Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fear of Failure

The fear of failure has been ruling my life.

It has to stop.

It has crept in under the guise of rationality, safety, and appearance. It has kept the ‘what-if’s’ at bay. It’s kept those ‘grounded in reality’ and ‘in the real world’ pacified. It’s kept my potential untapped, and rendered my life passionless. It has kept my dreams as just that, dreams.

So what if I try and fail. Really, will I be any worse for trying? Will those who may laugh and scorn my being ‘out of touch’ have gained anything on me? Will I be less satisfied with myself because I went for it?

Why is it assumed that those we might deem successful have something that the rest of us lack? Could it be that these ‘achievers’ really just have the guts to keep swinging after repeated misses? Is that really the secret? Does it boil down to just going for stuff without the certainty of success, aka, the ability to overcome the fear of failure?


We were not created to be timid and to live the safe life, waiting for certainty before making decision. This is the path to being Luke-warm and passion-less, which God detests. While we are to have faith that God will guide and lead us, we are not to hide behind this and excuse our fear of making the wrong decision as waiting on God to ‘open the right door’.

Jesus sent His disciples out without extra clothes or money, obvious necessities for making the trip they were about to, as a faith builder. He told them to go, and trust that He would bless them with provisions along the way. He did not lay everything out ahead of time so that His disciples understood what was going to happen. Jesus said go! Do it! I’ll take care of you. I’ll bless you along the way. I’ll help you deal with things as they come up. Jesus was showing them that stepping out in faith is just as valid as waiting on the Lord.

The Wright brothers never would have discovered flight if, instead of following their hearts, had let the fear of failure, of peers laughter, of losing money or time rule their decision making. In fact, they did endure criticism and failure. Years of tests, hypothesis, fails, and re-designs predicated their most famous achievement. What kept them going? Passion, and a refusal to let fear get in their way. Often, the best things in life come after many failures. They were ultimately successful because they dared to live.

Can we make bad decisions? Yes. Will we fail? Probably so. Can our Lord and Savior, creator of the heavens and the Earth, work in our decisions for His glory? Yes, He can! Then why do we let the fear of failure or the fear of making the wrong decision incapacitate us? This is a lack of faith.

We are called to live, really live. Merriam-Webster defines life as “an organismic state characterized by the capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.”  Life is more that getting by, avoiding risk, and saving up for retirement. In fact, life is quite the opposite. We know we are alive by being able to deal with failure (stimuli) and grow through it.

Wake up! Don’t let another day go by anesthetizing your passions with fear. We can never have the promised ‘peace that passes understanding’ while living in fear. You were meant to live for so much more. God has called each and everyone of us to fly.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Ministry of the Inner Life

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." - 1 Peter 2:9

By what right have we become "a royal priesthood"? It is by the right of the atonement by the Cross of Christ that this has been accomplished. Are we prepared to purposely disregard ourselves and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer? The continual inner-searching we do in an effort to see if we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, sickly type of Christianity, not the vigorous and simple life of a child of God. Until we get into this right and proper relationship with God, it is simply a case of "hanging on by the skin of our teeth," although we say, "What a wonderful victory I have!" Yet there is nothing at all in that which indicates the miracle of redemption. Launch out in reckless, unrestrained belief that the redemption is complete. Then don't worry anymore about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ said, in essence, "Pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints of God, and pray for all men." Pray with the realization that you are perfect only in Christ Jesus, not on the basis of this argument: "Oh, Lord, I have done my best; please hear me now."

How long is it going to take God to free us from the unhealthy habit of thinking only about ourselves? We must get to the point of being sick to death of ourselves until there is not longer any surprise at anything God might tell us about ourselves. We cannot reach and understand the depths of our own meagerness. There is only one place where we are right with God, and that is in Christ Jesus. Once we are there, we have to pour out our lives for all we are worth in this ministry of the inner life.

Taken from My Utmost for His Highest: Updated Edition June 21

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm content

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by how lucky I am. I am healthy, loved, comfortable, live in a beautiful place, have a great support system, forgiven, and have hope for the future.

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

…on freedom

The last election I got really excited about Ron Paul and a lot of the Libertarian ideals, even though he was running under for the Republican nomination. Alas, he lost, but I still voted Libertarian, though I can't remember who the guy was at this point. It was on principle, for freedom. Freedom to do what I want, and freedom from others telling me what to do.

Paradoxically, freedom is not doing what I want. This I know for a fact. Pursuing my plans and desires has trapped me in apprehension and disappointment. There is no peace for those always scheming and planning, figuring out how to get ahead. Pursuing ones happiness is selfish in nature, and will only lead to a series of temporary gratifications and ultimately dissatisfaction.

True freedom is being free from apprehension and worry, having a peace 'that passes understanding'. This only comes from complete surrender of our own desires and plans to God's plan. Surrender = giving up = death to self (and our notion that we know what's better for ourselves that God does) = faith = complete trust in God. While we are taught to plan plan plan, work work work, God tells us to rest in Him. In Him is peace from ourselves and the concern of ensuring our happiness.

The weekend before last I went on a little climbing adventure with Brandon and Grant into the North Cascades. The mountains are super steep. I mean right out of the car, we were on a slog straight up the mountain though an old growth forest, up a talus field covered with a thin layer of snow that may or may not hold you weight, across streams, and finally onto a snowfield before arriving at the cliff-line. It was interesting, we had pretty decent weather most of the way up until we were almost to the snowfield. We sat down for a little snack break and saw a fog creeping around the buttress to our left about a thousand feet down and slowly start to make its way up toward us. We put our packs back on and tried to move a little faster, but knew we had no chance against the advancing cloud while post-holing through thigh deep snow.

Soon enough we were engulfed in this world of bright diffused white. Sky and snow look the same. Depth is lost. Every step is second guessed, and you start walking closer to your friends. We stopped and looked at each other trying in vain to gain some courage the others disposition. It was decided that the time had come for the map and compass to guide our way, so I dug out my compass and opened up the map. Unfortunately, it was not the map, but the camping permit. The map was waiting patiently in the backseat of my car for our return.

I wish I could convey the feeling we all felt at this point. It was something along the lines of "Oh Shit!" and "so…". We talked a few minutes about which direction we thought the mountain was, what we though the valley's orientation was, and where we thought we should be going, and hesitantly decided that we should walk north. That was the plan. Walk. North.

At this point, every step became much more cautious. We knew that we didn't know where we were going, nor what could be in front of us. The lack of visibility left far too many variables to our imagination, every slope was now a possible cliff, every forward movement increasing our 'lostness'. After who knows who long, we got to a point where we knew the snow was sloping down on either side and in front of us, who knows how far or how steep. With frazzled nerves, we desperately tried to see something, anything that could fit into what we thought this was going to look like to give us courage to go on. Nothing. We dug a pit for the tent, and decided to settle in for the night, and trace our steps out in the morning.

Before digging, we tossed up a prayer for safety and visibility. To our left we saw what appeared to be a slope and some sort of dark vertical bands that could pass for the westerly cliffline we needed to hike parallel to. This being the case, the slope to our immediate left dropped off who knows how far and we were wise to have heeded our apprehension and stop hiking. Fifteen minutes later, we had the spot cleared and the tent was going up.

Mountain weather is volatile and unpredictable, so the exception can be the rule more times than not. In our case, however, it could not have been chance. Directly above us, surrounded by swirling gray clouds, a circle of blue sky opened up (the first of the day) and illuminated not only where we were, but where we needed to go. The 'perilous cliff' directly to our left turned out to be a gently five foot slope, and the 'vertical rock band' across the 'valley' was another slope twenty feet away and a fifty feet high. Turns out we were miraculously close to the chute needed to gain the last ridge, and in danger of nothing but our own imaginations.

That's what perspective does. When we look at life as something to be wrestled to the ground and willed into submission, we are met with worry, apprehension, guilt, dissatisfaction from things not going our way, and failure. Freedom is what Christ offers. He has the perspective we lack. What seems an impassable obstacle to us is really a gentle five foot slope, we just can't see beyond through the fog. We don't have to understand the peace offered or the direction headed, we just have to have faith that He is taking us where we need to go. Only in giving up on ourselves and clinging to Him can we truly be free.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

back in the dark

Scratch what I said on trust. I really don't understand it, or how love is partially defined by trust, and God calling us to love everyone.

So many things I don't understand.

Friday, May 28, 2010

…more on faith

Trust is rather illusive. There are people I trust, and there are people I do not. This, I would argue, is a consequence of their actions. If they are deserving of trust, than I will grant it to them, and vice versa. I feel completely justified in not trusting someone who hasn't proven to be 'trustworthy'. God has given me a brain, and He expects me to use it. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

God has also called me to love, and has shown me by example how to do so. In case I didn't get what was supposed to happen by his example, He lays out what love is and is not in 1 Corinthians 13. In this description, He says that 'love always trusts'. What are we supposed to do with that? Is He asking us to do something that doesn't quite make sense… again?

It seems that trust is quite similar to faith. It doesn't always make sense, and we often can't explain it. For example: God loves the world, therefore by definition there is some sort of trust in there that we certainly haven't earned. This doesn't make sense. To prove this, Jesus entrusted His entire life's work to a handful of friends that had proved themselves to be anything but trustworthy. Why? Because Jesus had faith in them. Faith is essential to trust, you cannot have the latter without the former. The Bible tells us to fight for faith (1 Tim. 6:12) and to trust in the Lord (Psalm 37:3, Proverbs 3:5). Both instances are calls to action, not necessarily based on empirical evidence or how we feel. 

Through faith and a trust in God (neither of which make sense on our terms), we are given grace (which also doesn't make sense). Grace means that because of our faith, we are set free from our past to enter into a relationship with God. Since sin is the antithesis of God, anything containing sin would not be able to stand before God without being destroyed, thus the necessity of forgiveness and Christ's sacrifice. Faith also means accepting Jesus' sacrifice as sufficient and trusting God to change us into the person He designed us to be in the first place.

For the past fifteen years or so, sexual temptations have been my Achilles heel. They have been a constant fight, most of the time with me on the losing side. My whole adult life has been consisted of me trying in vain to do the right thing, and with me failing sooner or later every time. I always wanted to be rid of this sin, to actually believe that I could move on from my past and become the man God wanted me to be, but never had anything to hang my hat on. Why should I believe in myself when I know how I have always acted in the past. I hadn't proven myself trustworthy.

The last month has not been without temptation, but for the first time in I don't know how many years God has protected me from and seen me through every struggle. He has blessed my efforts to seek Him and trust Him with actual results. He has grown my faith, and has cleared my record through His son. Faith is more than just believing that there is a God who has a son who died to save everyone from sin. Faith is knowing that Christ conquered sin, that He has conquered my sin and will pull me out if its chokehold of guilt and doubt if we just ask and seek Him. 

Faith is the beginning of hope. Through suffering, perseverance, and character building, we are blessed with a hope for a better future both here on Earth (by freedom from our past and credited perfection allowing a relationship with God) and in Heaven. Faith in Christ has released us from who we were and has shown us what we have to look forward to, but what about the present?

God's ultimate gift to me, thus far, has been peace. This again, is a product of faith. Once I was released from my past and shown that I needn't worry about my future, I can finally relax and start to enjoy the freedom that Jesus has given to me, all because of an unexplainable faith in Him. This is the "peace that transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) and the way that we can be delivered from all of our fears (Psalm 34:4). If we find ourselves apprehensive or unsettled about anything, it is time we go back to the basics and examine our faith.

I have not arrived at some 'ah-hah' spot, nor am I completely rid of anxiety. I'm not 'there'. I really don't even know where 'there' is. I do know that God's anxiously waiting to take our hand and lighten our load. It's possible. If God can save me and take away my guilt, He can do the same anyone. Give Him and honest chance, really try to learn about Him and He will make your life a lot better. 

This wasn't meant to be a sermon, and I'm not even sure it will make sense to anyone else, but I guess it is what it is. I've just been really interested in how faith, trust, righteousness, and hope work together, and this is what came out. Please let me know if I've missed anything along the way.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

…on faith

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." 1 Cor. 1:25

Trying to make sense of faith seems to be a waste of time. The whole process seems like a circular argument. God is the author and finisher of our faith. God has to place the initial desire to seek Him in our hearts, yet we have to seek God to find Him. The process is not very logical.

A couple weeks ago I had dinner with my boss, who was a theology major at Oxford a few years back. I had been wanting to chat with him about what he had studied and specifically what he believed. He's a really bright guy, and whose opinion I respect, so I didn't think there was any chance of a bad discussion. As the conversation progressed, he decided to respectfully play the devils advocate, and was joined by the maitre d' who didn't have any faith or education about God. They asked me questions like "How could God's laws be fair if no one has been able to keep them except for Jesus Christ, His son?", and "How could God, who claims to love humanity with every fiber of His being, allow the suffering in the world today?", and "If God knew that Lucifer was going to rebel, and that humans would fall, isn't it cruel and selfish to have created us in the first place?"

Perhaps a better man than me would have been able to answer these questions, but I had no logical explanation to rationalize God or the Bible. The way the questions were framed, and from the viewpoint of the maitre d', believing in God is both foolish and irrational. I would agree with the latter, but the former I could disagree with more.

The conversation ended at three in the morning, after many different theological beliefs had been opened and explored. Kevin, my boss, being a theology major, also knew which areas were the most ripe for discussion and interpretation. Anyway, it did end, and we all parted with a new respect for one another due to a heated discussion without the usual personal attacks or name calling associated with such a sensitive topic.

The next day I awoke a little groggy, and trying to make sense of a rather battered and bruised belief system. This whole month, I have been wrestling with some fairly large issues like selflessness, love, faith, and have not been able to make sense of any of them. My hope was to have them all figured out in a months time, or at least a fresh understanding and foundation to begin the summer with, but I feel as if there is more unclear than when I began.

The coast of Northern Oregon is quite spectacular. Mountains would be a generous term, but there are some very sizable hills that dive, quite abruptly in places, right into the Pacific. They form just enough of a barrier to catch the ocean mist and create the kind of ambiance where werewolves are possible and one could imagine Bella and Edward racing through the forest. 

I woke up early last Saturday morning, and went for an isolated walk on the beach. The sky was steel gray, the tide was coming in with a stiff easterly breeze, and the clouds were moving swiftly through the green evergreens blanketing the hills. I found a little sandbar to explore and was soon surrounded on three sides by the approaching tide, with a swim or retreat as my only two options. Right there, I felt close to God. I believe that He was in the mystery and vastness surrounding me, and I was ok with not being able to prove it.

Having to explain things empirically is a very seductive way of thinking, but is in essence flawed. God cannot be explained, he cannot be contained by our 'rational', self-serving thought processes. He's God. Come on! If I can't explain my faith, it's ok. If I can't understand my own faith, that's ok too. Faith in itself is unexplainable. It's definition hinges on things hoped for and things unseen.

Next time someone (or myself) questions my faith, I hope to be content in believing without having to defend myself on their terms of logical and reason. Some questions are too big to answer, you've just got to believe.

Friday, March 26, 2010

sexist thoughts

My Achilles Heel is sexual sin. I have struggled with it for quite a long time. It all started by a good feeling. I began to associate this feeling with a certain type of physical characteristic, in my case, women without imperfection or blemish thanks to hours of prep work, make-up and Photoshop. This association led me to believe that I needed a woman without physical fault, just like the fake pictures in magazines, to make me feel good. It is easy to believe that it is someone else’s job to make me feel good, and if that feeling ever faded to a lesser degree, I would question whether the woman was pretty enough for me. I had conditioned myself to believe I needed the absolute best-looking woman for happiness.

There are several things wrong with this scenario. For starters, the need to have the ‘best’ was just setting myself up for disappointment. It is an ideal that will never be satisfied. In order to have the best-looking girl, I must compare her with every other girl, and she must come out on top every time and in every category. If you’re always scrutinizing someone in comparison to others, at some point you will find something in someone else that is more desirable, or just different. Then what happens, because you realize you are not with your ‘ideal’ person?

That’s the first problem. The second is that this whole system is based on selfishness. It is all about how the girl’s physical beauty makes me feel, and if I no longer feel a certain way about that person’s beauty, then they are no longer good enough for me because they stopped meeting my ideal. I have realized that they are not without flaw.

Why should I have the right to judge someone based on a groundless ideal rooted in selfishness?
For girls, this is a bit harder to pinpoint. Many girls have spent their whole lives dreaming about how a romance will look and feel. Fairy-tales and pop-culture have painted this picture of the ideal guy that always makes the girl feel a certain way. It also tells girls that they deserve the best. This environment produces women with a sense of entitlement for ideals that are really fabrications of culture and imagination. Furthermore, these ideal actions and behavior of the ideal man are all to make the girl feel a certain way. In the same way that I began to feel a need for a pin-up model based on how she would make me feel, so does a girl for a prince charming.

You wouldn’t want to be constantly compared with the cover girls of magazines would you?

These ideals for the perfect guy are a sure recipe for disappointment. It’s no wonder girls don’t trust guys with matters of the heart. If they have built up ideals that cannot be met, guys will disappoint every time. This continual disappointment leads to the cultural belief that guys are not competent enough to love properly, and so it is the girl’s job to teach the guy how to treat her, so that she can feel the way she was taught that she deserves. Again, this is selfish at the core. It’s all about the guy doing things a certain way to make a girl feel the way she has idealized. It is all about her. Society has deemed girls the experts at love (since love is about how the girl feels, and she’s the expert of her own feelings), and guys the buffoons. How then is she supposed to respect the man she can’t even trust to make her happy?

Just as feelings come and go, so will respect and love when based on something so transient as how you feel. God has called us to something much more permanent, and profound than this. His command for men was for them to love their wives. He didn’t say to love their wives when they made them feel a certain way, nor did God qualify the command to love with a woman’s deserving actions. He told men to love, without condition, selflessly, as God leads with example in loving us.

God told wives to respect their husbands. Again, this extends beyond feelings and merit. It’s a command. If a wife’s respect was to be based on a man’s actions, than no man would deserve it, just as there is no flawless woman always deserving selfless love. But God has made provision for our inadequacy and fickleness by fixing these most important tenants of a successful relationship on a permanent and continued decision rather that how one feels at the moment.

Fixing your respect for someone on their ability to make you feel a certain way is what common culture teaches, and is absolutely wrong.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

on my career

Work has been pretty slow around the office. Everyone has been hanging on to billable work, leaving me spending my time 'researching' social media and current events.

So, it comes as no surprise that my contract is not going to be renewed. After next Friday I will join the ranks of millions of other unemployed Americans, praying and waiting to see what God has up His sleeve.

Monday, February 08, 2010

idolize vs. idealize

Ideal (n)- existing as an archetypical idea

Archetypical (n)- the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies: PROTOTYPE; also: a perfect example

Idealize (v)- to give an ideal form or value to

Idealist (n)- one guided by ideals; especially: one that places ideals before practical considerations

Idolize (v)- to worship as a god; broadly: to love or admire to excess

Would you agree that it is safe to describe God as an idealist? I would, and for the sake of this post, will.

We, you and I; you and I and everything else in the Universe, are called by God. We are called to operate according to God’s ideals. If we all had and did, life would be perfect.

I tend to be an idealist as well, though comparing myself to God is an ugly process. Many of my ideals come from scripture. Many do not. There are perfect scenarios in my mind that I wish to be true. Often, I make decisions based on ideals, arguing that it is better to pursue an ideal and fail than to settle for mediocrity. Just as often are decisions made despite my ideals. However, between the two lies a murky grey area.

The problem with the pursuit of ideals is when we forget why we are pursuing them.

Making lots of money would be ideal. Really, money can do a lot of good, but what happens when we start to idolize making money? Our actions and motivations become governed by this new god. We start making decisions based on the ‘need’ for lots of money, and forget why it would have been ideal in the first place. We cannibalize the purpose behind the ideal in order to make more money. We begin to squash and exploit the very people we set out to help.

How about being a good host. That is an ideal trait right? The Bible mentions great hosts many times and the blessings rendered, but what happens when one idolizes being a good host and forgets why being a good host is ideal? Again, I would argue that the possible benefit given would be jeopardized. The host might start judging success in terms of numbers, popularity and reputation rather than good done. Furthermore, one could start to take credit for the good done rather than attributing it to the real source of all blessings.

What about being correct? Liked? Of good rapport? Successful? Being a good leader?

Now, how about God’s character. If anything is ideal, this is it. The Bible tells us to be like God, emulating His very characteristics. Is it even possible to idolize God’s character than? What might that look like?

In my argument, the process of idealizing to idolizing revolves around replacing the original intent of the ideal with the pursuit of the ideal’s characteristics. I would argue that the original intent of pursuing God’s characteristics is to allow us a deeper relationship of God. What happens when we replace this intent with one of idolizing individual attributes?

In the pursuit of being perfect, could we become legalistic, judgmental, and unforgiving? Could idolizing acceptance lead to too much compromise and a rejection of absolute moral guidelines (post-modernism anyone)? How about power… God is powerful right? Are the possibilities of misconstruing the original intent endless; capable of defacing a beautiful God to an entire planet? Could the ramifications of taking our eyes off the ball be so dire?


A fraudulent intent, however carefully concealed at the outset, will generally, in the end, betray itself” –Titus Livius

*All definition taken from Merriam-Webster online

Thursday, February 04, 2010

on certainty

I was talking to my boss the other day.

He's a successful man, a partner in a successful ad agency, has a happy family and a strong relationship with our creator. We were chatting about life, politics, and religion the other day (all great office topics), when I described my uncertain future.

He smiled, sort of tipped his head to the side and sighed, "You know Matt, the one thing I become more aware of is how little I actually know."

Though this has been my experience so far, I was looking forward to the switch to being 'in the know'.

Wah wah.

Good to know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Look Again and Think*

"Do not worry about your life…" -Matthew 6:25

A warning which needs to be repeated is that "the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches," and the lust for other things, will choke out the life of God in us (Matthew 13:22). We are never free from the recurring waves of this invasion. If the frontline of attack is not about clothes and food, it may be about money or the lack of money; or friends or the lack of friends; or the line may be drawn over difficult circumstances. It is one steady invasion, and these things will come in like a flood, unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the banner against it.

"I say to you, do not worry about your life…" Our Lord says to be careful only about one thing - our relationship with Him. But our common sense shouts loudly and says, "That is absurd, I must consider what I am going to eat and drink." Jesus says you must not. Beware of allowing yourself to think that He says this while not understanding your circumstances. Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about  these things to the point where they become the primary concerns in your life. Whenever there are competing concerns for your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first.

"Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:24). How much trouble has begun to threaten you today? What kind of mean little demons have been looking into your life and saying, "What are your plans for next month - or next summer?" Jesus tells us not to worry about any of these things. Look again and think. Keep your mind on the "much more" of your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:30).

*This entire passage takes from Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest, January 27 entry.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Last weekend. Caution! Long Blog Ahead

My commuting amigo, Mike, and I boarded the Seattle train last Friday morning. Our conversations don’t usually run very deep, so we started chatting about sports and the weekend plans. He told me of dinner arrangements, the time and place he was going to see Avatar, and what he was going to do during the Football games. Soon, it was my turn.
“So do you have any weekend plans, Matt?”
“Well, I was thinking of mtn. biking tomorrow (Saturday).”
“Really, where at?”
“I’m not sure…”
“Who are you going with?”
“Well, I don’t know yet…”
“I’m going to start calling you Mr. ‘I don’t know!”
I laugh. “Yeah…”
Sometimes, life isn’t worth planning, because I know if something better comes along, I’m going to jump on that.
Weekend comes. I’m riding the train home, calling the two people I know who enjoy mtn. biking. Kyle is working; Jon is heading to Portland for the weekend. Lame. Jon offers to call some of his other biking buddies, and see if they’re doing anything, but concedes that they probably aren’t.
“This is lame!” I thought, and wondered why it was so hard to find other people who liked to have fun when I did. Where are all the hardcore people I heard about back in TN? In a place so ripe with opportunity, I have never had this hard of a time finding people to go on adventures with. Maybe they’re all living in some hippy, green commune on the Olympic Peninsula.
Once at home, I start to make biking preparations when Jon calls me back. The guy he thought was going riding on Saturday decided he wasn’t going anymore, but, he’s hiking and snowboarding Rainier instead… and if I was interested, Jon could send me his number.
Obvious choice. I call Rory, my newfound hiking/snowboarding buddy, and make arrangements for our 6:30am departure. We meet at the gas station in some town I don’t remember the name of, and head east. Rory is 31, lives in the same town I don’t remember the name of, does finish carpentry and kicks butt mtn. biking. Awesome.

After three hours of getting to know one another, we meet one of his friends, Paul, and Paul’s friend Marty at the trailhead. Paul recently returned from trekking in the Himalayas and Marty runs forty-mile cross-country marathons and climbed Denali last spring. Awesome.

At this point, I had gone past excitement at having met such outstanding folks, to nervous of having my ass handed to me trying to keep up with them on this mountain. The plan was to ascend around 5k vertical feet, to Camp Muir, then snowboard down. Paul and Marty had the advantage of ascending with skins*, and Rory and I would try our best to keep up on snowshoes.
We started hiking in a snowing and grey mist. It was probably around 25˚, so it didn’t take long at all to warm up. We would our way up through snowy forests and clearings for about an hour. Marty had established himself as the man to keep up with, and the rest of us gave it what we could while he waited on the difference.

Because the visibility was so poor, we ended up plotting our points with a GPS. Well, Paul and Rory did that with their GPS’, Marty had been on the mountain so many times he didn’t need one, and I just assumed that everyone else would make the right decision.

We had climbed through the tree line, and up onto the base of the Muir snowfield when the cloud layer lifted. Rainier appeared in all her majesty. The Nisqually followed the valley to our left, and the Cowlitz to the right beyond a cliff line. The sky was a snowy blue with the sun trying to break through the clouds. Each breath was crystal clear, and the windward side of my face/hair was completely frozen. I could not stop grinning.

Thirty minutes turned the grin into a look more resembling determination. The Muir Snowfield is unending slope of white and scattered rock/cliffs. The clouds came back, the wind picked up, the feet acted up, the headache acted out. Paul and I were following Marty’s tracks into the snowy something. Rory was back somewhere in the snowy something following our tracks.

It was at this point I heard a crack that sounded like thunder, then, CRASH! Snow and ice had dislodged somewhere, where picking up speed and volume, and rushing down the mountain. This was the first avalanche I had heard. I’m pretty sure it started on the Nisqually icefall off to our left, but not being able to see twenty feet in front of us didn’t calm the uneasiness of the situation.
Half an hour turned into an hour. One hour turned into two and we were still trudging up this bloody snowfield. The sun had feinted a return a few times, but the world was still grey. It felt a bit like I was in the game Mist, where the world was a puzzle that could only be worked out by dogged determination and perseverance.

Through this snowy, cloudy murkiness, we saw what appeared to be a darker, murkier spot. Hope that this was the hut quickened my painfully slow pace. The dark got darker, the murkiness dissipated, the slope steepened, and I knew we were almost there.
The Camp Muir is really a collection of scrappy looking structures clinging to the side of Rainier. It’s almost comical, but really comforting. Marty had been there, chillin’ out for a while when we arrived, and soon thereafter another party emerged out of the cloud.  Paul arrived a bit later after dragging (yes, with his hands) his snowboard the whole way up the mountain.

The end is supposed to be where the whole climb becomes worth it, but I was glad to be there just to be done! And remember, we weren’t at the summit, but rather at the 10,177 foot mark. Content to rest a bit and get back to the car, I wasn’t thinking about the beauty that was hidden by the clouds.
In true mountain weather style, the clouds suddenly broke, and the sun revealed a mountain amphitheatre replete with soaring rock spires, steep snowy slopes,  foreboding glaciers, and Adam’s peak protruding above the cloud in the distance. For most of the climb I had been in my own little bubble. Step, inhale, step, exhale. Repeat. The importance of my actions to the mountain had been further established with ascending step, but that left with the clouds. I was, once again, struck with God’s beauty, majesty, power, and my place in the whole mix. Oh yeah, and grinning like a little kid in an ice-cream shop, again. God is good.

Just as the weather broke, it could return, so we decided start our decent. This wasn’t something to be dreaded. We had five thousand vertical feet of untracked powder to descend!
Riding untracked powder is another form of bliss that I could only, speculatively compare with flying. It is magical. Perfect and soft turns, dizzying and unchecked speed, and a mind and imagination instantly freed. This lasted for the first 1500 or so vertical feet before we entered the clouds.
Knowing the inherent danger surround us, we proceeded very cautiously through the clouds, checking the GPS often and regrouping regularly. It was a painfully slow process, navigating cliffs, chutes, sink holes, and flats in low visibility, but soon enough the clouds broke again.
We finished our adventure darting through trees in perfect conditions. The parking lot came all too soon, and like all other adventures this one had finished, but not before rejuvenating the mind, body, and soul. Praise God for spontaneity, adventure, and beauty.

*Skins= a one-way material that attaches to the bottom of skis, turning them into a very quick and efficient method of ascent.

Candace and the hotdog stand

Candace taking a timeout for texts last night at the Garage Voice show.

on prayer

Talking to God is a tricky endeavor for me. Often, I don't know how I'm supposed to feel when I make requests or attempt to praise the Lord. Ideally, I would be completely into whatever I was saying, but as it plays out, my feelings are often different than what I know to be true.

So, if I'm praising God in prayer, my feelings can go anywhere from a full on pouring out of my heart to merely acknowledging God's attributes. Telling God that I love Him often spans the gap from bringing me to the point of tears, to professing what I know He deserves, yet feeling none of the emotions that I would like to accompany it. What does the Lord require in prayer?

The Jewish leaders in Jesus' time prayed at length, and said all the things they were supposed to say, but their hearts weren't in it, and Jesus rebuked them. What makes my prayer any different, even if I wish my heart were in it? It seems very arrogant to approach God without some sort of praise, if only to put myself in proper perspective. And to talk to God without asking His blessings is like saying I don't need anything, which couldn't be further from the truth. In retrospect, I always feel like a spoiled brat, not appreciating what God has given me and still asking for more.

Consistently, the only prayer I can  pray with my whole heart, is found in Luke 18:13. "God have mercy on me, a sinner." Jesus said this is good. Until God shows me the next step, I'll just keep on asking for more mercy, because the Lord know's I need it.

Listen to Your Love is Strong by Jon Foreman

Friday, January 22, 2010


I am brain-dead.

My brain is dead. My thoughts are gooey. My legs are rubber. My eyes are lethargic.

Today, I sat at my desk for eight hours and stared at a computer screen.

It was beautiful, outside.

- chatted with friends
- caught up on social media stuff
- checked the news
- changed my Twitter profile desigh
- at leftovers from last nights agency-client party
- instigated a Nerf-baseball war
- did one hour's worth of billable work.

It’s not that I don’t want to do anything productive, but that I did it all yesterday. Some would be happy for a day like this. Not me.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Good things

1. Winter sunshine in Seattle
2. Forgiveness
3. Nerf Baseballs

Thursday, January 14, 2010


There’s this game I found out about a long time ago. It’s super popular; pretty much everyone I know plays or has played it. It has the thrill of action sports; the satisfaction/sense of belonging that comes with being on a team; and the potential payoff of playing the lottery.

The catch is that you are guaranteed to lose every time you play, except one (and winning once isn’t even guaranteed). The one time you win also has to be the last time you play. Oh yeah, and if you try to play again after you win, you will suffer a loss worse than every other loss you’ve experienced.

I hear the payout is amazing though…

Thursday, January 07, 2010

cleaning out my closet

Since moving to Seattle, I’ve been missing several important items from Tennessee. Christmas break presented the perfect opportunity to remedy the situation, and pack everything else up for when my situation becomes even more permanent.

Going through old stuff was a lot of fun. I sifted through a bunch of old photos (ladies, I was a cute baby…), packed up all of my books, emptied out my dresser drawers, and threw away a bunch of crap that needed discarding years ago.

I came across some old boxes of checks, probably from some old, closed checking accounts. Not wanting to throw them away and risk having my identity stolen, I was lamenting having to shred each one individually when I realized that I could have a lot more fun with paper than just throwing it away.

My plan had to wait until after my parents went to bed. It was really cold and windy when I took all of the checks and boxes out to the front porch of the house. After scouring the house for a lighter (which is remarkably difficult in a conservative Adventist home), it was go time.

Not that my idea was very well thought out, but I really surprised at how difficult it was to light a checkbook on fire. The wind didn’t help either, and forced me to start the fire on the porch. I first started by trying to light the spine of the checkbook on fire, but that didn’t work. Tried the other side, no luck. Lighting each individual check was quickly losing its appeal, when I laid the checkbook vertically on it’s opened pages and it started to burn beautifully.

Somehow it felt like I was rebelling against the establishment, and that laws were being broken. If Dylan would have been there, we could have had a really good time with that thought. We would have talked about how Ron Paul can save the world, how our leveraged economy is bound to crash, giggle about burning checks on the front porch of my house, and reminisce good times. He’s always been on board for breaking the law on most any way possible.

Well, the checks burned and the house didn’t. Success. It was pretty smoky inside though. I didn’t make and earth shattering discoveries, but I did have a lot of fun showing ‘the man’ who was boss. It’s the little things that count…

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

1st piece of furniture

Guess the title said it. The boys and I have been slowly getting our apartment together, and I have been checking Craigslist almost daily, trying to find the perfect bookcase, dresser, etc. for my taste and budget.

Well, yesterday was my big day. I found a night stand from the Depression Era for twenty bucks. Now my keys, bill-fold, and cell phone have a home for the night.

Here are a few pictures of the new set up:

... and if you have time, check out the song Stay Where you Are by Ambulance LTD here.