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.