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My website is broken.

I hope it’s just my computer, but I know it’s not. My website is broken. There should be a white background behind all of this text, and there’s not. Which probably means this is a lot harder to read than you want it to be. Just a helpful hint, if you hold CTRL and scroll down with your mouse wheel, the text will get bigger. That may help. Just don’t forget to put it back where it was, or everything will look funny. I have no idea why this all happened… I created a password-protected directory on my server (in a spot completely unrelated to this source code), and since then things have been screwy. Let me know if you figure it out, because it kind of defies logic.

Anyways, you’re probably all anxious to hear about my little trip down to McLean Bible Church today, so I’ll give you the short story and you can call me for the longer one. I spent a fair deal of time with the technical folks today (4pm-11pm), and got to jump right in with them, helping them with some audio setup. After that, I just kind of shadowed and gleaned as much as I could about what goes on at MBC. The answer is a lot. McLean is a church of about 11,000 I believe, and their production truly rivals any I’ve ever seen. The only church I can even draw comparisons with is Willow Creek, MBC is just that massive. What I saw tonight looked phenomenal, and I’m interested to go back Sunday and see their services in action.

So the position they’re filling is one of the many technical people they have on staff; and although we didn’t talk a whole lot about specifics, it sounds like I would just kind of be available to do whatever needs to be done in whichever venue needs the doing. Certainly I wouldn’t be stepping right into the big house and running things (Eric, whom I shadowed at the soundboard tonight, has been doing live audio & studio recording his entire professional life–not exactly territory for a college grad with a paltry two years of experience, even if they were a good 2 years). I think they also were specifically interested in someone who can do lighting effectively. Not just turning them on and off, but doing programming and design, all as part of a coordinated effort with the music and graphics teams. I had to admit that my experience in lighting has been less than first class (read: IWU was too cheap to spend the money on things my fellow techies and I needed for a real world education). However, I do know the basics, I have some experience, and I learn fast enough that I’m confident I can be an asset to MBC in lighting.

Tonight ended with an ‘interview’ over milkshakes in a diner, and to put it in Dave’s words, “we’re on to the second date.” I think I will know a lot more about what’s happening after Sunday. But what has become very evident to me is that I haven’t spent enough time seeking God’s will for my life. I feel like the exit to my future is rushing up on me and I don’t even know whether to take the highway north or south. I know McLean could be a great experience for me, but is it the right one? What about Harvester Christian Church in St. Louis, who just this afternoon sent me an email asking for my references (which means I’m still in consideration there!)?

I truly appreciate all of your prayers over today’s interview, but I need them even more that I will be able to discern God’s will and calling on my life. So as you keep praying for me, pray for that. More updates as they become available!

Life, updated.

I’ve heard there are a few of you who are starting to believe I may actually keep writing, and are thus reading my website again. For you, I write this.

Tomorrow I’m driving down to the west side of the DC metro area. Not just for the fun of it, but because I’m going at the request of a church there who saw my resume and is interested in getting to know me better. Needless to say, I’m excited. I’ll be going down and meeting with them while they’re setting up for their weekend services, so it will be a good chance for me to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes, and see what exactly the church’s needs are. I’m confident that I will be a good match for the position, based on what I know about it so far. According to their website, the position deals mostly with staging setup & teardown, and lighting. One thing I’ve already decided is that I don’t want to get cornered into a strictly technical role within a church, so hopefully there is some involvement in the creative and planning processes, but quite frankly I’ll take anything where I can gain great experience and fulfill a calling while I’m at it. But what I want is truly immaterial–because all I really want is to follow God’s leading in my life. If this is his next step for me, then I want to be there, and if it’s not, then I will wait for his plans.

It’s a hard place for me to be, because I would very much like to feel like I am in control of my future. But I won’t be anyways, regardless of how much I feel like I am. None of my worrying is going to add a single second to my life. So I will make the daily choice to follow God’s will and put my own desires aside. Even if that means working in a snack shop for a little while longer.

Anyways, I’m going to bed. But I thought I’d clue you in on what’s happening in my life.

Oh by the way, I watched Crash tonight. One of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Incredible.

I’ve finally accepted the fact I’m not photogenic.

Okay, after seeing enough pictures of myself posted on Facebook, people’s blogs, milk carton backs or the bulletin boards in Walmart foyers, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I am not photogenic. The dictionary.com definition of “photogenic” doesn’t help, either: “attractive as a subject for photography.” (I don’t like the use of the word “attractive” in there. I don’t care for the inferences all that much.) All you really have to do is flip through a few pictures you have with me in them, and you will very quickly come to the same conclusion. Every picture I’m in I just look retarded. If I’m in a group picture, everyone in the group is smiling except for me. Typically while everyone else is smiling, I’m looking like I hate the world, or like I’ve never seen a camera before and have no idea what’s about to happen, or like that one piece of furniture that always stays in the back room where you never invite your guests. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I see a camera pointed at me, smiling is about the last thing on my mind. I think I should have been Amish.

A great example.
But there’s a second definition of photogenic that has been on my mind a lot lately: “producing or emitting light.” The Holy Spirit has been reminding me quite often that I should be emitting light by the way I live. I’ve been in the secular environment before, whether it was back when I went to public school, or my job at Steak n’ Shake during high school, but I’ve never been completely submersed in the secular culture until I moved out to WV. Add to that the fact that my work schedule has kept me out of church for almost a month now, and I’m feeling very alone all of the sudden. Yes, I know that Nate, Maria, and Jocelyn are all working at the campground and all very devoted Christians. That’s not the point. The point is I’m not associated as being a Christian anymore like I have been my whole life. I grew up living my parents’ faith, or my church’s faith, or my school’s faith. Now I’m quickly realizing that it’s completely my own. My coworkers don’t look at me and see those organizations. They look at me and they see my actions.One of my all-time favorite quotes is from St. Francis of Assisi:

“Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.”

I had that quote pasted to the inside of my checkbook way back when I actually used the thing. It’s been years since I’ve seen it (hooray for debit cards), but I can still picture that piece of paper stuck in there, reminding me to live and love like Christ.

So, I’m charting new waters now. I absolutely despise my job, which in itself is new territory for me. I’ve always enjoyed all the previous jobs I’ve had, even if I got tired of them or fed up with them eventually. This is the first time I’ve truly loathed the job I’m working. But I don’t believe Jesus would go in to work every day and whine and complain, so I shouldn’t either. That’s the easy way out. My calling as a Christ-follower is to be thankful for the fact that I have a job, and that it’s really not the worst thing ever, and to still love the people I work with regardless of how I’m feeling. The big question I keep asking myself is, am I being a photogenic Christian? Am I emitting the light of Christ through my words and actions? Or am I looking like I do in the above picture?

Don’t worry, I’ve already apologized to myself for writing one of those quaint devotionals I just slammed a week ago.

Sending out the resume

Yesterday I renewed the job search in a big way. I’ve decided that I will without question be leaving Harpers Ferry in the near future. When exactly that point in time is, is yet to be determined, but it will happen. So, with renewed interest in leaving the Blue Ridge, I sent my resume all over the country. Literally, all over the country. Let me see if I can remember the entire list:

North LA, South Bay Area (San Fransisco), Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City, Fort Smith AR, Birmingham, Charleston SC, DC, New York City, Dayton, St. Louis, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

I’ve also renewed my search for grad schools/seminaries. Fuller is still very much at the top of the list, and of course Asbury will always be an option. But I’m not necessarily limiting myself to those schools, or even staying in the US. Granted, my grades aren’t spectacular enough for me to get into a place like Oxford, but I think it could be a great life experience to study overseas. So I’m looking into those options as well.

Yes, it does feel kind of dumb to move out to West Virginia for all of maybe a summer, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been out here. Managing a snack shop staffed by high school girls, working way outside the bubble, living in an area where there’s so little to do I can almost understand all the graffiti and theft by teenagers. Almost. But I’ve also learned how strong my calling really is. I’d like to believe there are a lot of jobs I could do and be happy doing them. But the honest truth is my heart won’t let me. There’s a huge temptation for me to go into aviation… which by the way, over 10,000 air traffic controllers will resign by the end of 2007, and the job security’s great, as long as you don’t ever screw up, ever. Just a thought. But I just don’t know that I can do that. I need to be working in the church. So now it’s a waiting game to see what God has in store for me. I know which of the positions I think would be the best fit for me, but I honestly have no idea what will happen. As if I need to say that. So pray for me, that I can discern God’s will for my life, and for the fifteen churches out there, that they will follow God’s will in their selection of candidates.

The next few weeks should be interesting.

Cooking Pasta

You shouldn’t overcook your pasta. It’s a common mistake that many people make. Often they cook it until all the water is gone, or until Wheel of Fortune is over, or whatever; but actually a well-cooked pasta takes a precise amount of time and a cook with the patience to watch carefully over the stove. See, pasta is best when it’s al dente, which means the pasta is not completely soft. It should still be firm, with a tiny amount of chewiness to it. According to the pastaologists that’s the ideal texture for consumption.

Sometimes I feel like God is cooking me too long. The logical part of my brain knows he in actuality is carefully tending to the stove, waiting for just the right moment, but the emotional side of me feels overcooked. Let me start with some background info. I started reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller today at work. I’m about three years behind everyone else, and I finally decided to see what all the hype was about. Right now I’m about half way through, and I can hardly put it down. It’s exactly what everyone says about it–it’s a fresh, different perspective that just makes you feel good about God and life. What I love so much about his writing is the way he finds God in the ordinary. It’s not a book on systematic theology. It’s not an exegetical study of a Pauline epistle. It’s just the way God has revealed himself in the things of life. Miller contemplates the ordinary and finds extraordinary glimpses of who God is and how he relates to us.

Typically people who do that well end up writing quaint devotionals, which get printed in books and make you go “hmm,” but never really do anything outside of that. So I’ve been thinking today about how the ordinary things of life can teach extraordinary lessons, and what exactly that extra is that makes the difference, and how it can become more than short devotions. I’ve always been deeply moved by God’s general revelation (nature, more or less), but I think up to this point I’ve been missing a lot of that. At the risk of sounding pantheistic, maybe God does reveal himself in the overcooked pasta. Not that he is that pasta, but I think there’s more to al dente than meets the eye. Call it new-age, transcendental, or whatever else. I call it taking time to ponder the smell of the roses. So over the next however long I feel like, I want to explore the extra in life. I’m not sure what I will find, where I will find it, or what I’ll learn from it; but I’m going to do it anyway. Maybe it will challenge you to do the same.

So I feel like overcooked pasta. That’s because right now things are hard. If you don’t believe me, check out Nate and Maria’s blog, specifically Maria’s June 23 entry. She gives a pretty good overview of how life at the KOA is. Now, work weighs a lot more heavily on them than it does on me, them being managers and all, but her entry will give you a feel for how spectacular working at the kampground really is. For me, it’s not the burden of managing a campground that’s got me down, it’s the burden of being in an unfulfilling job and not seeing the future. It’s waking up every day and being fatigued because I’m not being active like I was back at school; the lack of a best friend coming to the room at night and talking about whatever we needed to; it’s missing the random movie nights, card playing, and coffee drinking with my group of friends. I want the intellectual stimulation of the classroom. I want to strive for excellence with 80 other people in my choir. I want to manage the logistics of staging a thematic chapel tomorrow in the PAC. I want to work with Josh Cash again and have complete confidence and trust in my coworker that I can’t even dream of with my current ones (save Nate and Maria).

YES, I’m learning a lot about life. I’ve expanded beyond the IWU bubble that is so despised by those inside. It’s funny, because I’m feeling some of the pressures of life and being ‘overcooked,’ yet I think in reality it’s the opposite. At IWU, as great as it was and as much as I miss a lot of school, I was soft there. It’s easy to be overcooked at a small Christian school. And now I think God is uncooking me. It’s going to take some hard times to get there, but the end result will be worth it. I look forward to being al dente. But I know that the best things in life sometimes means lots of sucky things to get to them.

Lightning struck

Last night I survived my first thunderstorm in Harpers Ferry. It actually was a pretty decent one, though I heard it was nothing compared to back home in Indiana. The picture above is actually my own handiwork, believe it or not. Basically I stuck my camera up against the window and just randomly pressed the shutter button about 80 times. I got one picture in 80 tries, but sometime you should experience the sheer elation of successfully guessing when lightning is going to strike. I might have jumped up and down when I did. Might have. Oh, and over towards the left you can see part of the yellow KOA sign. Yep, it’s that close.

Once again I’ve been foiled by my writing block. I had all these things to write about right up until I started writing, and now I’ve got nothing. My apologies… I’ll try again next time.

Homosexuality is no longer a sin

Today I read about the Anglican Church’s new leader and her beliefs about homosexuality. She explained how God has given us all different gifts and talents, and this includes the talent of liking the same sex. Of course, with her advanced degree in marine biology, she obviously is well-qualified and has devoted deep studies to the Bible–so I’m sure this statement is a well founded, exegetical one. I mean, as she said, “The Bible does not have so much to teach us about what sorts of food to eat, what sorts of clothes to wear — there are rules in the Bible about those that we don’t observe today.” How could Paul be so ignorant as to not equate the clothes we wear with our sexual morality? Obviously he just didn’t understand that while maybe sexual morality was a big issue back then, it wouldn’t be a big deal in the future. I mean, he was only writing for that specific time and to specific churches. No way can the things he said then apply now. Really the whole Bible is just more of a set of guidelines. Don’t feel like you need to adhere to any of it, but if you get the chance, you should at least think about it for a while.

Breaking News!

I am now the proud owner of my very own broadband cable internet connection. No more getting frustrated when the KOA wireless decides to stop working (for days on end). From now on, I’m high speed and high-tech. To test my BLAZING internet, I downloaded a 35MB file this morning. Total time: 28 seconds.

I only hope my new checking account works when they try to cash that check. The overdraft fees at my new bank are killer.

More revelry to come after work! (I’m late…)

I’m back from my travels

I’ve been out traveling around the globe, and since I haven’t really had time to write while I’ve been gone, I thought I’d at least take a few pics for you. So here are just a couple of my favorite pics from the last week or two.

Here I am after I hired Sean as my new apprentice. So far, he’s done a really great job. You’re hired!

I swung by New York for a while to take in some meetings with the world’s leaders.

Finally, I stopped by the safehouse for a while before coming back to West Virginia. We had a blast.

I’m bored. Oh, and I moved to West Virginia.

I must admit I got kind of disappointed that no one wrote or called or personally visited and asked me to start blogging again. I enjoyed the Star Trek-like fan following, when people would write in and beg for the blogging to continue, and alas, I always acquiesced and the writing resumed once more. But apparently when I got busy, everyone else did too, because no one really seemed to notice that my writing had stopped until I was too far gone, beyond the point of return, already cancelled and scratched from next season’s lineup. I believe that I am now beginning to write again, on a fairly regular basis. It would be a lot easier for me if I had an editor breathing down my neck, demanding 800 words by tomorrow at lunch, but I suppose I will make due without the luxury of a deadline.

For those of you who don’t know already, I moved to West Virginia. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to be exact. It’s located at the extreme eastern tip of the panhandle, right where the Potomac and Shenendoah Rivers meet. An hour to the east will put you in Baltimore, and an hour fifteen to the southeast affords some shade underneath the Washington Monument. Actually, Harpers Ferry is where the our Civil War more or less started, so there’s a fair amount of history all around. John Brown was hanged in nearby Martinsburg, Antietam Battlefield is about 25 minutes away, and a round trip to Gettysburg and back will still leave some fuel in your tank.

I’m out here working at the Harpers Ferry KOA, under the management of my good friend Nate Lail. Currently I manage the snack shop, hidden away in the game room, next to the gym and the pool. It’s been an interesting job to this point, working with a couple of high school girls, ordering food but never knowing exactly what company I’m ordering from, and trying to make a profit in a season that, to this point, has been marked by low attendance and even less snack shoppers. I have a small apartment here just off the campground, where I take a short 4 minute walk to work every morning. Off to the east I can see the ridgeline that hosts part of the Appalachian Trail (actually, Harpers Ferry was our starting point when I hiked the Appalachian, so I’ve hiked that whole ridgeline. Kind of cool to know.)

So here I am, sitting in the laundromat, following suit of so many great authors who got their start sitting on top of a washing machine, waiting for their clothes to dry. I can’t say that I hope to make many visits to this laundromat, being that just a small amount of dirty clothes cost me four bones to clean, but while I’m here you can rest assured you will get some great, insightful writing for your reading enjoyment.

For those of you who are wondering, I do plan on having a career in something other than snack shop management. I had several talks with a church in Alabama before they hired someone else to be their technical director, and actually just this morning my grandmother called me to let me know about a church in St. Louis who is looking for the same. Already I’ve discovered a lot of things about my vocation. I miss working in the PPAC a lot. Not so much the crap we had to put up with there, but the job itself. I love doing the staging, audio, lighting and video stuff. I love working with the worship bands and being a part of the creative design teams for worship services. I also know that every time I’ve been to church in the past few months, I can’t help but feel unfulfilled by just sitting in services. Yesterday I went to Covenant Life Church where they not only had a regular service, but after the fact had what they called “Serv Fest,” which is their push to get more people involved in the church, everywhere from the nursery to technology to parking attendants. As I sat there and listened to the whole spiel about once a month service and so on, it just wasn’t acceptable to me. I can’t be involved once a month. I need to be an integral part of the services, on a weekly basis. Honestly, I think that why I had problems finding a church to call home during college. Now, granted I accept that a lot of my dissatisfaction in churches comes from my own selfish arrogance, when I sit through week after week and think to myself, “I could do that better.” “This could be done better.” “I don’t know why they did that the way they did.” But maybe, just maybe–that is a byproduct of passion, of creativity and confidence. I see a lot of things that can be done better because I know from training and experience how they can be. I see the details, and to many people they may not be a big thing, but they are to me. They make a difference (the difference between average and excellent). I know that God has gifted me and enabled me in some pretty incredible ways, and while that means running a decent operation in a snack shop, I know it’s more than that. God has things in store for me, that much I know. ***The author has removed the last line from this article***