Why’d you take all the food out of it?

Fasting is never fun when your a foodie. Yep I’m a foodie. I love to look, cook, smell, and of course taste food. Get in my belly. The grill is a God given sanctuary for mankind to realize it’s true greatness. Smoked, flame broiled, roasted, fried up in a pan, food is the nectar of life.

That’s why after 4 days into a fast I had to ask, God what is this all about? I’m giving up some serious food moments here. There’s gotta be something You want me to know. That’s when He spoke this clear message to me. “Your hungry”.

The conversational thought that followed went like this,

me: “Really “Your hungry”, that’s all you got?”

God: “Feel your hunger”.

me: “I’m very hungry, so hungry I can smell the individual flakes of pepper on an omelette”.

God: “You need hunger”.

me: “Why?”

God: “When your full you tend to be filled with yourself”.

me: long pause “oh”.

God: “Would you like more?”

me: somberly “no, no that’s enough, that’s more than enough right now”.

Why fast? It makes me hungry. As silly as that seems, that’s it. Four days into a fast I get it. It’s taken this to realize the depth God wants me to hunger. Not from my rumbling guts, but an awareness that each and every day I need that same hunger for Gods personal relationship. It’s true, I needed to hear that. I need to know it. In my weakness God has spoke into me what makes me strong.

After fasting for forty days, In the face of immense temptation Christ spoke into the face of satan. “…man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”. Matthew 4:4

“Voices Carry”

It is deafening trying to hear a singular voice amidst a background of noise and confusion. Surprisingly when one of our own children speaks out within a crowd we can effectively pinpoint their voice. It’s instinctual, we know their voice, ingrained within our being. And they too, no matter the situation, they can individuate our voice.

No matter who you are, life is full of voices. We experience them from our first breath until our last. Positively, negatively, voices carry. Every voice we’ve encountered carries a level of impact on our life. Life’s biggest challenge is who’s voice are we going to choose to live by.

At times life is a thunderous storm of confusion, often empowered by outside voices of persuasion. After 30 years of working in multiple layers of noise, I often find it difficult to concentrate on one voice. It takes constant effort to differentiate who is saying what I’m supposed to hear.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” John 10:1-5

For the “LOVE” of the game.

It was 32 years ago that I began making a play for the girl of my dreams. Playing softball the summer of “87” I couldn’t help but notice “that girl” in the stands. After several trips striking up conversations between innings I knew I had to try and steal her heart. With each attempt, It became clear she was the home run I’d always swung for.

Finally, it was time to get in the game and ask her out. She knew the count and threw me a curve the first time I asked. Being the first time ever missing on a pitch, I determinedly dug in for another swing. To my relief, Patricia and I went out for the very first time. It wasn’t long and we were spending extra innings together on a regular basis.

Before I knew it my plan for the perfect game became all too real and we became teammates in life on November 18, 1989. As with all teams, there’s responsibility issues, position changes, and growing pains. And within our first season together we displayed the unraveling of misguided, mismanaged, and leaderless teamwork. Grown selfishly apart and prime for dismantling. Our teams’ destiny could have easily ended there as do many succumbing under insurmountable odds and statistics.

Resiliency, the test of a teams core. That was the only thread left holding any stitch to our relationship. We faced a major offseason of change that would require a complete rebuilding from the ground up. We turned to each other and committed to working under new management and allowing the past to be remolded by grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

In order for us to be successful in the seasons ahead, we had to commit to leadership and each other. We became determined, what we did each day mattered to the future franchise we planned on building. Each decision and choice helped us grow more selfless following the game plan of new leadership. Every team experiences victory or failure by who they choose as leadership.

Each move, each choice, each series of decisions we make effects the people and world around us. As a relationship team, a marriage, we hold responsibility to our franchise families future. Together we put down the lines of influence impacting future relationships to go foul or hit a home run! Nothing is impossible with the right attitude and guidance when it comes to building a Championship Team.

Our franchise has grown beyond our wildest dreams. Watching from the stands we take in each blessing from a decision to keep the team together. Each new relationship, each new team player, each new generation growing and learning from the last. What all started at a summer softball league has truly turned into a “Field of Dreams”.

“We the People” why my dishwasher quit working…

Everything is created with order. It’s when I allow my focus to deviate from the source that life seems chaotic and out of control. Watching and listening to the news and it’s so called analyst is an easy way to be thrown into a disordered sense of reality. Social media and it’s ambiguous means of communicating only heightens ones sense of complete disjointedness.
Above all else no matter your background, beliefs, ethnicity, political view, male, female, sexual choice, short, tall, fat, skinny, or bald, “God is in control”. How do I know this to be true? With an indisputable source that cannot be tarnished, life experience with God Himself. I was reminded of this today when caught up in a moment of disarray and unable to control the situation as I’m prone to do.
For about two days our dishwasher has been dropping it’s cycle and not completing its programmed directive so as with most issues of this nature I turned to YouTube to be my guiding savior. There seems to be a vagueness when it comes to dishwasher repair or possibly there are only two parts that can go wrong with a dishwasher. To my distress it pointed to the main control panel a $248 predicament. Not a financial ruining type of impact, mind you, but the machine is only 22 months old and the suspected fix nearly half its cost.
That’s when the mind starts to spin and control issues rear themselves like a three-headed dragon. A whirlwind of financial responsibilities projected themselves in anarchy.
A spring vacation, a graduation party, a grand baby shower, a wedding shower, the Wedding, all fermenting in my head as I contemplate this insolent dishwasher. I holdfast and become righteously outraged with its maker and begin to dial with a judicious fervency, I shall make my case! Not one, not two, but four times as I punch through the labyrinth of ordinance I reach a human voice only to be disconnected. I slump in my chair staring across the room, the floor scattered with parts in complete dismay.
Feeling like the proverbial “red-headed stepchild” I begin to piece back together the precarious dishwasher. Closing the door its cold stainless steel overlay reflectively mocks me with my own dejected appearance. I’m brought to the one place where God works best “the bottom of myself” the place where control and reason are no longer in my reach. Like many times before I succumb to the realization that I’m where I should have started, putting it in God’s hands and dropping it from my own. I raise my hand on the dishwasher ask God to fix what I’m unsure of and repent for allowing it to consume me negatively.
For most I’m sure this seems trivial but I assure you it deeply impacts the climate we’re currently in around our country. I deeply need something to believe in, something that I can trust, something to grab onto that has lasting fortitude. People, society, government, are as damaged and uncertain as I myself have tendency to be. One stronghold that life experience has yet to disprove is that “God is in Control”.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all things America needs to heal and gain lasting prosperity. The answer is as clear as the face, the face of our dollar bill, “In God We Trust”. My situation today reflects deeply on the issue most in America struggle with and why there is such chaos and turmoil, we’ve allowed ourselves to foolishly believe we are in control.
My desire is to make us think and look above ourselves to the real purpose in all of this we call life. Cherish relationships with the ones you love and build healthy new ones to make this Nation truly great again. You’ll have to excuse me now I have a dishwasher to unload, it seems to be working perfectly fine again.

A Christmas Blanket

Looking out the window this morning watching the graceful white snowflakes blanket the ground with their unblemished purity thinking of Christmas. The truest gift opened that very first Christmas morn, Grace and Mercy unwrapped through the birth of Christ. Never to be earned or justified but to be freely received, as the landscape receives it’s snowy transformation. That first Christmas morning proclaiming to mankind an assurance of Gods love to envelope our lives from its tarnished reality. This Christmas unwrap a life giving source of Hope and Peace freely given for all to receive.

Wishing All a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Leaving yesterday for Life Today: a journal excerpt 

     a final journal excerpt, reflections of Mexico – 4/28/16 Thursday   (Malachi 1:1-10)

     How quickly we can become in snared by yesterday’s, therefore allowing ourselves to be impaired for life today. As I look back on what was an incredible nine days in Mexico my mind rolls further to where and who I was before I left. It’s been four days back in the “real world” of everyday choices, relationships, decisions, responsibilities and a menacing cloak has begun creeping in. The quietness of my sprit has started to feel the noise of a transcending yolk of yesterday’s. As if it were reaching out to squelch every moment that God intended to be life altering and turn them into a static of mundane memories.

     Such is the way we hear life, through the headphones of our past not receiving the clarity of a God who’s voice is outside our everyday frequency. 

     I am today, not who I was yesterday, but what God has altered in me to provide an abundantly different tomorrow.

     I will not allow the prevailing darkness to cloak the Spiritual amperage that God has transmitted into me through His Holy Spirit. The moments and events that took in place in Mexico are to echo and reverberate in my soul deafening life’s yesterday’s. Our God is a Loving God who’s very purpose for us is to change the damaged tone of yesterday into a Concert of Compassion everyday. 

     Channel what God has playing for you today and stop allowing the background of yesterday to destroy the harmonies He has planned for your tomorrow.

Piercing the Difference: a journal excerpt 

An excerpt from my journal, a day in Mexico – 4/17/16 Sunday

      Went to church at the site pastors home church, Rev. Nate Elarton delivers an inspired message on “Never Quit”. As Nate calls to receive Gods grace, many go forward and the Holy Spirit moves throughout fervent prayers. An older lady in her sixties acknowledges and accepts the Gift of Gods Grace for the first time. Painted before me is the divine intervention of Christ. That it took the yes of a man to a missions trip, an agreement to speak the message of Gods freedom in a foreign land, and at that moment the Holy Spirit penetrated for the first time the heart of a sixty year old woman to be changed for eternity. I’m humbled by a God who “Never Quits”. As I’m led to pray two people stand out to me, a young man and a man similar in age to myself. As I prayed for the young man it was just to be a stronger leader in his home and to be refilled with Gods Spirit. The other man did not go forward but sat stone faced throughout the service and at this time of prayer. As I went back to my seat the Lord just spoke to my heart that He wanted to pour out His love on him. Even though he looked as if he would rather punch me than look at me I turned and placed my hand on his shoulder and prayed. It was emotional as I prayed that he experience the love of Christ and that his life be changed through it. I was given a snapshot that he had never experienced unconditional love from anyone before and that Christ wanted to pierce his heart with His. Although stone faced and unemotional through the first part of the service afterwards he stood shook some hands and I swear I seen him smile before walking of alone. 

“Gods love is a ever piercing changer of men”.

     A day off from construction finds the team and I headed for a local natural spring. Efrain Figueroa our leader says that Antonio has tried to get him to go with others in the past but has never taken him up on it. I begin to wonder exactly what a natural spring in Mexico might look like and fail to conjure anything appealing. After a thirty minute trek into the mountains we arrive at what seems to be a very popular water hole. To be fair it is the cleanest water I’ve seen yet and the locals are nearly shoulder to shoulder soaking it up with enthusiasm. It’s surrounded by make shift cabanas so to speak, corrugated siding somewhat attached to cut tree posts with a similar roof. Family’s hang out together in the cabanas retreating from the sun relaxing in their tied off hammocks. Other shelters are rented by vendors equipped with wood fired ovens to supply guest a taste of local cuisine. We pile out of the vehicles caught in the gaze of bewildered faces, all wondering “what just happened”? We muddle through the crowd following our host onward to the spring. 

     There it is, an open spot, deep in the fold of locals. Im captured in a moment I’ve never experienced as deeply before, I’m the incredibly white minority. With that I take the “if there’s water I’m in” attitude and begin as a drop of oil in water scenario. Not with annoyance but with their quandary I seem to maintain a five foot water buffer no matter which direction I wade. Quickly others from our group join to widen the pool of paleness. We laugh and crack jokes about our distinctness. It’s not until Nate and Matt decide to swim to the other side that we get the full effect of our presence. As if Moses and Aaron were again parting the Red Sea the water buffer opens before them as they make their way across the spring. We are caught in the hilarity of the moment and embrace what it means to be different amongst the majority. After cooling off we climb out of the water refreshed and ready for lunch. As a group we overtake one of the food vendors providing them a full house of hungry clients. Again I’m stuck with Antonio ordering for the group the same lack luster, corn fried, flipped over blandness that I’ve choked down twice before. I vow never again on the remainder of the trip. Burying it in hot sauce I try to resurrect some sort of flavor from the crisp corny, unidentifiable meat, fold over. As we leave I reflect on the experience not soon to be forgotten. Now I know what it’s like to be the odd fish in a school of many.

   Later in the evening, back near the hotel, they find a great taco stand. So I go out with the boys to smash a few. The fixings were amazing but as usual I can’t stay away from the habaneros and onions and pay dearly for it. Matt Rienhart and I become ships in the night as we pass one another on various trips to the bathroom.

As vast as the ocean is deep we all live in a sea of differences with our fellow man. God continues to reveal how deeply common the need is for all men to receive Christ’s Grace. And to Love one another Unconditionally as He loves us.

Getting the Best from Life