Tuesday, December 7, 2010

from me to me

remember where you came from.
the things you've learned.
you're not a new person.
you're not a young child.
you're a man.
you've been through fire and brushed off the ashes, by the Grace that burned you.
you've been made into what you are.
you're not fresh or clean, so think back.
take a day to stop and remember.
stop moving.
stop looking.
stop breathing.
sit, think, remember.
you've been many places that brought you here.
you've seen many faces that have made you who you are.
so remember and praise your Maker, because He's had you, has you and will have you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the prayer of a speechless heart

______,

there's a set of words used in homage, in respect, and in praise of You. people use these words world wide, and at times, they seem fully genuine and heartfelt. but, i feel as though those words have lost their meaning in my heart. does this speak to my heart or the words? i'm not quite sure, but either way, their meaning has left and my heart feels speechless. there are days i feel compelled to speak, but in the recesses of my heart and mind, i don't have words that You deserve. this has brought me to a place of feeling those compulsions less and less. as is the case for most parts of me: i lose a connection and forget the connection was even there, and more so, don't try to regain it.

this is my attempt at regaining it.

i want You to know that those words that have lost their meaning, they not only feel meaningless and empty, but almost pushed to the other side of the spectrum: false. not that You are false, but that the words, in their tiny meanings, are portraying You in false lights. i don't want to do that. i don't even want to try and portray You. i want You to portray Yourself to me. and in me. and maybe even through me. a terrifying thought, that the One whom words cannot capture, would move through me. i, a rotten thing, feel incapable of housing You, such a rich Thing. i believe in You. i believe You love me and us and everything. and in my head, i understand how the only way i could ever be with You was by Your volition and sacrifice, but i can't understand why. i may not need to, i suppose, but without the why, i have a hard time feeling at peace with accepting Your grace and love.

please help me. help me in my state of not wanting to be helped. in my denial of Truth and rebellion against Your love, help me, because i want to sing and speak to You again.

james

PS
i know you know this, but i thought of this last night and would like it to be the beginning of a song for You:

i'd stay in the darkness as long as it takes
i'll go blind for you because my eyes won't stop trying to see

Friday, November 5, 2010

Charlie Kaufman Can Suck It

i sign into this blog everyday with the full intention of writing something each time...and most days i feel like i have nothing to write. nothing to share. nothing to shout. so i don't write. today is no exception so i'm writing about how i have nothing to write about in hopes of sparking something in my mind that's more interesting than writing about writing and not writing. its like that movie Adaptation. the movie was about the movie. it was a rabbit hole of an experience, but i loved it. i watch the show Community (Thursdays on NBC) and a recent episode referenced this kind of an idea. poking fun at how thirsty our generation is for something that is so confusing and mind blowing that it bears the resemblance of a god we can worship. an idea i haven't considered, but after watching the show, completely realized and agree with. my favorite movie is Fight Club. you know, the one about those two guys who weren't actually two guys? confusion and twists excite me. which is another interesting thought: i hate unexpected things in my life. i like order and normality and control. there have been a few exceptions to that rule that were positive and pleasing, but mostly, the unexpected, the curve balls, the twists have been negative and painful. granted, those negative moments led, eventually, to a positive outcome of growth and learning. but on the onset of these twists, i still look on them with disdain and repel them because i don't want to hurt. so, what is it about me that is drawn to the confusion in stories while repelling it from my own life? as i think about it as i write about not having anything to write about, i think the following:

stories, through whatever medium, remove us from the pain and turmoil that actually exists all around us, even if only for a moment. and in our removal from the world around us, we tend to remove ourselves from ourselves, even if only in part. with all this removal, we're able to exist in a world where anything goes. the bad parts don't hurt and the good parts are more plentiful as we can make ourselves and our surroundings the best version of themselves we can imagine. so in my removal, i see myself as enjoying all unexpectedness that comes my way as an exciting event, full of hope and promise. in my belief that i can't do the best for myself (which i actually believe) i hope that there will be a twist coming soon to take care of that which i could not. and in stories, i'm the best at loving those twists. but in my real life, i still struggle against myself everyday, trying to make my own bed to sleep in with no hands. no ability to accomplish what is actually the best thing for me. not to mention what is best for the world around me. if only i could see the unexpected and embrace and encourage it like i do in my story world.

so, that'll be my goal: to not put too much stake in my goals.

and the best part about this whole post is that i wasn't expecting to write about not expecting things.


Charlie Kaufman can suck it. this shits totally getting a Pulitzer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Orion's Between the Wrought Iron

there's times when i sit by the pool at my complex at night and stare at the moon and stars. i light a cigarette and watch the smoke filter up to it's cousin clouds. my mind goes from blank, to outrageous to insane to content and back again in these times. the following is a peek at what happens inside of that reckless wandering in my mind.

Orion's between the wrought iron
with satellites blinking above
a riot turns to a choir
and all we can sing is love

failure's never tasted the way you do now
so damn the clasps on your blouse
they make me cry
a wailing walled inside of the city glow
and the feeling of your breath i know
they'll make us die

stammer clamor the glamor of this night
while walks beneath the city lights
flesh of my flesh, i made you with her
but what's making me make me, what's making her stir?

i'd rather sit and stare than think and thwart
my plans, your plans, our plans' parts
in the play of the lifetime of a million men
give me my lines and for God's sake, tell me where to stand

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

song game (beta version)

sometimes i'll take a song and change all the words into words that rhyme but make it mean something completely different. maybe i'll start making this a game. guess this song:


run now, sprout a wary fleshing
fumed thy parts few, bring shy hate
beams love hurting, leverage keeping
fall on throngs, some crowded place
reach, see, come, tell odious conquest
flung high, shaming rungs of love
raised amount, rhymed sticks, i'll pawn it
count love high, pre breeding son.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear JohnPaulGeorgeRingo

Thank you.


my heart went boom
when i crossed that room
and i held her hand in mine
we danced through the night
and we held each other tight
and before too long
i fell in love with her
i'll never dance with another
since i saw her standing there

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

what is a border?

dear neighbor,

there are two of us, and the only way to distinguish you from me is this thing i just dreamed up in my basement. i spent hours down there. the moment the idea hit me, i was sipping on a small glass of the worst bourbon made. there was a breeze blowing in through my window and the curtains swelled and regressed like the chest of a woman lying under her sheets. i could hear you outside. you and your dog. with the occasional bark at a passing car, i was bringing myself into a trance. the symphony of noises outside created a rhythm that made it easy for me. then, as the dog bark therapist snapped his fingers i woke up to the idea. as i crept up from my wing back chair, i refilled my glass, lit my cigarette and opened the creaking door to my dungeon. with each step into the recesses of my mind and house the idea was forming and growing and coming to life. in the dark coolness i sat at my work bench and flicked on the 120 Hz hypnotic bulb that was sure to increase the likelihood that my thoughts would form into a cohesive mixture of ration and common sense. this idea in its infancy seemed outside of both those realms. up until now, you and i, we had no distinction. both images of the same Thing. both created wonderfully. but nowadays that's just not reasonable. we've come too far to maintain this facade that we shouldn't be distinctively perceived from one another. my right hand formulated the equations needed to accomplish the practical parts of my idea while my left hand sketched lovely pictures of what beauty this thing would bring. topography on my right and scenery on my left. required rules on my right and resulting liberty on my left. this was a difficult process. trial and error was my modus operandi and it wasn't pleasant company to keep. but after hours and hours of tossing away reams of paper and refilling my glass with the Tennessee fuel that kept me going, it happened.

the idea was formed.
the creation was made.
i created a border.

in the initial stages, this may hurt a little. as the first to become separated there will be some pain. a scalpel wasn't made to tickle, but once this is done you will be free. i will be free. free to shed this burden we've borne our entire lives. the burden of each other. its still unclear what, if any, new burdens may come into play, but how can we not at least give it a try? if you start to feel as though you can't handle the in's and out's of daily life alone, just remember the impossibilities we faced every day when we had no borders! in remembrance there should be peace. and if all goes according to the plans my hands put to paper then we'll soon have a world of freed slaves. i remember a man saying that we can't be a slave to two masters, but i propose that we need not be a slave to any master! i propose that we all be free! free of all hindrances and weights that will surely bring us to our demise. this is a new concept to you, i understand, but it's new to me as well! why should we question the huge wad of cash that has been placed in our inside jacket pocket? why would we ever doubt that every gift is perfect? in the days prior to our pending separation we had no choice but to trust each other, and i'm not saying we need to lose that. quite the contrary! now we have the freedom to choose who we trust and when we want to! i hope that you agree with me that the onus of trust felt like an anvil on my head every second of the day. now we can remove the anvil if we want!

now, here are a few of the necessary rules to life with borders that i've come up with to help make the transition seamless:

1. respect me. now that i'm free, i may or may not want to be a part of whatever it is you may be doing. if i want to, then rejoice. if i don't want to, understand and move on.
2. be independent. i don't expect you to help me accomplish the mundane tasks anymore, and so don't expect me to help you either.
3. create an established system for yourself and question all other systems. in your new freedom there is a responsibility to accomplish what you need to, and the best way to do it is to create a system by which you can judge all things and weigh their relevance to you and your life. and please, remember i'm doing the same and i'll be questioning your system daily. i'm unsure how we'll each feel about each others' systems but i'm convinced mine will be the best. you will probably feel the same about yours.


there is sure to be amendments to the constitution of independence, but those will come in time.

i hope that you are as excited about a border between us as i am. freedom is going to feel amazing, and i highly doubt anything negative will come of this. one day our grandkids will look back and thank us for making their world better. for making their world clear cut and organized. i will be over later tonight to begin the process of changing the world. see you then.

no longer yours,
James

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a question of origin

how did the organization of organized religion become organized in the way it is?

i went to lunch last week with my dad and two brothers at my dad's church. it was a luncheon for their men's ministry at which the head pastor spoke for about 15 minutes. as he spoke one thought kept ringing in my head: "how did it ever become this way?" not that the way it is now is completely bad or completely good. i just wonder (at least as far as Christianity is concerned) how did we get a bible? what events or moments led us to deciphering those scriptures through the channel of a leader who has at least a masters in theology? who decided that it goes: sing songs, pray, listen to a man interpret God's word, sing some more, respond to the interpretation, pray again, then go to Luby's?

these questions i'm sure could be answered with some intensive studies on the history of the church. but the question of "why?" isn't so easily answered. why have i come to accept that if i trust someone, for whatever reason, that their interpretation of what i believe to be God's word is as gospel as the Gospel? and more than that, why do i suppose that i may have a better insight into that word? maybe i do. maybe i don't. the conclusion i've come to is that none of us can fully or reasonably interpret His word. not today. or tomorrow. it can't be done(accomplished to an end). but it should be done(attempted by all means). God is God and i am man. God's language might never make sense to my ability to translate, but that hasn't stopped Him from speaking. nor should it stop me from listening. i hope to understand when i need to, and if i don't or can't then hope that just the sound of His voice soothes, stirs and saves me. (see what i did there? alliterated three point sermon? come on.)

as for the problem of the organization of our religion and all of its pitfalls, well, here's this:

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." -James 1:27

so lets do that. and let the organization be formed inside that frame. in the meantime, lets keep talking and listening.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

a story in parts. this is three. (and the last for now)

all she wished she could do was wash her hands of the whole thing. there was a moment that the dirt under her finger nails reminded her of the times digging for treasure with Ethan in her back yard. the filth on her hands was a sign of a time full of happiness, regardless of the obvious health issues of living her entire life never cleaning them. but now... now that she was where the dirt had so embedded itself into her skin, she scrubbed and scrubbed with metal brushes and he wouldn't come out. all she wanted him to do was come out. after a lengthy talk with her mother about the pitfalls of love and the perils of life, a quick drive around the old neighborhood with a few cups of tea in her veins, and she felt calmer. she felt ready to confront it all. to get back in her car, drive to his house, walk to his door, knock, wait, smile, hug, walk, talk, confront, cry... and after that she wasn't sure. what came after that she could never have written in her most imaginative moment. so she stood up, determined as the Philistine facing down a young boy who claimed his God would save him. and as she walked towards her front door, the rock hit her forehead. there was Ethan. at her door. all strength she hoped to gain on the drive to his house was waiting outside on the road. all the emotional fortitude she'd hoped would grow in her in the time it took to get to his house was still a fetus. helpless. she was helpless. Constance could feel her Atlas knees giving way to weight of this world of Ethan. through the window was his smile, and below his smile was the second bouquet. somehow she made it to the door, and as she opened it, the breeze blew in and brought tears with it. all he said was "hi." and her arms were around his neck. she had those laugh cries that people get when they don't know how to emote. if a cough was a person and that person was laughing like a middle aged woman screaming at a spider, that was how she sounded.

after the whirlwind settled they started to walk. it was beautiful spring day and the sun couldn't have been more appropriate. the breeze was playing its role perfectly. and the words coming from his mouth were singing the soundtrack. as he waxed eloquent on his time in Europe she could hear the Lord. as he spoke about the tragedy he lived in she could see God's face. and she felt low, humbled, ignoble but still somehow, loved and welcome. they spent the remaining daylight hours sharing what their lives were while they were apart. she let the vulnerability that she knew so well with him be her language. and by that, learned that even in his missionary life, he felt the same loneliness she had donned all these years. he had come home for her. it was true. and when he walked her back to the front door of her parents' house, stars blinking lovely above the cloud they were on, he kissed her.

and now we're here. now he is back in the US and looking for his next step vocationally. now she is amidst a love that would cripple a nation if it were a bomb. and the next steps we don't know about, but we know they're taking them together.

this was a story about Constance and Ethan. and its not over yet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

i am not a prophet

[see: blog title] i don't know where this came from but i wrote it to myself and thought you might like to read it, too.


Allow me to exonerate you for your moments. All of them. The moments you thought you were accomplishing good or making the world a better place. The moments you were secretly hoarding all the glory for yourself as you built up your reputation under your name. For the moments that you selfishly wrapped your arms around your brother to comfort him with your expecting hug. Those moments in which your character shone to the world as the brightest light in the sky... your character. You assume your words have power because you have assigned them such power, but who assigned you with an ability to speak? You feel as though you have an ability to reconcile your race to the creation in which you live, but who is the Creator of it and you? Take your abilities, take your words, take your momentous occasions and burn them. The smoke will be lifted up to my nose and I will be pleased. The scent of the false hopes melting brings joy to my heart. When did you ever begin to think that you could find hope in each other? You are all as fallen as your neighbor. The power of 6 billion is that of monarch moth under My foot. Do not claim your convincing arguments have any weight in my court or you will be shot down by my judgment. But just sit there. Sit in the chair and listen to the Words that spoke everything out of nothing. Listen to them speak to you through the filter of my grace. This filter saves you. It saves you from the Power that would surely kill you in your broken state. I am. I am perfect. I am that I am. You cannot understand that, nor can you understand me. But sit. Sit and listen. Listen because of grace. Hear by faith that you are able to hear Me. You are mine and now due to the prayers of my Son, I am yours. Exoneration from yourself is yours.

Now let's talk about who you're going to become...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

a quick quip of a quote

Where we are is never good enough. Where we aren’t is always the greener. Tell me Joe, can you say you’ve seen her? Take a minute and look up, she’s running through the bluff. We’ve buried our eyes in our hands. With our hearts on the sleeves of our screens. We’ve found a way to hide and be seen. Touting our honesty, with our heads in the sands. Of time. Of death. Of grace. Of anything that’s left.

Monday, September 27, 2010

a story in parts. this is two.

the sun pouring in through the driver's side window was reminding Constance of her younger days. she used to sit in her brother's bedroom a foot or two from his window with the shades pulled up, watching the dust bunnies dance in the beams. her youth was quiet but nothing less than happy. there were moments of sadness, to be sure, but those were easily forgotten aside from the day Ethan left. she was 17 and it was a thursday morning. summertime in her house usually revolved around morning cartoons and the above ground pool they "inherited" when they moved in. shortly after the last cartoon her little brother wanted to watch was over there was a knock at the door. as she approached the door, through the thick bevelled glass she could make out the silhouette of her best friend and a grin crept onto her face. her steps turned a bit more bouncy and she opened the door. the next hour and half was full of tears and hugs as he told her he was going to be leaving and wasn't sure when or if he was coming back. it all made sense to her. he was drawn to the hurting and the less fortunate. he felt called to be where they are, hoping that he could be a source of Light for them. this was Ethan. it made sense. but in the selfish corner of her heart, this was exactly why she loved him so much. this was exactly why they were best friends. and she didn't want to lose that. she didn't want to lose him.

now ten years later, she's speeding down I-94 with her face drenched in the sunlight and her soul drenched in anxiety. she wondered what brought him back after ten years. she pictured the moment of pulling up to his parents house and seeing him on the swing, waiting, smiling. in one version, she screeches up to the house and leaps from her car, running to him and jumping into his arms with tears and hello's. in another, she pulls up slowly, takes her time walking to him, stops at his threshold and takes his hands in hers and just looks into his eyes with tears in hers and takes it in before wrapping her arms around his neck.

but then something hit her. she slammed on the brakes. what the hell was she doing? he hadn't called?! he hadn't written?! why would she just act like that didn't happen?! the car was now in park and she was pacing around it with her right hand holding the hair out of her eyes staring at the ground while her left hand was placed defiantly on her hip. what was she doing? she continued pacing and after what didn't feel long enough, she lit a cigarette and got back into the car. she filled her lungs with nicotine and the hope of calm. now the car was in drive and she was back on 94. she had come too far to go back now, but at this point, the movie in her head showed her car pulling into her parents house instead of his. then walking somberly inside to sit at the table with her mother, sipping on tea and deliberating on her next move. on the next scene. now all there was was that. that and driving with the sun as it set.

Friday, September 24, 2010

a story in parts. this is one.

stop reading this if you think it's going to be interesting or change your life. stop reading this if you're looking for an escape. this is imprisonment. this is shackles on your ankles. this will be a moment in time you wish you hadn't started.

today is the first day in a long time. there's been days before but how many counted? if she were to add them up, she'd still have a hand to pick up the broken vase on the floor next her bed stand. the reversing truck sounded from her red digital clock and as usual, Constance spun over quickly to slam the snooze button into oblivion. but today she knocked the new flowers over. she met them the night before. they were waiting for her at the door. as she bent over to pick them up she watered them with her tears. how many flowers had she ever gotten? if she counted the dozens, this would be the first. the card sat anonymously on top of the white gardenia and read to her

you make me the maddest
you make me the happiest
you make me weak kneed
you make me the strongest
you make me the most i have ever been

she wasn't the kind that gave her attention to more than one man. in all actuality, she has only ever given her attention to three in her life. this floral gift had to be from one of those three. she couldn't imagine any other explanation. on the back of the card there was a number that wasn't in her phone. she tried those reverse phone look up websites. nothing. she called her sister to see if she knew the number. nothing. she had narrowed it down to the possibility of her home town based on the area code. none of the three men live or ever had lived there. so the mystery only widened.

her sleepy eyes were quickly awakened to the crash of the vase then just as quickly, they swelled with tears again. her instincts kicked in and she hustled off the other side of the bed, ran to the kitchen, got a broom, a glass of water and a towel. she saved the arrangement and gathered the pieces of the ceramic that held the first buds of happiness she'd had in a while. how many times had she smiled in the last year? if she counted, she could pass a kindergarten math exam. she brought the small pile to her bed and sat on the foot of bed bench her Pops carved in the depression trying desperately to put the puzzle together. the ceramic puzzle and the whole puzzle. get a grip Constance.. think. as her mind was racing through the memories of home, from the playground to the stage she took the diploma on, the phone rang. once. twice. and kept ringing. she knew she had eight before it went to voicemail. she had eight to ten seconds to decide: answer? screen? she took it. while the ID noted it was from her home town, she thought nothing of it. her Pops could be calling from the pharmacy again asking for his Medicare number. but her hello was followed by a voice she hadn't heard in a long, long time. Ethan. "Hi Constance." she could hear a smile on his voice and knew immediately who it was. who was calling. who had sent the flowers. all in three words, she knew.

the ensuing conversation ended with her in her car, overnight bag in the back seat and Ryan Adams on the speakers. she couldn't believe her best friend from home was back. he stopped the letters. he stopped the postcards. the blog his mother kept hadn't been updated in months. she assumed he had found his place in the Eastern European turmoil. his missionary heart had always been the driving force in his life. he was in love with the children affected by war. he was in love with the God who could save them more than any of us could. he was in love with marrying the two. her mind was racing faster than her '98 Camry. what was he doing home? why did he write those things? why did he have to compound the note with her favorite flowers?



this was part one. there will be more. i told you you wouldn't escape.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TV Life

this might become a song at some point, but for now its just a poetic rambling:

i think our lives play out like a mini series
drama for an hour then we take a week's break
it builds and builds as the episodes progress
but after 13 weeks... these were our lives at stake

what would it take to turn it off?
a life we made of our own cast
all we are are flashing red yellow blue
but our beating hearts, they won't last

we're driven by the 30 second spots
the young family selling us their lives
a beautiful woman not saying a word
a roaming wandering helpless child

wistful romance we think will stir the world
gaping chasms cleared by a single bound
we're writing ourselves as the heroes we aren't
hoping to sleep later, tucked safe and sound

we will all be nothing more than our own worst critics.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Philosophy of M & M's

haven't posted much lately, but here's a little gem i forgot about that i wrote about 3 years ago:


So i was eating a pack of peanut M&M's today. It was my lunch. I'm kind of a health nut. But as I pulled out the candy treats 2 at a time a funny thing happened. I pulled out 2 blue ones. Let your mind wander around on that for a while. Its hilarious. But it got me thinking. Is a peanut M&M first a nut? or first an M&M? My immediate thought was "its an M&M... the package says so." but then I started thinking, "well, the CORE of this morsel is a nut so it seems that it should be a nut. Then THAT got me thinking...

are we defined by what is it at the core of us? and do we even know what is it at the core? I know so many people, including myself, that struggle daily with "who am i?" so in my struggles, how do I determine to define myself? what is at the core of me? and if we resolve to not knowing what the core of our "self" is do we then define ourselves by the outer candy shell? I think most of us do. Its taxing to be in touch with one's true self I think. so most of our time is spent letting our attributes and qualities that rest near the surface become who we are. a shallow exsistence i'd say.

freakin M&M's.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

desert rain, art and Australian hospitality

"the city's been our cage, but we can be each others' key" - Cody Dylan

there was a wall of water as we rounded the tenth curve in the west Texas mountains, and an anticipation in my bones was mounting. four J's for the fourth of July couldn't have been more appropriate. but for me, more than the holiday, more than the friends, more than the landscape was my escape. even if for a moment, i escaped the city. i escaped constant connection. i was a free man for 3 days.

freedom is a funny thing though...

i tuck inside my shell often as i approach a place of realization. it's not that i want to deny any outside perspectives, but i think epiphany is often a quiet lover who will only reveal herself if you sit still and listen intently. but this place, this freedom, this quiet, it's a lot to take when what's par for the course is a barrage of noise, people, and movement. stillness is scary to a shaker.

but thank God for the rain.

there's not many things in this world that can so gently force me into a calm, but rain is one of them. never does noise sound so peaceful. but it helps me breathe. funny how that happened for us this weekend in the desert.

as the rain came down we found ourselves huddled under an awning eating from a shark with strangers. there were puppies and babies and couples embracing to keep warm. i saw a familiar face and after a timid approach made plans for that evening at the bar in Marfa, Padres. as the rain subsided a little we left to find some art galleries. it was an odd feeling driving and walking through a deserted desert town (average annual income is less than 10k) looking for galleries where the pieces hanging were worth more than the buildings in which they hung.







we saw 12' canvases painted with pictures of 9/11 from the perspective of a child. we saw resin casts of books and cats.











on a quest for a meth lab we instead found a hanging ball and strings held by rings.



























the back yard of the gallery that once was a meth lab installation was interesting and intriguing. there were remnants of the rain that had just fallen pooled up on parts of the installation. other parts of it were hanging in re-adjusted repose from the wind that just rearranged them.








we spent time in a book store listening to odd music and flipping through books on art, Marfa and James Dean.


i went on a quest to find where the Reata was located.

this old house was used in filming the classic movie Giant starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. i saw photos of the building and hoped to find it, but learned in the bookstore that the house was no longer standing. so instead we went to find an old abandoned Army Air Field.


we found the location of it but arrived to a barbed wire fence blocking us from it.

over this same field is where the famed Marfa Lights were to be seen. we tried for two nights to see them but saw nothing except a radio tower and distant head lights.

our next day was the 4th. we had a relaxing day of driving and playing in the rain. we found an abandoned building to play in from which we watched another wall of rain come at us from the distance. rain in the desert is just amazing. really amazing. later that night we met up with our Australian friends that we met the night before. they invited us to their campsite for dinner. it was a delicious meal with some really nice people. after we ate, one of the Australians, Cody, and I swapped songs. this man was amazing. such a great singer and song writer. [note: the quote up top is from his song Evelyn] they will be in Austin this week and i'm excited to spend some more time with them. we got shut down at their campsite and moved our party to the Marfa lights viewing area where we continued to sing and shoot off fireworks. before the night began, we were in our hotel room and i was contemplating just sitting in our room for the night. i felt exhausted and anti social, but i forced myself to go and thank God i did. this was the best night of the trip and so many great things came out of it.

the next day we packed up and began our journey home back east. this trip was short but so sweet. my mind was cleared and my soul was satisfied to be in the desert. i'll put some more photos up on my facebook page so if you're friends with me there, well, then lucky you.

now, i just need to continue living my freedom while in the cage of this city...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

an allegory of a weekend ahead

"Three more days,
Girl ya know I will be comin' home to ya Darlin'"
-Ray Lamontagne

In this story, we'll refer to her as "Sarah". We'll start when she grabbed my hand as we walked out of a movie theater. Summer was in full swing and I couldn't have been happier. My bank account was empty, my sweat glands were working overtime in the Texas heat, and somehow my heart was full. There wasn't much to say about the movie we had just seen, but I'm probably the worst person to ask. My attention was fully off the screen for the entire 90 minutes and fully on the girl next to me. She smelled like strawberries and her warmth of personality was slowly and gently encompassing me. This wasn't the first movie we had seen together. Far from it actually. We were approaching the four year mark of knowing each other. A four year process that has been leading me to this enraptured state. Every day with her was a smile. Every argument with her that resolved so easily was a poem. She was my muse. She was my home. So you can imagine my elation as the cup was flying from my hand to the trash can, her hand took its place. I looked at her with surprised happy eyes and her smile told me "This is where we've both been headed, and I'm glad we're finally here." That was the beginning of a journey that we're now on and it's been a good ride. It's sure to remain so.

[now imagine that that girl is Marfa, TX and you'll know my feelings about what this weekend will be for me as I'm unplugged from the city]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

an attempt to shift the scales

i'm searching for inspiration when days like today happen. there's no denying that Life happens around us, but it's pretty easy to deny that it's happening in us. i got a note today from someone that sent me to places i haven't been in a long time in my head. but this is what's ultimately come of it, so as not to bore you with the ridiculous details of the situation:

for all the days i've been on this earth, i've yet to shift the balance on the scale of selfish vs. selfless. the selfish side has been closer to the ground for, well, all my life. but as i get older i'm attempting to throw some of the weight off of this side and get the selfless part of me fat. i see it in my father, in my mother, and in so many of the people i love, this selfless living towards me. and it pains me to think... well, let me explain...

i'm going through a book with some great people right now called The Return of the Prodigal Son - A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen. we met last night about it and discussed which of the three main characters of the story we saw ourselves as. i confessed i felt like the younger son who left home to pursue pleasure and wealth and frivolity. but that i felt i was on my way back home. the other characters, the older son, who resented his younger brother for leaving, squandering his inheritance, and putting his family through torment, and the Father who welcomed his son home with no question, just a party. both the sons have their hurdles to get over. their issues to deal with. and surely the father was in anguish the entire time his son was gone. still, he threw him a party when he returned. this kind of selfless love i just cannot understand. the act seems so simple, but the toll it must take on your being to live in such a way seems very costly.

but its where i want to be.

this note today was a glimpse that i may have been on this side of things, the selfless side, for one of the first times in my life. possibly. i felt as though i was living like i was towards them, and then... well the inheritance was taken and they're gone. so now, on this side, i feel the pain of not being considered. too many times have i done that to others. TOO many. so many that i see when i'm doing it and make an effort to stop. hence the scale shifting goal. but from here, i feel the pain of rejection in spite of so many efforts to love well.

so i'm hoping that as i continue this journey towards becoming like the Father, that maybe the pain will subside a little. or least i'll be given the grace to withstand it.

i read a great quote today that i'll leave you with:

"In life, as in the dance, grace glides on blistered feet." -Alice Abrams

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sam Cooke, Julie Jones and Marfa

"i was born by the river
in a little tent
and just like the river i've been runnin'
ever since

it's been a long, a long time comin'
but i know a change gon' come

oh yes it will"
-Sam Cooke

and now to quote a question i asked my great friend just a few moments ago: have you ever felt like you wanted your life to be different? not that what it is now is bad, but just that you want it to change? well, in the midst of the conversation that question started, i think i realized a couple of things. and here they are for you reading pleasure.


i believe i have a good life. i'm blessed in so many ways that are too numerous to list here, but just know: i'm rich in all ways. but my ability to recognize that in the midst of the busyness i put myself in has become weak. if i could look at my life and my world with fresh eyes i think i could more easily recognize how amazing it is. this leads me to the next thought this conversation led to...




this 2 is 2 fold. part a: i need to say "no" more. the busyness that begins to feel routine and thus weigh me down is more in my social life than otherwise. the inability to say no mixed with a conviction to keep my word makes for a pretty unhealthy me after a while. but i still believe, and this is part b: that if i learn to better spread myself, socially and otherwise, i will still need moments to escape. thus my number 3...




tonight i will go to my parents house [which is not visited by me nearly enough] and relax. then in July, i will go to Marfa, TX with some of my best friends and just be. no cell phone. no internet. just Marfa and my friends. what better way to celebrate independence day than to be freed from my slavery to connection? i'll fill you in on that as it comes to pass. i'm sure i will have plenty to write about once i'm back.






so.
i'm thankful for these things today: Julie, my parents living close, and my literacy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

old is the new new

this was one of the first string of words i put together in my head this morning after i woke up. i know you know what i mean. you wake up in a stupor and stumble with atrophied legs towards your bathroom. at this point you only have instincts. language isn't dictating your actions or even thoughts. for a brief moment after leaving sleep we are thoughtless zombies. walking dead.

or maybe that's just me...

regardless, this morning as i was coming out of my zombie me, the first words i had were "old is the new new." my life (and yours if you pay attention) has been infiltrated by phrases and sayings like a paper wall in a hurricane. par exemple:

"its a [place band name here] kinda day."
"white is the new black."

(just to name a couple. i could go into my thoughts about that first one, but i've already vented my peeves so i'll withhold those thoughts and move right along.)

phrases come in and they go out. how many times did you say "eat my shorts" after Bart did the first time? and now? you don't even think about that phrase do you? how about "tickled pink"? maybe ask your mom about that one.

all these phrases that are here then gone, it got me thinking about how fluid words can be. i think there is a lot of stigma placed on certain words. some people don't like to hear them, be it for their meaning (original or slang), or just the sound of it scratches its nails on their minds chalkboard. still other words are so easily tossed around that we never consider them threatening or at the least, important.

who decides how powerful, hurtful, helpful, or gruesome a word is?

we do.

i can hear words like shit and hear a funny word, a strong word, or a bad word, depending on the situation. my grandmother can hear the same word and always hear a bad word, no matter the situation. some of us decide to put the stigma on the words themselves rather than their usage. and personally, i don't want to do that. i'll let you decide for yourself what you want to do, but for me, words are just letters that we have decided represent sounds that our mouths can make which reflect our world around us. words are not evil. words are not Satan. Adam and Eve surely must've been able to communicate with each other, and in what language i don't know. i imagine it being a beautiful language that God actually spoke audibly as He walked in the garden with them. but then sin entered the garden and started a ripple effect of destruction and death. one of the results of the sin was our ability to believe we can become our own gods. that we don't need the One who created us. that was seen easily in the story of Babel. in a stroke of grace and genius, God "confused" the world by creating different languages. you may see this act as cruel and greedy. God says Himself in the story that if man, with a single language, can build a tower to heaven, nothing would be impossible for them. but if God is God, then we can't be. and maybe he saw us believing we could be and stopped it for our own sake. now, i don't know enough about the theology of this story to get too deep into its meaning and consequences, but something that sticks out to me is the birth of multiple languages.

[pause and reset]

[now breathe]

we are all confused. look at us: there's war. there's hunger. there's death. we're trying to stop all these things, which is noble, but a mission that will likely not come to fruition in our lifetime. we should keep going, but also realize where we are. how does this apply to our words?

glad you asked.

we're all in the same sinking boat together. we're throwing buckets of water overboard every minute. we're attempting to survive. why in the hell would we stop to argue about the fact that i just said "why in the hell"? if you have a problem with certain words, and i don't already know about it, tell me. i don't say "shit" in front of my parents because i know they don't like the word. the word itself coming out of my mouth speaks nothing to my state of faith or ability to love well. but it scratches its nails on my parents minds chalkboards, so i don't say it, in hopes of maintaining my ability to love well.

words can be powerful or hurtful, helpful or gruesome, so figure out where words are those things and chose wisely which ones you use.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Prologue

Our lives are seduced daily into becoming outsiders looking in. Always that and never insiders living and dying. Just observers. Watchers. Lifeless decor.

Think about your favorite TV show or your favorite movie. You can look onto the story with a knowledge that the characters don't have. Or at least don't have all of. They each only have their inside vantage point from which to view the story. It seems limited and perhaps scary.

[but why wouldn't we rather be in the story]


Monday, May 31, 2010

thoughts from a weekend of conversations


have you ever felt like you're on the verge of having a very big emotion? whether it be sadness, happiness, anger, or whatever, just that you feel like you're about to feel it but you don't. you're on the cusp. well thats how it's been for me over the last couple of weeks. i've watched more hours of Hulu than i care to admit and each time, no matter the show, i'm on the verge of crying or laughing but never really do. its like i have something to deal with but i haven't yet, but i can feel it coming closer to the surface. i just need it to rear its head and show itself to me so i can live it and move on. maybe its that i haven't mourned over something properly, or haven't celebrated something as i should.

one thing i've considered doing to bring it to the surface is something i've never done before: make myself cry. now, part of this seems noble and worthy of my efforts, but the other part of it seems like it could be forced and therefor not be genuine. i just need to emote in a big way. if i make myself cry, maybe i'll be more in tune with my emotions and thus feel what i need to.

so this is my public admittance. this is my plea. this is my confession to the world. perhaps this will make it become more real. more doable. more right. i need to be right, and i'm right on the edge of that cliff. here's to jumping.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Getting to Know James, Session 2: Pet Peeves




















who was it that decided to call them pet peeves? as though they were something we'd want to cuddle on the couch with while watching a killer RomCom.

no.

maybe "next door neighbor's annoying dog" peeves fits better.

anyway, here a few of mine, to continue the theme of getting to know James:

-
when girls call me "man", "dude" or "bro" ... its not cool. you might, on some level, think that i'll relate with you better if you take on this masculine trait, but i won't. it weirds me out. be a girl and call me things like cutie, or handsome. maybe even James.

-when people use the word "literally" too much and out of context. did you LITERALLY just shit a brick? no. no you didn't. so stop saying it.

-when people have phlegm in their throat and don't clear it out but continue talking to me. i don't want to be rude and say "clear your f@%^ing throat" but i will repeatedly clear my already clear throat to hint at the fact that they've got a tennis ball of loogie lodged in theirs.

-imagine yourself eating with a fork. you pick up the food and put it into your mouth. if you then clamp your teeth on the fork as you slide it out of your mouth, you are my metal-on-teeth shreeking enemy. if you use your lips instead, you are my friend.


i'll stop with those before inadvertently include everyone in one way or another and thus alienate myself from you all.

if i know you, i still love you even though you may do these things. but just know you are perpetuating my neighbor's annoying dog peeves.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

it's been a minute

hello 2010, this is James. but circa 2005 James. i've just come for a moment to remind 2010 James of something that started in my time: we have looked at the clock when it is 12:34 (am or pm) freakishly close to every time it's happened over the last 5 years.

this may sound like an exaggeration, and i don't blame you for believing it is. even if its that thing where you say you believe me but in the back of your mind you honestly can't believe something like that would ever happen; i'm still ok with it.

but just listen... or read, as the case may be:

imagine for a minute that this actually happens to you. does it not strike you as something that would only happen in a movie or a 6 season long show about people getting stuck on an island only to get off only to go back only to realize they're only happy when they're dead together? me too. it absolutely weirds me out. but i've come to a couple conclusions about why this could be happening.

1. the psychological mind would suggest that my mind controls my actions without telling me. this is a theory that says: it happened enough on random occasion that i started to think there was a pattern to me doing this and thus, i did it. that my subconscious has a hand in controlling my actions based on my biological clock. basically, i think i do it, therefore i do it.

or

2. the interpretive mind might be of the school that there is something deeper to my actions, whether conscious or subconscious. a force. a god. a light. a thing that has it's hand on me, steering or pushing me in certain directions. and in this school, one could find meaning in what seem to be meaningless occurrences. and the meaning of this could be as follows: maybe i'm being led up to an event in my life that hasn't happened yet. led up to, or counting up to. and perhaps when this "thing" happens, i'll stop looking at the clock at 12:34 on a regular basis.

there's really endless roads you could take on this subject. all i know is that it freaks me out a little.

nope. kind of a lot.

this is the weirdest thing about me. so welcome to me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

this isn't about Lost, I swear... well maybe a little...

i bet if i started this blog admitting something about myself, then you'd feel more comfortable with me and want to hear what i have to say.

so here it is.

i am addicted to Lost.

this may not seem like much of an admission, but you may change your mind after reading this.
[see: tv shows that make you think about deep, real life stuff]

after a day of anxiety, and a night of emotional release via rock music, i sat at a table in Austin with two of my best friends sharing Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's discussing the latest episode of Lost. i'll spare you the nerdy details we talked about and skip right to the part that made my mindwheels start spinning: the series has seemed like it had a "good vs. evil" theme through out, but now it seems like it's more of a "faith vs. knowledge" theme.

this is a theme i think has existed in my life, and all around me for most of my life, but seemed to go under the radar. right and wrong, good and evil, these are what pinged on my screen most of my days. but growing up in the church, i have seen faith vs. knowledge quite a bit. it's a common thread in most of the stories in the Bible. its actually the first story in the bible: "don't eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge..." there wasn't a good tree and an evil tree in Eden.

all of this has sent my head into a tailspin. so i'll try and regain the controls here...

[3 hour intermission of thought]

even as i attempted to begin to sort my thoughts, i was drawn in so many directions. i couldn't make sense of it. so what do people in our generation when they want some enlightenment on a subject?

google it.

if you're as into philosophy and analytical thinking as i am, i think you'll enjoy this article on the relationship of faith and knowledge.

Faith and Knowledge

oh Lost, what you do to me...

consider this blog plagiarized and lazy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

[this from the writer]

why do we document things? writing, filming, recording. the first thought i had was that we don't want to lose our thoughts. we don't want to forget the moments in our lives that are repeatedly fleeting. but something seems wrong to me in that. maybe wrong is too harsh a word. more like, weak.

humor me...

on a day like today i was reminded of how complicated we make things by trying to make them simple. my car broke down and i didn't have enough money to take it to get fixed. so my only alternative was to buy the part and fix it myself. now, the options (had i the money) were pretty endless should i have not done it myself. mechanics are everywhere. and so are so many other things. we have phones that fit in our pocket that allow us endless connectivity and information. we have stores that always have what we need. there is a gas station on every corner. but in our search for making life simpler, we've cluttered it. and so in our cluttered mess we're constantly entertained and bombarded with something else to catch our attention. this gives way to forgetfulness. so what to do? document it. we can't sit long enough to enjoy what just happened because we're onto the next thing, but we still recognize the beauty of it, so we take a picture. the problem is, the picture is never as good as the moment. our facebook pages are full of notes and comments and pictures to remind us of how great our lives are; and thank God, because if they weren't, we surely would have forgotten about that sunset in North Carolina. or the wet sand drinking our feet in San Diego. and i'm not be facetious either. we honestly would forget those amazing moments in our lives.

how dare we.

i'm not proposing we stop documenting our lives. for God's sake, i'm writing a blog right now. i'm just proposing we slow down a little and actually take in whats going on around us. we don't need to fill our days with things and adventures until the seams burst. trust me, our children will have plenty to learn from if we don't. our grandparents didn't have facebook, or digital cameras. hearing a story from my grandpa is worth 100 times more than a digital photo album i can show my grandkids. his voice in the story telling, his eyes lighting up at certain points. these are what makes the story rich. and he only has the ability to tell the stories because he soaked himself in it when they happened. we're dipping our feet in the waters of our stories instead of jumping in.

keep writing about the funny looking lady ahead of you in line. keep photographing the picnic on Saturday. just don't be so distracted that your only memories of your life are on a 10MB flash drive. life is certainly fleeting, not to mention, each moment in them, but we don't have to accelerate the process. watch the clouds for an hour or two without worrying about picking up your dry cleaning. sit at the pub with your best friends for longer than an hour without planning the next move. just be.


just.


live.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

stream of consciousness

[i closed my eyes and started typing every word i thought immediately. this is what happened.]



in a rush of blood there is seldom a way to carry on the wholeness of what is to be.

let it all slowly leak out the bottom and see where it lands.
can you ever hope to be something that you can't see?
how often do we tarry on with the waywardness of man's helplessness?
perhaps something can be found in this.
maybe somewhere in the confusion there is a glimmer of hope.
on a light post at the edge of the city i can see where the end is.
help me get there.

Monday, May 3, 2010

a short story on Beauty

beauty gone awry probably happens more than we realize, but no one seems to care.

let me go from the beginning...

a young boy, his curly blond locks bouncing as he ran, was chasing after what he could only see as "flying color". how amazing is that?! flying color! nothing in the world matters to him at this moment. he has never seen anything like it. he could imagine nothing but this jumpy, flappy thing that was eluding him. then the rock. his foot caught the edge of stone deeply embedded in the ground he wished he could leave to join the flying color, only to bring him closer to his nemesis. as his face hit, he quickly forgot all about the pixie he was chasing, only to be shocked with pain and fear.

fast forward to this boy in middle school. his heart is beating quickly as he walks away from his mother in the car. today is the first day of this new school. he just finished a great year as the big man on campus. the oldest class above all the younger, less awesome kids. but now, thrown into the sea full of older, wiser, cooler kids: a minnow among sharks. and then he sees her. her brown hair loosely hanging over her left eye, she flips it up with a graceful move of her head. only recently has the boy ever noticed the opposite sex in such a way. it confused him and made him feel warm all at the same time. this woman surely was an 8th grader. all of her slow motion movement screamed "mature" to the boy. as did a few other things. and as he made his way further from his mother and closer to the girl, he met his nemesis again. a rogue skate board found it's way under his right foot and took it to where his left foot should have been, spinning him and throwing him to the ground.

now imagine this boy is a man. nearly four decades along, his efforts to make a life for himself have often been thwarted. it took him nearly 6 years to finish his undergrad as his mother couldn't afford to put him through college. once he finally graduated, the economy had taken a huge turn for the worse. a job in his field was nearly non-existent. he took jobs here and there to make rent. occasionally he made a little extra and was able to enjoy the "finer" things of life: a meal out, a movie, matinee as it may have been. this man has so much to offer, and yet, he feels stuck. he does a pretty great job of keeping a positive attitude, but from time to time, as he makes his way home to his one bedroom apartment, alone, he can't help but feel the lump rising in his throat and tears peeking out from the corners of his eyes.

we were all that young boy. we were amazed at the beauty of a butterfly. yet still vulnerable to the obstacles of the world around us. we fell in love in adolescence, and were hurt all the same. we struggle every day with the capacity to forget all the beauty around us. we have beauty. we are beautiful. Life is beautiful. but we can't help but see it go awry and forget that it ever was in the first place.

so i suggest these:

look into a woman's eyes.
watch a sunset.
trace the clouds.
connect the stars.
hug your mother.
write a song.
read Keats' poems.
pray.

recognize the pain inherent in all these things, but don't see it as the victor. because it isn't and it won't be. let the Beauty that is around heal you and redeem everything, because it will.

Friday, April 30, 2010

because i need this

there are ways we can let ourselves become occupied. we work. we play music. we watch TV. we drink. we run. we do. but what is it to be occupied? and is it possible to be unoccupied?

i propose this: no.


and now a word from our sponsors...






welcome back. my thoughts don't let up. even in the moments i'm doing absolutely nothing, my mind is in a race with itself, and its constantly losing. if you can, imagine running down the road with a hoard of people who look just like you, but for some reason are much faster than you. also, they have quite a "snobbery" about them, jeering and laughing
at your inability to keep up with they who look and seem like they are you. well, that's what it's like in my head at times: confusing and frustrating. so the idea of being unoccupied is a bit foreign to me.


this blog is brought to you by...




if you're just now joining us, we're discussing occupation of our minds. how many times do you refuse to listen to your own thoughts? it seems a little crazy, i know, but i think listening to yourself is healthy. but be certain, that just because you listen to yourself, you don't have to do what you say. my brain suggests things to me that are borderline insane. but sometimes, in the muck of my madness, there peeks through a shimmering creative thought. [enter: music/writing]



more after this...




i have a slew of journals that are full of scribbling, scratches and songs. i have lost a few journals over the course of my life due to theft or my absent mind, but the ones i still have tell quite the indeterminable story. but they still tell a story. and reading back on those journals has helped me to better understand the lawlessness of my mind. i listened, at times, to what i told myself, and i was burned. and still, other times i flourished. but its Life that is allowing me to ascertain a grip on what is truth. what is good. what is worthy. so i suggest that in the times you feel like you can't trust in what you say (which you likely can't) search for the glimmer of goodness. and hold onto it. water it and watch it grow.


back in 2 1/2 minutes...






if there is any evidence to my mind's in ability to keep up with itself, it's this post. i know it might not mean much to you, and is probably a bit too scattered to grasp any one theme, but i need this. i need to get it out. maybe you can see something in here that shines to you, and i hope that you do, but for now, i just needed to get these words out in hopes of clearing some space up here in my head.


thanks for joining us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

if Al Gore was president would he live in the Green House?


holy guacamole.



today i wore a green shirt. this sounds like it will be the most boring blog ever. just give it a minute. so i wore a green shirt. i haven't worn a green shirt in a long time. not for any other reason than, blue is just my go-to. so. i go to it. and not to green. anyway, it made me think about the color. these days green is positive. its representative of growth. of caring for our environment. a green light means go. forward motion. positive. but i often forget about its association with envy. or greed. which poses a pretty funny situation:

so in America, we are capitalists. this merely means we earn what we have. yes, gifts exist, but aren't the norm. in the act of earning something, a natural development is competition. [enter fallen man] when competing, we find ourselves, at times, relentlessly pursuing victory with no regard for who we are beating.

note: i'm not communist, just making a point.

so in competition there are losers. and we don't want to be a loser. so we do all we can to see that that won't happen. and a lot of us compromise our convictions. you see it happening in corporations and small organizations alike. one venue that is freshly showing signs of such compromise is the "green movement". while it is true that we should take care of the earth, and do all we can to treat her well, i don't think it should turn into what it seems to be [note: i haven't done all the research i probably could on this subject. this is just a view from the outside] turning into now: a competitive, money mongering enterprise.

so you see? its funny that the green movement is showing to be greener than we thought. take care of the earth. make more money. stand on the top of the green hill as king.

motion and pauses (reprise)

i am but flesh wrapped on bones
so grace escapes me on my path
i have fallen and i have run
and all the while, gone is your wrath

happy and sad live together tonight
you can't expect effect with no causes
with no idea of how i should be right
i'll thank you for all the motion and pauses

Monday, April 12, 2010

Banking 101

this is something i wondered on my drive home tonight:

what is it to invest in someone?

if you think about investing in anything, it seems implied that you are putting into this thing in hopes that it will return something to you, or produce something for you. you invest money in the stock market in hopes that it will be multiplied over a number of years and you will have a retirement fund. you invest in your home in hopes that by doing so, its value will be raised and you can either be worth more as the owner or possibly sell it for more money than you bought it. you invest in a garden in hopes that it will bear fruit and you can eat.

in all these examples of investment, there's a common thread: giving to get.

then why in the hell do we ever talk about investing in people? are we so self absorbed to believe that by our actions, another human can be swayed to begin producing what we want for ourselves? whether its affection to the investor, or a changed lifestyle on the investee that thus gives the investor grounds to gloat, it all adds up to the common thread.

as a natural born capitalist, i have a hard time disconnecting what i know to be fiscally wise from what i know to be spiritually wise. but hear me, i believe they SHOULD be disconnected. there is such a danger in equating what works for money and what works for our souls. "for the love of money is the root of all evil." pretty strong words for an extremely true statement. but strong for a reason. God knows us. He made us, so how could he not know us inside and out? he knows our draw to abundance. our longing for more, more, more.

but i digress.

my goal wasn't to talk about money. my goal was to talk about our relationships with each other. i have heard countless times people referring to how they act towards others as "investing in them." ok, you may be thinking, "i don't want anything for myself in my investment in [this person]." but it goes beyond that, i think. more than our selfish desires to be loved and respected, more than our wanton pursuit of abundance, i am concerned with our belief that we are to be a part of the changing of a person. and the concern lies within that last sentence. why are we trying to change someone? because we know what's best for them? because we can be the one who changes them? pretty arrogant statements.

now, i'm not saying to ignore everyone and just let everyone do whatever "they think is best" or "right". i'm just suggesting that we change our language from investment to something that is more true of what we're called to do: love.

why can't we just love someone with no expectations of them becoming what we want? with no expectations of them becoming who we think they're "supposed to be"?

just ask yourself this question: "if i did nothing but love every single person around me, and never saw any benefits, or results, but just the same life i always knew from before i loved them, would i still love them?"

most of us don't want to admit our answers. i don't.

i want to love someone who loves me.
i want to love someone and see them grow.
i want to love them and be blessed.

the funny thing is, if we all did it, this wouldn't be a problem. if there was a community of people who could literally love each other selflessly all the time, we would never have to worry about our own needs being met. because they already have been.

we are the church, and that should be our pursuit. not an investment, but a terrifying journey with each other.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

שָׁלוֹם

THIS IS AN INVITATION

i've been known to display, with a certain amount of clarity, my emotions at all times. try as i may, nothing can keep my face from showing exactly what is in my mind or heart. they say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and whoever they are knew what they were talking about when it comes to me. and the windows are always open.

so let's switch scenes to the Sabbath. to today. today started with Steve peeking his head in through my car window to wake me up. "Everyone's up. Mostly. We're starting breakfast." in my sleepy stupor i stumbled out of the back of my car which had been temporarily transformed into a bed, and made my way down the hill, over the creek and up the hill to our campsite. all of us were extremely groggy and not speaking. and i for one, didn't feel i had much to say. all that i could think about were the dreams i had the previous night. i won't go into a lot of detail but one in particular really threw me. i was giving my brothers eulogy. i have no idea where that came from, but apparently my subconscious wanted my conscious self to experience immense sadness for a while. my sadness was easily disguised this morning by my sleep filled eyes, but as the day progressed i could feel the sadness peeking through. i went home and went right to bed hoping to redeem my previous sleep experience, but i don't remember what my nap dreams were. and i woke up still feeling like i actually gave my brothers eulogy.

enter mosaic.

i could have stayed asleep for at least 4 more hours this afternoon, but i got up to go play drums at my church mosaic. i play every week and its always a great source of encouragement and fulfillment, so i was willing to forgo the hopes of more sleep. and it was just that. on top of the dream's affect on me, i was allowing actual situations in my life to become reasons for why i felt like i did. this relationship, that decision, those thoughts... so many things that had nothing to do with what i was feeling.

but then the sermon.

Don, my amazing pastor and great friend, spoke on bringing Shalom to our city. he read from the easter story, when Jesus appeared in the upper room post resurrection to the disciples who basically had it on lock down for fear of the Judeans. they were afraid. and then Jesus appears and says "Peace be with you!" and said it again "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you." then breathed on them. so much was to be had from these simple words, but as i heard them tonight, i was reminded of what is important. suddenly all my self pitying and self involvement was easily shadowed by the truth that Jesus has breathed life onto me and given me peace. Shalom is a big word. its not so easily translated into english, but when Jesus said it to his disciples, and thus to me, it just made sense. if you can receive Shalom, you're further along than you think you are.

this is an invitation to myself: live the peace that has been given to you, so that you can then give it away. because God knows that whatever it is that's inside of you, is going to be evident on your face, like it or not. it might as well be Shalom.

Monday, March 22, 2010

South by Southwest means SXSW

how to start?


perhaps with a confession:


i am, on my own, completely unworthy

i am, on my own, severed from hope of life

i am, on my own, ridiculously repugnant

so let me not be alone, Lord

let me be with You


last week was the infamous SXSW festival in Austin. in years past i've immersed myself in the waters of new bands, new films, celebrities and "VIP" parties. this year i only dipped my feet in. i had a great time, mind you, but was also very glad to have scaled it down. i didn't take off work this year with half a mind to have a less intense experience of the fest. and it worked. but even in the SXSW Lite version, i found myself pushing harder than my body really wanted to go. nights that didn't end until their neighboring morning, miles of walking, denying myself water for no reason at all, etc... and in my push towards God-knows-what, i found myself reflecting a lot more than i have in years past. about celebrity. about the party life. about music. and without claiming any generalities as gospel, i'll tell you a few of my thoughts.


what about being on a "list" makes us feel so good? one of the best parts of SXSW is how free it is. monetarily. but in order to avoid spending money, you have to know where to look for the RSVP's. follow the right Twitter accounts. join the right Facebook group. know the right people. which used to feel like an adventure to me. i would get excited about being "in the know" and that somehow i was special enough to figure out how to get on "the list". this is a great marketing ploy, no doubt, and maybe i'm just getting old, but i'm kind of over it. it just seems very elitist. to align myself with any group that looks down on anyone else out of arrogance is sure to make my heart into a stone. that mindset is like a drug. when you feel that you have the upper hand on anyone else, most would dare not give it up easily. but rest easy, that pride will not hold anyone up. nor will it push them into places they would like to go. i'm convinced that pride is a barb in the hearts of men: quick to go in, but painful and damaging when removed. and it will be removed.


so i'll just try and avoid it.

[ok, now imagine i didn't just say any of that]

i had a conversation with a really nice guy at one such "VIP" party. he was in town promoting his new movie MacGruber. let me back track and say in full disclosure that the only way i got into this party was a slight of hand wristband pass from a friend already inside. i then broke the wristband, tied it on and went in the back door. so. i got in and saw my friend and joined his conversation with a stranger. turns out the stranger was a movie star/comedian/writer, who i recognized.


"hi, i'm james."


"hey i'm norma."


"NORMA?"


"NO, JORMA"


(the party was very loud)


while talking to him a number of people approached him telling him how much they loved the movie and how funny he was. i asked if he ever got tired of it. of strangers bugging him. he said "no way man. we're all the F-ing same. i just got a break." so in a relatively quiet celebrity town that was momentarily over run with celebrity, i got to hear a small voice of hope that not all of them are arrogant *fillintheblankexplative* which was very encouraging.


so now that i've name droped, claimed to hate being on the VIP side of life (which is so the new skinny jeans), and established myself as someone who "knows what they're talking about", i just would like to refer you back to my confession.


i am nothing without Him. i only hope that i can live and love like He did and does.

Monday, March 15, 2010

motion and pauses

give way to what you know to be unknowable. there are so many times in our lives that bring us pause. we're shattered by a broken relationship. we're crushed by a death. we're left speechless by an opportunity far beyond what we deserve. whether a great blessing or relentless storm, we are given chances to see how out of control we are.

so what do we do?

i don't really know, but i can't help but picture a child who is in a situation that overwhelms him and he cries to his mother for help. even if his mother has the answer, its likely that the child doesn't understand why that is the answer. still somehow he is comforted by her intercession.

so cry out. pray. see your inability to do anything and take comfort in your Father's presence.

so many things have happened in my life recently that have stopped my movement. they have hurt. they have ignited me with elation. and in the absence of motion, all i could do was talk to God. thank Him. curse at Him. it was all i knew to do. and i'm ok with that being the only thing i did. and i think He was too.

all that to say: i'm thankful for the movement of my life, and for the pauses.