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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.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 13 - Soreness

Yesterday I got a call from an old friend.  Ken was a student in the campus ministry when I arrived at Clemson 11 years ago.  Now Ken is a doctor with his own practice in Chattanooga, TN.  Clemson had a football game so we planned to get together for dinner after the traffic died down.  When I got to the church, Ken called and said they were still windowshopping and wanted to know if I could meet them downtown.  I knew parking would be rough so I decided to walk.  This was by far the most I had walked in 12 days.  Maybe half a mile round trip.  Up to this time the most I had walked was from my truck to the door of someone I was doing Bible study with or a Meals on Wheels recipient.  I knew it might be difficult.......but it was so nice stretching the legs and strolling around!  I took my time and enjoyed it.  And then this morning came, and my calves felt like they had been put through a grinder.  After only 11 days, a 1/2 mile walk left me aching.  Can you believe that?  A little inactivity left me seriously debilitated.  lol.  Its crazy how quickly we lose the things we don't use.

For the last couple weeks I have not been praying like I should and have suffered for it spiritually.  I looked down at my skinny legs today and realized that any where I want to go in this life, and I mean who I want to be, who God wants me to be, these legs are not going to get me there.  I prayed for God to take me where my strength, my will and my effort will always fall short.  I want to walk to the spiritual mountaintop.  I know it involves me.  Its just not something I can do on my own.  I started realizing there are a lot of spiritual muscles I've probably not exerted in some time.  I started wondering if there was such a thing as spiritual soreness.  I would guess so.  Some aches and pains always accompany growth and conditioning.  Its a good sore though.  Its the kind of sore when you know you are better off than you were before; the kind of sore you know will eventually pass.  I believe God has something incredibly special in store for me.    I don't know why I believe that.  I just do.  And if I'm going to be ready to take advantage of his blessings I've got a lot of stretching and straining to do.  I need to prepare.  I'm now wondering if these great blessings God is wanting to give have been delayed until I was ready.  He doesn't want me to fail any more that I do.  Don't get me wrong, I already feel blessed beyond measure.  Its just I think there may be something new I have just begun to fathom.  I don't know.  I guess I will just have to wait and see.

Hopefully next week my knees will be as sore as my calves are today.

Well hope you are doing well.  I pray your walk with him has been glorious this week!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 6 - Walking by Faith

I was thinking how many songs/hymns/scriptures have to do with walking with God.  Yeah though I walk through valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil....I know walking with God doesn't necessarily mean "WALKING" but when you're skoot skootin around in a wheelchair the idea of strolling along with God, stretching the legs, exerting the muscles,........well that sounds significantly sweeter today than it did a week ago.

I know most of you have heard of Team Hoyt.  If not you need to check out their website  Its the story of a father and son who run through life together.

The Father (Dick), loves to run because it brings such joy to his son (Rick) who can't.  Yet they share the experience together.  I realized today how much joy the "shared experience" is and how much joy my experiment has brought me. I wheeled over to my Monday Bible study today with Faye.  She has MS and is always in her wheelchair.  I could stand anytime I wanted.  She could not.  Yet we both sat and wheeled around the room.  We talked and opened our Bibles to study together.  We have been doing this for years.  We have been doing this long enough to become comfortable with and often confide in each other.   We had a shared history.

I think God would love for us to share our experiences/history with him as well.  He wants to share in our joys and bring comfort in our failures.  He wants to heal our hurts and exalt in our triumphs.  We talk about a relationship with God.  Maybe the problem we have with prayer is not our willingness to talk.  Maybe its our lack of shared experiences to talk about.  

I had to walk a little today to do my Meals on Wheels route.  The only thing that hurt was the bottoms of my feet.  A teensy bit unsteady at first but not much.  We'll see how that might change in about three weeks.  lol.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 2 - Almost really needing a wheelchair.

Yesterday my friend Shea picked me up to go eat lunch with another friend Jay.  After scooching into her truck, we discovered my door wouldn't shut.  Slam the door, Slam, Slam, Slam.....nope that's not going to work.  It looked like the latch in the door was caught and wouldn't disengage. We decided I would just hold it shut until we got to the restaurant.  Well a wrong turn and 3/4 U turn into oncoming traffic later and I realized the pretend need for a wheelchair and the actual need weren't that far apart.

Anyways, wheeled right into Fatz and had a great meal.  I think people might be nicer to you when they think you can't walk.  People were getting doors and chumming it up with me pretty well.

Have you ever ran out of gas 20 feet from the pump?  I hadn't either but Shea managed it today.  lol.   I think she had mixed emotions.  It may have been like when I left my wallet in Wal Mart with 100 bucks.  Someone benevolently turned it in with 20 dollars.  Kind of thankful.  Kind of irritated.

A sweet lady from church brought me a little bicycling mechanism so I can exercise my legs a little and not get atrophy.  My plan is not to "walk".  I have stood up a couple times.  I needed to walk for about 20 feet today once to meet Mary for a bible study, the second to get the Myers clan for church.  I wheeled out to the van, threw the chair in the back and walked to the drivers seat.

(spending 10 minutes scooching in the passenger side and trying to pull the chair in after me= utter failure)
I'm sure if anyone saw me it would have been a great laugh.

Anyways, at church, the kids loved wheeling me around.  It is the first experiment that all the kids were envious of.  Everyone under the age of 10 wanted a "ride".  They also all wanted a turn pushing me around.  I was happy to oblige.   I might be sick.  I definitely can't sleep.  Regardless of these slight inconveniences .........Overall a good day.  

This will be me by the end of this 40 days!!!  lol.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 1 - Me and my Wheelchair

I found this sweet wheelchair at salvation army.  Now of course sweet simply means "my first wheelchair" since I know absolutely nothing about them (which I will get to later).  I had goofed around on them at various elderly homes I visited over the years.  Wheelies and speed racing, you get the picture.  This wheelchair doesn't have mold.  It is skinnier than others I've seen, and it is black.  Thus it is super cool.  Only slightly less cool than this......

Not quite as heavy though.  No problem, as long as it rolls!  I took the feet rest way they would stretch out far enough for my long legs.  I then started my in house practice runs.  It took me about 3 minutes before I almost flipped over backwards!  I discovered late last night that my 1929 home may be one of the most inaccessible handicap facilities in America.  I have all these 2 inch lips from room to room.

I was trying to get over one of these lips by leaning back while simultaneously rolling forward.  Bad move.  That's when my roommate pointed out the breaker bars on the back of the chair.  I don't know if that's what they are called but they are specifically made to keep you from flipping over backwards.  Good to know.

I have stairs out my front and back doors positioned in such a way making it impossible to get out much less get down.  Crap.  What am I going to do now?  I sat there thinking about this for awhile.   Finally, I thought maybe if I could open the door and build up enough speed maybe I could propel myself out the door down the stairs.

NO good.  Ummm....I could  back up over the stairs but those little breaker bars didn't look like they could hold that much weight.  I finally decided to go out to the shed and get some two by fours.  I laid them under the stairs to stagger the drop.  I almost fell over but it worked.

I'm not going to bore you with details but my hands are sore, my arms are sore, my thighs are sore.  This handicap thing is no easy gig.  Oh and it was raining today.  It took me about 3 minutes to get from the steps to the car, 5 minutes from the car into the church.    Robert picked me up.  David dropped me off.

Things I learned today that I will describe later in more detail.
1. Its hard to stop a fast moving wheelchair on wet asphalt.
2. Before making wheelchair purchase check to see if it pulls hard to the left.
3. Going to the bathroom takes technique.
4. Before starting wheelchair experiment, remember to move necessary dishes to lower shelves (good thing for go go gadget arms).
5. Our office area at the church is the second most inaccessible building in the U.S.
6. I really really really really really really really like to walk.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 40

Well the silence is over!!!!!!  AT LAST!!!!!  FREE AT last!!!!  This 40 may have been the toughest, even though I made more exceptions in this stretch than I have for any other.  I like to talk.  I enjoy being heard.  Even though I am naturally introverted, being able to speak and connect with folks is a blessing I will hopefully NEVER take for granted.  I am thankful for you voice.

Silence observations.......if Jesus sought it, we can bank on it being good for us as well.  Silence sets the mood.  One of my good friends loved the joke, "You know how we know there won't be any women in heaven?".  "No.", I said.  "Revelation 8:1 says, 'When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.'"  He loved that joke.  As an 82 year old man telling it from the pews in the middle of worship service, it brought down the house.  All I know is there is indeed something heavenly about the occasional silence.  There is a holiness that can dwell in that space that cannot dwell anywhere else.  I kind of like the meditative tradition we have in our communion service.  I don't think the communion time has to be quiet time.  Yet quiet time is reflective time, important for us in our spiritual mindsets.  It allows a holiness to rest specially on the temporal space we designate for the Lord's supper.

Now its time to stop walking.  Ugghh..  I am excited and dreading it.  I love to walk.  I need to find a good wheelchair.  That is my goal for tomorrow so I can start this experiment come Tuesday.  Goodwill purchases and pharmacy rentals will be my focus.  I have no idea how much they will cost.  I suppose I'll need something for the shower as well.  I'm worried I'm going to have to go to the bathroom and not be able to make it in time.  I plan on doing some leg stretches and exercise to fight atrophy.  My goal is not to walk, so I may still drive if I can figure out how to get in and out of the car with the wheelchair.  I guess we will see.  I'm sure there will be some interesting stories to share.  Anyways.  Hope you are all doing well.  I have several people I need to call in the next couple days.  Its been so long since I've been on the phone.

So long kiddos.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 33

Matthew 12:36-37

36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Our words are powerful.  What we say makes a difference.  Yet, holding our tongue, may be even more significant.  What we don't say may be even more important than what we do.  

Yesterday I went to an older lady's home to help her with some chores. She made me lunch and then began a mostly one sided  Somehow she started talking about politics and espoused some beliefs that I certainly don't agree with.  I just listened.  I wasn't angered nor did I feel a particular desire to engage in any sort of debate.  I was content just listening and hearing her perspective.  After listening for a while I had to excuse myself and be about some other activities.  I received a text from her shortly afterwards apologizing for her political polemic.  Of course I told her "no worries".  It really wasn't a big deal. Yet, it got me thinking.  I have never had anyone apologize to me after sharing their views whether religious, political or otherwise.  Could it have been the lack of response that resonated with her?  Maybe.  But I am becoming convinced about how powerful silence and the peace that often accompanies it can be.

Last night I watched my Clemson Tigers move to 5-0 on the year.  I was so into this game.  I wanted to scream at the refs, but couldn't.  I wanted to complain but couldn't.  Even though I could make some signs of disgust, being upset was unsatisfying.  Celebration however was a different story.  I high fived, ran around, pumped my fists, jumped up and down.  It was gratifying.  Now maybe these reactions were simply a result of the athletic outcome.  Or maybe they speak to something else.  Maybe they speak to nature of silence.  I've never really thought of it as a conduit before but now I'm seeing things differently.  In silence my perspective is framed distinctly.  I think about and process things differently.  Is this worth saying?  Is it worth the effort?  How can I write a thought in a few words that I normally would've expressed with many?

It is fascinating.  I love preaching and teaching now more than I ever have before.  I cherish my designated moments of "exception".

Every word is precious.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 26

Two weeks left.  One of the greatest blessings of the last few weeks is the time spent writing.  It has been such a joy to write and encourage people about the wonderful gifts God has bestowed.   My goal has been 2/day.  I put my hand over each card praying for words for each person I care so dearly about.   I pray for words of encouragement and exhortation.  I don't know how successful its been from the recipient point of view, but for me its been heavenly.  

The other great joy has been during my "exceptions".  I love to talk.  Since my conversation is so limited both in time and subject matter, I have found myself reveling in those moments of verbal expression.  They are moments I can now cherish and not regret.   They are now holy moments and no longer common.  They are special.  They are unique.  As the sheer volume of my words has decreased, the power of them has been amplified.  Can you imagine what it is like to actually think about everything you say before you say it?

I was thinking of the story of Jesus and the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8.  Don't you love Jesus' response when all the self righteous legalists brought this poor woman to him?  They were looking to accuse.  They were hoping to entrap and ensnare.  When they ask for his verdict, what is his response (at least initially)?  Silence.....................................  How profound is that?  Writing in the sand, he doesn't react to their prompts.   He takes his time.  I wonder what effect that silence.............................had on everyone.  They are emotional.  They are ready to debate.   They are itching for an argument.  And what does Jesus do?   He soothes the situation.  He diffuses ......preparing them to receive what he is about to say, by saying nothing.   Jesus knew what he was doing.

I am an uncle again!  Liza Mae, weighing 9lbs 3oz, measuring 21 inches long, didn't say a word.  She may have cooed at little.  But when I saw the perfect beauty of God's design in her little mouth, fingers, and toes, I heard God.  There was nothing audible, but He most definitely spoke of his new little cutie patootie creation and said, "It is good!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 22

Well .....half way home.... and there are several observations I would like to share.

1. Generally, although guys more often express "envy" of what I am doing, they are usually more uncomfortable trying to communicate with me via my slower mediums
2. Girls conversely, often say something like "That would kill me.  There no way I could go without talking". Yet they seem most understanding and patient with my experiment.

There are some big exceptions to rules 1 and 2 above.

3. I've probably been taking too many siesta's from this experiment.  I need to do better.  It is a great thing though to have to continually ask yourself, "Is this worthy of opening my mouth?"

4. I can waste just as much time or be just as productive, silent or talking.

5. Candace is horrible at reading lips.

6. The convenience of drive thru's being removed my diet has gotten better.

I was quite excited and encouraged by a good friend of mine who said she's been applying this fast to her mornings.  She doesn't say a word until she drops the kids off at school.  She told me it has helped her stress level tremendously.  I like that I am introduced by my friends as a. my preacher who is doing this interesting fast.  b. my idiot brother who cannot speak.

Blessed are those who call on the name of the Lord.  If the only thing I use my mouth for is uplifting and encouraging....all the better.

Its funny when folks talk louder or slower or reach to grab my dry erase board when they want to tell me something.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Creative Prayer

A good friend recently recommended a book to me.  Its called Creative Prayer: Speaking the Language of God's Heart.  So far ...incredible.  I wish I'd read it before my sermon Sunday.  He asks, "If we were summoned to the Oval office to present our agenda for the country, would we spend any time to prepare?  To measure our words carefully to make sure they were appropriate?  To express them in the most memorable way possible, so they'd linger in the mind of the chief executive?  Of course we would."  He then goes on to argue that our difficulty in prayer often stems from lack of preparation and creativity.  We don't engage our five senses and our enormous imaginative capabilities when we go to our father in heaven.  That resonated with I tried it some today.

As I prayed I swayed.  I prayed some contemporary Christian songs.  I prayed outside in the in the midst of his heavens and earth.  Breathing in and out I imagined God breathing into me the breath of life.  I vocalized God's blessings.  It was an incredible day.

It has got me excited to try new things.  We are made in the image of a creative God.  We are reflecting his nature when we express ourselves imaginatively.  I wouldn't consider myself creative according to ordinary classifications.  Art, I like it.  Music, got the radio on all the time.  Interpretive dance, no.  Yet in the art of living.....Yes, I think I am.  And I think all of us are capable of painting artistic masterpieces on the canvas of life.  We all have the ability of Mozart, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.  It may never be recognized by anyone other than God, but who cares?  Isn't there a spark within us all that intuitively tells us God has crafted us especially according to his design?  We are all special and unique and each exceptionally designed to commune with God in extraordinary ways.   Think about it.  Most of us, as believers, wouldn't argue that we are all unique.  If we accept that, why would we reasonably feel the need to clone our prayers?  And if you want to reference the Lord's prayer I would argue there is a world of meaning between what we should pray and how we should pray.

When you tell a story do you try to keep it as monotone as possible?  Why not?  Its not nearly as interesting for you or the hearer.  Maybe it is time we stop lifting up our one dimensional prayers, putting on our thinking caps and revel in new ways to tell our Father about our day.

We guys, so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen goodbye

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 10 - Speaking

One or two other advantages of not speaking I have gleaned.  1. When communicating via eraser board it is OK to "talk" with you mouth full. 2. You have by default more time to think about what you say before saying it.  3. You learn the value of the economy of words.

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

I think its important for your conversation to be full of grace.  I read recently that the average person speaks about 16,000 words/day!  How much grace do you think it takes to fill 16,000 words.  Methinks a lot!  How many of those words tend to be idle?  How many hurtful and destructive?  

If everyone could utter 16,000 grace filled words a day, this world would be a better place.  Words of grace are kind, compassionate, and generous.  They are given with love.  Seasoned with salt, to me, implies an intellect at the disposal of such love.  One can say something lovingly from their heart.  That's great.  Yet to say something so it will be understood as loving, is to speak grace filled words seasoned with salt.  

Its interesting how these words of encouragement are framed as a response....."so you will know how to answer everyone."  Responding to someone implies interaction.  There is connection.  If we just talk to someone......that connection is not necessarily present. 

I've been trying very hard for my words to find a voice of their own.  I want my written words to convey me well.  Who I am and what I think.  Its tough.  In some ways this has been harder than any of the others.  Yet one thing has become abundantly clear.  It is a wonderful blessing to have a voice.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 5/6 Speaking

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  I have found adhering to this much easier when I am limited talking to and about God.  Its actually been a great tool I hadn't counted on.

For example, on Monday and Thursdays I do Meals on Wheels.  One of the college students, Candace, often goes with me on Mondays.  She is very talkative in general and would have been more comfortable than most creatively finding a way to have a mostly one sided conversation.  However, when she found out I could talk about Godly things, that is exactly what we did.  Now its not as if we normally only talk about ungodly things, but there is a significant difference between football and faith.

That is the positive side.  The negative side has been just as beneficial.  On Sunday I got aggravated at an individual.  Not an uncommon occurrence any day of the week.  I wanted so bad to talk to some other folks about this individual but couldn't.  See, I have this bad habit of cloaking my motivations.  I have this ability to vent about people while carrying on a semblance of care and concern for them.  Really what I want to do is complain.   Not healthy.  There is a time and place to address faults and grievances yet I've found that it generally needs to be addressed to the given individual.....not others.  Kind of a Biblical concept, eh?  Well anyways. This is a learning process for sure.  Just loving that I can do something like this.  Thankful for the ability to tell those around me how much I care about them.  Grateful I can lift up songs of praise to my God.

Friday, September 2, 2011

day 2 - Speaking

Well, made it through 2 whole days without saying an extraneous word.  Quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself.  No lies, exaggerations, excuses, or feet in mouth.  I did accidentally say something to Darlene when she came into the office today.  Just forgot.  I prayed with my friend Amanda.  I read my memory verses out loud.  I laughed, and sang some hallelujahs.

I also got this man that came to church today for some help to call someone and pretend he was me.

Here are some observations....
1. Going through the drive-thru is much more difficult.
2. If you point at your throat and don't speak everyone automatically assumes laryngitis.
3. Thumbs up and thumbs down have become the two most important gestures in my vocabulary.
4. Helping move big furniture without being able to speak is dangerous.
5. Its fun trying to communicate with a dry erase board.
6. I stink at charades.
7. Its harder memorizing when you can't vocalize.
8. I felt myself not making as good eye contact with people because I knew they would be more likely to speak to me and I wouldn't be able to respond well.
9. I'm texting like crazy.
10. I'm trying to figure out how to communicate with my Granny who doesn't text or email.  (may have to do some letter writing)
11. Silent speaking helps a lot.  Most folks can lip read a word or two.

Its tough.  You don't appreciate the power of a word until you do without it.  I mean the Lord spoke each day of creation into existence so even a human word must have some significance.  I've noticed the void left by my silence although awkward, has left room for some other folks to share things they might otherwise not have done.  I can easily monopolize conversations talking about me things.  I'm hoping if I don't have anyone else to cordially chit chat with, that it will help me appreciate and look forward to my chitchat time with God.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 41 - the end and beginning

Yesterday I finished by 40 days of silence.  When I took my ear plugs out and began my day, there were several things that were apparent.  First , I heard the creaking of the floor under my feet, the brush of my clothes as I slipped them on, the hum of the water out of the faucet, wind outside blowing through the trees, my feet scrunching through the leaves, the cars swooshing by my front door, the handle of my car door as I opened it up, the creak of the cart walking into walMart.  I could hear people's little side conversations from 30 feet away.   My car roared!  I thought something was wrong with it.  There were a hundred little things I noticed that I'd left forgotten over the last 40 days.  It was nice.  Nice being able to soak it all in.  These were just the little things.  What would absolute silence have been like?

I taught, talked, listened and functioned as I normally do, although a little hampered.
Tomorrow, things are about to change radically.

Tomorrow no speaking.

James 1:19

 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

I want to explore being slow to speak in a whole new way.  I would like to drastically cut down on my chit chat.  If any of you have ever read Chapman's Love languages books you know about the five different ways we process/receive love.  I am a words person.  If someone tells me they love me, that's good enough for me.  Quality time, acts of service, affection, and gifts are all secondary.  Since I am a words person, I have a tendency to put more value in words as I interact with others.  This probably feeds my constant disclaimers, explanations, and equivocations.  To have these taken away, would severely dampen the way I express myself and interact with others.  There is nothing wrong with this per se, except all this is usually centered around me, not God.  This is about my focus.

Therefore this is what I am going to do.  For the next forty days, I am not going to speak to/with anyone unless it is a prayer (to God), or a word (about God).  No more small talk.   We will see how it goes.  Already some of the ladies and kids at church are scheming how to break me.  I've told them exclamations don't count so if they want to be successful they have to be sly, not sadistic.  lol.  I guess today I will get some cards made up, explaining my situation, or maybe I will just pretend to be dumb.  Maybe the slowed down process of writing things out for people will cure me of foot in mouth disease.  We will see.  It should be a fun adventure.

Oh, and I'm still trying to figure out where I stand on baby talk.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 34

I really look forward to hearing the crickets again.  Its finally started to cool down at night, and although I can hear their faint echo I want to again experience their nightly concert.  

I know the sound of silence is probably cliche, but there is a beauty in stripping away all the subtleties.  Imagine your world devoid of all green and blue.   This is drab indeed.  
But doesn't that make the reds and yellows that much more precious.  Doesn't it sometimes allow us to treasure them more fully?  I think of several movies, done in black and white, with an occasional splash of red for effect.  The appreciation for something as simple as color, or a kittens purr, the smell of leaves, or a Krispy Kream.  

The little things are huge.  The simple profound. 

Although I hear less, I listen more.

One of my favorite people in Clemson is Jane Tankersley.  We had lunch yesterday at what is becoming one of my favorite restaurants.....the Little Bistro, in Liberty SC.  Their special is always unique.  Yesterday it was a barbeque wrap with a little sweet cole slaw inside. was delicious.  We held hands and prayed.  Jane is being Jane, encouraging, supportive, as sweet as the day is long.  She also can't hear very well so we both leaned in close like we were sharing secrets.  We laughed about old friends and told stories of our families.  When I had to leave she gave me a motherly kiss on the cheek.  And then it struck that beautiful life can be.  Correction.  It struck me how beautiful "little moments" could be.  The little lunch planned casually was every way.

I resolve to cherish those moments, to take those mental photographs that can be collected, shared, and perused.  I have a years to come......... I will  revel in the silliness and loveliness of this year of fasting.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 28 - Random thoughts

I am still experimenting with different plugs.  I stumbled upon the best and maybe most expensive on my way up to Spartanburg yesterday.  It is a simple gelatinous wax.  You ball it up, shove it in your ear.  Comfortable and extremely effective.

I love going to Spartanburg.  The central church has some incredibly sweet and encouraging folks.  I did get a lot of incredulous looks when I was meeting and greeting before my talk.  I got some "your kidding'" some "No you're not!" and some older lady "Oh Danny!"  All with complete kindness.  They were great afterwards too.  Lots of good feedback.  It got me to thinking how much fun it is being an oddball.  There is definitely some power in the experience of "adventuring for the Lord"....or simply providing tangible object lessons for people to connect with.  It seems to resonate with people.  It gives substance to the concepts.  Its easy to understand concepts when you can see them being applied in a simple physical ways. I just want to help people seek God.  This is a silly way I am going about it but it works for me.  What works for you?  We need to come to grips with the fact that on this earth our search is never over.  We continually seek Him.  And revel in it. Or should.

I am always amazed at the random events in my life.  Last Friday I get a call from one of my Ghanian friends. We are friends ....not bffs..... so when he called, I was excited.  He begins, "What do you think about slaughtering a goat at your house?"  .........................???????????????.......... How would you have responded?  I kind of mumbled and stumbled, "um, well, ummmm, errrrr, what do you mean?"  He then tells me that one of their friends is leaving to take a job and they were throwing a big party for him.  They have a tradition, I guess, where they roast goat for the celebration.  So I am a little clued in but still slightly dazed.  "Are you wanting me to slaughter it?", I ask.   "NO, No. NO.", he said laughing. "We just need a place to do it because we live in the apartments and they wouldn't let us do it at the farm we bought the goats from because they have dogs."  (not sure what that has to do with anything, but ok) So I start thinking.....I know hunters dress out deer, but they don't actually kill the deer in their backyards.  I started envisioning a young neighbor child being traumatized as they look out their window.  So I said, "Sure but could you wait until it was dark?"  It was 8:00.
"Of course! We'll be there in 30 minutes."
"Where are the goats now?"
"In the trunk of our car"
"Oh.  OK. See you in a bit!"

When darkness comes and the three Ghanians arrive we chit chat it up and I position them in a place I feel is fairly shielded from outside eyes.  I get them some knives, flashlights, and a blow torch (to burn the hair off).  Then they pull their car to the back to use the headlights to see by.  I didn't stay to see the deed done, but checked on them periodically.  It took about 3 hours for both goats.  About 11pm I come out and they are straightening up.  My roommate has now joined them.  There flashlights and bloody knives wandering around my backyard and although I can't associate it with anything in particular I am quite certain its not a normal sight.

I think, "I love my life"

I truly believe my hearing is improving.  I am now operating under "the new normal".  When I take my plugs out and muffs off I can hear everything!  I'm pretty sure I could hear my neighbors down the block whispering to each other.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 21 - Sweaty

Have you ever had sweaty ears?  I have.  Its an interesting sensation having only one part of your body sweating at any given time.  With the heat, even the slightest increase in temperature causes my ears to go into heavy perspiration mode.  It has become somewhat of a problem because my headphones started stinking.  I started the process of rinsing them off each day and spraying them with disinfectant.   Occasionally, when I am alone and quiet, I will take them off for a few moments, relying on my ear plugs as backups.

That got me thinking about the whole passage in the 1 Corinthians 12 about the body and its parts.  It goes on to describe how each part is indispensable to the body.  We have a saying, reflecting a common reality in the church, that seems to cause a lot dissonance with this ideal.   "Ten percent of the people doing ninety percent of the work."  I hope this doesn't hit too close to home.  It can be frustrating and infuriating when you give your heart and soul for something, and those with you, who supposedly have the same goal in mind, don't seem to give a flip.  Can you imagine being on a basketball team with five men on the floor?  Four of the players give their all, while one is.......ho humming it.  One weak link is all it takes.  And here we have a saying in the church reflecting 90% weak links?

Although I don't deny that this saying is sometimes true, I do think there are some are some mitigating circumstances.

1. We "hands" often don't recognize how valuable the eyes and ears are to what we do.  People have a bad habit of Martha-ing themselves into anxiety about Marys who just want to sit at the feet of Jesus.   We have also taken the concept of "not letting one hand know what the other is doing" and drawn some dangerous conclusions.  The most harmful of these being, if I can't see what they are doing, they must be doing nothing.  This is rarely true.

2. We have missed the value of giving.  Often some of our best financial supporters are our least "active".  At least from Martha's point of view.  The problem with getting frustrated with these folks is twofold.  First, do we stop to consider, what we do is possible because of what they give?  Because it often is.  Second, do we consider their "inactivity" may be do to their "activity" in making money to help God's kingdom?  Do we really expect them to be as active as us and make money to support what we are doing?  Only 5% of millionares in this country are in that station because of inheritance.  The other 95% work.  If you can do both, great.  If one of our member's primary gifts is "financial" let not disparage them for it, but honor them.

3. Many of us (myself included), have been wearing too many spiritual muffs.  With negative thoughts and unsound reasoning we have unnecessarily been spinning our wheels.  As one part of the body of Christ we have made things difficult on ourselves.  We have gotten all sweaty for nothing.  We have worried fretted.  God wants us to know the joy of a faith in him.  He wants our burden to be lightened.  He wants us to enjoy his rest.  Until we are willing to allow God to free us from these anxieties we will be deprived of his fullness.
25 decibals may not seem like much.  But when you haven't had it.....and then do.  Its glorious.  Maybe you are hanging onto anxieties.  Let them go, and maybe then, the peace that passes understanding can truly be yours.  Lets not make things more difficult on ourselves than they have to be.  Life is hard enough as it is.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 16 - Hearing but not understanding

This experiment has produced something none of the others have......envy.  More than once has a mother in the midst of her rambunctious children said, "I need a pair of those."  There is a girl at church I have inspired to make her first winchester gun muff purchase (my brand of noise canceling earphones)......but not for firearms class.  Instead its to read in the car when her father is playing the radio or her family is arguing....err...talking.  lol.  Is someone yelling to get my attention that I am not anxious to talk to?.....Easy....just pretend I don't hear them.  Its quite the useful little tool, which of course is not my purpose in this enterprise.  It is amazing how nice true silence is.....very comforting and relaxing.  This may be the cause of my deep sleeps lately.

Preaching today I found myself acutely aware of people's facial reactions.  I usually try to get a chuckle here or there, but since I can't hear them.....I try to gauge by the breadth of their smile and if it looks as if they are laughing, giggling, or otherwise guffawing uncontrollably.  

I had a very surreal experience today.  I retold the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Tried to put it in modern terms.  As I was thinking it over on the way in to the building I passed right by this lady holding up a "will work for food sign".  When I looked over at the vegetables in my passenger seat and realized the irony of my topic I turned the car around to go talk to her.  Besides, I can't really do a good job making all our members feel guilty about not picking up hitchhikers if I don't even stop for a "will work for food sign".  When I got to the lady I realized her very unique impairment.  She was deaf.  Yes, and I have my goofy headphones on.  I gave her some vegetables and told her I would be on the lookout for some jobs.  Of course I wanted to give her my number but .....talking on the phone?  She was quite nifty reading lips though.  In hindsight I should have gotten her address but I'm sure I will see her again.  Maybe next time I will be better prepared.

It got me thinking about the oft quoted passage in Isaiah, "Seeing but never perceiving, hearing but never understanding."  If I were to start learning to read lips today......I would initially be engaged in a lot of seeing but never perceiving.  The point wasn't the people couldn't see or hear but they wouldn't.  I can't read lips.  Why? Because I won't learn.  Could I? Yes.  What would it take to motivate me to learn?  Probably a loss.....specifically of the hearing variety.   If we truly desire to hear and perceive the truths of God I think intrinsically we must do without.  In the abstract this is easy.  But practically.........we like our buffet bars and useless gadgets don't we?  I'm just saying the heart of Jesus' message involves sacrifice, not indulgence.  I know we are living in a material world and I am a material girl but come on people, doesn't our immersion in affluence almost demand a little mortification of the flesh?  There's got to be SOME value in disciplining our desires.  And lets not kid ourselves about how hard times are.  I don't know a person around....from the trailer to the penthouse that doesn't have a WII or smartphone.  I know there are truly poor among us but there are also many living on subsidized housing getting food stamps with 60" plasma TVs.  I've seen em.  Compared to the third world, most of the poorest of this world have it pretty posh. the 1992 presidential campaign, Ross Perot holds up some chart showing how our poverty rate is the same as Uganda or some such country....laughable.

Some of you probably saw this picture of Michelle Obama getting her picture taken at the soup kitchen.

Let me tell you the hardware some folks have at the soup kitchen is much nicer than that one.  I'm getting distracted.  There are some folks in dire need and I am happy to help as I can...we all should point is......sacrifice ain't what it used to be.  If giving up your phone is a burden......then your burden is light.  That goes for us all.

But I digress......suffice is to say......sometimes less is more.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his................sufferings.  Yes believe it or not guys, we can't have a desire to "know" Christ in some sort of vacuum independent from suffering.  Maybe you can be the next Jabez......but consider this......He prayed that prayer what 3,000 years ago?  And as far as I know that's the last time God answered it affirmatively.....just kidding.  

Its a blessing to willingly be without because we learn to appreciate.  After all 2 is twice as much as 1.  But 1 is infinitely more than 0 (Math people don't have a cow.)  You guys take it easy.  Love what you've been given and thank God for it everyday.  :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 12 - boom babba.

I went to boys state my junior year of high school.   It was a very humbling experience.  All these confident and gifted young men made me feel a little inadequate.  But anyways, that's not why I brought up boys state.  We would sometimes be gathered to assembly and while we waited....staff would set up on stage.  One of the guys was huge.  He looked like an NFL linebacker.  As he would grab a chair and take it across the stage some of the fellas started chanting, "Boom babba boom babba boom" perfect sync with his steps.  It was quite funny and linebacker guy just gave us a little smirk.

Well with my new experiment that is a somewhat glorious side effect.  You know how the ground shook before King Kong showed up at the gates?  You remember the vibrations in the water before the Trex ate that goat in Jurassic Park.  Well I get that full effect now wherever I go.  I am now the "boom babba" man.  Everywhere I go.....this is what I hear.....echoing in my ears.  I make the ground shake!  At least that's what the vibrations.....sound me.  Alas for every ying there is a yang.  I've now had a hard time envisioning my super sneaky ninja abilities since I make so much noise .....I guess a small sacrifice to be the boom babba man.

Its interesting how sound deprivation has caused me to hear differently.  I now hear my heartbeat....all the time, my breathing, and my drinking.  Everytime I have a sprite, the carbonation fizzle is amplified in my head.  Its really quite curious and I must say.... enjoyable so far.  The only pain is folding my dumbo ears into my headphones.  I have never been vain or self conscious about my ears but when I have to fold them up, to get them in, you better believe I am now aware of their size.  Packaged thus.....they ache.

Don't you guys think there is a whole myriad of things we could see and hear spiritually if only we were able to cut out some of the visual and audible noise of life?  Be still and friend.

Well no great insights....Just read a great book for my class at Lipscomb this fall.  Inspiration and Incarnation.  Well written and great thoughts.  Good read.  I got mocked by the old lady working at Firehouse today.  She made a lots of very expressive mouth and hand motions to "make sure" I could hear her.  Peace!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 8 - Hearing - What?!

This has been my frequent response the last several days.........  "What?!"  I'm able to have fairly normal conversations as long as folks face my direction when speaking to me.  However, when they turn away, start mumbling or "soft speak".... I'm lost.....which is fine if you don't mind my constant "huh?s" and "What?s" and uncomprehending

I wonder if God does this when we pray.  We ask for something and God says "What?".  You may think that is a weird thing for God to say being omniscient, omnipotent and all.  But it's not a "what" because he didn't hear......its a what corrective.  As an example ......imagine the family vacation.  Parents and children on the road and although loving each other deeply, are getting a little irritated with one another.  The twelve year old boy is exasperated with his mother, is dying  to get out of the car, and gets poked in the eye by his sister..... "Sh*t!" says the boy. (I'm sure a similar situation has never happened in your families)..............Now if that had been my brother being the little girl in the story, I am 98% sure what my father's response would have been.........................."WHAT DID YOU SAY?"  ............These are the words I envision before the car is pulled over and everything goes dark.

Now I don't think God does this exactly but I do think the "What did you say?" has to be echoing in his mind with some sad incredulity.  How do we manage to pray so selfishly sometimes?  Don't get me wrong.....I don't think its wrong to pray for most things as long as its peppered with a little "your will be done".  The problem is that's all some of us ever pray for....the things we want.  For God, That has GOT to get old.  Can't we at least try to be thankful and grateful sometimes?  How many of you have that friend or family member that when they know they NEED something from you?  Gets old doesn't it? Why do we think it would be any different for God?  On the other hand.......have you ever had someone call JUST to tell you how much they loved you, or how wonderful those cookies you made were, or how much they appreciated your visit?  It feels wonderful to get those calls.  In fact just a couple of those "you are wonderful" calls once in a while would likely make any future need calls from that individual almost appreciated.

I haven't had any true problems so far....except for a near death experience....not mine, but my surreptitious Ghanian roommate's, who walked up behind me in the kitchen while I was cutting tomatoes.....reflexes are a funny thing when you are startled.   That's happened a couple times when I didn't hear him in the room.  Can you imagine thinking you are alone and all of a sudden someone is there?  Crazy.

I keep wondering what it would be like to lose all your hearing.....I suppose you could read lips and still have conversations but all the things you would miss....  I can't imagine.

Anyways.....hope you are all doing wonderful today.  Later.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 4 - Does hearing loss=more sleep?

So the answer to "Will volume control be out of sync?"  ....The answer is yes!  I was teaching vacation Bible school Sunday night on the courage David had in his confrontation with Goliath.  Each class comes in for about 15-20 minutes and is accompanied by teen "chaperones".  I was immediately told....Danny you don't need to yell.   Well these kids probably needed a rise in the sound level to keep their attention so I just pretended that I was doing it on

I think the timing of my hearing fast must be a coincidence but I have been having stomach pains and sleeping issues.  I am tired a lot and have been sleeping more than normal.  I don't know whether this is due to some sort of weird illness, my hearing loss, or my diet (Lots of tomatoes, figs, and peaches).  Regardless, I am going to adjust what I'm eating the next couple days and see if it makes any difference.

My father, was legally deaf.  I believe he had only 25% hearing which was jacked up to about 50% with his hearing aids.  My grandma and grandpa didn't want him to have to go to a special school so they worked with him on his hearing and speech to make sure he could function properly in school.   I need to learn some of these speaking tips so I quit shouting at people.

I can talk some on the phone by cranking up the speaker phone.  I can have conversations as long as folks don't mumble and face my direction.  I can't hear a thing when I'm eating because all I hear is the crunching of my food.  If I'm trying to have a conversation while eating....I have to stop mid chew when the other person starts to speak.   I only wear the ear plugs, when I'm sleeping at night, and have taken them out twice while showering to try and rinse out some of the wax I'm sure is building up in my inner ear.  Its also very itchy.

Phil Weatherford suggested getting headphones just playing static to keep me from hearing anything....but the static of course.  I may try that in a couple days once I get a good feel for my routine and figure out what is messing with my physiology.

The ear is really a fascinating little organ.   Look at that little fella.  Lots of detail and intricacy I could never have conceived of.   I'm glad God thought to give it to us and I'm glad I have it.  By the way, the "external ear canal" is where I shove those plugs everyday.  I hope I don't get it too irritated.

The hardest part of the experiment so far became evident in worship Sunday morning.  I felt I was worshiping alone.  All the toddler chatter and pitter patter, songbook preparation, sermon giggles, coughs, clearing of throats, whispers......gone.  Its as if all the little sounds I have been accustomed to hearing in the background of my daily routine are threads in a spider's web.
The spider can feel the slightest vibration in his intricately woven masterpiece.  This is how he knows when something is caught in his trap.  Losing 30 decibels of sound is like losing half these threads.  The sensitivity is lost.  I feel somehow disconnected from folks.  The subtleties lost isolate me somehow.  I don't like it.  I try to connecting via other means, but there is an undeniable separation.  My breathing is loud.  Its as if I am snorkeling underwater looking at a foreign world for the first time.    How am I going to interact?

I'm sure I'm going to adjust......its just really weird.  Of course my big ole ears don't quite fit in the muffs so they get sore....but I'm sure I will get used to that.   What i don't think I will get used to is that feeling of lost connection.  I'm glad we don't have to hear God to know he is with us even though we can hear him daily in his creation.

Well hope you guys are doing well!  Enjoy God for he is good!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 1 - Hearing

Last night I had bad dreams.  See before I went to bed I put in my ear plugs.  This will be my modus operandi at night and during the day I will add my noise cancelling earphones that I purchased for mowing out in the yard.   Together they make quite the shield.  Of course I can still hear but all the subtle sounds have disappeared.  The clicking of keys on my keyboard.  The swooshing of the fan next to my bed.  The popping of my joints as I stretch this morning.....We did a test run last night and I could hear Zach when he talked to me long as he spoke up.  Eh?  What's that?  I feel like an honorary old person already.

Well anyways....I had dreams based around being kidnapped and no one being able to hear me.  My brother, and I, and another brother we never had were taken hostage by these men we were renting an apartment from.  I know..... weird.   I escaped and couldn't find anyone to one would listen.  (In an unrelated dream I got to play as an amateur in the first round of the Master's golf tournament).   The point is ....we all like to be heard right?  We are comforted when someone genuinely gives us their attention and listens.   We have a God who is always ready to listen to every concern of our heart and how infrequently do we "cast all our anxieties on Him."?

The other interesting thing I am already noticing this morning is how my vocals are amplified.  I imagine this doesn't occur with the truly deaf but every word, hum, wheeze, or clearing of my throat is magnified dramatically in my hearing.  Maybe its just I don't have any other inputs registering, so my ears hone in on the inputs it can hear?....I don't know.

I wonder if I'm going to start talking louder?
as I shout at the librarian..."HAS THE BOOK I PUT ON HOLD COME IN YET!?"

Regarding sensitivity.....I didn't think this would happen with the blindfold experiment.....being reliant on hearing.....but now that my hearing has been impaired......I think I will develop super hearing.  I have this feeling that maybe our senses need a rest much like our bodies.....enabling them to work more efficiently.

Finally, regarding thanksgiving and gratitude.  I am grateful this morning to have some peace and quiet.  I'm sure in a couple days.....or likely in a couple hours I will be longing to hear the birds chirping and the crickets singing......but right now I am going to be thankful for the silence.  I am going to behave as if I have been given an imperative from the Lord when he spoke to the people of Israel on Mt. Ebal in Deuteronomy 27:9.  "Be silent, Danny, and listen!  You have now become a man of the Lord your God."  .... I hope so.  

My brother said he couldn't comment on the blog so if you have had the same difficulty...I apologize.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 39 - clutter free

Although there is something about the lack of technological noise that has allowed me to experience greater clarity in my life, I don't think its the lack of technology per se.  I think this clarity is primarily due to greater simplicity found in the absence of the infinite number of "mechanisms" that occupy my attention so many hours a day.  Instead of figuring out the gadgets I am allowing my imagination to wander, I am speculating, thinking critically about my opportunities and responsibilities.   I am already feeling pre-remorse about ending this fast because it has been so enjoyable.   You might say...if its really been that great then why end it?  Well maybe this is one of those moments to move in that direction.  Less dependency on the "diversions", more moderation in practice and greater appreciation of entertainment media's virtue are all lessons I hope I've learned well.  Hopefully I'll be less wasteful with my time in the future.

In a couple days I am going to start the "hearing" fast.  I had thought about "speaking" first but with VBS and school starting I thought I would "shut up" a little later.   The last four should be some of the most interesting and entertaining.....hearing, speaking, walking, and ........we'll see.

In unrelated praying for our little church.  We are in the midst of appointing a new elder, hiring a new campus minister, and gearing up for Vacation Bible School.  We have lots of irons in the fire and want to do the best we can.

Clutter free.  That's what my mind feels like more so today than over a month ago.  I have a tendency to lose things....keys, wallet, phone.  Not frequently but often enough.  What do I invariably do when my first unsuccessful searches produce no results?  I clean.  I make my bed, clean all the books and shoes and dirty clothes off the floor.  95% percent of the time my keys were under a pillow or stack of papers.  Easily accessible, yet out of sight.  I wonder how much mental clutter keeps us from finding the things that matter.  Am I so consumed with ambition in my job that I lose the joy of working?  Am I so fixated on providing for my family that I don't enjoy "being" with my family?  Is a myopic focus on walking "right" with God preventing me from walking well?  ......forest, get the picture.

Well nothing too important going on today.  Just healing from my wimpy basketball injury yesterday.  Reading my textbooks for my fall class, doing some visiting and figuring out what I'm going to do about my broken washing machine.  Anyone have an extra?  I guess I should be happy it lasted as long as it did.  I bet that thing is 25 years old.  Anyways, can you name who said this....

My brother has ADD, which is weird because he drives a Ford Focus. I told my brother that joke but he didn't laugh becuase he got distracted by my shoe strings

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 37

Elidia is the young woman we built for this year.  She was 15 when she had her first child.  She married in a small village in an impoverished area of Mexico and had 3 more children before her husband ran off with another woman.  She is now 26 without an income or place to live.  Her family is often hungry.......she was thankful.    

I am 37 years old.  Plenty to eat, healthy, soft bed, climate controlled home, hundreds of DVDs.  I have more clothes than I know what to do with, I have a big yard, electricity, hot water, all sorts of creature comforts.  Am I thankful?  Do I consider sacrifice giving up.....internet....TV.....movies.....and radio for a month? sounds kind of bogus when I think of Elidia.   Have our perspectives become so skewed that we do not realize the depth and scope of our blessings.  

Is there injustice in this world?  check
Is there poverty? check
Is there oppression? check
Hungry, hopeless, and hurting people?.........Then what am I going to do about it?  Not my government, rotary club, family or even church.  But what am I going to do realizing the buck stops here?

It can seem overwhelming.  And it is.  Although the magnitude of my influence in this world may be determined by God, the extent to which this influence is consummated is the extent to which I am willing to change myself.

Mother Teresa once said,"I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love."  I want my sacrifice to be that be able to fixate on that alpha/omega love....not the hurt.  I want a crucifixion sacrifice that sees past the cross.  Maybe my baby step deprivations will eventually lead there.  Maybe not.   But at least I can conceive of what Paul discussed in Philippians 3.  At least I see myself in the race.   Now its just about doing what's necessary to win it.  Not there yet........but maybe with a little more training in grasping the utter graciousness of God ....I might be soon.  And then I can be truly thankful.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 29 - Easy Peesy

Its not hard to do a media fast when you are not around media.  Much of this home stretch will consist of little access ...thus ...little temptation.  Tomorrow morning at 4:45, 11 of us will be heading to Mexico to build homes for families in need.   We will be gone for about a week.

Some aspects of this fast have been easier than others.  I have ranked them for your convenience.

8.  TV - no sweat....didn't have it anyways
7. Internet news - get a highlight here or there but don't really miss it.
6. Internet deal sites - What if I miss a deal???? bad though.
5. Facebook...I do like seeing other people's ridiculous posts and jeering
4. Movies .....Although I love me some rentals... the good game time more than compensates
3. Radio......when I'm eating my Dairy Queen....mmmmm.....window rolled down....booming some toons
2. Fantasy Baseball....Surprisingly not at the top.....I miss it but maybe its just an out of site out of mind thing.
1. Recruiting.....Man do I get the itch to find out who Clemson is after.

I am thinking about making some political commitments.  Ecclesiastes 1:9 says there is nothing new under the sun.  This realization with a growing disenchantment in political mechanics has caused me to question some things.  I went back and read some of Lipscomb's thoughts and although I don't believe the state is evil....much like I don't think a hammer is evil......I am starting to feel Christian involvement in politics could be life spam.  Paul distinctly says choose the better.  Some things are permissible others are constructive.  I think  politics for most Christian may belong in the permissible but not constructive category.  What is better?  Feeding the poor?  Or fighting the government about what subsidies go to which disenfranchised group?   There is so much energy Christians put into politics that could be better spent in other areas.  If all that time and energy was redirected into meeting needs, I wonder how effective our witness would be....what would be our testimony?

Therefore, I think I may not vote...or participate in the political discourse in any way.  It just seems that Jesus and the apostles were not in the least bit concerned about the Roman institutional workings...Maybe I should not be so concerned about ours.....especially if it means less time helping the helpless.

I would be curious to get your thoughts.  This will be my last login in for a week so my apologies if I don't immediately respond.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 23 - Temptations

1 Corinthians 10:13

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

I have two temptations I struggle with on a regular basis.  Pride and lust.  These two insidious sins have an extraordinary tendency and ability to augment and feed each other.  For example, lets say I've been able to keep the purity of my thoughts in check for several weeks.  I start thinking....."Man, I am probably doing much better than most other guys out there......struggling in all their sexual sin..." - pride.  
Then, thoroughly proud of my pride, and my incredible ability to resist temptation.....I start thinking ....."Since I have have so much more self control than other men......I can indulge in things they can't, and still be fine.   A wandering eye and careless thought doesn't affect me as dramatically as it does lesser mortals a.k.a. ~ weaker Christians.  

Does this line of rationalizing sound familiar to anyone?  Maybe I'm alone...... but I doubt it.  I think lots of you fellas do exactly the same thing.  Maybe even some of you ladies.  Married and single, young and old.  I shouldn't have to state the obvious......this reasoning is jacked up.

Something very interesting has been happening to me the last few weeks.  It has do with the above verse and God providing a way out ......enabling us to endure  temptations.  I have been operating for some time under the premise that these spiritual exercises were activities I was engaging in.  Although this is true its not exclusively so.  I had not seriously considered these exercises being given me by God to help me "find a way out" .....from the temptations that plague me....but they are.  They are gracious gifts that I am blessed to receive.

Guys, Ladies, tell hard is it to watch a movie, flip the channel, scour the internet without being bombarded by provocative and alluring images?  Its almost impossible isn't it?  With those avenues all closed, its as if a wet towel has been laid on all my customary fuses/sources of temptation.  They haven't disappeared they've simply been alleviated.  Furthermore, its hard to be proud of the bitterly painful truth that I am so utterly and completely susceptible to these blatant pavlovian catalysts.  Its like the fight I heard about at school.  One guy cocked his fist as he made his charge from 20 feet away.  Even though the other guy saw it coming he still ate that knuckle sandwich.  How humiliating!..........Exactly.  I'm not as strong as I like to think I am.  Thankfully, I serve a God who is.