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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 stares...lol.

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 family.....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 call.......you 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 purpose....lol.

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 .....as 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 tell.....no 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 news.....be 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, trees.....you 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?  ......yes.....and.......it 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 complete....to 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????  ahhh....lol.....not 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 me....how 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.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 20 - Media

I don't know if any of you are gardeners or not.  I like to think I am.  There are just three things you need to have a good one.  1. Sun 2. Good soil 3. Water.  I decided last year I was going to make sure I didn't chince out on #3.  So I watered and watered.  And then it rained and rained.  For many of my plants this was a good thing.  There were a few I think it might have hurt.  Some peppers get this thing called dry root rot.  It develops when the ground stays too moist for too long (No I don't know why its not called wet root rot).  A lot of people do this with their house plants when they keep the ground too moist.  Too much water is not good for the plant.  Is that possible?

Now I'm no botanist but I gonna take a stab at why.  I think its very similar to our lives.  The reason its good for the soil to dry is because it encourages the roots to stretch out and grow.  They develop... finding sources of moisture and minerals they would never have access to without an extensive root system.  When there's too much moisture, their growth is stunted.  They often rot.

I was thinking about all the mediums I use to internalize information in a given week.  Radio, internet, movies, conversations, books.  I'm always listening, seeing, being fed.  Well the last couple weeks a lot of that has been severed.  I've spent many more quiet moments thinking, wondering and just letting my mind rest.  and.......I like it.  I'm wondering if my life has been too saturated with information.  24/7 access is fine.  24/7 consumption is tragic.  Maybe our lives/minds needs a little time for the soil to dry out.  Maybe we need a little more time to think for ourselves.  Maybe that is part of the blessing of disciplines like silence, prayer, and meditation.  Maybe it facilitates this process.

I feel like way too many of us Christians are too much of the world.  Its like an inoculation you take to keep from getting the flu.  We have to have a little bit of the virus to develop our immune system.  We have to be in the world to some extent.  But why would anyone take 5 or 6 flu shots and think there won't be any substantive risks involved?  This time spent backing off of media is great.  I'm thankful for all these wonderful mediums we've been blessed with.  Yet, I'm even more thankful to know I don't need any of them for peace and contentment.  I'm glad I have a God who is sufficient.  I'm glad I have a God who is enough.