Friday, August 31, 2012

Fearing My Frailty, Not My Phone

I took great caution in obtaining a smartphone for two reasons. First, as a general rule I don't like carrying anything in my pocket smarter than I am. Second, I feared I would become a tool of social media rather than allowing it to be a tool for me.  Having had my phone for about a month now, I feel that both of my concerns have been realized.

The phone is amazing, and it really seems to have some level of problem-solving intelligence. Okay, not really, but the apps are wonderful, and I love being able to make Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr coalesce in order to share my photos with a variety of different folks who want to see them. I am trying to fit twitter into the mix as well, and while I am still figuring out how everything unites, I really think the phone allows one to utilize news, updates, and ideas well, hitting different quadrants for different friends and family, based on their own connectivity to unique sites. The phone is a wonderful relational tool (and, yes, it may be smarter than me).

That being said, some days I am truly possessed by social media. I cannot get enough of it. I post this or that, check for reactions, devour others' updates, and wait for their responses. I become addicted to both giving and getting attention (the latter more so, if I'm honest). I constantly find myself on a variety of apps, not only out of a sense of desire but obligation, both of which have grown in strength each week that the phone has been in my possession. Truly, I finally feel "plugged in" to the social-media-subculture, and I am loving my place in it.

But this has happened at great cost (and I do not use that adjective lightly). My attention is skewed. I have found myself pulling out my phone at any lull in conversation. I find myself checking updates when I could be taking time to pray. I look toward the next time I can check my phone rather than read the Word. My interactions with real, physical human beings get divided attention because I am pre-occupied over scoring 20-points-per-turn on a game I used to refuse to play or because I "feel behind" on a news source I thought was ridiculous until about 6 months ago.

I was right to be afraid.

But I am not overly disheartened. On the contrary, I am excited. Three quick reasons why this is. First, I have seen the true value of the iPhone as a social tool. I feel connected to folks in a new way, and I really do see that virtual connection as an avenue to a more actual one. Second, I see the joy that can be brought via social media, and the smartphone is a valuable device for said purpose. Third, and most importantly, I have learned that the iPhone is not the problem. My human nature to put any-and-every-thing above God is the problem. Strangely, I have never felt so convicted about a good thing. I am encouraged by the possibilities of using this tool, but I know that it has very real power to pull focus from my relationship with the Lord and put it onto my relationships with others and "the culture".  Of course, focusing on others is not not the problem; the problem is trading down from the best thing, to a good thing.  This is a dynamic I need to change. Lord-willing, I can.

Sent from a laptop.  (Thanks for reading)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


My wife and I have moved from California to Delaware.  Tonight is our first night as guest residents in my parents' home, the house wherein I was raised, in which we will be living for the next few months. My emotions are scattered and conflicting, and I feel somewhat raw in the present. The reality of the move has begun to truly settle into my soul, and I have the most odd thought that I did not expect, resting at the most sincere and essential part of me that I am able to access this late and after so much momentum leading to my present state of mind.

This is right. "Right". I don't know how else to describe it or even what I fully mean by saying it. I cannot explain it, and I do not understand it. I feel like any attempts to analyze this will result in my prattling on and on with neither direction nor coherence, so I will not even bother to do so now; but sitting here, near to midnight, on my parents' laptop in the middle of their kitchen, feeling compelled to write without any real notion of what to say, I feel right--like every choice in my life has finally led me to this is exact situation in which I need to be, as a person, as a husband, and as a servant of Christ.  I do not think that I should have been here sooner, and I do not think that I should be here under any different circumstances. How we (my wife and I) are here is not just good, not just exciting. This is right. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Travel and Creation

While driving through Utah this afternoon, I had a breathtaking experience. I use these words carefully and quite literally, for as I came over a ridge several hours into our journey, my heart seemingly skipped a beat; and my hand leaped to my chest. I could not believe what I was seeing.

The expanse of the whole earth seemed to open before my eyes, as a wide green foreground extended toward an endless sea of hills and distant forms of great, multi-colored stone. The sky was a tapestry of overcast grays with small blue pockets here and there. The road before me seemed to run without destination, less the great unknown of all the world. In my thirty years of life, I had never seen anything quite like this.

And in this encounter with the great breadth of the earth, I could think of one thing and one thing alone: God. God the Creator. Whether in six days or 6 hundred-billion--nothing so beautiful could be the work of chance nor the result of mindless natural systems. This view was the work of the most-gifted of artists. God alone.

And amazingly, he also created the eyes to see it, the mind to process it, and the soul to appreciate and connect to it. Were I to see a thousand photographs taken with utmost precision, guaranteed to ensure maximum aesthetic impact, none would compare to the immensity of the picture captured by my own eyes, there in the thick of natural grandeur. Photographs would not require my recognition of my own finitude in the face of glory; they would not demand the attention of my very breath. But seeing this visual opulence face-to-face was experiencing art and beauty in the most full of forms--that which transcends man's brush or technological lens, that which can only be created through power, sheer and raw and true.

I have no pictures of the view, and I am glad for it, for they would do it no justice.  I hope that each of you gets to experience moments like these, when the glory of God is so evident that any doubt or denial of his masterful skill is impossible. I am full of praise and awe this evening and most heartily looking forward to traveling tomorrow.

Monday, August 20, 2012


The apartment is packed, the snacks are purchased, and our landlord has collected our keys. The moving company plans to arrive in 12 hours, and we have had our last dinner (and dessert) as California residents. It is all real now. Very real. And I feel it will only be more real tomorrow.

Tomorrow we begin our trek across America, and I will begin to taking to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to document the trek and share our journey cross-country with friends and family.  If you are on all of these services, it may feel like overkill between both myself and my wife; and for that I apologize, as I am trying to learn all these things and how to best make them compliment each other.

Typing this as we essentially close an era of life, I feel immense and conflicting emotions. In a sense I am full of regret--regret that the choices I have made as a husband and leader have not led us directly into a new house or into a secured job, regret that I did not invest more earnestly in some of our neighbors and local acquaintances, regret that we never found a church body (inasmuch as leaving them now would be difficult). I just carry with me a sense that I should have had intentionally loved people more. This feeling has struck most deeply in our apartment complex, where neighbors have pulled me aside to tell me they are sad for our leaving because we were "good neighbors". If being a good neighbor means politely greeting others from time to time and being relatively quiet, then they are right; but if it means more, then surely we are not in a position to be complimented. I didn't sacrifice much for these neighbors; I never even helped them move new furniture. That being said, I wish I had. Now that the opportunity is passed, I look back wishing that I had been Christ to them, and I don't think Christ would have simply been polite and stayed relatively quiet (not based on the historical accounts we have of him, anyway).

Contrastingly, however, I have a great deal of anticipation and excitement. Our first few years together and the transitions required to thrive during them were more tumultuous than either of us anticipated, but I do not foresee that level of difficulty with this move. Frankly, I think it will be wonderful. Despite knowing that we will be stretched financially and socially over the net few months, I am at peace and ever-hopeful that God is going to continue drawing us closer to each other, even as we grow closer to Him and others. I am also excited about the people with whom we will be able to reconnect, those with whom we may form a bond, and those who we have not yet met but may prove to be kindred spirits.  Even in regard to those who we are leaving, I see the possibility of our relationships growing, of them being forever altered but no less deep.

I guess the best way to describe my attitude is that I look toward all that God will do in, through, and around this move; and I am filled with great hope that His Spirit will lead us into relationships and opportunities to bless others and further his kingdom in ways cannot see.

Not a bad reason to get in the car tomorrow.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Setting Expectations

For those who caught my first post, you may remember my mentioning "ulterior motives" about blogging again. Well, prepare to be ultered (kidding, but not really).

Here is the truth, and I feel silly stating it, but I don't want anyone to feel like they've been victim of the old "bait and switch". The "Living Life Loving Christ" blog is intended to eventually become three things. First and foremost, this to be a bastion of encouragement for others through the sharing of videos, links, and thoughts--mostly pertaining to matters of faith and practice in some form. Second, it is an online journal for chronicling reflections on significant life events such as our move to Delaware, adjusting to life there, and additional developments as they occur. Third, the blog is intended to be a marketing platform for my creative projects and writing.

I cringe a bit at expressing this final purpose so explicitly, but I hope to be a self-published novelist within the next twelve months and a perpetual writer and contributor to other works thereafter. I want to have an online hub for directing people to content; and in time, this blog will be the primary means of my doing so. Updates such as candid pictures or family announcements will likely be put on Facebook by myself or my wife, and this blog will become more focused on linking to other content (perhaps with commentary) and discussing my work or reactions to life and things I have been learning. Those who are uninterested in those types of musings are welcome to jump ship, and I thank you for your reading to this point.

That being said, let me take a moment to divulge the proposed schedule and content for the next few months. My wife and I will be leaving for Delaware next week, and I intend to use the trip as an opportunity to learn how to use my iPhone in conjunction with Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. My hope is that the journey is worth following, and I invite you to join us on it through those venues. I will post some thoughts here as I am able to sit and reflect on the trip itself, but the majority of updates generated from the trip will occur at the above-listed sites.

Once the move is completed and we are in DE, I hope to set a regular blogging schedule; but I do not want to commit to specific days or frequency of posts at present. My writings here will likely begin to include links to videos or songs or articles, and I will spend time discussing the changes that we are experiencing. On weekends and late nights, I also plan to renew work on my book and discuss some of that process as well.

Following this season of discovery, I  am going to attempt the integration of the various sites with which I have become more familiar as well as implement regular features to the blog in order to make it a headquarters of sorts for my work and projects that can be both useful and dependable. I am sure that I will make a plethora of mistakes and probably drive us all a bit nuts in this process; and for this, I apologize in advance. My hope is that this will eventually become a reliable site that one can visit regularly with assurance of new content that will be of some benefit.

Such is the state of things at present and to come. Though I have some trepidation at the undertaking, I am very excited for what may develop, and I appreciate your willingness to check this small corner of the internet. I hope that I can actually begin to inspire, encourage, and entertain you in the coming months. Until that time, thanks for hanging with me!

Monday, August 13, 2012

To Write Or Not To Write

I am excited to be writing on a blog again, but I am also utterly terrified. Truth be told, I am immensely insecure, so much so that I have been fighting this urge to begin a new blog for some time, simply out of fear that I would post something useless or that others would criticize me or that I would react poorly as a result of the other two.

Yet in this fear, I still always felt compelled. I felt like I should have been putting myself into the online dialogue with what I was learning, sharing my experiences and growth regardless of others' reactions to it. I would see or hear or do something and think, "Ah, that would make a great blog post." but that would be the end of it. No one else less my wife or a good friend would know; and I then would feel like I missed the opportunity to invest in someone else by sharing what I thought to be valuable. This is an odd place in which to find oneself, for even in writing that last sentence I feel foolish for believing that something from my mind might be of any real value to another.  Once again, fear creeps forward--fear that I am arrogant in thinking what I have to write would be of value to any person but myself. When I consider said pride, I wonder if my blogging will be more of a detriment to the world than a boon to it. This is the way my soul works.

Thus, the ongoing conflict continues--the impulse to write and the fear of what will result; and here I am, letting the former side gain ground, even as the latter gets louder and louder. Time will tell if I am right to do so.

Thanks for coming, more to follow soon,

Friday, August 10, 2012


After several years of contemplation, false starts, and endless ideas for articles now lost to the ether, I have once again decided to enter the blogosphere—that now commonplace,  at times horrific, stream of consciousness sitting in the air of the interwebs, where one is almost certain to embarrass him or herself, regardless of ideology or ability to write.

Since ending my original blog in 2009 to pursue the completion of a long-dormant but ever-haunting personal project, I have often longed to return to this format, particularly as I have undergone personal growth and discipline that would have been wonderful fodder for online journaling. Unfortunately, that era has passed, and my ability to connect to it vividly departed shortly thereafter. 

As the Lord would have it, however, my wife and I are moving from our first apartment of six years in southern California to my parents’ home on the other side of the United States. This has, of course, required our leaving immensely comfortable jobs at the university from which we both graduated and also forced us to say goodbye to many dear friends and family members to whom we are near (both in heart and in proximity).

To me, this sounds to be the stuff of blogging--the sort of thing that is both mundane but also monumental. Yes, it is true that moving across one’s native country (or to another country, for that matter) has been done innumerable times over the course of humanity’s existence and is not of any real importance; and yet for the individuals involved—those being left as well as those leaving—the event carries with it a certain gravitas accompanied by a wealth of emotion. Inasmuch as modern technology enables parties to engage one another in a variety of ways despite great distance, a change of this magnitude still bears a certain weight; and frankly, such a weight might produce introspection followed by an outpouring of thought worth sharing. We shall see.

But I must admit that writing about this move itself is not my full intent for this endeavor. On the contrary, such an event seems more like a fine starting point than a self-contained story unto itself.

But more on my ulterior motives later. Thanks for stopping by,