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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Frugality Day 7

As of yet no food purchases or gas ups.  Learned to cook rice.  Never done it before.......I know .....rice right?  You going to learn how to do toast tomorrow Danny?  ha.......ha.......ha........ But I figured I should give one of the world's cheapest foods a shot.   It turned out pretty well I must say, especially when I dumped the .90 cent can of Hormel tamales on top of it.

I rode in with my roommate to church this morning and hopefully will score a ride home this evening.  I had to drive a little yesterday (Needed to pick up one of the teens to work at the soup kitchen).   I met some cool folks there.  Bonnye, with her short term memory disorder told me all about her life, how she used to do drugs, and was disabled in a severe car accident a few years ago.  She was a trip.  Fiesty.  We did a little verbal sparring  and then it was time to serve.  I wonder if she has forgotten me.

No big temptations to buy anything on the internet so far....but the spam is there... the spam of life.  I saw a house for sale on the way into church.  I love my house and my yard and am generally very content....yet I wanted to find out how much that house cost....and then started looking around to see if any other houses were on sale.....even though I have no intention of buying one.  Spam of life.  I get sidetracked like this often. My friend showed me their new phone.  Now I want one.  It does so many cool things I didn't know I needed.  Now I'm thinking about it....planning to get it...... Spam of life.

I realized  a couple things last night when I was listening to my cds....  1. I like Nickel Creek, 2. I like John Foreman 3. All things being equal I prefer female singers..... I'm not sure why this is.  Maybe I just like girls singing to me.  Maybe it appeals to my oppressed feminine side. Maybe I perceive a perspective I can't fully understand and thus am drawn to the mysterious unknown.   4. I like ambiguous lyrics - Lets me hear what I want to hear.

A funny trick to play on people riding in your car is to have random business cards out for people to see.  If you are a girl you can have one to the pregnancy clinic and if anyone asks you about it you can say something like....yeah I got that last Tuesday or something else deliberately deceptive...then you have to awkwardly change the subject.  For guys, the business card should somewhere mention something about "warlocks" and "dungeon masters".  If anyone asks you about it you have to angrily shout that you can't talk about it until dark and then make a figure eight in the air with your finger, dot the invisible o's and cross your heart.

Sorry no real insights about savings/stewardship etc. today.  It hasn't been hard so far and I love saving anyways.  I think it will get hard when I have to start breaking into old cans of pinto beans.

Later kiddos.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 5-in the rain

Rain is a much bigger deal when you are riding your bike.  I don't mind getting wet.  I don't prefer it either.  Its also more important to schedule things when you can't hop in your car and go.  With vehicle.....I can make the Clemson/Seneca stretch in 10 minutes.  Without -its a 45min - 1 1/2 hour  trip.  So therefore I am here at the library which is only a 10 minute ride from my house.

One of the things I missed most about not seeing was the ability to do my memory verses.  Its become a steady part of my routine the last couple years and brings me a certain degree of comfort.  The structure makes me feel secure somehow.  I'm also getting back to my Rosetta stone (Hebrew) and fooling around with the guitar (which I had neglected for the last year).   Trying to cut down on the news and sports talk radio.  I'm eating up older food as quickly as I can.  I can't believe how much I waste.  I almost never finish the loaf of bread before it molds and am always leaving fruits, vegetables, meats, and general leftovers in the refrigerator too long.  No more of that.

I'm going to try and cut down on the random internet surfing, and random sudoku, chess, and spider solitare games before I go to bed.  More exercise. Less Candy.  Out -"spam", in - "opportunities"

I want to be a good steward of what God has given me.  Time, Health, Money, Spiritual Gifts, Senses, relationships.  He's given us much.  I want to approach these changes not like I do so many other resolutions.....with a view to enhancing myself but with a view to taking better care of what I've been given.  John Wesley once said, "Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you call"  It kind of expresses the whole Col. 3:23 sentiment in doing everything with all your heart as if doing it for the Lord.  My problem with making positive change is usually a matter of motivation.  I struggle to make change when its all about my benefit.  This is because so much is so comfortable for me.  If its already great, selfishly speaking, why change?  However, when I have God's approval in view, the joy and success of my "self help transformation" becomes exponentially more certain.  Its no longer about my comfort level but my fruitfulness level.  When all we do has his glory in view, although we may not be comfortable, we will have the peace of which this "comfort" is a crude shadow.

I'm hoping all these "fasts" help convict me of these concepts I have long "assumed true" and trampoline me into future profound changes to give greater glory to God.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 3 - Riding the bus

Step 2 in the frugality plan involves riding the bus.  People that don't live in the upstate may be surprised about our "cat bus" system.  You don't pay as you go on the bus system here.  It is a system paid by fees of Clemson University and taxes from the cities of Clemson, Seneca, Pendleton, and Anderson.  In other words, it doesn't cost anything extra to ride the buses.  I have heard that the gas prices have increased in the last couple months so I thought this would be a good way to 1. save money and 2. exercise.

The bus stop is about a mile from my house and it drops off about a mile from the church.  I know I could walk but I have decided to start riding my bike and since the bus has a bike rack........whallllllaaa!  Double Great for me.

I grew up riding the public bus system in Nashville.  I think I still have my EZ rider card from back in the day.  I made up some sort of funny name to put on my card.  Something like "Ted Nugent".  They never checked the name anyways as long as the picture looked right.  Riding out of necessity you don't really get inconvenienced by all the weird folks you meet on the bus system.  I saw fights, people yelled, a couple folks nodded off to sleep on my shoulder.  I even saw a kid get killed one time.  I think he was high.  He got off the bus and immediately ran in front of the bus into oncoming traffic.  I remember feeling so bad for the bus driver even though it wasn't his fault.  Cleanliness and crowds of people don't usually go hand in hand either on the public bus system.  All par for the course when that is what you expect.

The cat bus system on the other hand is clean, "free" and hardly anyone rides it.  How can this be?  How have I not been  riding it all the time before now?

The only answer I can come up with is convenience.  I have to alter my schedule to the bus route.  I might get sweaty biking back and forth.  I may need to make an emergency visitation.  All legit.......but not really necessary.  Its really just what I want to do and is easier for me because I am financially able.

There are all kinds of ways to rationalize my behavior.   I am paid as a minister and I need to be "available" whatever circumstances arise.  That is what I am paid for.  But would anyone at church object if I took the $100-150 bucks I spent on gas each month and used it for supporting three or four children in the orphanage even if it meant my response time to whatever church crisis arose declined by about 2 hours?  I doubt it.

So I thought about that as I rode and talked to Allen, one of the other four people on the bus.  He is a vet, used to work for Greyhound and is originally from the area.  He lived in Knoxville for a while, has moved around a bunch and has lots of family in the area.  A nice guy......that I may never have met if I drove in listening to sports talk.  I doubt we will become bestest buddies......but you never know.

I thought about my "conveniences" as I prayed and thought about my routine, my schedule, and the decisions I make.  Why don't I automatically think about how "convenient" it is to be able to interact with my neighbors on the bus?  Why do I value the things I do?  I know my selfishness is involved in this dilemma somehow but I am not going to beat myself up or feel guilty about it.  Or should I?   I am just going to pray that God change the things I want, to be the things he wants.  What is convenient is based upon what you value.  Therefore, I am going to pray that my "value system" changes.

Oh and I can't believe I am actually sore after that little bit of riding.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 1 - Frugal me.

Alright, this is probably the fast we can all get behind.  For some of you this may not seem like a big deal because you are conscientious and disciplined with your spending and you know what it means to make ends meat, pay the bills, and put food on the table.  I however am a single man with little or no debt.

I am not necessarily wasteful.  But I do have a lots of spending habits that are probably useful but not necessary for effective ministry.  So to get an idea of where I want to go with this, you need to know where I have been.

I go out to eat a lot.  Once my brother made it his New Year's resolution not to eat fast food more than five times / bro!!!!  how many times were you doing Mickey D's before?  I don't quite do that much fast food but I do frequent similar numbers of  restaurants.  Its for the ministry you see.  People have busy schedules and  for them to have time, lunch/dinner are convenient.   That's what I tell myself anyways ........probably because I like food so much.  I am not the person to ask about food preferences if you are trying to gage your particular affinities.  You know that person that likes all the same movies you do?  If they like it you probably will too?  I like most food.  fast, fried, boiled, baked, Asian, European, Mexican, African or good ole American.

This 40 days is going to be about financial restraint.  For me, going out to eat symbolizes another great blessing I don't want to take for granted.  Therefore, I am going to give it up for a while.  My buddy Matt Huyser told me about what some folks at his church were doing.  It was called the Haiti challenge.  The challenge is to try and eat on about $2/day, which is about what the average person in Haiti spends on food a day.  I normally eat on about $10-15.  My goal is from this day on not to spend more than $2/day.  Now in fairness I did some grocery shopping on the front end (not really any more than I normally do).  I'm not counting that though.  I want to build the discipline.  PBJ's, noodles, rice.
I am not going to let people buy my lunch.  However, if I go to someone's house I will eat.  Maybe this is splitting hairs but that's my rules.

Got some other spending habits I want to work on too.
Hope the Credit Card bills drop off drastically next month.

Well you guys take care.  I need to go sign off on my tax refund.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 40

One of the things I have enjoyed most about this time of blindness is music.  I have never been that big a music fan.  Don't get me wrong.  I like it.  I have just never been an album collecting, lyric learning, know everything about the artist kind of fan.  Yet when there is nothing much to see I have loved listening.  I kind of do my dance/sway in the dark every night as I'm listening to the tunes and am moved with almost every song.  No I will not reenact my dance moves for you.  Some things are better known about and not seen!  lol.

Its been an incredibly spiritual thing for me.  So much so that I have resolved to listen or play every night as I am able.  I think some unused parts of my brain may be awakening.  

There has to be something good and Godly about music.  He made it right?  It speaks to creativity and beauty.  I wonder if God was listening to his Ipod when he was making the earth?  My first three albums were Michael Jackson's thriller (LP), Lionel Ritchie's Up all night (cassette), and Def Leapord's Hysteria (cassette).  At least that's what my memory tells me.  Although these were great and its important to be reminded at a young age that Billie Jean is in fact not my lover, the first songs I remember were at church.  Jesus Loves me.  Jesus loves the little children.  These songs I learned from infancy formed what I seemed to have always believed.  I may not be able to resolve all the questions about pain and suffering or reconcile Calvinist/Arminian theology but I can hold to the fact that Jesus loves me.....this I know....for the Bible tells me so.....

Psalms may be my favorite book of the Bible by the way.   I wonder how much more it would be if I could have heard all the original music it was sung too.  too bad we don't have any old Psalm 150 8 tracks we can go back and listen to.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

day 38

Well we are definitely on the home stretch.  My time at Steven and Julies's was wonderful.  My only real mishap was grabbing my razor when I was feeling for my toothbrush.  Ouch.  It was weird.  It didn't hurt that much but I couldn't tell how bad I cut myself.  Thankfully it wasn't too bad.  
I also had a good time playing "catch" with Josiah.  Josiah is 22 months old and is cute as can be.  I don't know if he had more fun throwing or catching.  I think our catching skills were fairly even as long as he threw the foam ball in my arms.  The tosses he was throwing at the back and side of my leg I really had no shot at.  lol.
It was really kind of cool hanging with friends in their home for a few days.  You get so much of a better feel for and appreciation of people when you "see" them in their element.  I have been becoming more and more convicted recently how much of a need a church family is in our world.  For lots of reasons........the least of  which is not intimate community.  We simply need each other.    And God knew it.  We also, often go into church seeking what we can get instead of what we can give.  We should always be looking to lift up and encourage.
Julie asked me what was the most profound thing I had discovered.  I don't know if I had any life changing revelations but I have become assured of something.
When Paul says in Philippians 4:12 " I know what it is to be in need and I know what is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. "  I get it a little more clearly.  I wanted to eat.  I want to see again.  Yet, I have the same joy everyday that I had before.  I am still content and generally at peace.  Maybe now without "necessities" more than with the plenty I had before.  Contentment is about being in and with Jesus.  That is really all that matters.  We get tricked into thinking other things are important.
All that matters is Christ and his people through whom we see him.

I can't believe tomorrow is my last day.  I am so excited.  So many things to do......and see.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 36

Well, sightless in Greenville is very similar to sightless in Seneca......or Clemson for that matter.   Julie and Steven have been great hosts.  Had some good Irish stew at Julie's brother and sister in law's last night.  Steven brought me some more wonderful soup today.  Life is good.  I have been able to spend lots of time praying about things here recently and have felt strangely at peace.
It has struck me here recently how much less important sight is when you have people who love you.  .....more importantly a God who loves you and Jesus who emanates every part of your life.  I have been thinking a lot of Paul's word';s in Phil. 1:21 "for to me to live is Christ and to die is Gain"  To live is Christ?  What does that mean?
It doesn't say to live is to live like Christ (although that's part of it).  It doesn't say to live is to make Christ your first priority.  It doesn't even say to live is to see things from Jesus' perspective.   To live is IS Christ.  Now I often don't understand what Paul is trying to say.  He often confuses and befuddles me.  Not hard to do evidently.  But it struck me how most of the time when we try to understand a verse like  this we begin with the common and move to the uncommon.  We all understand "to live" right?  To live =common.  Normal words and expressions normal people use to describe our mutual experience.  It's almost as if we start, erroneously with the assumption that we know what living means.   We then try to fit Christ into that understanding.  Maybe what Paul is trying to do is redefine some misconceived words.   Or maybe he just realizes common understandings have departed from uncommon meanings.
Christ, our Lord, our Saviour, God's Son' is in no way ordinary.  He is special and unique.  He is distinctly uncommon.  He is often hard to understand.  He is mysterious and much of like.  In a sense he can't be "figured out".   Yet is that what's important?
Have you figured life out?  I haven't....................I've  been able to answer that question in only limited ways biologically, philosophically, and spiritually.  I suspect I am not alone.   At some point I must have "faith" in some things about life and the one I believe gave it to me.  Everyone has faith in things/people/God whether they admit it or not.  What is glorious for a disciple of Christ is we put our faith in one who is uncommon in every way.  To live is to believe in things that are beyond our imaginations.  It is to trying to conceptualize the infinite, the eternal, and love.  It is to believe in the unbelievable.  I am not rambling on about make believe things.  I am talking about what each of us has been and everyday.  The actual tangible lives we live.  It is miraculous.
It does yet doesn't makes sense that Paul would see life this way.  Why did he?  He does try to explain but I don't know if that's as important as knowing that he did.
Why do I believe that to live is Christ?  I'm not sure I can ever articulate that adequately.  Maybe what's most important is to simply affirm that I do as well.

Christ is life.  I want to follow him, see from his perspective, allow him to live in me, to keep my eyes upon him be surrounded by his presence and be the object of his love.  Some things can't be explained.  they must be lived.

Hope you are enjoying March madness.  Later kiddos.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 33--Backwards Through the Binoculars

Tip.  Even when you know it is there........its never a good idea to walk into the open dishwasher.  Even if you know its open and even if you are walking real slow.....your shin and sharp plastic edges don't mix.  Pain!!!!

Observation:  I was thinking about zombies today.  I am trying to perfect ways to walk around my house without my cane.  I have found outstretched arms....bent slightly down is the best for meeting unexpected counter tops and tables.  Plenty of give.  I laughed at myself because I imagined what I looked like.  A zombie.  Maybe the walking undead move so slow and awkwardly because they cant see well.

Last thought.....and this is important because it affects my ....I know ....weenie pastime of birdwatching.....(apologies to you out there under the age of 40 who think its cool).  good birdwatching requiters having binoculars but have you ever looked back through the wrong end of the binoculars? I started thinking about this when listening to two people debate a certain issue.  One person was describing the coin and being very insistent on how it looked like the head of a man....It was clear.  He went into great detail about what the bust looked like and was exasperated that the other person couldn't see it.  The woman he was arguing with was saying, "no, the coin is obviously the picture of a government building of some sort.  There is an official inscription circling the building and it is even dated.  :  It was most definitely not a man's head.
Silliness right?
I think we do this all the time intentionally and unintentionally.
When you looked through my binoculars which are a 20x50 magnification you can see objects far away brought into clear magnification.  Sometimes it appears as if they are a few feet away.  With birds I can see the beak, plumage, and size.  Lots of detail.  If you turn them around and look though, everything is moved far away.  Believe it our not you actually have a wider range of vision its just so small you can't make out any details.  Why is this important?  I don't know........................................... lol.
Spiritually, I think many of us look backward through the binoculars.  We do this for a couple reasons.  One is we keep stepping back and trying to see things from God's perspective.  Second, we being in this fallen world often see things we don't want to see.  Horrible things.  Hurtful things.  Sometimes we can't take it and decide to try and see things from another perspective.  So we turn the binoculars around.   See .....this shields us and insulates us from the pain, confusion and loneliness.  I understand why we do this but I think this is tragic.  When we look backwards through the binoculars we may get a broader perspective but it doesn't mean you can discern true meanings any more effectively.  You also miss out on the beauty and wondrous details that is seen when those intricacies are amplified.  You miss the idiosyncrasies in your friends personalities, the quirkiness of those you love.  You miss the inside jokes and the time you got left by your cruise ship and had you ride the greyhound to meet it at its next port.  You miss late nights dirty diapers, birthmarks, cuts and bruise.  You miss all the things good and bad that you can laugh about later.  Its tragic to spend too much time looking backwards through the binoculars because I don't think its the way God intended us to live.  We need to embrace all the little wonderful details of life.  The little girls in your office who are repeating everything you say/type.  God has given us a wonderful smorgasboard of life to experience.
Hope you are all having a great day. Danny and assistant Teodora Dull.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 31 - Better Questions

When you know how immensely you've been blessed, worries, cares, and insecurities are minimized and diminished.  They are not eliminated, but definitely put in perspective.

I have a beautiful nephew.....even when he passes gas.  A mother who loves me now and always....unconditionally.  A step-father who is about as good man has ever walked the earth.  A brother who is my best friend.  A sister in law brilliant and kind.  I got to see them and spend time with them today.  One of the most gorgeous days I have ever seen.

I have a grandmother who would do anything for me.  I have family and friends near and far whom I could contact at a moments notice to help me with any sort of crisis I might face.

It was an amazing day with everything right in the world.....for this moment.  Don't you love those times?   Its not always this way.  Sometimes we aren't so euphoric.  Sometimes we are tired, lonely, and upset.

A couple days ago one of my favorite people in the whole world called me to ask my opinion of some deep political/spiritual questions.  I didn't have good answers.  I was very tentative and unsure of the ones I did.   I like to have at least adequate responses when people bring me these deep queries.  I am deeply disturbed when I don't......especially when these questions are ones that should be in my "ministerial" wheelhouse.  My buddy asked me to think about them.....which I have.   (may talk about some of that another time)  However, what I realized today is how much more important some questions are than others.

Who do you love?  Who loves you?   These are the questions most basic and simple in nature yet most extensive and far reaching in importance.   Hypothetical Global Thermonulear War Game scenarios prying into our most core beliefs, morals and convictions are not unimportant.   In my opinion though, they are secondary.  "What ifs" are infinite and can endlessly be reasoned in all the abstractions our imaginative minds can dream.  Jesus' called us to provide food, water, clothing, shelter, care, and comfort for those in need is much more substantive.  This command is concrete.  I can touch it.  I can see it and in a real sense understand it.  

There was a time I would have beat myself up for not having explored every conceivable answer to the questions theologians, historians, and philosophers have debated for centuries.  Now..... I enjoy the exercise but don't feel that burden of responsibility.    Why?  Because I am content and confident that those simple questions of love are the most important ones.

George Thorogood:  Who do you love?
Me:  God, my family, my friends, (and working on doing better loving my enemies)
Question:  Who loves you?
Answer: God

P.S. In answer to one of those deep questions.......I don't worry about anyone taking anything from me or being unjustly robbed because all I have is not mine anyways.  Its God's.  I will strive to be as conscientious a steward of his things as I can.  

Hope you are all enjoying this day.  Take a good look around.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 26

I was getting so mad this morning.  I am trying to get back in shape and have been doing yoga, push ups, situps, and pull ups.  I have one of those total workout bars you put in your door frame and when I went to put it back where I got it it kept falling down.  I could tell there was some paper down there that it was sliding on and tried to kick it out of the way with my foot which just kicked out the pull up bar in stead.  I kept trying and it kept sliding and I am starting to get ticked.  Not just because of the bar because I don't know what is on these stupid papers/trash/possible lottery check? that is causing the problem.  I wanted to wad the stupid thing up and throw it across the room but I can't because it might be important.
When I was in second grade my teacher gave us a great example of the virtue of taking your time.  she wrote a problem up on the board all herky jerky wrote down the wrong answer , erased it and rewrote the problem and the right answer as fast as she could.  She then took her time writing the problem and answer correctly at a much slower pace.  I know this sound like the tortoise and the hare fable but as I was mentally swearing exclamations this morning with this one little episode I kept wondering why this was making me so mad?  Anger is sometimes good right?  Although I am having a hard time justifying the righteousness of cussing the paper or slamming the bar on the ground, lol (I didn't this time but have before).  So why so angry?
I had a profoundly simple revelation that popped into my head.  Because it's not what I wanted.   It would  be pretty funny if my friend Matt tried to reason with his newborn Taylor when he started crying.  "Why are you crying Taylor?  What's wrong?  You hungry?  You wet?"  We ask the question, but to expect the response would be silly.  I am all for growing up and maturing, but I guess some things remain constant regardless of our maturity, which is after all more how we deal with these emotions, not the emotions themselves.
But is it wrong to actually be upset at the useless sheet of paper because of barbell balance problems, or should I be mature enough not to even be mad about it?  For a long time I thought to be mature meant I had to overlook the infinite number of petty things that people say and do and let it all slide off me like water.  When unfortunate circumstances happen just by virtue of being in a physical universe, shouldn't we recognize these inconveniences as such and allow our thick skin to ward off any pain.
I'm kind of wondering now though if I have it all wrong.  What if all those things in life are as normal as Taylor crying for food.  What  if every little thing that normally irritates us SHOULD irritate us?  I mean it is frustrating to anyone who can't open the jar of pickles, or get the dipstick back in the oil reservoir, or bump your head going into someone's house that was obviously designed by midgets.  Maybe it not about initially experiencing that emotion as it is about reacting to that emotion.  In other words, it has nothing to do with your spiritual maturity how you feel when some idiot cuts you off in traffic but how quickly you can let it go when it road ragers (or my brother) out there...
Hope you are all doing well.  Don't get mad if you get mad.  Its kind of normal.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 25

Yesterday I unintentionally made everyone giggle during the sermon.  I had actually thought about doing this on purpose but yesterday was an accident.  As I preached I was sitting on a stool.  I would go back and forth making my points but like a broken typewriterer I would get a little more off center each pivot until I was preaching toward the back door.  Some folks started laughing and I realized what I was doing.  Of course I played it off smoothly.  With a dramatic rotation I turn to the right half of the auditorium who obviously thought that everything I had been saying didn't apply to them and with a flourish said aldfjfaldff .............did I just mess up?  trust me ....what I said was far as you
The out of whack typewriter has a lot to do with my fifth difficulty being without sight.  This fifth difficulty is very akin to temptation in my.  See, I have this blindfold on all the time.  But this blindfold is not perfect in its utility.  I can see a little immediately below the blindfold as I look down.  Even thuogh my vision is almost entirely obstructed almost is still not entirely.  Since it is not an absolute obstruction I have a strong desire to cheat.  I often want to look down to see where I am going to see what I am reaching for.  Sometimes I just lift up my blinders for just a second.  Why?  Because its easy and I am frustrated.  Sin and temptation are much the same way.  Temptation tells us that the sin isn't that bad.  Most of what you are doing is right and good.  A little peek here and there won't make a difference .  The problem is before I know it I am walking around with my head up in the air focusing on this one little 4%  little sliver of vision.  Sin does about the same thing.  We may be doing the 86% of righteous things but its the small minority of sin in our life that we are actually allowing to control us.  Thats why we are told to run and flee and do whatever it takes to protect ourselves from "peeking" I could use duct tape or put on a veil over the blindfold to make it harder to peek but at some point we do just have to resist....just like we do with sin.  I am glad God's spirit can fill me to the extent to be able to resist and provide those ways out.  I feel quite sure if I didn't have a little accountability in this endeavor from all of you I likely would have quit long ago.  I guess thats just another reason why God gave us each other.  To help us do the things we know we ought to do but may not have the will to do on our own......well   ......................I know I'm rambling now.....Peace guys.  I thank my God everytime I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

day 23

Well today was quite interesting.  Has anyone ever seen a blindfolded man officiate a wedding?  Well some folks did today.  I have to say it really wasn't that hard....the officiating and blindfolded part.  It was a little difficult not knowing the bride and groom that well.  And they were already married and I kept thinking is this a big  But pretend is good for ceremony sake I guess.  I hope everything was beautiful.  II did the best I could but don't feel the regret I might if I felt like I didn't do as well as I could.....they knew what they were getting mean the wedding is all about them anyways, not about me.
If you are like me you have an incredible capacity to take even the most "selfless" moments and turn them into "me" moments.  Why do we do that?  I don't know but I don't like it.  I am not saying that we all don't occasionally have those selfless moments of pure virtue and humility......its just we don't ever have two of those moments in a row.  lol.

Miko and Diana, I don't think you will ever read this....but I will be praying for your marriage.  You both seem very sweet.  I hope God gives you more than you could ever hope for or imagine.

Ok, number four difficulty while blindfolded is losing things.  I am abentminded as it is.  Can you imagine how frustrating it might be when you know you just laid your walking sitck down and it is no where to be seen?  Evertyime I can't find my phone or cds or XM radio remote control I just know someone has snuck into my room and hidden it from me as a joke.  Even if you are not absentminded and used to it don't you hate it when you lose something.?  Why do we lose things?  For me its becasues they are not imporant enough to to check and recheck in my mind where they are.  The best man in a wedding ought to be checking and rechecking every couple minutes to make sure that ring is exactly where he put his pocket.  See that ring is valuable and important.  It signifies the value and importance of marriage.
The ring only symbolizes the promise.  I get sick thinking about how much more carelessly I sling around the "actual" promises and gifts God has given me.  I come home...want to a movie...and throw my commitment to Philippians 4:8 out the window.  Its late at night....we are surfing the web......have you ever lost your keys to the kingdom.?  I guess what I am saying is we lose "sight" of our ideals and goals just about as readily I I lose my wallet and phone and keys.  When we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus this is not meant to be a 40 hour work week commitment....It a 24/6 one.  I don't want to lose sight of whats important.  right now anyways...........if we are to keep our eyes focussed where they need to be continually we are simply going to have to be more disciplined.  No Tricks.  No easy wide paths.  Discipline is a narrow one.  Its tough to do right in most things in life.  If we can start doing what we can in all the little aspects of life maybe it will bleed over the the times of big decisions that we know will inevitably come.

This blog will not be proofread since all the wedding party and families are downstairs partying down.  Forgive me this little peek through the tiny crease at my nose to push the publish post button.  Have a good day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 22

Oh what  a day.  First, I want to thank Shaun for the great amount of entertainment she provided today.  Not only did she tote me around, go to lunch, and get some groceries......she kept me laughing with the missed turns, and deft trailer maneuvering, and incapacitating my truck in those poor people's  No damage done...just good times. I did have to take my blindfold off for a few minutes while with the help of the nice gentleman who stopped to help us, we got the truck unstuck.  I think there is an inverse proportion some of us have between conversation and efficient driving.......I'm not throwing stones or teasing.....there was a time when I started talking about basketball that I lost all concept of time and space.

By the way, thanks, Alice, for your sweet words.

One thing I have yet to mention that is extremely difficult to do while blind....well do with dignity.....yet is necessary to life is eating.......There is a passage in 2 Samuel 6:21-22 that describes David dancing before the ark of the Lord.  His wife gets mad and calls him out (maybe it was more his attire than his dance moves).  Anyways, David says I will become even more undignified than this.    That got me thinking...........for the first time in a
David didn't care what he looked like.   All that was important was his heart of celebration to the Lord.   When I am eating I take big bites.  Not necessarily because of a great amount of good.....but because I don't know how much is on the fork....if anything.  My mouth opens wide for every bite....which is probably silly looking.....but I'm hungry!  Even with this extra precaution I still get lots of stuff on my face....But I don't care that much...  It was an accident and I can't see it anyways....
I love how babies don't care how much they get on their faces.  They are concerned about getting things in their mouths.....The dignity and vanity of things is not part of the equation......
I just thought how much this dignified way of eating has bled into my spiritual walk.  Am I more concerned with how proper and learned and sophisticated I appear in my Bible studies?  Or is all that matters what I consume?  I think many of us put on these spiritual airs.  We aren't concerned with how spiritual we are and how close to the heart of God we are but how much we "appear" to be these things.
I want like David to be more undignified than this.  I want to laugh not redden in shame when I get some apologetics all over my face.  I want to enjoy the eating experience and appreciate the sustenance it provides. I want to open my mouth wide......sometimes I go to church and there is nothing on the fork, but sometimes  I have as much as I can stuff in my mouth.  I don't have as much control as I would like to think but all I can do is keep shoveling away.
Guys, I know there are manners and propriety that should be observed.........but does that really apply to the starving.  I am not going to think twice if the famished man gets spaghetti sauce all over his face and doesn't even consider which fork he should be using......GHAST!  These "manners" we make seem to be more for the well fed and satisfied.  Those who have "enough".    But spiritually speaking would you put yourself in that category?   I mean are you a starving hungry child or a fulfilled and "stuffed" Christian who can't have had enough on Sunday morning to carry us on for a few days.   I don't know about you but I want to always be hungry (for righteousness).  I know I will be filled...  I want to crave, and covet and long and yearn for every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.......I want to be the hungry man.....and if that makes me undignified.....then so be it.

Peace out all you homeys....have a great weekend.  I will be preparing to officiate my first blind

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 21

It has been told to me that my blindfold looks like a mini bra.  At least no one has told me "Boy, you have a panty on your head."  All these bra references have caused me to think about alternative ways to shield my eyes.  Maybe a scarf or bandanna.  A cool martial arts belt wrapped around my face and tied in the back.....something cool.  It would probably only be cool for as long as it would take me to go from a stationary state to a state of motion.  Shaun told me the other day that I remind her now of Malcolm...and not in the funny clever old man way but in the wobbly disoriented
A second difficulty about being blind is communication.  Although there are many wonderful folks who have been checking my texts and emails if you have been expecting a quick response you have been out of luck.  I want to call people.   I want to text....but can't usually manage it.  Nonverbal communication is gone.  Were you making a face at my idea or snickering at that suggestion?  I have no idea.  For all I know you are all silently laughing at everything I do.  Thats OK though......Because you can't tell when I am in my half dream state with eyes closed as you ramble on about some useless piece of information that doesn't really effect you emotionally or   You know I am just kidding.  Every word you share I go home and pray about...................................................
I wonder as I try to make this spiritual application for Sunday how similar this may be in our conversations with God.  Do you guys ever think that we miss our own God's nonverbal cues?  I mean, we are rambling on about what is important to the outcome of a sporting event all while we are driving down the road missing the majestic haze of a sun setting from crimson to pink fading into hues of blue?  Does he frown or look exasperated?  Idk.  I just wonder if maybe we are missing out on some things that could greatly enliven our talks.  Doesn't the psalmist say in 19 "the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands?" Are we so caught up in the sound of our voice...that we can't hear his?  I have known a few people who struggle with this not to mention my own personal affliction..... :)
Its like tying to communicate solely through texts....You miss a lot of the sarcasm and irony unless the texter is especially articulate or clever or you just have such a good relationship that you know what they mean....
Maybe we don't always have the relationship with God that we think we do?  I am trying to listen better to what God might be telling me.  Its hard though because ultimately I just want to be heard.  Maybe the questions and pleas I bring before God would diametrically change if I knew what it was he was saying.......which goes to the age old I merely hearing God or am I listening to what he is telling me.?  Maybe a little be still and know God time might be a good compliment to my prayer time?  Maybe its necessary and vital.....even crucial component to being able to decipher the "non-verbals".

Have a Good Day

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 20

Well I guess we are half-way home.  I can't believe its been twenty days!  Craziness.  I have continued to have tons of wonderful support and encouragement.  The Qt factor has been everything I hoped it would be.  The quality time I have gotten to spend with people has blessed me and I hope it's been the same for those around me too.
I am going to spend the next two Sundays preaching about what has been difficult and most beneficial so far in this experiment.
Difficulty number 1 has to be mobility.  It takes me a long time to go just about anywhere. or do anything.  five minutes to brush my teeth.  three minutes to go find some slippers in my room, six minutes to find something to snack on...etc...It is definitely a process.  In hindsight though, I can see the benefit.  We live in such a fast-paced world.  Everything I normally do is done with a view to how many things I can squeeze into to the time I have.  Handicapped the way I am, that is all thrown out the window. Everything takes time. I think spiritually this slow pace has helped me to realize something.
I believe that I often may have unrealistic expectations for my spiritual maturation process.  Don't misunderstand, God can turn any of us into wise sage-like, joy filled, super Christians overnight if he wanted.  For most of us however, this is not our experience  It takes time to become what God wants us to be.  The reason this is significant is that unlike so many other aspects of our "modern" lives there are not shortcuts we can take to "grow up".  This is hard for many of us to accept.  We want to be mature and we want to mature now!  I feel many Christians get frustrated and disillusioned because their experience becoming like Christ is so foreign to their experience learning so many other things.  I mean Rosetta Stone boasts how quickly you can learn a new language, diet plans trumpet fast-paced weight loss, and financial schemes claim to get out of debt fast........but I just don't think that generally works spiritually.  You have to wander some blindly, disoriented to the point you have to get help.  We have to stub our toes, bump into some walls, and fail more than we succeed.  Its all part of the learning process.  I know this is "profound"   It is a reinforced conviction for me however.

My walk with God is not served well if I am always making exceptions and cheating.......I always want to cheat in this little exercise......I don't learn anything this way though.......Yet I don't feel bad about not being able to do everything perfectly......because I've never been blind before.  Hope you are all doing well....I will try to to be a little more consistent with these blogs......I have so many things I want to record for  I just don't want to bore anyone with my blabbering. God bless and take care.