Spiritually Unbalanced

Posted: August 6, 2010 in faith

(Does one post a month qualify as blogging?  It will have to for now.)

It has occurred to me recently that Christian Spirituality (to quote Don Miller) has become more and more difficult for me to flesh out on a daily basis.  By this, I am not referring to things like daily devotions, extended prayer times, and listening to worship music every time I’m in my car.

The greater struggle has been more foundational.  Things like….Taking small moments to remember God throughout the day.  Being a more loving, accepting person.  Desiring to spend time with close friends, being in community.  Looking forward to opportunities to help others.  Intentionally inviting God’s presence into my family’s life.  Remembering the big picture, of who God is and who I am and how I fit in this world.

It feels a lot like I just need my life to slow down, but I’m not at the wheel and can’t make it happen.  Problem is, God isn’t at the wheel half the time either, because I’ve shoved Him in the trunk, thinking we’ll just have to have a talk when the car finally stops for a bit.

I have the occasional “high”, sometimes during worship on a Sunday, or maybe in a random moment with Eli.  But they are temporary, and pass quickly.

It’s been easy to make excuses like “I leave home each day at 7:00am to go to work, and usually don’t get home until 6:00pm (exhausted and stressed), and by the time we have dinner, do some laundry or dishes, get Eli cleaned up and ready for bed, there just isn’t time for anything else, just busy-ness.”

There are times when I wish we lived out in the country somewhere, worked at a bank or office or grocery store in a nearby small town, and could simply get away from the urban sprawl that seems to suck time right out of my life, and sit on a porch with glasses of lemonade and simply enjoy God’s beauty.  It sucks to feel like we have to drive 90 minutes through ridiculous traffic to enter the mountains and enjoy it now.

The thing is, God is here, now, in everyone and everything.  He’s there to meet, to enjoy, to converse, to know.  I just have trouble seeing it, and my vision keeps getting more blurred.  I have expectations about life or friendship or balance or spirituality that come from a selfish place but feel real and justified.  In short, I feel out of balance.

Do Christian bookstores sell tightrope poles?


Caffeine & Soda Free

Posted: July 14, 2010 in everything else

Thanks for the comments after last month’s post.  I was shocked that anyone was still actually checking this old thing out every now and then.

Now the good news.

For last 6 weeks, I have consumed no soda, no tea, and no caffeine.  Yes, that’s right.  Caffeine, soda, and tea free for 6 weeks.  I have been a Crystal Light fiend.  Or, more specifically, a Great Value Walmart brand of Crystal Light fiend.  Fruit punch and lemonade keep me going.

The better news.

Because of this purge, I have now lost anywhere from 10 – 12 pounds in the last 6 weeks, depending on what time of day I weight myself.

I’ve tried this before with some success, but for the first time I feel like I might actually be “over the hump”.  The cravings are very mild, and I haven’t really been tempted to cheat.  I’ll keep you updated.

6 Months the Wiser

Posted: June 8, 2010 in blogosphere, family, music, work

Hello blog world.  At least the 2 of you who occasionally still blog or read blogs.  Let’s get started.

As much as I enjoyed blogging, and still would like to more regularly, I know it’s like riding on a train that’s half way off the tracks.  People slowly stopped blogging about 12-18 months ago, and it’s steadily declined since then.  Quite frankly, technology moves too fast for us to keep up anymore.

On that note, I give Facebook and Twitter about 18 more months of popularity.  Many who were active Facebook-ers have now become casual Face “look” ers instead.  How many people can possibly afford the time and attention to these things at the frantic pace in which our lives project?  Now, if you could simply “speak” into your phone and update them that way, that could change things.  But now, typing things out is simply too much effort.  Anybody remember having actual pen pals?

Neil Young was in concert in Knoxville recently.  It was somewhere around one mortgage payment per ticket.  I could not tell you the name of one Neil Young song.  But as I read the local papers regarding the concert – both before and after – I decided to give him a try.  Went to McKay’s, found two scratched cd’s for about $3.00 each, and so far am REALLY enjoying the first one.  Don’t even know the title of the album.  Hoping the second one is just as good.

I recently downloaded Scrabble on my phone.  In terms of the attention I give my family, my spiritual growth, and the time it takes me to use the boys room, it’s turning out to be one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.

In the last 6 months, Eli turned 6 years old, graduated Kindergarten, his hair is growing back out, he’s now learning to swim, he’s winning trophies on Mario Kart Wii, and he says things that are way smarter than I give him credit for.  I turned 34 years old, am also growing my hair back out, have noticed a much more visible bald spot on my crown, have already burned out on Mario Kart Wii, and am really no smarter than I was about 12 years ago.

I’m still a huge Tiger Woods fan.

In late April, I spent about 4 hours in Las Vegas with my friend Robert.  He came to Arizona with me on a Threds event trip.  In 6 days we worked about 85 hours.  But on our only short work day, we finished at the event, changed clothes, drove 2.5 hours to Vegas, spent 4 hours there, and drove 2.5 hours back.  Neither of us had ever been, so it was totally worth it.  I just can’t tell you anything about it.  Sorry, it’s the rules.

I love my wife.  She makes great meatloaf, gives generous back rubs (only to me, don’t be asking), folds the laundry with more patience than I could muster in a year, loves Friday Night Lights almost as much as I do, gives so much of herself to Crossings and her small group, watches with a smile while Eli and I act-a-fool on the kids rides at Dollywood, and looks so totally cute when she wears this certain colorful headband she got recently.

This may be it for another 6 months.  Who knows.  Be good.


Posted: January 22, 2010 in blogosphere, work

This moment is truly the first time I’ve even thought about blogging in the last, what, 3 weeks?

(pause – receiving a phone call at my desk…)

And, 3 minutes later, I’m back.  That’s the problem.  I’m overwhelmed at work.  I quite simply don’t have time to do anything else.  I haven’t updated by Blockbuster online queue in about a month.  Haven’t seen anything on You Tube in who knows how long.  Haven’t been on Erin’s Facebook in probably 2 weeks or more.  Have barely even had time to glance at ESPN and SI.com during the 15 minute lunch breaks that I take at my desk.

What do know….getting paged to go to my owner’s office for a conference call….until next time….


Posted: January 4, 2010 in holidays, lifestyle, work

Today, I’ve returned to work after having 10 consecutive days off of work (December 25th – January 3rd).  That’s the most consecutive days off from work that I’ve experienced in about 6 years … and the last time was because I didn’t have a job.

In fact, in my 5 1/2 years at Threds, up until last week, I had never taken off a full 5-day work week for vacation.  All of my time off has been 3 day and 4 day weekends, or a random day here or there.

I’m not sure what to think about this extended rest thing.  Sure, I enjoyed most of it while it was happening.  Played a lot of Wii, spent 3 1/2 days in Kentucky with family, saw a couple of movies, ate a bunch of food.

But last night.  Oh man, last night.  The dread I felt last night at the prospect of returning to work was the worst I’d experienced since I was selling cars back in early 2004.  It’s not just work.  I like my work okay.  It was the knowledge that the month of January is going to be one of the busiest, hardest, most overwhelming months of work I’ll probably have experienced in my time at Threds.  Long story as to why – short version is that we’re taking over a pretty large merchandise account from another company, that company is going to be sending us a very LARGE amount of inventory (at least 1, maybe 2 full size 18-wheeler truck loads full), and we’ll have to unload it, count every last piece of it, enter every item into our computers, organize and inventory every bit of it, then frantically begin developing and ordering new products to build the line back up.  It’s a good long term thing for our company.  But it’s going to make January feel like hell frozen over.

And in all of this, my soul says to my mind, “Work is good.  It’s a person’s responsibility in the world to work, to earn his place, to add something, to build something, to contribute to the community and earn a living for your family.  Work is rewarding, and necessary.”

My mind responds to my soul, “That’s crap.  I have to work because Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  Lots of people have plenty of unearned money and don’t work.  Work keeps me away from home an average of 10 hours each day, when you add in the travel time to and from.  It stresses me out.  It never pays quite what you think it should.  It sucks.”

And so, at 4:28pm, I’ve taken 8 minutes to blog, even while things are piled on my desk and I’m very behind on the things I need to accomplish.  And I can’t wait for the next 22 minutes to go by.  And I’m normally not a can’t-wait-for-5:00pm-to-get-here kind of person.  I blame that feeling today on all the rest.  The glorious rest.  The addictive rest.  The God-honoring rest.

A Few Things

Posted: December 16, 2009 in everything else

This will certainly not be the deepest of posts.  I’ve not even thought about this blog for the last 2 weeks.  Christmas season at work is overwhelming me….at work each day 15 – 20 minutes early, eating a 15 minute lunch at my desk, staying 30 minutes late many days.  Whew.

The new Romans t-shirt for Crossings – The Manifesto of Freedom tee.  Definitely the coolest looking one we’ve done so far.  The front of the shirt is on the left – the four boxes – representing what was laid out as the “Four Moves of Romans”.  What a Mess, What a God, What a Story, and What a Difference.  The back of the shirt – on the right – follows the pattern we’ve set up where we lay out each week’s teaching date, passage, and big idea in a concert tour style print.

On Sunday, Erin/Eli/Me went to the Live Nativity Show at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.  Family friendly, real animals, huge choir, big production, they’ve been doing it for like 30 years.  It was AWFUL.  We left before it was even half way over.  It was free, and I still felt jipped (spelling?).  If the actual events of the Nativity were as boring as that show was, maybe that’s why only two of the four Gospels talk about it.

Over four weeks sugar soda beverage free now.  The cravings are still there, no doubt about it, but I’m holding on.  The way my body feels reminds me a lot of when I went vegetarian for a couple of months back in 2008.  I’m not as thirsty or hungry all the time, I don’t have to drink a beverage just to satisfy an urge, and I’m pretty sure it’s helping me sleep better to, since I’m consuming MUCH less caffeine now.

Eli is SO very much into Christmas now.  The kid is singing Christmas songs all the time – Rudolph, Frosty, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, you name it.  We’re told he’s singing them to himself at school, he sings them in the shower, sings them laying in bed.  It’s great.  Wanna know what he’s asking Santa for Christmas this year?  Gold and money.  Not toys, not games, not movies.  Gold and money.  This, my friends, makes Christmas shopping very difficult.

(PS – in the Christmas spirit, the kids at church got on stage and sang a song during both services this past Sunday.  Eli, during the 1st service, sitting right in the front, went full-finger deep on a nose pick, pulled the sucker out, and ate it right in front of about 130 people.  Wow.)

Tiger Woods?  No comment.  It’s a private issue that remains in my family.  My wife knows how I feel, and it should remain that way.  We simply ask for privacy during this difficult time, as I deal with my conflicting emotions, and look forward to the upcoming 2010 PGA golf season.

Good Bye Soda

Posted: December 4, 2009 in food

For about as long as I can remember, I’ve been an active consumer of Coke, Mountain Dew, Mellow Yellow, Sunkist, Dr Pepper, etc … the entire family of high fructose corn syrupy goodness that is the American soft drink.  In high school, when I went to church camp, I couldn’t wait for canteen time to roll around, so I could buy a Kit Kat bar and a Mountain Dew.  In college, when I would drive to a ministry on the weekends, I would stop at the local Super America gas station in Grayson, KY and purchase a 20oz Mountain Dew and a honey bun for the road.  For the last couple of years, Coke has been more my drink of choice.  From the can.  From the bottle.  From the fountain.  I love it all.

In the past 19 days, however, I’ve consumed 1 (one) 12oz can of Sprite.  And that was 14 days ago.  Other than that, it’s been UNsweet tea, water, water with Crystal Light lemonade packets added to it, orange juice, grape juice, and milk.  I’ve consumed 2 diet-orange soda drinks.  They were okay, but I didn’t care for them much.

By my estimates, over the last few years, I’ve consumed an average of 2000 – 3000 calories a week from soft drinks or sweet tea.  Roughly a pound worth of calories each week.  Tasty, delicious, craved calories, yes.  But, nutritionally speaking, empty calories.  Calories that do nothing for me but pep me up for a bit, then bring me down, and leave me craving more.

My attempts to cut out soft drinks in the past have been futile.  Partly because I’ve been addicted to them for so long.  And partly because I’ve not had a worthy “substitute” drink to satisfy me.  I’ve always HATED diet soft drinks, and I just don’t enjoy drinking water that much.

This time around, I’ve turned most of my attention to unsweet tea.  It takes a little getting used to.  I’m sure it’s a lot like drinking coffee or beer in that regard (I assume, since I don’t drink coffee or beer).  But I’m getting more used to it, and the presence of caffeine certainly helps.  The orange juice and grape juice have calories, yes.  I’m drinking them in moderation, only at home, mainly for the extra Vitamin C during the cold season.

I’m pretty sure this is my longest non-sugar-soda stretch in many years.  At this point, I’m feeling much better about my chances of long term change.  Ultimately, I would love to simply eliminate carbonated drinks all together, diet or non diet.  I’m doing it partly because of the calories, partly because it will save me money, and partly because of the challenge, just the idea that this is something I should be able to exercise some control over.

Wish me luck.