Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Little Wonders

Life has slowed down out here at the Ranch, and most of my co-workers are long since gone on Christmas vacation. The rest of us are still here, chugging along waiting for our turn to depart into Yuletide bliss. Nothing's really going on; just little things to take care of here and there. I've spent the week cleaning this giant fish-tank-holder thing we have. Between vacuuming out sand, scrubbing algae, and feeding the dead former residents to the snake-neck turtle; my arms and back are a little sore from constant bending over and cleaning. But it also makes for a semi-monotonous time for the mind to wander a bit.

And as the mind detaches from the body and muscle memory takes over, a relaxing atmosphere is created for my mind to be free to wander and ponder the little things in life. (I hope that last sentence made sense. It does in my head.)

Springing readily to mind is the unadvertised perk of watching dead fish get eaten by turtles. It's really cool and I marvel every time I watch it.

And that's such a little thing, but it got me thinking about other little things, simple blessings, and tiny pleasures that I tend to take for granted such as.....

Laughing with friends...
Spiral macaroni...
Catching all green lights on the way home...
A good book...
Hot tea on a cold day...
Sleeping in...
Road trips...
Singing to loud music by yourself...
Children who think you're cool just because you're there...
Wrapping presents (even though I'm horrible at it)...

Just those little things that I tend to overlook. I think it's good to take time to remember these things, and to appreciate them as the little blessings in life that they are.

Just a thought...

P.S. For everyone who reads this...Hezekiah 31:1 isn't an actual Bible verse. Just fyi....

Monday, November 24, 2008

Failure and Redemption

In case you were wondering I'm at my aunt and uncle's place in Keller, Texas.  There's some college basketball playing in the background, with the smell of my aunt's cooking wafting upstairs.  But most importantly right now, my cousin is playing the old Blessed Assurance hymn on the piano.

There's something about hearing the old hymns being played on a good old piano that tugs me back to simpler times, before I became "aware" of the rest of the outside world.  Back when I thought that people were basically good with a few flaws here and there.  When my only worry was whether or not to play Lego's once I got home.

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand now....

Now years later, I know that life is difficult.  I have and will make mistakes.  Many more mistakes.

Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary now...

To me, it's amazing that my cousin is playing those hymns, as she was one who has recently turned to and fallen on some hard times; the details of which I won't go into.  Suffice to say that, hearing her play these songs, helps me to believe that there is still something soft and sweet somewhere deep inside her.  Something that has endured in spite of the efforts of the outside world and her own rebellions to kill it.  Something that keeps alive the hope of future Redemption.

Hopefully, I'm not being naieve in that assuption.  She's playing a piece now that I don't recognize.  Not any less beautiful though...

Failures and Redemptions have been on my mind today.  Recent and past.  Minor and Major.  Physical and Spiritual.  I hate that depressing sense of failure and naturally love the uplifting of redemption.  My problem arises from living in a recurring cycle of failure over the same things and never changing the situation.  Or at best paying lip service to change and immediately falling flat on my face.  Never changing.  Never lasting.  And I hate it.

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. - Thomas A Kempis

I can't do it on my own.  And I'm so tired of trying.

It's time I lived this conviction.  It's time for a change.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Apples to Bond

I saw the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, this past Saturday night, and it was awesome! I know a lot of people don't really care for this new incarnation of Ian Fleming's spy, but I do. There's something about the way the attitude that Daniel Craig brings to the character; something about his (and the director's) willingness to show Bond actually getting hurt and having scars on his face. He's gritty, doesn't care what other people think about him, and seems a lot more "human" (gets angry, is ruthless, doesn't have futuristic gadgets) than the recent incarnations of Bond have been in over the years (see Moonraker and Die Another Day). Nothing like a plot that's actually feasible.

After finishing the movie, I went with some friends to a local coffee shop, Rockwells, and played the most excellent of games, Apples to Apples. I love that game. Seriously. It's such a great game. You find out so much about the people you play against, and can be just plain silly. I personally like the goofiest, offensive, or historical matches when I choose. File that away all you potential Apples to Apples players..... One of these days I might post a list of what I consider to be trump cards....

I couldn't sleep the other night and scooped this out of the restlessness....

Home Again
I could write a thousand songs that I would love to sing
And each one would surely miss the depth of my feelings
I could pen a thousand words; a thousand different ways
And still never say all I wanted to say
I could speak a thousand words on the greatness of Your grace
And stay my hand upon realizing You knew them yesterday
I could shed a thousand tears for the growth in the pain
Holding to the hope that joy will come again
I could bleed a thousand ways to show you that I care
Knowing you're worth more than all the pain I gladly bear
I could calm a thousand fears to bring you peace of mind
And wait for you to run to Me so I could name you Mine
I would die a thousand times again to prove My love to you
And sing the chorus of My joy as you are made anew
I would do it all a thousand times to call you Child and Friend
And dance among the stars as I bring you Home again

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Of Leaves

I think that one of the best things about winter is walking through the leaves. Those crunchy leaves. For some reason that's just a pleasant feeling for me. Can't really explain it. Since childhood in south Louisiana, I've always looked forward to the falling of the leaves. Other places have snow and ice. Down there we did the best we could with the piles and piles of leaves. I tell ya, no one could make a better Leaf Snowman than we could back then. I guess in an area where no one knows what snow looks like, you have to make due with what you have.

That's apparently translated over to something like nostalgia as I've gotten older. And what's crazy is that even now, years later, crunching through leaves on a winter day has consistently been the thing that I look forward to each year. Even more than Christmas (ya know that holiday that starts before Thanksgiving?).

I could probably come up with some pseudo-philosophical guess as to why mere dead leaves affect me this way. Something about the representation between the getting rid of the things that weigh me down each year and the potential of the coming years to make something better of myself. I think that last sentence might have been it. At least for now...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meet Joshua

Everyone, I would like for you to meet Joshua Ongadia. Joshua is 5 years old and lives in Uganda. Last week I decided to sponsor him through Compassion International, and for $32 a month, I help provide Joshua with food, clothing, and education.

I was thinking about it today, and $32 isn't that much of a sacrifice when I take into account the insignificant things that I would normally spend $32 on. DVDs that I'll probably only watch once, fast food that will eventually kill me if I don't watch it, clothes to give me a 'selection,' coffee and fruity drinks at Rockwells; I could continue.

But then I thought about all the things that others in the world live without on a daily basis. I thought about my past two trips to Africa that taught me more about myself than any school could. I thought about how fortunate I was as a child to have parents that were steadily employed and were able to provide for my deepest wants. I thought about the children that I have worked with at Sky Ranch and my seeming knack for interacting with them. I thought about Mark 10:13-16. And after this barrage of contemplation and gratitude, I knew that I had to help out.

And to tell other people....

The above part was my way. I don't like it when people guilt me into things either.

The cold weather is here. And like a certain co-worker I love this time of year. The cold wind blowing through the day, reminding you with each icy breath that you are alive! The feel of the cold in your knuckles and the taste of warm tea on your tongue mix together to create the lovely expression of winter.

Maybe we'll get some snow?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting old and Number 45

I just got back from an incredible weekend in College Station. Sky Ranch had a tailgate party right next to Kyle Field. It was a great time to catch up with people that I haven't seen since the summer. But it wasn't all fun and games. Without further ado let me present the List of Things I Learned This Weekend:

1. I am horrible at Washers. David Huss and I played three games and I won zero. Touche' Mr. Huss. You win again.

2. I'm a year out of college and I don't understand the appeal of staying out partying and all that until 2 in the morning. I used to be able to stay up almost all night on only 6 hours of sleep. That was less than a year ago. Now I have a hard time making it to midnight.

3. It's amazing to me how much God can bring you through something so that you can help someone else who is going through the exact same things you went through. Sometimes I don't understand why. But I can think of three separate occasions where I've been able to help someone out who was struggling with something by simply having been through it myself.

4. Usually the TV delay between what happens on the field and the time it gets broadcast on the the screen is about 10-15 seconds. Texas A&M has this cannon that they fire whenever the team scores, so we could always tell when a score was coming. Which brings me to the next number....

5. I wish Tiger Stadium had a cool cannon to fire.

That concludes the list. Hope you enjoyed. But wait.....that's not all!

Sidenote: The guy at the next table just said : "Jesus was big pimpin', dawg!"

I've been really struggling lately with some things that, quite honestly, terrify me. It pretty much centers on Matthew 25:31-46. Katie and some friends have helped out a lot by providing prayer and encouraging verses. Just thought I would share something about it that I wrote a while back that is helping me even after all this time.

Number 45....

You are there in the hurt
You are there in the pain
You are there in the shadows
Calling out my name

And I run to You

Monday, October 13, 2008

Return of the .......

Been a long time....

I didn't even realize it until today when Shannon-anon mentioned hers. I mentioned this blog and excitement was in the air as I was initiated back into the blogging club. Apparently it's a pretty big deal.

I turned 24 yesterday. My brother sent me 24 text messages to celebrate! And my wonderful girlfriend, Katie, came down to visit me! She got me a DVD featuring my two favorite wrestlers (yes, I said it, wrestlers!) and what's more.... she watched it with me! Quite good for Josh!

It's been a crazy couple of months/year/year-and-a-half for me. Hopefully, one day I'll find time to talk about it. But I'm back at Sky Ranch again. Hopefully for good. But we'll see......