i will not take these things for granted

thoughts on this and that in an attempt to live reflectively

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Location: Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

Hitting your elbow on metal things hurts. Trust me, it happened to me just the other day.

[ cue NBC's 'The More You Know' piano outro ]

How's that for a blog update, Jamie! In other news, my 3+ month residency with my supporting church, Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, Arkansas, officially began on July 10. You can read about what my time with PV will entail at the PV Ministers Blog.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

So Long, So Long

On Friday afternoon I loaded up my vehicle with just about every material possession I own and headed east out of Abilene. I'm quite proud of my packing job. The rear axle groaned the whole way home, but she got the job done and has found sweet relief: my room here in Little Rock is cluttered to say the least.

Takin' my time, takin' this drive,
Wavin' this town goodbye.

The last three years in Abilene have been wonderful; I’ve learned and grown so much and made so many good friends. And for that I’m very grateful. Leaving Abilene was sad on Friday, not because of the city (though it does have some good things going for it) but because of the people. That’s what makes it such a special place.

And what made leaving especially hard was breaking the fellowship (temporarily at least) with three of my best friends. We’ve been thick as thieves these past two months and it’s been a blast. We’ve had adventures, we’ve created art, we’ve eaten together, we’ve helped each other prepare to move, we’ve quoted movies, and we’ve talked about the important things in life as well. We’ve taken care of each other and blessed each other; we’ve been family. It’s been kinda like Friends (you know, the TV show) but without the morally unsavory parts.

Friends are a gift from God (not the TV show, the people in your life). Proverbs says that and it’s right. Thanks for friends, God, and while I’m being thankful, I will not take these things for granted:

1. Laughter
2. When being with friends feels like home
3. When friends are bold enough to challenge you to grow
4. The sacrifices others make for me
5. The opportunity to sacrifice for others, and how often it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all
6. The sacrifice Christ made for us
7. The dynamic of one-on-one conversations
8. Fireworks
9. The reaction created by mixing Mentos and Diet Pepsi (you've got to try it)
10. Energy and athleticism
11. Happy hour Dr. Peppers at Chicken Express
12. My books, music, and clothes
13. My photos and my scanner to scan them with
14. My vehicle
15. My family at Minter Lane Church of Christ
16. My professors and the wonderful theological education I received at ACU
17. That two of my best friends in Abilene are also my teammates. My mission teammates are my best friends, how cool is that?!
18. That God has given me not a spirit of timidity but of power, love, and a sound mind.

Yes, the Abilene chapter has come to a close.

Now I’m beginning what will be a short chapter here in Little Rock; I’ll be here for four months, spending time with my supporting church and with my family and making final preparations for moving to the Czech Republic. It’s good to be here.

Thank you, Lord, for the last three years in Abilene. So long, Abilene, So long...

I was certain that the season could be held between my arms,
But just as summer’s hold is fleeting.
I was here but now,
I’m gone.

So long, so long.

[The lyrics are from Dashboard Confessional's new song 'So Long, So Long.']

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Room to Grow

I’m realizing these days how much more I have to learn about living. Having grown up in a legalistic religious tradition, life has been focused on what not to do and what not to be. Don’t drink, don’t cuss, don't lie, don’t have premarital sex, don’t be a mean person; and if you don’t do these things you’ll be a good person.

But maybe focusing on the don’ts leads to a passive lifestyle, which makes it hard to get much good done. Because, if you do something—if you actually assert yourself and take a risk—you might make a mistake, you might fall short, you might make a fool of yourself, and that would be the end of the world, right?

Yes, the don’ts are important; I’m not saying they’re not. But I don’t think that’s the full picture. I mean, Jesus wasn’t the Savior of the world—and he wasn’t the ultimate human—because of what he didn’t do, but because of what he did do.

He welcomed, he healed, he fed, he served, he showed compassion, he spoke the truth, he outwitted his opposition, he challenged injustice, he gave of himself—all with a gleam in his eye and ears attuned to his Father’s voice. God’s Kingdom came near in loving, bold, sacrificial living. Life to the full. Grace and truth embodied.

I’ve conquered a lot of the don’ts, but I still have a lot of the do’s to get down. I haven’t committed many of the big transgressions, but I have omitted a lot of virtuous actions. I want to be like you, Jesus. Make me bold.