Relay for life

This weekend was the Relay for Life, at the UCSD track, which not only raised money for various cancer related causes, but maybe even more importantly, raised awareness.  Participants would walk laps around the quarter mile track, usually in conjunction with other teammates (mine was with a few people from work).  There’s no baton handoff, you just walk, and trade off for breaks.  The walk was all day Saturday, and all night, finishing on Sunday afternoon.  Many people camp out for the entire thing.  It was awesome.  Here’s a few random pics:

Later on in the afternoon, they put out the luminaria, which are memorials/tributes to friends or loved ones of all sorts that have either died from cancer, or are still battling it.   They’re paper bags with a candle inside, and later in the evening, there’s a ceremony where the candles are lit (though I left before then).  Must have really been something to see.  As it was, it was moving just looking at the bags.  They first did one lap around the track and set out one every 3 or 4 feet, then did another lap and set one in the middle of each gap.  All the way around the quarter mile track–all lives that had been touched in some way by cancer–even the loss of a pet (there were a couple of those that teared me up).  

 There was also a place where people who’d battled cancer and survived could plant a flower. 

I talked to a few of these people, and they were very cool.  So many incredible stories all over that place.  I met a guy hobbling around the track on crutches with a broken leg.  Several people in wheelchairs. I met people that were defiant, and fierce, and not afraid.  There were many tributes to friends, and many people walking with signs and banners, probably the most extravagant being from a group called Stacy’s Circle of Friends, who were both raising money and awareness for breast cancer.  They were like mardi gras.  Tossing beads at walkers, most of them wearing pink feather boas and masks.

So it was quite a day Saturday.  I went home tired, but was glad I went.  It was an honor to meet so many strong people, and hear their stories. 

I don’t get it

You can hardly turn on the TV or radio lately without hearing about Ultimate fighting, or MMA.  Whatever you want to call it.  I even heard a bunch of guys talking about it at church, about how great, how exciting it was.  They get together and watch it all the time.  I’d never seen it, and in the interest of not passing judgement until I had, I checked it out Saturday night. 

What I saw was called the “Ultimate Finale,” and was apparently the culminating episode of the “Ultimate Fighter” reality show.  I watched 3 or 4 bouts, and to me, they were neither suspenseful, nor exciting.  It would start off with some boxing, with a few kicks thrown in, and would inevitably end up with the combatants rolling around on the ground wrestling.

I just thought it seemed like a legitimate version of pro wrestling.  Instead of faking and slap fighting, they were actually pounding the snot out of each other.   The main difference I noticed was that the trash talking seemed to take place more outside of the ring (or in this case, the octagon).  So it’s real, for sure. 

But I don’t get it.  I’m no peacenik, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.  I don’t like boxing, either.  What’s so exciting about watching grown adults beat each other up?  Yes, they’re magnificently conditioned athletes, but they make their living hitting people, and being hit in return.

I guess there are just some basic “guy” things that don’t work for me.  This is one of them.  Nothing against the people that do enjoy watching this stuff.  I’d just rather read a book.  Or almost anything else.

Stuff I like #11–Prayer

A while back, I had lunch with the gentleman in charge of the single’s ministry at CVCF. I’m on the planning/leadership team for that ministry, and to say that it’s been a chore so far would be the understatement of the year. Now, I understand that ministry is never easy, I do. And nothing good is easy. I understand all that. But the single’s ministry has thusfar transcended all types and categories of annoyance for me. It has been passion-sapping, to tell you the truth.

Anyway, back to the lunch. One of the things we discussed was about the people on the team finding things they’re passionate about to do. And something about passionate people being attracted to other passionate people (not in a romantic sort of way). So I didn’t really go looking for it, but over the course of the last year, I think I found the thing I’m most passionate about, that I love doing more than any of the other ministry type things I’ve done.

Praying for people.

Whether in the context of a theophostic Healing Prayer session, or simply just praying for people, I love doing it. I feel empowered doing it. I feel right doing it. I feel that when I’m praying for someone, I’m closer to doing what God has for me than any other time. I’m not claiming any extraordinary power, by any means. I’m no healer. No pastor. Not even a lay counselor.

But when I pray for someone, or for the church, or simply just intercede during a prayer session, I feel so incredibly in touch with the Holy Spirit. It’s awesome. Of course, I can’t attest to whether or not my prayers mean much at all to the people I’m praying for, all I know is it’s the closest I come to Jesus.

I still feel a little awkward in a prayer circle, or at a prayer meeting, and sometimes I probably run off at the mouth a little too much. Something I’m working on. Only prayed at the altar for someone one time, but it was a really moving experience. Many of the deacons and elders were at a retreat of some sort, so we small group leaders got drafted to pray after the service for those who wanted prayer. I sat there for a minute or two, and it seemed like nobody was going to come over to me, which was OK, because I was pretty nervous. But then a slender woman a few years older than me made a beeline for me, and I got up to greet her.

Turns out she was very ill with lung cancer, and I was at a loss for a moment. Then I just asked God how I should pray for her, and after a moment got a pretty clear indication of the way I should go. I could really feel the Holy Spirit–the air was practically crackling. I think it moved me more than her, but I haven’t really been the same since then.

There’ve been a few opportunities since then, and it’s been thrilling every time in a different way. I get to see Jesus do amazing work in people’s lives (and make no mistake, it’s all him).

Then last week after soaking prayer (where someone comes in and plays worship music) before Healing Prayer began, a woman I hadn’t seen in a while came up to me after the music stopped playing. She’s someone I’ve always been a little intimidated by in regard to prayer–she’s just this amazing, powerful, Godly woman, who’s overcome a great many personal difficulties just to so much as walk around. Anyway, she came up me and asked if I had any anointing oil. She didn’t know what had happened during the worship time, but something had, and she wanted to pray over it and seal it.

I told her I’d left it up front, but I could go get it if she’d like. She said that she would.

So I went and got it, and sat down next to next to her, put my hand on her shoulder, and leaned in to pray so she could hear me–the room was filling up, and it had gotten a little noisy. I felt tentative as I began to pray, and stammered a bit to start. I asked God once again how I should pray, and immediately got the sense I should just pray.

So I did, and as I prayed, I felt the tentativeness leave, and was able to continue. While I spoke quietly next to her ear, I could also hear her praying in mine. Like the time at the altar with the sick woman, it was totally electric for me. And at the end of it, she gave me a hug and left.

And I realized, I want to do this. It feels right. I want to pray for people. I enjoy praying for people, and I enjoy witnessing the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives, and in mine.

So that’s what I like most. That’s what I’m passionate about. I’ll see where it takes me.

morning constitutional

Today was a pretty good morning. Took Sumo on a slightly different route. The walk was 10 minutes longer, and a little more strenuous. My hope is to get to the point where I can jog at least half the way, and hopefully complete the route Kris and I used to jog.

Not sure how conducive jogging is to prayer, but I’m sure I’ll find out eventually. The thing about this morning is that I realized there are actually several areas of my life I have not consecrated to God. The main thing was my health, and my intellect (such as it is). I had read Mikey’s blog on the mikeyshow page a while back, and he talked about asking God for help in his diet, with controlling his appetite, and just generally eating better. It’s had dramatic results in his life, and he’s lost a lot of weight. So I tried to do that this morning, and while I did eat a croissant for breakfast, I only ate 1, and most other times, it would have been two (if something is 2 for 1, you have to eat both of them!).

The new dosage of my blood pressure medication has had good results, too. Hopefully that, combined with the exercise, will lower it even more. All I know is that I feel pretty good today.


Father’s day was over the weekend, and I totally forgot about it. I guess I can’t really expect anything different–it was nearly 25 years ago that he died. I never got to know him as an adult, and the truth is that sometimes I hardly remember the person I knew as a child. And I feel a little bad about that.

Chris wrote something a while ago concerning his father, and I’ve been thinking about that on and off ever since. The conclusion I’ve come to is that I think I have pretty strong issues myself–in the heavenly vs earthly father sense, that is. I didn’t realize how deeply my experience with my own father had affected my life until I really tried to think about it, and remember.

My experience with my dad was not abusive, by any means. Nor exactly neglectful. It was just not… loving or nurturing (not really from my mom, either, but that’s a post for another time). He was definately not Ward Cleaver.

My dad would sometimes bring me places with him, but all I can remember about that was sitting in his truck with the windows rolled up and watching him yell at people (he was a cement mason, and I got to visit a few job sites). I remember he would sometimes get so mad the big veins would stand out on the side of his neck and his face would turn red.

Other times he would take me sailing with him, which was something that was really difficult for me (the truth was, I hated it, but was made to go often enough that I became resigned to it, after a fashion)–seasickness was the rule rather than exception. I could tell that it frustrated/disappointed him to no end. Like I should have enjoyed myself, and something was wrong because I didn’t. Still, I would do my best to elicit praise (or really even attention) from him whenever possible. I would bring him coffee in the mornings on weekends when I was small. I would run to the liquor store to fetch the paper. I would sometimes ask to go places with him I really didn’t even want to go just to tag along, and be with him. I remember riding to Thrifty to get ice cream with him on a couple of occasions when I was small, and sitting on the back of his motorcycle, clutching his desperately. It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time.

My favorite memory of my dad was when I was maybe 5. I would get up early sometimes, so I would be there when he left for work. I would say, “see you later, alligator,” and he would respond, “after a while, crocodile.” Not original, I know now, but it meant a lot to me then. Sadly, the older I got, the less I would get up to see him off, and our little routine soon disappeared.

But for the most part, my efforts were to little avail. I’ve spoken to my sisters about it, and the consensus was that it was just how dad was. He would provide, but would not or could not provide much affection. And none of us can remember much but apathy from him toward our own lives. We were all pretty much free to do our own things. I think I would have been satisfied with even a little validation, but like many of the other things in my childhood, the only place I got it was from my sisters.

And the thing that was so frustrating about that was that I wanted him to care what I was doing. I wanted it desperately, but the only time that seemed to happen was when the possibility arose of costing him some money. Like shopping for school clothes. Or getting school pictures taken. I’m sure that much of it was that his work was seasonal, and we often didn’t have much money. Regardless of the reason, what it began to feel like after a while was that I was an obligation, and should not expect to have much spent on me–time, or money, or anything else. I don’t know if that was true, but I do know that’s how it felt. I can still feel it. So I would wear old clothes that used to belong to my brother, or were obtained at thrift shops. If it was new, it usually came from one of my sisters. Dad made it very clear that he did not like to have to “waste” money on things (I know how the preceding paragraph sounds, believe me. I’m just trying for a little clarity about where much of my needs as a child ranked in the household priorities).

Still, Christmases were not that bad (thanks to my sisters, usually). The interesting thing about them is that they were more my parents growing up than my parents were. Anyway, back to my father.

I think the thing lacking most in my relationship with my dad was something I didn’t even know was missing until much later in my life, and when I did, things began to make more sense to me. Well, the plain truth was that he while he provided for me, he did not really father me, in the traditional sense. By that I mean doing dad things–I’m not implying an infidelity by any means–anyone who sees me and a picture of my dad would know I inherited more than just his road rage.

In my opinion, one the main responsibilities of a father is to raise his son, not just being there as he grows, but participating in his life, and teaching him. Passing on knowledge, and truth. Not just throwing a football around, but being there in more than a physical sense. I missed most of that.

In a sense, I can’t blame my father that much–he was over 40 when I came along, and probably thought he was long since done with kids. And when I got older, he was still doing a hard job at a much older age than most of the men he worked for and with. It must have been so difficult. Work was seasonal, and money was tight most of the time.

My main problem since I’ve been a believer has been assuming that Jesus will react the same way my earthly father did. And that assumption helped to generate a great many lies about God, that I’m ashamed to say seemed very much like truth for much of my life.

1. He did not care about me

2. He did not mean for me to be here

3. He did not love me

4. I was not important to him

5. My wants and needs as a child did not matter to him

and many more along those lines…..

The Lord has been working on helping me find the truth of these (in regard to Him). It something that I continually need to refresh myself on, and in truth, it seems like it’s going to take forever. Another useful application of truth to pray for would be the realization that healing is a lifelong process. I know this, but sometimes I don’t know it.

This is something I’ve been battling for what feels like years, and I periodically find myself wandering off into the wilderness, spiritually speaking. Sometimes I feel like God is not listening to me, and I allow myself to believe that he shouldn’t be. I feel like a little kid, following him around and pulling at his shirttails, begging for attention. To tell you the truth, it feels sort of pathetic. The hardest part for me, more often than not, is connecting my head knowledge of God and what I am to Him with my heart.

Because knowing is one thing, but feeling is another. Lately I’ve been realizing more and more that the healing I’ve experienced is great, but I should by no means think I’ve arrived. I am not complete, and I won’t be until I stand before the Throne and Jesus says “Well done.”

What does Jeremiah say? I will find Him when I seek him with all my heart? Something like that. Have I been seeking Him with all my heart? Have I really? Have I prostrated myself before Him in prayer? Have I earnestly and truly sought his counsel? Have I asked him to be my Father?

The answer is sometimes.

When I am at my most bleak, certainly. But have I been sharing the blessings of my life with Him? Of course, they’re because of Him, so he already knows, but have I been going to Him in delight at what he’s shown me and done in my life? Have I been running to Him and saying, “Look, daddy, Look!”

No. I haven’t. I didn’t do that with my dad, either. When I look at him through my adult eyes, I see that he probably did the best he could. He loved me in the way he was capable of loving. He was not a bad person, but he was older than his years, and so very tired. And in that regard, I need to forgive him his shortcomings. I can’t believe it was so hard to really “get” that. I’ve been working on forgiving other people in my life for a long time, and it never occurred to me Dad was one of those people.

I need to confess my own shortcomings as a son as well, and ask Jesus to forgive them. I don’t know if my father is with Him or not, but I know I’ll find out one day–hopefully not for a long time.

….much to do…..

and taking


first step is the hardest part.

Nightmare in the trunk

Had this awful dream last night. Had to get up and write it down before I forgot. There’s probably some significance to it, but it’s beyond me to figure it out. At least, not at 5am with my eyes still half closed from sleep, Anyway, I kept waking up from it and looking at the clock. And every time I would go back to sleep after a few minutes, and there would be the same dream again. I was driving around with a body in the trunk of my car. I knew only a couple things about it in the dream. One was that I didn’t kill it. The other was that I had to get rid of it–it was my responsibility. I didn’t know what condition it was in, or how it had gotten that way. Or who had killed it, for that matter. But it was in my car, and it had to go.

I kept finding places where I thought I could dump it, get rid of it, but I was never able to–not sure why. I would be about to, and then something would happen, and I’d have to keep driving. It freaked me the heck out–still freaking me out. I used to have this super morbid streak when I was a teen, and the funny thing about that is that lately I’ve sort of felt that way again. Not sure if this has anything to do with that.

Possible solutions. Prayer, of course. Ask God why I’d dream something like that. We talked about dreams a little in HP training last night, too. How God can use them, Interesting. Maybe there’s some kind of lie hidden within that dream. Don’t know.

Or maybe the body in the trunk is a metaphor for something I’m supposed to unburden myself of–something I need to remove from my life. I don’t know what that would be. A secret? I don’t think I have any. Or at least, I don’t remember if I do. What lie could be attached to a body in the trunk? Or something in the trunk.

Maybe it wasn’t actually a body, and maybe the lie (if there is one) is that there’s no place I can get rid of it. I need to think about it. And pray.

Of course, it could have just been a dream, too.

70 times 7

A really good friend of mine is going through some difficulty right now with a few family members of the man she’s going to marry–one in particular. Her fiance has gone through his share of difficulty, and with God’s help, has emerged on the other side of it. He is a changed person, and that is not only due to Jesus, but also to his relationship with my friend. I believe that God, through their relationship, has grown both of them tremendously.

But this person(s) in my friend’s fiance’s family has chosen not to see that, but rather to condemn. This person was mean, and condescending, and holier-than-thou in a very Pharasiac (or Pharisitic–I don’t know) sort of way. I wonder, if Jesus were to materialize in the deep south, while this nice person was sipping a sweet tea on their porch, would they condemn him for eating with tax collectors and sinners?

Just look at what God has done in both of their lives. LOOK AT IT!! Look at Grace. Grace does not condemn. It saves, it blesses, it heals. And I believe that while scripture can be twisted to support any point of view, that is not why God gave it to us. It’s there to edify us, to teach us, and like Grace, to bless us. I’m sure if I tried hard enough, I could find a few verses to justify sticking grapes up my nose during worship on a Sunday morning. BUT THAT DOESN”T MEAN I SHOULD, or that it’s how God meant those verses to be interpreted.

Wait, did I just say interpreted? I did.

The reaction of this person reminds me of the fundamentalist movement of the 1980’s, which was almost exclusively condemnatory. And what it did was turn many, many people away from God, myself included. I think if you want people to find God, or turn to him in any sort of real way, you have to show them his love. That’s what saves us. Not anger, not hate, not condemnation for someone a person may not even really know, or a situation they aren’t even a part of.

Jesus did not come to condemn people, but to save them. Love them. Father them.

My first response to my friend’s situation was anger, lots and lots of anger. It felt justified. Feels justified, and maybe, probably is. That feeling of anger was probably reflected in my first couple of paragraphs.

But when I think about it, my condemning this unknown family member is much the same as what they did. I know this person is speaking out of their own brokenness. But that does not make it any easier for my friend. I spoke to her briefly and she said something that’s very true.

The hurt hurt, or words to that effect. Because this person was hurt themself in some way, their instinct (and pain) causes them to lash out. They may not even realize they’re doing it. But that doesn’t make it right.

Man, forgiveness is tough. It really is. It sounds like the person who lashed out and hurt my friend (I imagine her fiance as well), has a heart lacking forgiveness. This person needs to find it, and soon. That’s the key, of course.

I heard Miles McPherson say something in a sermon not long ago that just occurred to me. He said it in regard to dealing with people that he did not necessarily agree with, or have some sort of problem with, or even dislike. What he did in dealing with them was simply to remind himself that no matter how he saw the person, that person was someone Christ died for.

So when I think about this person, I need to remind myself of that very thing. Yeah, I’m angry on my friend’s behalf, and it upsets me that this person passes out judgement like a prize. In God’s name, no less. So what I’m going to try and do (no promises), is to forgive. And pray. Pray God shines his light into her heart, and heals it. Helps her to see the truth of things–His truth, not hers.

Forgiveness, man. That’s a bitch. I guess I needed to process a little. I’m going to go ahead and post this without editing out anything. It was what I thought, and think. I guess take it for what it is.

More to pray about, anyway.