Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random Thoughts

It has been over a month since I last wrote and by now most of you could probably care less about what I write... sorry for dropping the ball. I spent most of today reorganizing my room and trying to throw out a lot of junk. Some were just little scraps of paper with quotes or thoughts I had scribbled down. I thought I would share them with you. Enjoy

From 2007 at Miami University:
"Life is a symphony. We all play an important role, even if we dont know it. Most of the time, we are a discordant noise, a jumble of sounds. But when even clusters, small pockets, start listening and following the conductor, beautiful music arises. Just think if everyone was watching and following him."

"The truly humble are never embarrassed."

"Be at a place of absolute and complete abandonment. It is the difference between the holy and the common."

And last but not least, some great quote I found scribbled down from living in a house with four other guys:
"I must have been one of those gifted childs..." Brent
"This was supposed to be a guys weekend and you inviting that little Yeti!?" Ben, to Brent, referring to Brent's girlfriend.
"If you dont guarantee me at least a C, you are in trouble." Brad, as he was attempting to copy someones work.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Private Symphony

This is still a work in progress, but I thought I would share it with you all...
The Private Symphony
Scuffed, thrice-repaired shoes showed the mileage he had put on them. From a distance, he maintained a quiet dignity and could have passed for just another passenger. But he wasn’t. The beat-up violin showed that. The creased Coca-Cola cup that jingled with change any time the Metro car rocked was a dead giveaway. So he stepped on the car yet again and picked up the bow.

His suit was patched at the elbows, a small hole in the shoulder and when you stood close to him, you could tell it hadn’t been washed in a couple days. A worn out suit for a worn out man. The creases on his face, the tanned leather lines, spoke of more experiences than 45 years should have. It spoke a journeys and trials that the others would never know of. Not even the men that he shared a train stoop knew his story. They just knew he slept with the violin, got up and went to work on the Metro every day.

So he picked up his bow and put it to his worn out violin. Cracked in the front, varnish peeling, and scuffed on the edges, the instrument looked as if it had as many journeys as the man playing it. The stories it could have told would have filled many a Moleskin, stories that Steinbeck would have loved to tell of hardship and real people.

With the first draw, the man’s eyes closed and he was lost. The music was not the typical Godfather theme song nor 35 second ditty that would impress in the time between stops, leaving enough time to collect a little change. No, this was classical, Beethoven and Brahms, music for mahogany paneled halls, not metal Metro cars. And as this man’s eyes remained closed, in his mind he saw it.

The Metro, with its graffiti painted walls and crowded mass of humanity, became his concert hall. The iron bars that people clung to became gleaming brass banisters. The plastic seats with busy commuters and tourists because plush cushioned rows of high class concert-goers. The rubber lined floors became polished wooden floors. Shoes polished to a military shine, tuxedo crisp from the cleaners, the man stood a little straighter as he stepped forward to take the lead.

No longer was he playing a beat-up violin but a 1765 Stradivarius, on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose every fiber vibrated with class, borrowed dignity from a rich source. And though he was playing alone, behind the squeezed eyes and passionate playing, an orchestra swelled in his private symphony.

The others on the Metro noticed it. Some sat at straighter, pressing pause on their iPod to head the magic. A few even dared to openly gawk at the man, surprised that he didn’t even start with the typical, “Buon giorno tutti.” One man didn’t get off at the next stop, though he should have. Another wondered what he could have created if he stuck with his dream of being a concert pianist. But their reactions didn’t matter to the man.

Nor did the change he should have received. Ignored was the cup in his jacket pocket. There was something more important than money that was being exchanged. It was a gift from one to another. When he finished, the Metro stopped at suddenly as he started, as if the music was propelling it along and it no longer could go forward without it. It jolted the man and he stumbled back into reality. His eyes opened, sad eyes that spoke of past loves and performances.

Not a word was said. His hand reached back for the change cup in his jacket pocket. He began to walk up the car, still not saying a word as people fished into their pocket for change to give him, giving that robbed him of his dignity. It wasn’t meant to be like this, he thought. A hand reached out and placed a bill into the cup. He looked to find the face of a young, bearded man.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day

President Obama, I applaud this article. Thanks for not only being a politician but also being a person, for being a father. Happy Fathers Day to all those fathers out there who had the guts to stick around, to love their kids, to raise them well. Dad, you are top notch. I love you. Thanks for being not only physically present but always emotionally present. Thanks for teaching me about Jesus. Thanks for caring about what I am doing and for constantly praying for me.

I havent done this in a long time. So FREE MUSIC FOR YOU. I used to do something called Free Music Friday and I have just gotten swampted. But the return is a free live album, courtesy of our British friends COLDPLAY! Just click on the link, go to their website, and click on Free Download Left Right Left Right (the name of the free live album). It is good stuff.

And to make up to you the fact that I havent written sooner, here is another free download! This one is an album from a band called The Damnwells. I dig their sound and it is FREE so what do you have to lose?

As for me, more will be written about changes, about wrapping up The Italian Grande Adventure TOMORROW. So check back soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Countdown: Day 25

Currently listening to Jon Foreman - Limbs and Branches
which you can listen to by clicking the link and going to the 7th cd in the list
My sports hero is David Robinson, who played for the San Antonio Spurs. The beautiful thing about his career is he knew when it was time to retire and declared it before the season. So his entire last season was a lot like a celebration parade for an illustrious career. And he finished it by winning a Championship, like the Champion he is and was. Why do I say all this? Well my STINT career here in Rome, Italy is coming to a close and I know it. I have no championship to win but "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:13-14)

In celebration of that, of only 3 and 1/2 weeks left in this Grande Adventure of Roma Italia, I would like to fill you in first on a day by day of this week.. well probably every other day to be honest. And then celebrate Sunday by posting a short story I wrote earlier this year. So here I am, Monday winding to a close, and I have lived a full day. Waking up at 7:30, I wanted to spend some time with God before my morning meeting to evaluate the year with the two other members of my missional team. However Rome was Rome, and I had to settle for some prayer time as I waited for a bus... and waited... and waited. What should have been a 25 minute commute turned into a 50 minute commute and I got there 5 minutes before our meeting was to start.

The meeting went well, good honest evaluation is not always easy but is good for the soul. As past failure is exposed to the light, their power is stripped and the light of God's truth and how he has redeemed even our failures shines through. Hopefully we will learn and move on and pass along that learning to help others learn from our mistakes and successes. We swung by my favorite kebab/pizza place, Pizza Design, on the way to campus and I said hey to Hassan as he hooked me up with some killer pizza. Yes, this it Italy and we eat a lot of pizza.La Sapienza, 2nd largest university in the world
Campus time was especially sweet for me today as I got to see some old friends. Initially we were meeting with the american Summer Project students that are here hanging out with us, but I had to duck out and plan a beach outreach with The Dueck. Returning briefly to the SP students, I was once again drawn away seeing David from the Grass, an old friend that I havent seen since December. Connecting with him was good but he is still very much David from the Grass, kind and gentle and with a spirituality that is about as solid as the wind blowing... you can feel it but it isnt really based in anything concrete, so it goes wherever it pleases. I had to take off and make some phone calls to schedule physical therapy for my healing left arm, but it was good to see him.
Me and Giovanni in London in January
I tried to meet some guys playing around with a Rugby ball, which was a lot of fun for me to play with but we didnt really get to talk a lot. It was still refreshing to simply play, and I invited them to the beach thing this Saturday. But even better is I ran into Giovanni the Juggler, a good friend from last year who has been studying in London all year. I got to talk to him, his girlfriend, and another friend Giulia. My favorite part was when another friend, Dmitri, joined us and asked me, "Do you think what your association does here is useful?" I got to respond to both why it is useful in general to have a place to discuss spiritual things and for me, as a Christian, how this relationship with God has changed my life. Dmitri seemed to think that it wasn't necessary, not in a mean way, but simply that people can find other places to talk about this stuff. And I got to sit back and watch Giovanni argue for why we are needed here in Italy, even though Giovanni isn't a believer! Here, my dear friend Giovanni, argues for why Agape Italia is needed even though he doesnt agree with my stance on Christ. God is BIG!

After campus, I hit up the grocery and then to some good talk time with The Dueck, learning from his wisdom and the lessons that God has been teaching him. His parting words? "Seek God. Really seek him this week, not just to fill in your quiet time quota, but to seek God." Good advice. Simple yet profound. Then I cooked for me and Brian, including an amazing steak I bought as a special treat. Emails, calls to Amanda my lovely and amazing girlfriend, and enjoying music filled out the day. So there it is, Monday, more than you ever wanted to know... but a day in the life.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Simply Beautiful 90s Memories

This is incredible... I love it

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Evening Art

Photo by Chris McClelland
Beautiful post... you can find the original HERE but I copied and pasted this from The Rabbit Room by author S.D. Smith.
Evening Art
Thunder is rolling behind me like a boulder down a mountain. The lightning is so frequent it feels like there are only flashes of darkness to interrupt it. Appalachia is alive at evening time. Like the stomach of a starving giant, the sky growls. I take cheating glances back through the broad, open windows. Trying to work. Trying to write. I look again. An inelegant tree silhouetted against a blazing peach band of evening sky. Charcoal clouds above and surly earth beneath. Uneven edges –like life.

The window-framed beauty entices me away from the false light of this monitor. Monitor? I am watching the images of my mind appear before me in insufficient words. I am feeding this hungry screen with the little somethings of my soul. This machine receives my humble offerings like an understanding woman. Behind me the day fades in glory, trumpets of thunder announce its passing. The king is dead, rest in peace. Tomorrow you rise again.

So many things I have put behind me belong there. But here is wondrous thunder and bursts of brightness. Here is sunset. Words can wait. Mine can wait. Here is the evening song of the first Poet. Here is the next line in an undying verse.

Before me is my sub-creation. Behind me is Evening by God.

Turn around.

Perspectives on a Ceiling

This kid went to my high school and graduated this year. Thought I would post his speech that someone read for his at graduation. You can find his story HERE but the long and short of it is he got some crazy disease that caused both his legs to be amputated during his senior year. Kid knows something about trials.

Perspectives on a Ceiling

Greetings to all, and thank you so very much for providing me with the opportunity to communicate with you today. I want to also thank my good friend, Michael Caligiuri, for standing in for me (no pun intended!!!)

Seriously, why Perspectives on a Ceiling you may ask?.....Well, as most of you know I have spent the last couple of months having more of an opportunity to “look up at the ceiling” than I have much else……..funny what you see when the only place to look is up.20

That rather humbling feeling makes you ponder things a bit….and maybe adds a new perspective.

One thing we ALL know is life has its share of “tests “that’s for sure. For example, to get here, WE have all endured the tests of some 13 years of academic rigor. Not to mention, tryouts and tests of all kinds ranging from theatre to track, from first base to first chair, from social studies class to “which social class??” and the list goes on. Whether it is chemistry or crew (had to have a blatant plug for my rowing mates of course) we have all had tests we will all endure tests.

And yes, the tests will vary in intensity and challenge. Some tests won’t make sense….Some we will never understand …But what matters is not so much the results we achieve but the CHARACTER WE REVEAL

The Bible tells us that “blessed is the man who perseveres under trials” How blessed we will be depends on how we respond to the trials, will we rise to meet a challenge? Will we study just a little more? Will we try again even though we have failed? Or worse yet, we refuse to try just because we MIGHT fail …Will we be afraid to go just a little further to show a kindness even if it costs us something?

I think these are the responses that often distinguish the best of us from the rest of us…

It is the gamers and strivers that push on just a little longer and a little further,…..those that make an accomplishment seem to rise above others of their kind due to the sheer determination and iron will which birthed them that inspire us all, these are truly the memorable moments and people of life.

And I want you to know this, you are all those inspiring kinds of people to me. You see, most all of you have taken a moment to reach out to me…to try to sign a card, to participate in a walk …to check on me through someone or some blog and most of all, to pray for me and my family!!….

This has been called a miracle by some, and certainly unbelievable by most…...And yes…I am a living testimony to just what a difference you as individuals, and as friends together could make, as you shout up to Heaven,, and what a difference it did in fact make!!!

Let me say for sure that I know the extra mile works. the extra word, the extra gift of care, the extra prayer….OH boy does it work!!!…… Know this, that as you face tests and trials in the future …th at it is not the trials, but your faith and your reaction to them that will be the measure of you true Character

And remember….”when you do what you can, God will do what you can’t”. So please accept my sincere thanks and gratitude for being my friends and my intercessors….Accept my congratulations for your accomplishments and your successes….And I know no matter what challenges you face, you will pass the test!

God Bless You All.
Your Friend,