What’s Been Happening, Not Neccesarily How I Feel About It

I’ve been eating fumes this last week so finally made a run to the grocery store.  It was down to the last crumbs at my apartment. Literally, I had crackers and chocolate chips for my mandatory snack last night.  I’ve been living off Taco Bell, church potluck, and free food from family. Though a few days ago I found expired powdered potato flakes in the back of a top shelf that were “Best by May 2010.”  Over a year old, they still tasted good after rehydrating.  Back in May 2010 they must have been phenomenal.

Speaking of this grocery store raid, it put a dent in my cash reserves.  I’d forgot how expensive food is.  When you’re used to only spending $2.45 per meal at Taco Bell you forget the damage a grocery store splurge inflicts.  The upside is I’m all restocked on junk food now.  (Munching on pre-made cookie dough whilst writing this…) At the grocery story I had to keep reminding myself I’m on a fixed income of $0/month now.  Fortuitously, the cookie dough still made the cut.

Speaking of buying, I was shopping for a pair of flip-flops the other day.  “Weird purchase,” you say?  Not really, I’m going to Haiti next week and want to fit in with the locals. The locals wear flip-flops.  Anyways, I started my search at a store I thought would be cheap: Wal-Mart.  They had nothing like what I was looking for so I grudgingly worked my way up to Payless Shoe Source (theirs were too flimsy), Famous Footwear (theirs were the wrong size and too expensive), and finally JC Penny’s.  I cringed walking into Penny’s because I know prices there are ridiculous.  For instance, there were these snazzy jeans I saw that already looked worn out going for $47.  Heck, didn’t they know you can get jeans like that at Goodwill for $4?  Though come to think of it, last time I tried that trick at Goodwill the ones I bought were too short when I got home (they were probably too short at the store too, but for that price I hadn’t bothered trying them on).  When I realized the jeans were the wrong size I was at first perplexed, then had a Eureka! moment realizing I could cut the factory hem out of the bottom.  With my pocket knife that was no problem.  Sadly, it only made the already worn-out jeans look even worsely ridiculous, plus they were still too short.  Then I was in a real dillema… should I donate these now mutilated jeans back to Goodwill?  Or just throw them away?  I decided on the latter option (hey, they were only four dollars). But I digress, back to my flip-flop story: so I found the perfect flip-flops at JC Penny’s and would you believe it?  they were only ten dollars!  Oh yes, I do love deals. Though as I write this I’m wondering if I could have made flip-flops from those jeans I threw away.

Speaking of deals, the deal with flip-flops is they flip and flop a lot.  Probably that’s how they got their name.  I’ve noticed sometimes they even flip right off my feet.  They also occasionally stick the gas pedal down wide open while driving.  I’ve never owned flip-flops before and though I’m finding them dangerous (already dropped something heavy on my big toe, received itchy bug bites on my feet, and nearly wrecked my car) I really like them a lot.  In fact, enough to where I thought of giving them personalized names.  Was going to name the left flip-flop John and the right flip-flop Kerry.  But then I… changed my mind and ended up naming the left flip-flop Flip and the right flip-flop Flop as that seemed to fit them better.  By the way, I don’t know if Kerry’s record was all that incongruous, it’s just what the radio told me and I remembered.

Speaking of people being gullible, while meandering through the mall the other day I was approached by no fewer than two strangers in separate stores thinking I was an employee.  I must look more professional than I feel! One guy in Radio Shack gave me his whole spiel, “So I have this Samsung digital dealy that needs a new power adapter bla-bla….” then he stops and gives me a closer look before adding, nonchalantly, “Oh, ok, so let me guess, you don’t work here… right?”  I’m thinking to myself, “Yes, that guess would be more accurate than your previous guess, which was wrong, which isn’t to say I couldn’t probably still help you, this store isn’t that big and I doubt the power adapters are in hiding.”

Speaking of wrong guesses, I was talking to my brother on the cell phone a few weeks back while returning to camp.  My signal started fading and I knew it would get worse the further I drove so pulled off down a dirt road and parked in front of a cattle gate.  About two hours later a police officer pulls up beside me with lights flashing.  I do a double take, thinking, “What have I done wrong?”  (Why don’t we ever wonder, “What have we done right?”)  Mr. Scaryman gets out of his squad car and approaches my window.  I’m like, “What’s up?”  and he asks, “Is everything ok?”  Thinking about this carefully… “Uh, yep, at least it was…  Why do you ask?”  “Well, we got a call there was an unconscious victim in this vehicle.  We’re just checking to make sure everything is ok.”  I reassure him I’m quite conscious now and was before too (perhaps he has the wrong vehicle, maybe he should look up the road a bit for other unconsious victims?) I asked if he would like me to move?  “No, you can keep talking, you’re fine…”

Speaking of talking, I’m supposed to talk for 30 minutes at church this Wednesday night.  Yeah, this Wednesday, as in two days from now. What should I talk about?  I have nothing to say…  I’m dry as dust. Didn’t even know I was in the hot seat until last week when I randomly checked the website and saw my name plastered on the schedule. Talk about heart attack material, that’s probably how bank robbers feel when they see their want ad in public.

Speaking of having nothing to say, on Facebook I’ve noticed people have plenty to say.  There is a group I’m subscribed to where folks talk about how church ought to be done.  As you can imagine, that’s a windy topic.  A couple days ago a question was raised on the subject of musical instruments that generated a firestorm of over 100 comments.  I even weighed in with pointed observations based on many years of wizened experience.  Not surprisingly, the conclusion at the end of the discussion was inconclusive. 

Speaking of the number 100, I had almost that many people over for supper this evening.  Ok, so there were only 9 of us, but it seemed like 100 in my one room apartment.  This is what the place looked like before the tornado swept through:

My Table

Seeing those matching plates (and mismatching cups) reminds me of having lunch at my grandparents today when I was shown a set of matching plates Grandpa still has he’d bought before marrying Grandma.  That plate set was over 60 years old!  I wonder if my plates (shown above) will last that long? Check back in 60 years to find out.

In conclusion, if you find a point to this post please let me know because I don’t.  I just felt like writing… about things that have happened, not necessarily how I felt about them.  The feeling stuff I’ll leave for others more in tune with their emotions.  I just report the facts (slightly embellished).

Home Is Where Your Toothbrush Is

That’s what my brother Luke always says, and I think it’s true.

When I got back to Wichita after five weeks of being gone I first went by my parents house because I had given them the key to my apartment.  But then I got to talking with them until late so I just spent the night over there.  Then the next day I came back to my apartment.

I was surprised how my apartment didn’t really feel like home when I walked in, it just seemed like another place to stay.  I’ve got to where I sleep pretty solid about most anywhere.

Now I’ll admit the city of Wichita does feel like home to me…  because it’s so familiar and I have memories all over.  But there is no longer any exact house or place I’m that sentimentally attached to.

Both the writer of Hebrews and Peter refer to our being foreigners and pilgrims on this earth, which I’ve always found interesting:

“All these people were still living by faith when they died… And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth…   they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11)

Jesus talked about storing up our treasures in heaven, not on earth.  Which reminds me of the song:

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through
my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

I think for the Follower of Jesus there is to be a real sense where we never feel we belong as part of the “World.”  James puts it more bluntly, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”  (James 4:4)

It reminds me of Pilgrim’s Progress when Christian and Faithful are detained in Vanity Fair as criminals.  Faithful ends up being executed as a martyr.  What was their crime?  Nothing but this: They had disdain for the business and wares of the city.  In short, they wouldn’t buy.

Anyways, enough preaching.  On a similar vein of “wandering,” I was wondering how many states I’ve visited.  I found this website that generated the following map for me:

NickVisitedStatesMap

Turns out I’ve been to 30 states.  How many have you visited?

Got Mud?

So this is what we looked like before leaving on our cave adventure:

before_cave_hike

 

And this is what we looked like after exiting El Cavo de Muddo:

After

 

And this was taken at a scenic overlook on our way back:

scenic_overlook_on_gasconade_river

I know this blog is supposed to be about following Jesus, but I don’t have any great spiritual application here… any ideas?

Joseph As A Figure of Christ

The message last night was on Joseph.  In particular, the message was on self-control and the life of Joseph was used as an example.

Some people would debate whether Joseph is a “type” of Christ so we will use the term “figure” instead because there are definitely shadows and allusions to Christ in Joseph’s life, I believe.

Joseph was rejected by his brothers, similar to Jesus.  He was repeatedly humbled, but in the end went from lowest in the kingdom (sent to prison after being falsely accused as a criminal) to the 2nd highest in the kingdom, second only to Pharaoh. 

Jesus too was repeatedly humbled and went from the lowest in the kingdom (crucified after being falsely accused as a criminal) to the 2nd highest in the kingdom, second only to God the Father.

Remember when Joseph was in prison and interpreted the dreams of the baker and cupbearer?  Joseph gave interpretations of their dreams: after 3 days the cupbearer would be reinstated to his royal position while the baker would be hung.  Joseph requested they “remember him” after these things came to pass. 

Now this isn’t prophecy by any means, but I believe there is a distinct “shadow” or “allusion” in the story of the cupbearer and baker to the future ordinance of communion given by Jesus.  At the last supper Jesus took the bread and cup and similar to how Jesus body was broken (and how he broke the bread), the baker was the one who was hung.  Even the hanging is interesting because Jesus too was hung on a tree.

Also similar is how during the meal of the Last Supper Jesus requested that in the future they do this in remembrance of Him.  Remember how Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him when he was reinstated to the palace? There is an obvious correlation to the three days as well. Oh, here’s another thing: both Jesus and Joseph were given a gentile bride.

Joseph’s attitude of forgiveness and compassion towards his brothers who betrayed him was similar to Jesus attitude.  Hanging on the cross Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)

At the end of the story of Joseph, Joseph reassures his brothers of his goodwill:

“’You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 50:20)

God used the crucible of Joseph’s life for the eventual “saving of many lives.”  This purpose in Joseph’s life is quite similar to the mission of Jesus’s life: 

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many…(Mark 14:24)

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:43-45)

I take from all these observations that a common model for being used by God includes being humbled extremely low, falsely accused, and having to undergo much pain.  This is followed by a lifting up of to a position of power for the purpose and benefit of the saving of many lives.

What do you think?

Life Continues

I’m in the office checking my e-mail.  Thought I’d write a short blurb on here as well.

I’m still at camp… this week I’m working as a Lifeguard.  It’s cool because last week I got Red Cross certified for Lifeguard (as well as updated my Red Cross certifications in First Aid, CPR, and AED).

This morning us lifeguards did a thorough clean-up of the pool area.  I swam around with this underwater vacuum sweeper machine which was fun.  Since it doesn’t pick up the big leaves I had to dive down for those.

I’m noticing camp life is unlike the real world.  Or maybe I should say the real world is unlike camp life.  Living here is like living in a large family, or maybe like living on a commune?  Everyone chips in to help.  Each day we all wear many hats, though everyone gets to wear the janitorial hat. I’ve cleaned so many bathrooms in the last month I’ve lost count. 

I’ve been given responsibility and freedom here and I’m noticing how I’m beginning to feel a sense of ownership with this place.

What I appreciate most about camp life is all the people around.  I go to sleep with a bunch of guys around;  I wake up with a bunch of guys around.  I eat lunch with staff; I work with staff.  And us staff do do lots of diverse work together too.  For instance, with some of the same people I’ve worked counselling kids together, worked on cleaning cabins together, worked in the kitchen together, prayed together, worked as lifeguards together, had a food eating contest together, listened through dozens of sermons together, ate together, and been tired and stressed out together.  I’m beginning to feel camaraderie with the staff, even though most I still don’t know very well.

I think it would be fun to live like this in real life instead of everyone being so isolated.  It is very encouraging here.  Even the way we start out our day is encouraging: This morning for instance I attended a small group Bible Study at 6:45am and then all staff prayer at 7:30. Breakfast was at 8 and I didn’t have to do any work to prepare it! It was also delicious: breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls.

Well, I’ve gotta get off the computer now, there’s work I’m supposed to be doing. Right now I need to go put a tire back on my Jeep… it was flat from a nail being in it and our maintenance person just got back from town where he had it fixed.