Prepare to be Stretched

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A long time ago, I almost went to Azusa Pacific University. Finances fell through, reality set in, and I ended with a time where I felt lost. I had just walked away from my first job that I worked at for five years. Life felt unstable. I remember a marketing photo from Azusa that featured a ball of rubberbands. The tagline below the ball was, “Prepare to be stretched.”

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Growth is oftentimes not comfortable. Growth can be painful.

Some eleven years later, I feel lost once again. Caught in some sort of cyclical orbit that I cannot break free from. Since college graduation, Fall 2006, I have been trying to get my bearings. Part of that could be cultural, I live in Texas now versus my native California. Things are different here. The other part of that was thinking that God had called me to be a pastor. I had thought that I would go to seminary after college. First seminary I applied at told me I had too much student debt. The second seminary, which accepted me debt and all, was not to be. As I got ready to select my first classes, we ended up pregnant with my son. Any money for schooling vanished.

Where does one go with the path changes? How does one adapt?

I work as an Office Manager by day. Not the first job I would choose for myself, but I do enjoy the work when we are busy. In my eighth year now, I have no room for growth. I feel trapped.

I find myself wondering what that next step is. Where is God calling me to be? I find myself questioning my faith. I know all the right Christian answers, there is just a head-to-heart disconnect.

God constantly reminds me that He is working though. As waves threaten to sink me, He taps me on the shoulder and says, “hey man, I’ve got this.” I just need to believe it.

LeTourneau University Alumni Association Directory project

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In the Fall of 2004 I left my native state of California, Tetris-style packed my car, and made the 2 day trek to Longview, Texas. There I spent the next two and half years pursuing higher education and ultimately meeting my now wife. My time at LeTourneau University was amazing due to the awesome group of guys I became friends with (kick butt CLUB!) and the personal growth I experienced through student leadership.

Almost six years later, I find myself gainfully employed and slowly paying back my student debt. Over the past few months, I have been receiving emails/mailers from a company LeTourneau has contracted to update their alumni directory. I do not wish to participate in this update. Instead of offering me a chance to opt out, I have been bombarded with emails and mailers warning me of being “past due” and the dreaded “4th notice”. This collections agency language and behavior is not befitting of the memories I have of the university. I really think that LeTourneau is capable of holding itself to a higher standard.

What is funny about this is that no one else I know, who has attended LETU, has been contacted over this. Seems like a scam.

Weekend Trip: Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park

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This past Saturday (6/30), one of my good friends was visiting his inlaws in Dallas. So, I loaded up the family and met up with him for lunch at the Twisted Root Burger Company (hadn’t seen him in 5 years!). Lunch was fantastic! The food was great and I really enjoyed getting to visit with Andy and having the opportunity to meet his wife for the second time.

After lunch, we said goodbye to Andy and his wife and headed on over to Fair Park. After an almost 2 and a half hour drive from Longview, I figured we’d stretch our legs a bit and visit the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park.

Who knew there was a Hall street in Dallas? I didn’t.

The Texas Star Ferris wheel. The largest Ferris wheel in North America, of course.

A fountain in Fair Park was apparently calling my son’s name. Thankfully, he did not heed that call. Not that I would have blamed him with the 100 degree heat.

All of the aquarium’s displays were at toddler level. This meant my son could engage the aquatic life on his own terms.

This guy was pretty cool looking!

Whenever we’d go to any lake in Arizona or Nevada as a kid, my Dad would always joke about snapping turtles. Guess what, they do exist in Texas!

Behold!

This Alligator Snapping Turtle had his own ecosystem on his back.

Hello.

As you can tell, I loved this guy. Just check out those claws!

I end with a symbiotic relationship that certainly must “suck”. Get it?

Overall, the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park is a fun way to spend an hour or two. They also have an excellent sting ray pool where you can feed and pet the wondrous monsters as they glide by. I enjoyed putting my hands in the tank, barely moving them, and being swarmed by sting rays! I don’t remember the sting ray exhibit at Sea World ever being this good.

God: Working Behind the Scenes

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I stood out in the front yard last night watching the clouds swirl by. A storm was coming. The sky was growing darker by the minute as the clouds rotated in an eerie fashion. Sirens blared off in the distance, a tornado had been spotted in the northern part of our county. Beauty and death danced before me in the clouds, such a mix of awe and fear.

Back in the house, the weatherman was drenched in full HD glorified sweat. I openly wondered if he was going to have a heart attack. He didn’t. He did, however, rant and rave about “rotations” and “charging up your cell phone”. There was no calm, no awe in his voice, just fear.

When the weather outside is possibly life threatening and the weatherman is swamped in a fear-induced froth, I find it hard not to become fearful as well. But fearful of what? Tornadoes, “death from above” as I like to call them, are random creatures. They can be slow moving and quick to strike without notice. In other words, I have no control over them.

Journeying through life, we live under the illusion that we are in control. We aren’t. Lately, I’ve been studying through the Old Testament. Reading through the book of Joshua, I have read time and time again of God orchestrating massive events, even using evil things for good. Though we are not in control, God is. Even in times where it doesn’t seem like He is answering our prayers, He is working behind the scenes as the book of Haggai points out. But even with God in control, our daily choices still matter. Choices such as whether to let fear rule our lives, instead of the hope of Christ (for those who have accepted Him), these choices matter.

Are the clouds of fear swirling around you? Does destruction seem to be looming on the horizon? Take hope in that God is orchestrating all things for the good of those who love Him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (NIV)