to set this opportunity aside, it's not in me to take advantage of someone for the betterment of myself. At least I try not to do that.

So the big question: what am I gonna do with my life? I sure don't know. But I wrote this a little earlier this evening:

"I want to be ok with sitting still for more than five minutes. I want to work because I love the work, not with the hope that it will burn off eight hours so I don't have to think during that time. Not to pass the time when I'm not on vacation in order to get to the time when I am."

Whenever I talk to folks about what I'm doing right now I usually say something like: "just trying to figure out what I wanna be when I grow up." Or "I'm trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with my life." And the typical response depresses me:

"join the club"

"me too"

"good luck with that, I've been trying to do it for years!"

What? You mean to tell me that there's a chance that in forty years I still wont know what I'm doing? That I won't enjoy work, will have too much time on my hand, and clueless about life? I sure hope not!

I suppose the answer to the question above is: I'm going to try to figure out what life is about. I'm going to do what I love, and pray that I'll be able to make enough money to live. I'm going to travel, visit new places, and keep doing what I enjoy doing. And if God decides at some point to show up and point the way, I'll head in that direction. But for now I'm going to continue to seek Him and hope that I don't screw up His plan for me too much.

As if I could if I tried.


P.S. A couple of friends have blogs, y'all should check them out:

Ian Meyers - The Trouble with Metaphors

Ryn Manby - Oh, the places you will go

Monday, October 10, 2011

singleness, calling, loneliness

For most of the past two years I’ve been single, in the sense that I’ve not seriously dated anyone for any serious length of time. For the entirety of my life I’ve been single in the sense that I’ve never been married. The past two weeks of my life have been very quiet and full of inactivity. I do a pretty good job of defining myself by not only what I do but also who I surround myself with. And for these past weeks I’ve been surrounded by married people and Neal, who is married to his job (I don't think there is anything wrong with that, by the way). In past blog posts I’ve said that I think that marriage is great and that whoever is called into it is blessed beyond what I can probably understand at this point in my life. But for me, right now, I’m not called to marriage. I’m called to singleness, and some might say loneliness. Before you feel too sorry for me let me say this: stop. Part of the reason why I write this blog is so that someone might be able to identify with what I’m going through and not feel alone. Not so that those who don’t can pity me. I don’t mean to sound harsh, just to the point. And now that I have that through on to the thesis of this post.
If I am a Christian, and if I am to subscribe to God and Christ’s teachings about everything, what do they have to say about singleness? What does the Bible have to say about such things? I first started my research at what I think is an appropriate place: the beginning. Genesis 2:18-25 says:

“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,

   ‘This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.’

 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

(Side note, I’ll be including the surrounding scripture to what I use. It’s a big pet peve of mine when pastors and teachers take only what they need and don’t let the Word speak for itself, so I’ll be avoiding that if I can)

So right away I find that “It is not good for the man to be alone.” I can agree with that, I haven’t much liked being alone the past two weeks. Unfortunatly I can’t do what God did and make a woman for me, so I’m “doomed” to wander about until I run into her. Or am I?

1 Corinthians 7 (Verses 1-9, 17, 24, and 32-35 highlighted)

 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But this I say by way of concession, not of command. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches. Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.

 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

 But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.”

Ok, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” I think we can all be on board with that, unless you’re married right? Well Paul doesn’t seem to be saying that…he seems to be espousing the kind of life he leads, an un-married one. But he goes on to say that he only wishes that every man was like him, and that everyone has their own gifts. It seems that he is saying that singleness, or at least the ability to lead a life without a spouse, is a spiritual gift. Never heard about that one growing up.

The main reason why Paul wants the Corinthians to remain unmarried is so that they will be “free from concern.” It’s his logic that if someone is not married, they can put all their focus on the Lord and His work, if they are married the wife and kiddos come into the mix. Makes sense, it would be a whole lot easier for me to pack my bags and move to Beofra than my Dad or Brother. Nothing new there, it seems. Just simple logic.

So that is Paul. For a moment let’s take a little break from him and move on to someone else: Jesus.

Matthew 19:1-12

 “When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.

  Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’ And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, “FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH?” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’ They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’

  The disciples said to Him, ‘If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.’ But He said to them, ‘Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.’

Yeish. A marriage should stay intact no matter what, except in the case of sexual immorality. In my mind the disciples are thinking about all the marriages they see that aren’t immoral, but are a burden on those within them. I’ve seen those and it’s no fun to be on the outside of, much less trapped within. So they say “it’s better not to marry.” And does Jesus then go into salesman mode and protect the institution He helped create? Nope, He agrees and says that some have been given that statement, and some haven’t. I read that some have been called into marriage, and some have not. It’s not everyone’s bag.

I’ll let you look up 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and 1 Timothy 4:1-4. There are some more rules there for marriage, holding church offices, and such. It fills out the picture of who can do what a little more, so I’d encourage you to read through.

So what’s my reaction to all this? It seems that some are called to marriage and some aren’t. This isn’t something that I thought about before, but I suppose that it makes sense. There are some people who are made for it and some who would do terribly at it. But where does that leave me? I feel as if I am called to it…but don’t have it. Perhaps I’m overreacting to how life is right now. And maybe I’ve zoomed it a bit too much on my own situation and don’t have enough perspective. That’s fair and probably right. But as life is right now…I’m lonely. But that is ok. Weather or not I’m called to marriage is a moot point. I’m called to be right where I am right now and all I can do about it is try to connect to those around me while I can.

God has blessed me and my lonliness. God has blessed me with lonliness. Without it I wouldn’t have the freedom to hike to Maple Woods Nature Preserve and camp out the night before I get orentation at PT’s. I couldn’t even consider moving to Boston. But because of my lonliness, I can do all of that. And when you think about it, that’s a pretty good deal.


P.S. This one is for the local church: my job in life isn’t to get married and make Christian babies. My place is not with 20-50 single-somethings. And when I look at the groups that you’ve provided and find that there isn’t one single opportunity to connect with people in my age/career bracket that makes me think that you don’t care and that the important people are the marrieds, the young kids, the men, and the women. When you offer marriage courses but not singleness courses that tells me that you are willingly ignoring one of the two callings set out by God in scripture, and that’s wrong.

Monday, October 3, 2011

ramblin’ man

There’s a song by Lemon Jelly called “Ramblin’ Man.” Lemon Jelly is a group that Joel Marshall, my youth pastor in High School, introduced me to. For those of you who know Joel you probably already know what type of group this is. If you’re reading this and you were in a van that I was driving this summer while at Brookwoods you’ve experienced this group as well (all the ducks are swimming). For those of you who don’t know, Lemon Jelly is a chill trance group. This isn’t tecno music that you would find bumpin’ in a club, it’s something that would be better suited as the backdrop to a coffee shop that I would like to work in. I know that Sam likes them, and I know that at least Paul and Haddie enjoyed them as well this summer. Other than those three, though, there aren’t many folks in my life who got as much of a kick out of them as I do.

I bring Lemon Jelly up because of the song I mentioned at the start of this post: “Ramblin’ Man.” The song starts with one man asking a question:

“John you’ve been on the go ever since you were born, but I imagine few people in the world today have traveled as much as you have. Now why?”

With the reply:

“Well, I don’t know. I suppose some of us are cave-dwellers, some of us live in houses, some of us like to be loose-footed. I’m a rambin’ man.” (Here you can tell he says this with a smile)

This is where the song “kicks” in, if it can be called that. It slowly builds up around the strings, the bass following the same pattern, adding flute and chimes, when all this drops out and John repeats:

“I’m a ramblin’ man.”

The song then switches gears and John starts listing places. These are places, I like to think, that he has rambled through. They come faster and faster until one is layered on top of another and you can’t quite tell what is being said, only to climax with:

“I’m a ramblin’ man.”

Another instrumental section follows, the song finally ending on:

“I’m a ramblin’ man, and I’m gonna’ keep on ramblin’. Oh yes, I have to.”

What does it mean to ramble? And, more importantly, should on seek to be a ramblin’ man? According to dictionary.com:

-verb (used without object)
1. To wander around in a leisurely, aimless manner.
2. To take a course with many turns or winding, as a stream or path.
3. To grow in a random, unsystematic fashion.
4. To talk or write in a discursive, aimless way (usually followed by on)

-verb (used with object)
5. To walk aimlessly or idly over or through.
6. A walk without a definite route, taken merely for pleasure.

According to the dictionary definition all you need to be a ramblin’ man is to lack direction or purpose. Our culture typically looks down on those of us who lack direction or purpose. In fact we often use the term “rambling on” in a derisive way: “the pastor rambled on about (enter soapbox issue here) for fourty-five minutes!” You could take the dictionary and practical definitions and say that one should not seek to be a ramblin’ man. One should seek purpose, direction, passion, and security.

The issue I have with that train of thought is that not only did I miss it at the station, I wasn’t even trying to hop on: I was down the street having coffee while it whizzed by. My life, while I couldn’t define as purposeless and directionless, is more so that than it has ever been. For the first twenty-four years I’ve been on this earth I’ve had a plan. Graduate high school, graduate college, get a job, try to get into grad school, etc. But all of that left me asking one gigantic question:


Why did I do all of those things? And the short answer is I did all those things because I was supposed to. And so know I am “rebelling” against the things I’m supposed to do and taking every opportunity I can to hop in a car with whoever will take, or go with, me. I’m driving from Alton, New Hampshire to Kansas City, Missouri with Hank and Chris. I’m riding around New Hampshire with Sarah. I’m driving from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina with Zack to go surfing and catch up with Carly. I’m telling my mom, somewhat irresponsibly I’ll admit, that I need to drive to Nashville the morning I need to do it. Most of these travels seem somewhat aimless and may classify me as a ramblin’ man. But all of the destinations had one thing in common: people I love were where I was going. And while I may, at times, mourn the fact that I’m “a jobless, woefully single, twenty-four year old dude living at his parents house” I’m not wondering aimlessly around the country or my life. The reason why I am ramblin’ about the country is because:

“Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

While I may be “woefully-single,” I can still love. And I may be jobless, but I can still share what God is teaching me. I can still connect to people. And I feel the most joy when I am connecting with people, loving and being loved by them. So that’s probably why I’ll get a job. So that I can keep connecting with and loving people.

Am I a ramblin’ man? I don’t know about that. Probably just a ramblin’ boy. I am only twenty-four, after all.


Friday, August 26, 2011

thin places

This is a post I've been thinking about since the Allagash. While paddling up Eagle Lake at about 6:00 on Wednesday morning something struck me. It was early and the lake was glass, there were no sounds to disturb the peace that God had placed on the waterway this morning. What I noticed was the clouds. I looked up and it seemed that they were closer to the earth. I felt that if my arms were just a little bit longer, I could have reached right out of the canoe and grabbed one. Unfortunately words can only do so much to describe not only the setting, but the feeling it caused. I don't mean that there was fog: there was plenty of that, but these clouds were different. These were the clouds you see floating lazily by on a summer day in the midwest, miles above you. These are the clouds you make animals out while laying in the grass. These are the clouds that make you feel small when you fly by them in an airplane. These were real clouds, and they were mere feet above our canoe.

A "thin place" is one of those locations where the dividing line between holy and the ordinary is, well, thin. Those places you get to and a shiver runs down your spine because you know that just on the other side of the paper-thin veil God rests. The Allagash is one of those places for me. If I had my druthers I would probably be on the Allagash right now, with nine of my favorite people. In fact I'm somewhat convinced that when I die and go to Heaven I'll be paddling my way there in an Old Town Tripper with my Shaw & Tenney paddle. I don't want to give the impression that the reason that the Allagash felt like heaven was because the clouds were close to earth, because there's much more to it than that. Sleeping on the ground, reading Psalms out loud, sharing who I am without fear and that same trust being reciprocated...all these things are heavenly. All of these lead me to the feeling of being close to the other side.

I think one of the reasons that we don't experience thin places is because we have built our lives in our own image. How often are we forced out of the fortresses of our mind to something totally new and novel? How often do we take a step out the door into something we've never experienced before? For me the answer is, simply, not enough. It's a wonder that it's taken me this long to "figure out" why I struggle with life sometimes. I've kept the same old habits for a long time. And not even bad ones, just habitual behavior that leads me on to the next habitual behavior. I've been blessed with singleness at twenty-four, and all I can think about is how I want my life to be a job, wife, and kids. Those are great things and things I eventually want. But as for now I want to take what God has given me and run with it. I want to be dependent on Him to lead me through the valley, and rejoice with me on the mountaintop. I want him to be in the back of the canoe, guiding me through lakes and rivers. Feeling the pain of headwinds the joy of rapids. I don't know how I'll manage to become that, and I'm sure that just as soon as I take a step  in the right direction it'll get hard. But I'm tired of yearning for something different. I want to be thankful for what I have.

So for the next couple of months I hope to find more thin places. But I also hope to find Him in the thick ones. Get out your front door and go someplace. Hike up a mountain, paddle across a river, seek God and you'll find Him. And when you find one of these thin places, rejoice. Take it all in, and go on home. Because we can't hold on to time any more than we can decide what the weather is going to be. But we can remember, and we can share.


Friday, August 12, 2011


The response to the last post was about what I expected it to be. Cody came up to me on the front lawn and told me that I needed to change my blog post. A couple of people posted reminders on Facebook saying such things like "God is good" and "you'll get better." One friend at camp even wrote a note telling me that God still can use me and that perhaps this is His way of knocking down my pride. I first want to say thanks to everyone who said something, either directly to me or straight to God.

But I also wanted to add something to my last post. I'm aware of what we all say when something like this happens. "All things work together for the good of those who love God and live according to His purpose." "He has a plan," "things are bound to improve," etc. And while, again, I'm thankful for the reminder, I still needed the time to process what happened to me. My part in this was to work through it and the part of everyone else in my life seemed to be to continually remind me of the Truth. I'm incredibly blessed to have people in my life who are willing to put up with my bad attitude and so glad to hear from everyone. 

As I said above, my part in this was to work through it. My thought was that I was shortchanging the healing process by saying to myself that everything would be OK. I want to be honest to you and to myself. And the honest truth was what I was feeling a couple of days ago. But that snapshot is just that, a picture of me at a certain point in time. To know the real me you're gonna have to be around me and see that no matter what I put up on this blog I'm growing, that almost as soon as I put something up on this blog I've grown from it. I'm already a little better and less emotional about being hiked out, and I think part of that is the discipline of writing and the rest is time.

The other thing I want to say I've already touched on a little and it has to to with honesty. I feel that what I write in this blog has to be honest or I'm wasting everyone's time. I could just put the fluffy, happy things up and you and I would probably feel just that way about it. But when I first starting writing in this thing I made a conscious decision to write the truth no matter what. So that's what I've been trying to do, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. So in one hand I'm sorry for being a bummer sometimes, but on the other hand I'm not sorry for that. Our feelings are from God and if we don't use them they'll become lazy and atrophied. If I can make someone feel something from what I'm writing I'll be perfectly happy, and if that feeling is sadness come and talk and we'll work through it together.

Thanks for reading, and in the next couple of weeks I should have a guest post coming up.


Sunday, August 7, 2011


This past week I was supposed to be hiking in the White Mountains with my campers. All the preparations were made, the group of 24 was split into three, and we set off. But during staff week I had tweaked my right knee just a little, and about an hour into the trip it started bothering me. By halfway through the first day I was wearing two braces and leaning heavily on the trekking poles that George Bowling let me borrow. We got in camp a little late and found that our water source was a stagnant pond. Beth (trip staff) and I decided that her, Paul, and Scott would go back down the trail to get clean water for the group, and they headed off. While they were doing that I was sitting on the ground with my leg resting on a log. A wet bandanna was wrapped around my knee as the only way to "ice" it. After Beth got back we talked about my options and figured that I would at least need to continue on the next day to get to the best possible evac site.

In the middle of the next day Beth made the call to camp and the evac was set up. Christian would come in, hand the keys to a jeep off to me, and I'd hike myself out. We camped that night about two and a half miles away from our meet up and made really good time getting there the next day. The hand-off went off without a hitch, and Christian took my place with my campers. And I walked two miles out of the White Mountains to a parking lot and civilization.

What have I learned from this? Well, I think it's too early to decide on that to be honest. But I can tell you what I was/am feeling because of it.

  • I feel like a failure. Like I failed my campers, I failed camp itself, and mostly that I failed Beth. I feel like I should have known that my knee was going to give out. That I should have just said that I couldn't go. I feel like I was too prideful and that if I wasn't so much I would have not gone and put the campers and Beth in the position I did. 
  • This is the first time in my life that I've not been able to do something because of my body. I wanted to finish that trip. I wanted to grit my teeth and bear down and keep going. But I couldn't. I can barely make it around camp, much less up and down mountains.
  • I'm incredibly grateful for my camp family. My co-counselers have been great. They have lifted me up, they've helped me get out of the funk I was in, and they've made sure that I am making it. I missed out on the hike experence, but I'm not missing out on the rest of camp thanks to them.

I'll be going into the hospital on Thursday to get it checked out, and we'll see what happens. I pray it's nothing too bad, but I also hope that it is. I don't think I could bear it if it wasn't anything big and I was just being a pansy.

Thanks for your prayers, and contrary to the tone of this post I'm really doing well. It's hard, but it's good. Can't wait to see you when I see you.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

we apologize for the inconvenience

I had my Allagash round-up post planned for this one, but I can't seem to get my head on straight to write that. So I figured I would type something up and see what came out. And because I'm in somewhat of a funk right now, and have been for the past couple of days, I'm going to start with things I'm thankful for.

  • I'm thankful for my co-counselors at camp. Maggie, Matt, and Sarah are among the coolest and most genuine people I know. I was talking to Maggie yesterday while hiking up Mt. Lincoln and she mentioned that it takes a special type to be a LDP counselor. And she was one-hundred percent right. We don't get a lot of time off, and when we do it's a day off by ourselves. We are forced to go from full throttle to reverse more times than is good for anyone. We have the honor of living life with twenty-five of the coolest teenagers you have ever met. And we struggle with it. Just last nigh Amy (our boss) asked me what was going on with the group, what the stress was all about. And I didn't really have an answer for her so I started searching for one. I came up with the idea that we are stressed because we just got back from a break, got up at six o'clock to go on a hike, got back at six o'clock (missing dinner), and then had an evening full of activities. So we were stressed. She was worried because, in her words, "groups either pull together or pull apart when stressed, and it looks like you guys are pulling apart." I can totally see her point, but I also see that we are all we have. And just like my brother was all I had growing up, when stress comes along there are sometimes negative consequences. We're imperfect people and are going to get mad at each other. But at the end of the night, we wrapped our arms around each other and prayed that God would re-energize us. And that's my prayer for today as well. 
  • I'm thankful for the Allagash. It's hard to explain if you've never been there. But getting to paddle with the same nine people for eight days is, simply put, magic. And getting to spend the majority of that time in the same canoe with the same partner even more so. Before this summer I had no clue who Sarah, my paddle partner, was. But now I feel confident in her ability to not only guard anything I tell her, but also to share Godly wisdom with me. Not to mention that she did a fantastic job of leading the campers and me. Without the Allagash I wouldn't have this type of relationship with her, or with these campers. We fought hard, one day we were on the water for fourteen hours. And because of that we are bonded in a way that I couldn't have imagined.
  • I'm thankful for the rest of the staff at Brookwoods and Deer Run. I spent Saturday evening with a mess of counselors that I don't normally get to interact with, and I was reminded how great these people are. It's almost not fair to the rest of the world to have this many amazing, Christ centered, individuals in the woods of New Hampshire. But I am grateful that I get to be a part of it. When I complained that I hadn't had a day off in two weeks they were sympathetic, but better than that they didn't let me dwell on it. And getting to talk to Dan about the LDP program and it's disconnection from the rest of camp was the intellectual and spiritual outlet that I needed at that time.
  • I'm thankful for God's word. I've never spent this much time reading and absorbing the Word. We get about an hour a day to do just that, and I hope that by the time the summer is over I'll have been changed enough to keep that habit alive. One thing I'd like to do is re-start a Bible study for those of us in KC.

Well, Hank is here and it's time to have a day off. I'll post again soon.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

mr. coffee, you need to be a little more clever

Well, dispite the delay I have found some time to write this post. This past week the LDP 1's have been in the water for their lifeguard certification course and I haven't had much time to do anything other than my job. This is a welcome change from the days of not knowing what to do, but rest is nice as well. On Monday we leave for the Allagash, so I won't be able to blog for a couple of weeks. I'll be back the following Tuesday evening.

For this post I'd like to address the issue of good coffee. Most people don't want to invest a lot of time or money into equipment for their coffee, which I can understand. But I think nearly everyone has access to a automatic drip coffee maker (Mr. Coffee, Cuisinart, etc.) and by using the following method you can have much better coffee than by just throwing the grounds in and hitting the button. You'll want to make sure that the filter basket has a mechanism to keep the coffee from dripping through if the coffee pot isn't under it. If it doesn't you'll have a hot mess all over the place. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

The first thing you'll need is the coffeemaker. Get your usual filters and pre-wet those with boiling water. This rinses out the filter taste from your cup. The second thing you will need is a grinder. A conical burr grinder is best, though if you don't have one you can use pre-ground or grind with a blade grinder. Don't tell the coffee snobs I said that, because it really isn't the best. I used about 7 spoonfuls of coffee for this recipe.

The next thing you'll need is hot water. This is the "coffee" maker at camp, but the red lever provides water that is hot enough to do the trick. You can also boil water on the stove or in a hot pot, just let it rest for about twenty seconds after removing it from the heat. You're looking for about two-hundred degrees. After your water is ready and your filter is rinsed you can put the grinds in the filter-basket. Put enough water in the filter basket to allow the coffee to bloom (about 1/4 full) for about thirty seconds, then fill the basket up the rest of the way.

I use my watch to time, you're going to want to start with a 4.00 infusion. Stir at about the 2.30 mark and the 4.00 mark, at which time you should slide the coffee pot under the filter basket.

The thing I like about this method, versus the clever coffee dripper, is that the brewed coffee drains really quick. I've never been able to get the brewed coffee out of the clever quickly enough for my taste. When it's done, it's done. The coffee needs to drain quickly, or you risk over extraction.

I hope to try this out with my hand grinder and some better coffee, but as is it works pretty well.

I'll write again in a couple of weeks, in the meantime check out the Allagash River. That's where I'll be from Monday until the following Tuesday.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

camp thus far

Well, I was due a blog post last Monday but missed that opportunity because I was camping on Plum Island with the LDP 1's. After we got back on Tuesday morning we had a full day of getting ourselves ready for camp and getting the Ranger organized. On Wednesday and Thursday we had "normal" days filled with quite times, Bible study, games, and devotions at night. On Friday and Saturday we were on the Androscoggen river up north working on our whitewater canoeing skills. One boat got wrapped around a rock, and there was a little pile-up, but we managed to get down the river in one piece. All in all it was a great time.

Today is my day off, and think I'm ready for a repose. I'm so glad that I am up here, any doubts that I had before I came are pretty much gone. We leave for the Allagash a week from Monday and I can't wait for those nine days with these campers. It's going to be an adventure for sure.

I don't have much more of an update than that. I've been using most of my energy that would be going into blogging on the campers. But if I can swing it I should have a post tomorrow about how you can actually make some decent coffee with a Mr. Coffee coffeemaker.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

life as it is right now

It's Wednesday, which means I'm a little late in writing this blog. But I have an excuse (you get to decide if it's good)! On Monday the LDP (Leadership Development Program) staff was hiking across the Kinsman ridge trail. We climbed up North and South Kinsman and stayed at the Kinsman Pond AMC site that evening. So I'm a little burnt out from that experience, both mentally and physically. I have the funky crew-sock sunburn line to prove it.

Last week I was in KC for a couple of days, Columbus for a couple of days, and New Hampshire for a couple of days. My feet don't quite know what to do now that they have found the place they will be staying in for two months. I was in Columbus for Chris Gatton and Jessica Davis' wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the reception was a blast. Usually I describe myself as not having any excitement left for weddings, but this one brought back some. Seeing two people who belong together commit to each other was amazing, and I'm still reeling from the words these two individuals spoke to join themselves together. I'm reminded of when the Bible speaks about angels looking upon salvation with wonder and wanting to understand them. Right now I can't comprehend what it means to do that, and I can only hope that when I meet the person for me I will be a little further along than I am now.

Now I'm at Brookwoods. The first day of our hike, which just so happened to be my first day at camp, was one of the worst ones in a while. I didn't think I could make it, I thought that I would fail as a counselor, and figured that I should just go home. But after the first night I woke up with a new-found hope. It was a similar experience that C.S. Lewis explains in the second book of his space trilogy: the narrator (Lewis) is walking to a house that Dr. Elwin Ransom is staying at and seems to run into some sort of force that doesn't want him there. He starts doubting the truth of Ransom, the sanity of both himself and his friend, and is sorely tempted to turn around. But he makes it through and the rest of the story happens. I don't know if demons influence us that much, but there was a definite force on this hike that didn't want me to be at Brookwoods. This may have been my own self-doubt, but it may have also been something more sinister.

I don't know what the rest of the summer will look like, but these are the things I'm looking forward to:

  • Campers coming on Sunday
  • Canoeing on the Saco a week from Friday
  • The Allagash during week three for eight or nine days. Should probably figure out how long we'll be gone for.
  • Six day hike at the end of the summer.
  • The opportunity to spend eight weeks with the same people.
I'll try to post once a week, but don't be suprised when it isn't on Monday. My PowerBook G4 isn't on the pack list for these trips, turns out.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

mr. luke and the disappearing identity

First off, apologies for the lateness of this post. I hope that the subject matter of it will help you to understand why it's so late.

Right now I am sitting in an Embassy Suites hotel room in Columbus, Ohio. I'm up here for Chris Gatton and Jessica Davis' wedding, and I couldn't be happier about it. I left KC at 6:00 AM, arrived about five hours later, and have been going non-stop since then. Tomorrow/today/Friday will include the wedding and me staying with the new friends I made. Then on Saturday I leave Columbus at 7:20, land in Boston around noon, and will be at camp around dinnertime. After that the summer really starts.

While up here, and even before, people ask what I plan on doing after camp. This comes after my explanation and reasons for being a twenty-four year-old who plans on living at his parents house after he goes to camp for the summer. And I have no answer for them. I don't know who or what I want to be when I grow up. I have the beginnings of an idea, but have not been able to think through it. Which made me think about why I can't think through it. I have nothing if I don't have my meta-cognition, right?

For the past two years I was working at Harvest Hands, and if you want to see how I feel about that just read my last post. But because I had thrown so much of myself into the Harvest I lost something: my identity. I became a coffee roaster, an after-school program mentor, or to put it simply: Mr. Luke. I became what I had to in order to make that job work, and I did an ok job at it. But now that I am finished at Harvest Hands I'm presented with the unique problem of attempting to work out who I am without Harvest Hands. I tried very hard to think about it the last week of work, but to no avail. It felt like my feet were not grounded anywhere. I was trying to figure out how to walk on solid ground while in the ocean. I felt like Elwin Ransom in "Perelandra." And as far as I can tell it's just going to take some time to get my sea legs.

So my goal for the fall isn't to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. It's to figure out who the heck I am. I hope to get some of this accomplished while at Brookwoods, but I don't know if that's gonna happen. When I get back to Kansas City I plan on cultivating old and new relationships, I plan on helping people out in special ways, and I plan on learning more about me and you.

I hope (and pray) that I end up finding my identity in Christ. I'll continue to attempt to do so, I just hope that He helps me along the way.


Monday, June 6, 2011

goodbye harvest hands

I was looking at my calender this evening and realized that this week has been the weed I've been looking forward to for the past two months. Though when I say "looking forward" I mean that in the most literal way possible. I have been scrolling through the months on my phone and wondering what the 6th thru the 10th of June were going to be like. You see, Friday is my last day at work.

I first started with Harvest Hands in January of 2009, though my first experience with "The Harvest" was in the fall of 2008. I went to what is now the old Harvest House and met Jocelyne who at once insisted that I help her with the soap making. Not feeling too sure of myself I did just that, because Brian Hicks wasn't quite ready to meet. When I finally went into that back bedroom Brian explained what they did and I explained what I needed for my practicum. We agreed that I would come in on Mondays from noon to six and Wednesdays from three to eight (for MIMIC). That lasted the entire semester, and then I said goodbye to everyone there. The following summer was spent at Brookwoods, but while I was there I recieved this e-mail from Brian:


Just wanted to send you a note to say hi and let you know that we miss 
you here in Nashville.
Congrats on your graduation--you did an excellent job with us this 

I hope that your summer is going well and I trust that God is doing 
great things in your life.

I was talking with our MIMIC guys the other day and they all agree 
that you are their favorite mentor and they
hope to see you again soon.

Your friend,
Mr. Brian"

Looking back I can still feel how special this made me feel. I didn't respond, but got another e-mail from Brian asking if I was going to be around in the fall, which I said I was. But I also said that I needed a job and if he could give me one that would be great. I ended up with a part-time job at Harvest Hands which I worked into a full time job in January of 2010.

The past two years have been totally different that any I've experienced to this point. There have been struggles and it's been hard. I've come home worn down, like the patch of grass right in front of my front porch. But I kept going back, and never once considered quitting as a solution to the difficulties of ministry. But then Brian asked what I wanted to do. At this point I was working two jobs: running the after school program/mentoring program for the youth and running the coffee company. "Which do you see yourself stepping into?" he said to me. And I told him that I honestly didn't see myself doing either, which was one of the hardest conversations I've ever had. I told him that I saw myself pursuing graduate work and getting a Ph.D. with the hopes that I would teach at the collegiate level. This started me down the long path of quitting.

Then on Halloween I went to a party at Sarah Bartlett's house in Boston. I was in town for a vacation, and John Voge came to pick me up from Sean and Nicole O'Hern's place at MIT. Talking to all the people I knew from camp made me want to get back, and their encouragement to do so pushed me over the edge. I e-mailed Dave and about four months later had a job as a LDP 1 counselor waiting for me. So I told Brian my plan, and we started working towards this week. 

But this week is here now. Tomorrow is Tuesday, the second full day of camp. The day after Wednesday, the retreat. Which bleeds into Thursday. Then on Friday we go to the Zoo for our field trip. Then Saturday, Dad here, and a Drive back to KC with him and Cara. And I don't know what to feel, I don't know what I am feeling.

Perhaps that's not totally true. I'm going to miss Nashville. I am going to miss Ruben, David, Shane, Shawn, Matthew, Melody, Justin, Erik, Tylisha. I'm going to miss Brian, Courtney and Abby. I'm going to miss my mentors. to put it simply: I'm going to miss everything about Harvest Hands. 
The crazyness. Going home, closing my eyes, and hearing nothing but: "Mr. Luke! Mr. Luke! Mr. Luke!"

Shawn trying to hook me up with every girl that walks in the doors.

Making students laugh because I act stupid, and knowing that that's just who I am.

Hanging out with amazing people all the time.

All of it.

So those of you reading who are Harvest Hands: I'm gonna miss you. You've changed my life, and I won't forget that. Be ready to welcome me back in September, if only for a short while. 

Thanks for the past two years. 


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

apple pie

In an attempt to be a little less "in my head" this post is going to be about the apple pie I made for a dinner I went to at Coach Kyle's house. The dinner was chocked full of superfoods (salmon burgers with homegrown spinich, tomatoes, and a whole wheat bun, sweet potatoes, and tea) and delicious. Because I'm a real live grown up, and because I enjoy baking pies, I asked if I could bring one. I also wanted an excuse to use the new pie pan that Cara gave/made me. In the following post you'll find the recipe for the pie, as well as some pictures of the day!

The recipe for the crust and pie come from Ken Haedrich's excellent recipe book "Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie." Harvard Common Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004.

First off, make your crust. Can be store bought, but I like to make my own:

  • 1 1/2 cups ap flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter (cun into 1/4-inch pieces)
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (I use the crisco sticks)
  • ~1/4 cup cold water
Combine the dry ingredients, then cut the butter and shortening into the mixture. I use a pastry blender but two forks works fine as well. You're looking for the fat to be pea-sized. Toss half the water over and mix with a fork. Add the rest a couple of tablespoons at a time. I have to use some extra water, just add a tablespoon at a time until you can pack it without it breaking apart. This time around I kneaded the dough a couple of times to activate a little of the gluten in the hope that it would roll out without cracking, which worked wonderfully. Don't overwork it or it'll be too tough. To be honest, the only way to get it right is to try it multiple times. Flatten into a disc about 3/4-in thick, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour (needs to be cool in order to roll out properly).

Now for the pie:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 cups pealed, cored, and sliced Granny Smith/Golden Delicious apples (for the pie pan Cara made me I used 4 apples, for my deep dish I use closer to 6)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I use a splash)
Crumb Topping:
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups ap flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Roll out the pastry. For this I lay it on a lightly floured sheet of wax paper and dust the top of the disc with flour, as well as my rolling pin. Starting in the middle of the pastry press out, letting up on the pressure as you get to the outside. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat until the pastry is large enough to fit into your pan and have some edge. This is what mine looked like when I got it into the pan:
Fold the overlapping pastry back into the pan, then pinch around the edges for a nice touch.

Put in the freezer for about fifteen minutes. While it's cooling preheat your oven to 400 and prepare your apples. Here are the tools I use for this part:
Medium knife, Oxo Potato Peeler, and Oxo Apple Divider
Peel your apples:

Then cut off the tops and bottoms. Divide the apples using the apple divider, then slice in half length-ways again. This should give you 16 slices per apple. Since the pie pan I was using was rather small I sliced in half the other way, giving 32 "chunks" per apple. When finished toss the slices in the lemon juice and combine the dry ingredients (sugar, corn starch, salt). Retrieve your pie crust from the freezer and put down one layer of apples and sprinkle with a tablespoon of the thickening mixture, and repeat until the pie is full (heaping). Place the full pie into the center rack of your pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the crumb topping. Again, combine the dry ingredients and mix in the melted butter. You can use your hands for this, though I mix it with a fork first because I don't like the feeling of butter on my hands. The topping should resemble small crumbs (go figure). After thirty minutes dump the topping onto the center of the pie and spread out:

Rotate 180 degrees, reduce heat to 375, and bake for another 35 minutes. You'll know it's done when the juices from the apple bubble thickly around the edge. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for at least an hour:

After that, walk down to a friends house and enjoy!

People seem to be astonished whenever I bake pies. I just want to say that it is quite easy, and anyone can do it. You're gonna get a little messy and your kitchen will be worse, but when you see the happy faces of your friends it's all worth it. Get to baking!
Oh, and thanks to Rob, Miss Lindsey, and Miss Justice for helping!

Monday, May 23, 2011


defintion: a statement expressing the essential nature of something.

from merriam-webster.com

This evening Rob and I went to The Listening Room Cafe here in Nashville to hear the Barber brothers play. They put on a phenominal show, and I'm super glad I went. The main problem I have with going to Jazz shows though is the fact that I don't understand Jazz music. I don't know where it's going, I don't know if what the guys on stage are doing is good, and I just generally don't get it. But I enjoy it. Listening to Jazz, for me, is a lot like talking to Ruben and Jael (hi-el) in Spanish. I know just enough to make fun of your mom, but past that I'm useless. Despite my lack of knowledge I still enjoy trying to talk some Spanish. And I still enjoy listening to really good Jazz musicians do their thing. 

While they were playing I was thinking about defining things. While at Belmont I had to take a class called Research Methods I. It's exactly what it sounds like: how to do research. And because I was a Psychology major, it was about how to do Psychology research. One of the first things we learned in RM was that in any experiment you need to have operational definitions for what you are researching. What do you mean by "social desirability?" If you are going to be trying to find out more about group dynamics, which ones will you be experimenting on and what is your definition of those dynamics? Without defining your terms, your experiment, you risk confusing the whole deal.

A couple of years after Research Methods I had to take a Servant Leadership class for my Christian Leadership minor (if I had to do it again I'd have a Math minor, fyi). The whole focus of this class was, appropriatly enough, on what servant leadership was. The idea of servant leadership was never defined because our professor theorized that we would be better off by being open-ended with this. But because it was never defined any discussion (argument) always ended with, "well that's not my definition of servant leadership." Some class members were operating off a different defintion of servant leadership than other members. And this undercut our ability to come to conclusions about anything. We left the class with the same amount of knowledge about servant leadership as when we went in, we'd just written a couple of papers and done a presentation to make our professer feel better. And to get the grade.

The most popular form of definition in our day and age may just be the DTR. The "define the relationship" talk. Every relationship needs definition. But most don't need whole conversations about it. The relationship is defined as we relate to each other. When we go out we learn things about each other. I learn if I can cuss around you, you learn that I'm ok with sharing a drink. There don't need to be entire conversations focused on these things, except when the relationship is sped up. When it's a friendship this rarely happens, especially between guys. But when it's a dating relationship, or when you don't want it to be one, the DTR comes out. "What is this? What do we want it to be? Where is it going?" All these questions, and more, are asked and answered. Definition in a relationship leads to either commitment or a parting of ways. It can only stay nebulous for so long, especially when things are moving quickly. 

When it comes right down to it we all crave definition in our lives. One of the biggest questions we face is "Who am I?" We can be defined by our faith, religion, occupation, vocation, relationships, family, etc. Any number of these things can show people who we are. But if we don't know who "I" am, who "I" am becoming, than we can't even think about life moving forward. We need to know ourselves before we can really start relating to other people. We need to define who we are.


Monday, May 16, 2011

blogging about facebook is so right now

Growing up I’m sure you had the same experience I had: I would get a new toy for Christmas, or my birthday, or Easter and proceed to get very excited. Then Sam came along and wanted a try, and because it was new I didn’t want to let him. But what did Mom say?

“You need to share with your brother!”

This pattern went on for the rest of my childhood and continues today. Except that now I genuinely enjoy sharing with people. When Janet broke up with me a couple years back I bought myself a Playstation 3. It just so happened that I got full time at Harvest Hands around that same time, which justified the $400 purchase (At least in my mind). I bought the PS3 for the sake of two games: God of War III and Final Fantasy XIII. But then I bought another controller and Army of Two, so Cory and I could play a game together. After that LittleBigPlanet was purchased for the same reason. Then two more controllers and ModNation Racers were “picked up.” As you can probably tell, I bought them because I wanted to play with other people. When I go home to KC I’ll bring the PS3 along so that I can play with Sam, or Blokus with Dad. Though if you’ve never played LittleBigPlanet with my Dad you should, because it’s a hoot.

Last week I was thinking about Facebook and why I facebook so much. The first thought was that I like knowing what other people are up to, partly because I want to see if my life is any better than theirs. I want to be in the know, I want to see what my “friends” have been up to. That way when we actually talk, face to face I mean, we have something to talk about. “I saw on facebook that you bought a new puppy!” “So tell me about this new job.” “You’ve been out of the country for six months, what’s the deal with that?”

But there’s another reason why, I think, we do it. Whenever you post something on facebook you have to click a button before it goes up. That button is blue with white letters and says “share.” Share a picture, a thought, a note, a website, a game, anything. We aren’t built to live these lives we live alone. We are designed to be together. There are very few solitary animals out there. Let me give you an example:

While walking through Bricktown in Oklahoma City with Cara we spotted some mallards at the riverwalk. We stopped to look at them (mostly because I think ducks are funny and they make me laugh) and something caught my eye. For each hen there was an accompanying drake. They were paddling along together in pairs. There was the odd duck out every now than then, but the majority of these mallards were paired off.

I don’t bring this up to propose that because ducks like to be together so should we. I just think that if God is who we say He is, than how could His character not shine through his creation. I don’t know if God specifically created mallards. I don’t even know how He created us. But I do know that in any act of creation the spirit of the creator shines through. For good or bad. We are, I believe, created in the image of God. God is a spirit, we have spirits. We are not created to be alone. We were made to be in community with God, and with each other. So this sharing that we do on facebook is born from a desire we have within us to be connected to each other. We write our thoughts, post funny pictures, and show who we are because we want to be united with a fellow man. I probably check facebook too often and call you not nearly often enough. In the future I hope to change that. But who knows, perhaps the person that I present on facebook and in this blog will be the person that you have a conversation with one day.