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Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 - End of Fasting

2011 was a blessing.  Anytime one embarks on some new adventure there is a great deal of anxiety, excitement, uncertainty and anticipation.  For me, this year certainly was all those things and more.  I began last year battling with apathy and complacency.  I begin this year renewed and refreshed.  It may seem a great paradox how deprivation can be so rejuvenating.   How can a lack of sleep bring rest?  I don't think any of my fasts this year really taught me all that much in and of themselves.  They were simply vehicles on my journey.  They were the mechanisms that facilitated an ever changing progression toward my destination.  My destination isn't some abstract and unchanging idea of a place I go when I die, its a certain reality that develops daily with each new encounter with the creator of all things.

Philippians 3:8 says, "8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ".  

Eating, sight, money, sound, smell, technology, voice and legs have no value in comparison to knowing Christ.  Its rubbish (without Christ).  It really is.

Each fast represents something to me.  Each fast helped me more fully understand this truth so plainly stated by Paul.  God isn't the most important one.  He is the only one of significance.  He is all in all.

When I thought about what my final fast should be I wanted it to be something that could help me envision newness.  I wanted it to be something that echoed new beginnings.  For me that has always been the essence of my baptism and being washed clean from my sins.

So naturally the idea of washing was an appealing concept, and without it how dirty would I be? make a long story short, I didn't shower for the last 40 days.  Gross right?  Well I did scrub down.  Every two days or so I'd do the wash rag scrub.  Every 10-14 days I'd wash my hair.  Maybe it was a cop out, but it helped me appreciate nonetheless.  I'm no rocket surgeon, but I have realized that its much better standing in the shower and allowing the Holy Spirit to cleanse me than doing it my imperfect self.   Yet, it was powerful seeing the dirt that covered my body.  How much more the spiritual dirt that soils our souls.

Everyone keeps asking me, which one was the most difficult.  Its hard to say, but generally speaking, the fewer "concessions" I made, the more difficult each fast was.  Eating, Sight, Speaking, and Walking were in order, the four hardest.   Spending and Technology were the easiest.

I've thought how these might affect me in 2012 and have decided to incorporate some of these disciplines going forward.  I do want to fast once a week,  sun up to sun down, no eating.  I also like the idea of a spending freeze for a month out of the year and occasionally taking a break from all electronic media.  As the year has progressed I'm constantly struck by how easily I forget.  But when I do find myself brooding over this or that little problem, the memory of that first taste after 40 days, that first sound of birds chirping, that first vision of a sunset, that first smell of fresh cut grass, all seem to sling me back into sense of gratitude more effectively than they ever did before.

I am thankful for this life God has given me.  Today I resolve to revel in each moment.  I will learn to abundantly appreciate each tomorrow my Lord chooses to give me.

Hope you all are doing great!!

Merry New Year!!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 39 - Looking up

Most of you will not be able to relate to what I am about to say.  I spend most of my life looking down on people.  Now some of you may be thinking, "Well of course Danny! Your arrogance.....and exaggerated sense of superiority are way out of control!"  This may be, you simpleton, but if you know me personally, you understand my double entendre.  After all, I am pushing 6'6".  Therefore in virtually every conversation, I find myself looking down.  

Its not something I think about much.  I've just always been tall.  As one of the biggest kids in elementary school, I usually got picked first for kick ball.  I usually was "rewarded" the coveted and prominent back middle position in all my elementary school photos.  Even today,when I'm in big groups, my friends don't really have to designate a geographical meeting point.  I am the ever moving banner around who we can congregate.  I can then look over and down on the masses to find our lost sheep.  Did I already say I have a big head?  lol.  Looking down has always been ingrained in me.  Of course there were adults and there was also my late growth spurt.  But generally speaking, from the age of 15 my gaze has continued to be drawn downward.  There may be some weird psychological things associated with this, that are seriously distorting my self perception.    

A few years ago I was with one of my good friends Russ Davis.  I can't remember where, I just remember we were standing in front of a mirror.  I could not believe how big a difference there was in our heights!  He's not 7'2" bye the way. was a weird moment.  I had known Russ for years, and I had always felt we were basically the same physically.  I mean I knew I was taller...of course.  But it didn't mean anything to me until I saw us standing there next to each other.  

For me, there isn't really much of a different between 5'8" and 6' 2".  They both fall into the category of "shorter than me".  

You may be asking yourself why I'm telling you this.  Well, let me tell you.  The last 39 days I've had numerous conversations seated in my wheelchair.  Thus, I've spent more time looking up at people than I ever have before.  I can't explain why, but there is a profound difference.  It goes beyond an altered physical perspective.  There is something about the physiological posture that is affecting me spiritually.  In a word, its humbling.  Not self debasement. Its humbling in a wonderfully appreciative way.  Its humbling in a confidently deferential kind of way.  Its humbling in a contented way.  Its nice looking up to others.

I saw this guy one time get up in front of the church to pray.  Everyone knows the normal way to pray.  You must bow your head, demonstrating the proper level of contrition.  Who doesn't know this?  Anyways, that's not what this guy did.  When he started praying he looked straight up!  (I know I was supposed to have my eyes closed).  Anyways, I've been wondering about that moment over the last few weeks.  Didn't that guy know God is everywhere?  After all, God is just as much below as he is above.  What does he see when he looks up?  Did he expect to see God more clearly with his eyes on the church ceiling?  Then I got to thinking.  Is the bowing of our heads for God's benefit or ours?  Does the creator of heaven and earth care which way we are looking?  And I came to the conclusion.....I don't think so.  I started wondering if there was power in the posture.  Is there a substance of deeds that enfleshes faith?  Although I do believe there is power in the perspective.....which posture often reflects, can posture affect perspective? 

For me, the posture of "looking up" seems to .  With head and eyes up, I more readily realize my need of others and recognize their concern for me.  I'm able to appreciate my position, not in isolation, but in terms of my relationship with them and with God.  Looking up signifies not so much where I am, but to whom I am going.  There is something very spiritual in this simple physicality.  

Tomorrow my wheeling days are over....., blessed strolling begins again.   I just hope despite tomorrow, my eyes will lift... and focus ascend.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 34- Questions and observations

Over the course of this experiment I have been left with some lingering questions......

1. How do handicapped people get in and out of the car?  (I have been standing up and slinging my wheelchair in the bed of my truck).  Evidently they custom make cars/mini vans for the wheelchair users.  Hand controls, access ramps, they have it all.  You can wheel right into the car and position yourself right behind the steering wheel.  Pretty cool.

2. How does wheelchair basketball work exactly?  More specifically how do they dribble and wheel at the same time?  I thought they must have a special wheel chair.  When I researched this I found that although they do use a different type of chair, there are some rule double dribble, and traveling is pushing your wheel more than twice without dribbling.

3. Why does sitting in a wheelchair make children want to sit in your lap?  I know I'm a pretty lovable guy but I'm quite sure I didn't have this constant a barrage of kiddies crawling all over me.  Maybe its the novelty.  Maybe its accessibility...easier to climb..???

4. How much does the average manual wheelchair cost?  Would you believe $500?!!  That makes my 40 dollar investment seem like a steal.  (Electric wheelchairs cost thousands!)

5. How many folks worldwide use wheelchairs?  500,000.  I would have thought with 7 billion people this would have been much higher.

Today at church, I thought about some of the benefits and difficulties of moving in a crowd.  As the services were finishing, I wanted to get to the back to meet this guy that had been visiting.  The problem is you can't just weave through a group of people in a wheelchair.  You have to wait for some space.  Sometimes people just don't realize, but if I want bye, I have to either be patient or beep beep folks out of the way.  Well, I didn't want to do either because he might get out before I could catch him.  So, while the closing announcements were being made I started slowly inching back toward the rear.  Almost unnoticeable.....I eased on like...couldn't have done it quite so stealthily on my own two legs.

Gravel is the kriptonite of wheelchair movement.

Its nice people getting things for you all the time.

I think it might be easier to be handicapped if your were small.  People could easily carry you all over.  Not so easy when you are 6'6" and weigh 205 lbs.

My beard is just as itchy walking or wheeling.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 29 - Aching

My knees are aching.  I know this is not uncommon.  Many of us ache when injuries occur.  Blunt force trauma, breaks, cuts, tears.  My knees are aching to walk, to run, to stretch.  They are aching because of inactivity.  I so desperately want to go for a jog.  I'm bored.  I'm blessed.  Even when I do my best, I'm left longing for better things.  I can't wait to once again revel in the blessings God has given me.   But why can't I now?  I guess I can.  I just forget.

Its a strange thing to ache to do something.  We all desire.  We all have wants and needs, but I want to walk.  Is it too much too ask?  Although I know its not true, I feel that if I could just get up and take a stroll I would be utterly satisfied.  I feel like I would never have another desire if this one dream is fulfilled.  When I stretch my legs around the block, I will again hop, skip, and jump....but not now.  Now is the time to appreciate what I have.  Yet now is not what I fixate on.  I fixate on my hopes.  I hope things will be better even when they aren't bad.  Why?  I'm not sure.

I've given up seven different things.  From these I've learned that there are at least 7 things I value, some more than other.  I've learned that none of these are worth a hill of beans without God.  How empty would life be without him?  I can't imagine.  I can't imagine constantly chasing after the next best thing when the one good thing was sitting right in front of me.   Deep, I know.  But true.  Its nice tapping into that truth.  My boredom will last for another 20 minutes till I find something to do.  My blessings will last forever.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 26 -Wheeling in the Dark

Warning: there is no real point to this short story besides....the little discoveries of life are quite enjoyable.

I was getting ready to go to bed the other night, and I go to turn off the lights.  Most nights, Emmanuel is up much later than me, so he is the one to flick off any remaining switches.  Normally, when I am walking around I have a system for turning lights off.  It basically involves lights in each room being on.  You then turn off each of these lights on your way to your ultimate destination which for me was my bedroom.  This night however, when I flipped off the kitchen light I realized there were no other lights on in the entire house.  It was pitch black.  I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face. 

Most times in the past I would simply sigh, turn the kitchen lights back on, and go turn on the lights making the path to my bedroom.  Then  I would backtrack to the kitchen, turn off the lights in reverse order, leaving each room behind me in darkness.   Its kind of like painting yourself into a corner with darkness.   Not a lot of work, but when you're feeling lazy, even the smallest tasks seem large.  So what do I do?  Normally there is a big downside to following the lazy route.  Many of you have experienced this.  Its the infamous stumped toe.  I hate them, and because I am as clumsy as the next person with larger than normal feet, I am often smashing them (Thus birthing my long pre-sleep light path routine).   Anyways, my time in darkness, earlier this year has greatly alleviated this fear.  I now walk in darkness with much more confidence.  I now have in my arsenal a plethora of anti - toe stubbing techniques.  Still the worry remains.............anyways to make a short story long, I chose the lazy way..........and discovered something amazing.

Wheeling in the darkness is much less dangerous than walking in the darkness!  Why?  well let me illustrate.

You guys ever see someone kick field goals using the straight toe style?  Almost no one does anymore.  They actually makes shoes for this.  Anyways, this is the way my dad used to kick field goals.  Straight on.  Straight toes.  The problems is, that if you aren't wearing the correct shoes, and when you are kicking a coffee table leg and not a football, this can be quite painful.  I found wheeling in the dark is much more like sliding into second base.  

With your feet out, toes pointing to the sky, any foreign objects unexpectedly making contact with your feet, are harmlessly absorbed in the way God intended....without pain.  Let me tell you this was quite the revelation.  

This may not be a big deal.  It may not ever significantly affect anyone but me.  It will only save me a few seconds every few nights.  Yet, it still made me smile to think about.  I hope it does you too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 20

A couple observations from the last week.

1. I can't believe I have not run over my toe even once.
2. I can't believe how cute my niece and nephew are.

3. I can't believe how much Stormy, Windy, and Ashley (three little girls I pick up for church) can distract me on Sunday morning.  During services, during the lesson.  They were fighting over who got to ride in the chair.  David Fields was speed wheeling them all over the place.   Normally I don't think they'd care to "ride" in a wheelchair.  It just goes to show how much fun PEOPLE can make THINGS to be.
4. Everyone is nicer to you when you are in a wheelchair.   They are always getting doors and smiling.  Its pretty cool.  I bet this works pretty good at the amusement park.

When you give something walking, its hard not to make exceptions ALL the time.  Its hard not to justify and rationalize into ever increasing license.  Sin can creep into our hearts in a very similar way.  A little, then a lot.

I love teaching high school students about the Bible.  Most of them don't know much.  Some of them know next to nothing.  Yet they understand the important stuff of what the Bible speaks to and who it speaks of.   They see inconsistency and ask good questions.   They tend not to be judgmental and are generally open minded.  Most love people who do things like sitting in a wheel chair for a month.  They soak up praise like a sponge.  They have not forgotten so many adults...what its like to be loved and cherished and adored.

I'm starting a whisper campaign that's made all the more easy now that I can see eye to eye with some of the elementary school kids.  I try to whisper the big secret, "I think you're wonderful." every chance I get.  You have to furtively look around a lot to make sure they know how big a statement it is.  "You are amazing", "You're my favorite", or "You are perfect" also work well.

We had so much fun at trunk or treat last Wednesday.  I got some cool ideas for next year.  A "Hall o Lu" seems like a fun play off of hallelujah.  Maybe we could call it something new.  I just don't think the kids care much about the name if they are getting candy.  Some of the costumes were pretty scary.....

I am still upset I didn't shave my head and try to be Professor X.

I made my first trip to the grocery store this week.  Thanks Shea.  Grocery stores sure are easy to roll around in with a wheelchair.  Next time I'm going to try one of those motorized little carts they have.

I walked a little again this Saturday.  I've been stretching so I wasn't nearly as sore today as I was last time but my knees are achy.

Hope you guys are doing well.  I'm off to do some babysitting.