OK, Now What?

I heard this morning from one particular company with whom I had interviewed 2 months ago. Yes, well before I had moved to Rocklin. I reached out to them by sending my resume online. I figured I might hear from them within a few days, not including the typical auto-response thanking me for my interest.

15 minutes after sending my resume, they called. They seemed pretty eager to get me in there for an interview, and within 2 days, I was in Rocklin meeting with the manager of the particular department they had in mind for me.

I have to admit, I pretty much had all my eggs in this basket. And this morning, I got my eggs handed back to me. They hired someone else.

So now my faith is put to an even stronger test. It was never easy, but it was easier feeling that this particular company was seemingly very interested in me for this position. I had the Hollywood script all written out. Just as the one job was ending, an eleventh hour call from the new job would come welcoming me to the family.

I know the standard response. There just must be something else better out there. At the top of my “things I hate to do” list is job searching. So now I guess I better figure out what I’m going to do.

OK God, you’re the Scriptwriter and Director.

Lights, camera…

Back In MY Day…

There was a 2 part series in the sports section of the San Francisco Chronicle that I read online yesterday and today. The topic was about how today’s baseball starting pitchers are handled much differently than in past eras in baseball history.

This got my brain whirling as I considered that while this is true in baseball, it’s also true in virtually all of society these days. The writer of the articles to which I’m referring is not a proponent of how things are done these days. He believes today’s pitchers are babied and conditioned to only go about 60% as far as their professional forefathers. I tend to agree, and I also agree that this is not a good thing. However, the debate was strong. People commented saying that the economics of the game are much different in this era, and thus, management is more protective of their human assets.

I tend to be on the side of the writer. I believe that we have become soft in trying to put people in bubble wrap hoping nothing bad will ever happen. This is where my inner “old fart” comes out. You see, when I was growing up, we rode our bikes without wearing helmets! We watched the 3 Stooges without poking our friends’ eyes out. Our parents weren’t afraid to leave us alone at home while they went to the store. We didn’t have to ride in car seats. Heck, we didn’t even use seat belts! And we lived to blog about it!

OK, I’m not saying that seatbelts, car seats and such are bad. I just think that we’ve become so paranoid that we have over-legislated life. These things aren’t just suggested or recommended…they’re law. Oh, when driving, we have to wear a headphone so you can talk on the phone hands free? How convenient! Now that means I have a free hand to eat my hamburger and fries…while talking on the phone…while driving. This is still legal…for now.

Bad things happen. I do believe in being wise in protecting children, ourselves and others. But I don’t think you need me to tell you that you could wear a suit of armor and not be safe from morons and random freak accidents. Life happens. Morons happen. There isn’t a car seat, seat belt or helmet in existence to protect you from everything.

To make sure I’m completely understood in what
I’m saying, I’m not suggesting we throw caution to the wind and just set kids on the roof of the car on family trips. I’m just saying that I wish we’d relax a little and not be so darned paranoid. When I used to lead a church youth group, I was criticized by one of the parents of a high school junior because I encouraged them to read the paper and watch the news to learn about current events in our city, state, country and world and apply what they’re learning about God to these events. This parent was upset because he wanted to shield his kid from all the “negative” stuff. Nice. This kid was 2 years from being in college, and she had no idea what was going on in the world because her dad wouldn’t let her learn for herself.

The protest era of the 60s and 70s is causing major problems today. While the teens and twentysomethings of the 60s found “free love” to be their goal, they also discovered the power of protest, intimidation and fear tactics. Now this generation is trying to ban fast food! C’mon. Really?

I guess that will take care of being able to eat while driving

While this post may seem like a complete contradiction of yesterday’s, I do miss the “old days” of us taking personal responsibility for our own actions. I fear where we’re headed.

Amazing Love

You know, I really have to apologize to God sometimes. I’m not talking about asking for forgiveness for some horrible act. What I’m talking about is the ways I seem to forget about His nature and underestimate him. One thing that drives me nuts is being underestimated. When someone who I think ought to know me better just doesn’t get me when I think they should. That hurts me personally.

I’ve been a Christian now for 25 years. You’d think stuff about God just wouldn’t surprise me anymore. You’d think I’d simply come to expect Him to meet me where I am when I stop and put myself in a position to have such a meeting.

Today marks one month in Rocklin for me. As I sit in my office, I looked at my bookshelf and noticed my Oswald Chambers book, My Utmost For His Highest. I’ve had this book for many years. I used to read it every single day, but I must confess, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve cracked it open. I silently challenged God to defy the odds and have today’s entry be somewhat relevant to where I am in my life today. I mean, c’mon…it’s probably going to be something about loving your wife, tending sheep, running a marathon or some other equally irrelevant thing when looking at my life.

Psst, here’s a tip. When challenging God at something, the smart money is on Him.

Click here to read today’s entry for yourself. This is one of those cases where not only did God give me a word that speaks directly to me, I’m almost convinced this entry applies to me only. I mean, everyone knows this stuff, right? Heck, I’m pretty sure I know it. But at the same time, I really needed to read this today.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, and it’s only been going since July 8, you probably sense that I’m in this intense faith phase. But faith isn’t really faith if it comes with worry and stress. Do you really trust someone when you hand them the keys to your car and they have to pry them from your white-knuckled kung fu grip? Faith must be accompanied by peace. There are times when I’m completely surrendered and at peace. Then there are other times when I’m clenched up in my spirit.

This is yet another example of how good it is for all of us that I’m not God. If I were Him, I would have made one significant pillar of salt out of someone like me.

Half Birthday

Do you remember when we were kids and we were in such a hurry to grow up? We were 6 and a half, we were 10 going on 11. I mean, that was a huge deal to us back then.

Today, I am 43 and a half.

(did my hip just pop?)

I have no idea where all the time went. On Facebook, I found some pictures from former high school classmates of our 25th reunion which took place recently. It seems my plan in completely removing myself from that scene has been a total success. I didn’t know anything about the reunion until afterwards. I honestly have had no desire to attend any of that stuff. My life has many chapters, but like the bible, there’s on “old testament” and a “new testament” to my life. And pretty much, everything up through my senior year of high school falls under the category of old. Not that I did horrible things that I regret, because I didn’t. It’s just that my life took a serious course change when I was 18 years old, and there has been no looking back.

I know so many of my peers who still live in the 80s and their “glory days”. I am so glad that my best days are not behind me. And certainly not a quarter of a century behind me. I can be pretty nostalgic, and I enjoy remembering when life was less complicated. Troy and I often commiserate on having to wear the “big boy” pants when life demands we do so. So I understand the fun and even necessity of thinking about the “good ol’ days”.

I just feel there is joy in the moment. I’m not in the hurry to reach my next birthday as I was when I was 12. I’m also trying not to wish I was 10-20 years younger. Sure, “if I knew then what I know now” is a common thought. Sure, I see so many 20 and 30somethings out there who make me feel old. But I’m really trying to be positive in my attitude about who I am and where I am in life. It’s a simple fact that no matter how much we dwell on it, there’s nothing we can do about the past, and what we do today is likely going to have a great impact on our future.

Today, I’m 43 and a half. My goal for today is to do something which will have a positive impact on someone’s life which will outlive me.

Tomorrow’s goal: Do it again

Scary Through The Ages

Last Christmas season I had some fun with websites called elfyourself.com and scroogeyourself.com. These sites enabled you to put your face on little dancing elves and Scrooges. It was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed taking pictures of my friends and sending out the links of the finished products to sufficiently embarrass them.

I was reading the blog of my buddy Steve, who found a new site called yearbookyourself.com. Steve took a picture of his 1 year old son and had some fun with it. This site takes your picture and superimposes it on to yearbook pictures from decades gone by. For your amusement, I figured I’d share with you some of the results of mine. The picture I used was the one in the right column of my blog. The years are 1956, 1964, 1984 and 2000, respectively.

Scrambled Ramblings of the Sleep Deprived

You know, it’s times like this when I really wish I liked coffee. I’m not even sure why, but I do. I’ve been awake, for some inexplicable reason, since 2 am. Boom. Awake. I flipped and flopped trying to find that perfect spot which would put me in a wormhole back to Sleepyland, but it just wasn’t happening.

So…I have a home office, I’ll do some work. I rolled about of bed about 3:30, made the commute down the hall into my office, and started working. I hit it hard until about 5, and now it just seems right to share the experience with you, my beloved Crossing Paths reader. OK, in all honesty, my good friend Brittany in Maine, who is my friend Lisa’s daughter and author of her own blog, is the only person I know who is presently online. But that’s only because it’s 8 am on the east coast. And now she’s done chatting with me, so what’s a guy to do?

Did you see the movie I Am Legend? This is the one in which Will Smith is living in New York City with no other humans? I think I would lose my mind in about 3 hours.

You know what’s weird? It’s just after 5 am right now, and I’m getting live sports updates on the radio. It’s not normal to have live sporting events that I would remotely care about going on before the sun is up. Ahhh, the beauty of the Olympics.

I think I need to mount the painting over my couch higher. It just doesn’t look quite right.

Speaking of my couch, how come you can’t find the Flintstones on TV anymore? I think that show would be awesome in HD splendor! The orange, black and blue (whaaa??) on Fred’s…uhhh, muumuu (yeah, I had to look up the spelling on that), or is it a shirt? Suit? He’s always wearing a tie. What’s with that? Anyway, wouldn’t whatever you call it just jump off the screen in High Def?

What? You’ve never considered that?

I watched Olympic women’s “race walking” for a little bit yesterday. I’m sorry, but that has to be one of the funniest looking Olympic sports ever. I am trying to figure out what makes a person decide, “you know, I think that sport is for me!” I mean, there are marathons and track meets all over the world. When was the last “race walking” event you ever heard of? If you want to go for a walk, take some golf clubs with you. What was amusing to me, visually, was the fact that from the waist up, they look like they’re running. Arms pumping frantically, miserable facial expressions. But from the waist down, they look very much like a person who is desperately trying to make it to the restroom because their laxative just kicked in.

Did you know Grouch Marx’s real name was Julius Henry Marx?

Maybe it’s good that I don’t like coffee.

Analogy Alert!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m something of an analogy junkie. I just think like that. With analogies, you’re basically saying that if something is true in this area, it may also be true in that area.

Here’s an example of the way my mind works. When I worked at Yahoo, I got a call from a customer who figured she deserved a refund because she hadn’t used the service for which she was being billed. Most people would point such a person to the terms of service or something along those lines that nobody reads, and certainly nobody understands. However, the way my mind works, I took this route instead:

Do you have cable TV? Yes? Ok, then imagine calling your cable company and asking for a refund for the last month because you didn’t watch TV.Think they’ll give it to you?

he laughed and got the point. Problem solved.

With that as our foundation, I offer you an analogy of where I find myself these days. There are people I know who seem to just have life and God figured out much better than I do. I often wonder if they are just smarter and better than most, or if I’m just stupid.

Don’t answer that.

But here’s what I think. People with a certain level of life experiences, t
hose who have “been there, done that”, have a keener perspective than one can acquire by simply reading it in a book or even hearing in a sermon. Here comes the analogy:We’re all very familiar with this logo. We’ve seen it a bazillion times. Something I hadn’t noticed about this logo for several years was the arrow. Can you see it? No? Well, at some point in my life, someone pointed it out to me, and now I can’t help but see it. It’s so obvious to me that I can’t believe I couldn’t see it at one time. It almost glows, it’s so obvious

Give up? Maybe this will help:
Ok, here’s where I’m going with all this. Sometimes we go through things in our lives where we just can’t see God at work. It’s frustrating. We feel abandoned. We feel like we’re all alone when we need God the most. Sometimes, we just need someone to just point Him out to us. Then, when situations come up in the future, we practically can’t help but see Him in the midst of it.

I find myself in this particular place. I have been living in an unusually intense period of faith over the past couple of months. Just one month ago, I was still packing and saying my goodbyes in San Jose. I still didn’t have a tangible reason for leaving the town, the church and the people I love. And yet, I was packing up and leaving the comfort of “home” for a new place where I knew almost no one. I had no roots there. No particular thing or group to get involved in to assimilate myself into a new community.

As I listed in my previous post, a lot has happened in a short time. However, I’m still far from being completely comfortable and established where God has led me. But I have a strange peace in the midst of it. Though there are certain areas which are tapping on my brain like Chinese water torture, I can see God in the midst of it. The pressure isn’t on me. I have to participate in the process. I mean, I couldn’t just sit at home and expect a great church to just call me up and ask me to get involved. I had to get up, go there, find people and make myself known. But promotion comes from God.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”

~Jeremiah 29:11-13

Once we learn to recognize what He looks like, what His work looks like, what WE are like in the midst of these trials, we can’t help but find Him at work!

Bloggy Bloggerton

Wow, I guess it’s been a few days since my last post. I’ve had more than one nagging subtle reminder in the past few days, so here I am.

This has been an interesting week. Since I’ve moved, I’ve been able to whittle down my life into the bare necessities. (great, now I have that song from The Jungle Book ringing in my head). That’s one thing I’m discovering in this transition; just how much stuff I had crammed into my schedule. I’m realizing just how break-neck the pace of living in the Bay Area is compared to…well, just about anywhere. Even teenagers have to check their PDAs to see if they’re available to meet for a venti soy chai latte with a single pump of gingerbread syrup.

Now my life resembles a stripped down apartment with only a couch, bed, shower and microwave. The bare essentials to get through a day. But little by little, I’m starting to see some neat things get added to the array. Since I moved on July 26, the following things have already happened. Note that I didn’t expect any of them to necessarily happen for months:

  1. Found a home church
  2. Sang my first solo in my new church
  3. Singing on the worship team (this Sunday)
  4. Received invitation to help with high school ministry

These are all very significant developments within my first month, and I thank God for them. But you’ll see that these all fall under the context of church activities. While these are good, they don’t pay the bills. My interim period of telecommuting from my home office for my job in San Jose ends next Friday, August 29. That means that as of September 1, I’m effectively unemployed. It has been 9 years since I spent even a single day without a job…or two. I am still doing reverse mortgages, but that arena has been very difficult due to the housing market and panic in the financial world with the long term stability of home refinances.

With all this stuff happening, I’m left with one simple assurance; “I will never leave you or forsake you.” God has led me here, and I can do nothing but trust He will provide for me. In my flesh, I am nervous. I’m stressed. Then that still small voice can be heard reverberating my in spirit saying, “I know…trust Me”.

There is almost nothing more comforting and reassuring than hearing a trusted friend saying, “I’ve got your back”. How much more so is it to have the Creator of the ends of the earth saying it?

Weekend Update

I hope your weekend was nice. Mine was good. Pretty much the perfect blend of activity and rest.

Friday: As you can see from the post below, I went and played Bingo Friday night. You can see the glimmer of hope in my post as it was still relatively early in the festivities. Yeah…I didn’t win anything. I came close. I only needed a single number on several occasions, but I’m sure someone with a little Buddha statue and their lucky stuffed aardvark beat me out for that elusive winning number.

Saturday: Got up in the morning and went out looking for garage sales. This really serves two purposes. One, of course, is the possibility of finding stuff you need and want for dirt cheap, but it’s also a great way to learn the lay of the land. I enjoyed driving around and checking out the neighborhoods and even some surrounding towns. Just for grins, I also drove down to Sacramento just to drive by the Capital building. Yeah, I know. Hokey. But I had never been by it, and what the hey…I had nothing else to do. Spent the evening at home, watched a Netflix movie, (The Kingdom – goooood movie).

Sunday: This day started last Monday, actually. As I wrote earlier in the week, I was asked to do my first solo at Sunset Christian Center. So from the moment I picked up the recording and the sheet music, I listened to almost nothing else for the rest of the week. From the moment I woke up yesterday morning, a good 2 hours before I needed to be at sound check, I hit the remote control and began listening to the song. I had it on repeat, so it just looped the song over and over (and over and over and over…). Sound check went pretty well, and I felt much better about things than I did on Wednesday after rehearsal. The song went very well in the service, so it was a real answer t
o prayer to get through it with my reputation and dignity still in tact. In all seriousness, I had a lot of people praying for me, and I’m ever-grateful to each of them. Thankfully I was unaware as I sang that Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent and over all Queso Grande (not sure that title is actually on his business card) of the Assemblies of God was in the house. As if I didn’t have enough on my mind. Thankfully, God spared me of that detail until after I was done singing.

Last night I checked out Axis, the youth night service at SCC. Pastor Kyle Bethke and his wife Marcia are doing an absolutely amazing job with these kids. They have an incredible facility where the kids can come and socialize, play games, listen to music and enjoy some food and drinks before the service begins. The energy in the room was incredible. It was like, well…a group of hyped up teenagers happy to be where they were. I didn’t see one kid who had the look of my parents made me come here. Then, with just minutes to go before the service started, 2 huge roll-up metal doors began to lift, and the kids poured into the room where the service would be held. Then, a 2 minute warning video came on with a countdown clock signifying when the service would begin. I was blown away by the genuine enthusiasm and anticipation the kids had. When the clock hit 0:00, the band, made up exclusively of students, began to crank out some great music. There were ten kids in the band, and they were awesome. This wasn’t some teeny bop thing you see on the Disney Channel. It was some serious music played very well! The kids in the audience crowded the stage and worshipped! No, not their friends in the band, but the God who made the band!

Over all, it was a great day. A long one, but a great one. Every single person I’ve met at SCC, from all age groups, have been very friendly, very supportive, very warm. I think I’m beginning to see why God gave me this assignment. And I’m loving it!