Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wish List

It seems that I might be a little hard to shop for... at least a few people have told me that in my life. And, it has been requested of me to make a list of things I'd like to receive for Christmas this year. Seeing how World Peace doesn't come in wrapped in paper and bows, I will oblige.

This is rather difficult for me because I really don't like telling people what to get me. It's rather pretenious. I'm really the sort of person who prefers the giving than the receiving. Generally, I'm more content with the knowledge that someone cares and loves me enough to feel like they should express that love than I am with the gift.

I don't expect ANYONE to get me a single thing on this list. I don't really expect anyone to get me anything (except maybe for family for the obvious reasons). Some things I'd like to have are simply out of the queston for a wish list - an iPod, a new dryer, a mini-dv camera, a new computer - because, wow, that's way too much love for me to handle. But, the following things I, no doubt, would enjoy, if someone wanted to make sure to get something I would enjoy. Also, you don't have to think of this as a holiday wish list, but more of a window into knowing me better.

Eddie Guerrero Tribute XXL T-Shirt - Look, the sooner you accept that I like pro wrestling, the better off we'll be. Eddie Guerrero was probably this generation's most entertaining wrestler. He lived a difficult life that included drug and alcohol addiction, and marriage problems. But, he battled his demons, sobered up and changed his life around. He found his faith and helped others find theirs. When he passed away (far too early), he was completely sober for four years. His life is an inspirational story that should not be forgotten. And, if you don't believe me...

Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story - watch this before wrapping it all pretty and you'll see. Viva La Raza, Papi. R.I.P. Eddie.

Bret Hart DVD - when I said I like wrestling, this man is what I mean. I'm not a big fan to today's extreme, hardcore, styles. Bret is possibly the best technical wrestler there has ever been. And that makes him one of my favorites.

The Fair Tax Book by Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder - I listen to Neal Boortz's radio show a few times a week, and his talk about his book has me wanting to read it. I wanna see what all the hubbub is about.

Cowboy Bebop DVDs - I don't like anime but Cowboy Bebop is incredible. I linked to the box set ony to have one link, but really any of the sessions are wonderful.

Guster On Ice - I can't believe I haven't bought this myself yet. Just my favorite band to see live doing their thing on DVD.

The Chronicles of Narina by C. S. Lewis - never read them nor had the chance. But I have the feeling after seeing the movie, I will want to absorb them.

Various DVDs - House (Season 1); Lost (Season 1); Firefly: the Series; The Complete Superman Set; Hair; Godspell; Jesus Christ: Superstar; A Mighty Wind; Best In Show, Eddie Izzard (not Dressed to Kill, Definate Article, or Circle); Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle; Serenity...

There, are you happy now? I love you, too. I'm tired. Save this list. You can use it again next year and the year after that, and the year after that...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Apologies for a Sucky Post

There just hasn't been anything interesting for me to talk about lately. Same Crap, Different Day. Someone should put that on a T-shirt. Speaking of T-shirts, I saw one somewhere I want. It says: "Pedro lacks political experience." I giggled when I saw that. It's late and I'm suffering from lack of sleep. It's my own doing; it's not like I have insomnia. No, I'm quite sure I'll be asleep the moment my hair hits the pillows. I'm rebelling against sleep. Yeah, that's the ticket. Seriously, nothing going on. We rented Smackdown VS Raw 2006 and that's all my son and I have been doing. WOW. This post sucks. But, at least I'm writing, eh? Need to have some crappy posts once in a while. Gotta spew the bad stuff out so there's more room for the good stuff.

As bad and boring as this post is, it's interesting to note that I've neglected my relationship with God for about two weeks. Not that I am not having relations with the Lord, but I'm just neglecting them. Just a while ago, I really prayed for the first time in about two weeks, not counting church services. Sorry about that, God. Really, I know that spending time with you is great and always a wonderful experience. But, I've been neglecting my prayer time and it's no wonder I'm having trouble listening to you these days. It's no wonder I have absolutely nothing else to say or talk about.

Wait a minute! Maybe I do... Ok... People reading this... Can you see where I'm going with this? It doesn't take much for life to speed on by. You have to make time your own. You have to slow down and fit in your friends into your schedule. You have to slow down and make time to talk with God. You have to slow down and appreciate every moment you can. Time to carve out time for what's important. For me, that's relationships... with God, with my wife and son, with my friends - both near and far - and family. ML, remember that in a few months when time is going to speed up and you'll feel like putting all that on the back burner for no good reason.

Surely, I can make my point better than that. How's this? See ML play video games. See ML ignore relationships. See ML ignore God. See ML ignore his wife. See ML take everything for granted. See ML ramble. ML not good, not happy. See ML struggle with blog posts. Stuggle, ML, Struggle.

You see how that works? Ignoring what's important will affect your life. Or something more eloquient.

If you made it this far into my sleep deprivation, I have one small, simple request. Leave a comment just letting me know you come here and read my ramblings. Judging by the stats, I'd say there are more than two regular readers, yet I never hear from you invisible folks. I'd really like to know who you are, where you're from, why in heaven's name you find this place interesting enough to come back to time and time again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Frost Bite

Do you know how hard it is to blog using your cell phone with gloves on still shivering in 14 degree coldness with a wind chill of zero degrees at 6am?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

God Moment

On Sunday, I started going on prayer walks. It's exactly how it sounds - pray while walking. I figure I can kill two birds with one stone: talk to God and get a little exercise.

There's a tiny little wooded park I like to walk in not far from my home. It's maybe half a block square and is cozily nestled between two busy roads and way-upper class houses. Did I mention it's tiny? I mean, you can be in the middle of the park, see both roads and be a peeping tom, if you were so inclined. There's a winding, circling nature trail there that takes barely twenty minutes to walk. Thankfully, there's a couple of loops you can go around more than once. Afterall, you need at least 30 minutes of some cardio and making the loops at least twice does that.

Right in the middle of this park near the creek, there is a metal bench so you can just sit and enjoy nature or what have you. I was sitting on that bench sometime last summer when I first heard God calling me. So, the park has a special place in my heart. I like to go there on occasion just to get away and relax or just to walk around for a bit.

Well, Monday, I was walking around the park along the trail, leaves crunching under my feet. There were many things on my mind - some of my own stuggles, prayers asking for wisdom, prayers for other people in need. At one point, I read Psalm 18 as I walked. I had made a few loops and was heading back to the start when I passed the bench. It was time for me to stop talking to God and start listening.

I sat down a stared at the cool waters of the creek for a while before I closed my eyes to really listen. God's easier to hear when you don't have to worry about your sense of sight to screw with your concentration. My eyes were closed for a while waiting to hear from that still, small voice in my head. I began to get frustrated with God and thought He wasn't going to respond. So, I got up and left a little angrt, a little disappointed.

Five steps later, I heard a rustling in the woods to my right. Startled, I turned and there was a deer about 20 feet from me. We stared at each other for a moment. Then, two more deer appeared behind the other one. All four of us looked at each other and my anger and frustration melted into peace. Something startled them and they took off.

As I walked down the path to my car, I realized what had just happened. I was in the presence of the Lord and God was responding. He was just letting me know He was listening. Quickly, I turned around and head back to where the deer bounced off to. I mean, you want to try and spend as much time with the Lord as you can.

I found one in the creek drinking. Then, my eyes focused through the brush and I saw the other two. It sounds and no doubt looked weird to anyone watching from their back porch, but I felt like I needed to kneel. So, I got down on my knees and thanked God for showing up.

Now that I think about it, I have no idea how three deer could end up in that small patch of woods. This was during the evening rush hour and cars was all over the roads. They would have to pass through a plethora of houses and subdivisons to reach any kind other woodsy area. Somehow, though, they ended up right beside me.

Psalms 102:1-2 says "Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I was in distress. Turn your ear towards me; when I call answer me quickly." Realize that God does not turn a deaf ear to our problems. Realize that God does indeed hear our cries of pain. Furthermore, He shows us the mercy and forgiveness that only a loving, graceful God freely gives everyone, even you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I believe that there are bonafide angels roaming the earth. Not that they have wings and halos or play harps while bathed in bright, white light or anything. But, there are people who are just so good, so caring, so loving, that it's hard to imagine they acctually have faults and problems and are imperfect like the rest of us. There's probably not a lot of them, but I feel like I have been blessed to have met at least three in the past year or so. And, you would not believe they were angels just looking at them. I guess they do have to disguise themselves so we don't stare or something.

Kristi was the person in charge at the church our mission trip was based out of. The average joe wouldn't notice her in the crowd and if he did, he would think anything was special about her. But, Kristi, I believe, is an angel. She gave us the run down on the "rules" while we are staying at the church. And my first impression was that she had a bit of an iron fist. I could see that the rules were important, but her delivery was a bit harsh, I thought. She organized us into work details and led our daily devotions in the morning and discussions about the day's events at night.

Kristi is a alcoholic. She's using her faith, which I learned is strong as an ox, to recover. I felt drawn to her spirit. Honestly, I probably would have ignored her if I met her under different circumstances. But, there was something about her that made me feel we needed to talk, like there was much I needed to learn from her.

After our first dinner there, I walked around on my own and found Kristi sitting on the steps smoking a cigarette. Feeling weak, I gave in and asked to bum a smoke (sorry, honey). Well, at least I found an opening to whatever conversation I needed to have with her. Alas! She was on the phone at the time. So, I sat far enough not to eavesdrop on her conversation and smoked one waiting for her to get off. Unfortunately, she had a long conversation and my breath and teeth needed deep cleaning.

The next night same thing. I figured she'd go out for a smoke at some point and I could casually walk by, bum and converse. Didn't happen. But on the third night, while others burned their pork-bellied clothing, I was successful at burning more than just tobacco. The questions I had were about the logistics of mission. We had a good conversation and she was able to calm a few of my fears about the journey God is putting me on. I have no doubt Kristi is an angel.

John is probably in his late 50s and owns a farm in Pennsylvania. Looking at his rough, tan skin, it's obvious he's been on the farm most of his life. The kind of older man who is set in his ways and his way is right. After spending three days under his supervision, I have no doubt John is an angel, too.

He told me God spoke to him the night Katrina hit and put the fear in him. He said he did everything he could to avoid coming to Gulfport. But, God wanted him there and made sure he ended up at that church. The day after Katrina hit, he called the Red Cross to volunteer and they basically gave him the run around, telling him he needed this class and that (all of which he took) before he could go. Then, they said he needed more classes and lost his information. He grew tired of their hemming and hawing. Eventually, his wife found a number on the internet and gave it to him to call. Days later, he was in Gulfport. He says this is where God wanted him and that's why he's there.

We could tell we were getting on John's nerves while we were chainsawing with him. We were playful in our work, he was all business. Yet, somehow we grew on him and he grew on us. He led us in prayer with each family and I've never heard more elegant beautiful words spoken from such a gruff, old man. My friend, Denny, had been praying that God would allow him to see people as He does. And, God doesn't see John as a gruff, old man. To God (and to me), John is an angel.

Yes, I do believe God has an army of angels and they are scattered across this globe to do His will. They don't have halos, nor do they have wings. I'm learning to recognize them by the kindness and love in their hearts. I even hope the bell rings for my "wings" someday (Or is that too obscure of a pop culture referance). If only we all could learn to fly as high in our faith, hope and love as they do.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gotta have a theme song...

We left Indianapolis at 4pm last Wednesday in three huge passenger vans packed with people, duffel and sleeping bags, tools and supplies and love. Love was especially prominent in our van as our mission trip organizer, Jonathan, and his wife, Christine, were all-newlywed-snugglebunny-cutesty. I'm always a little bit jealous of PDA couples, but I digress. We had a long journey ahead of us - an estimated 15 hour ride through the night into who knows what kind of morning.

The ride was rather uneventful. God saw to it that we didn't get separated or got into an accident. I drove from around our 10pm stop outside of Nashville until we arrived in Gulfport at 7am. We made very good time. Too good as a matter of fact since we had to stop about 60 miles north of Gulfport for almost two hours. There's a curfew in Gulfport and we could have been arrested if we drove in before the sun came up.

As I drove our van, everyone else slept. I was able to put on some music to keep me company. Journey's Greatest Hits is great for the road. Liz Phair's latest kept me cozy and warm. But, it was the Godspell soundtrack that kept me alive. I didn't realize I took it with me, but it was in a zippered compartment from another trip my bag had made. Track 14, "Beautiful City," would become my theme song for the week.
Out of the ruins and rubble.
Out of the smoke.
Out of our night of struggle
Can we see a ray of hope?
One pale, thin ray reaching for the day.

We can build a beautiful city.
Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
We can build a beautiful city.
Not a city of angels, but we can build a city of man.

We may not reach the ending
But we can start.
Slowly but truly mending
Brick by brick and heart by heart
Now, maybe now, we start learning how

We can build a beautiful city.
Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
We can build a beautiful city.
Not a city of angels, but we can build a city of man.

When your trust is all but shattered,
When your faith is all but killed,
You can give up bitter and battered
Or you can slowly start to build...

A Beautiful city.
Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
We can build a beautiful city.
Not a city of angels, but we can build a city of man.
That's exactly what God had sent us to do. To offer a ray of hope to the few people and families we could in the time we had. It says in Romans 5:3-5 that "we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

I, personally, only was able to help eight families in three days. That's how much work they needed us to do. That's how much God needed us to do. Enough to lay a few bricks down so a few families would be filled with the hope of the Lord. One small ray of hope that will shine ever so brightly thanks to God so the whole world can be inspired by the faith and strength the people of Gulfport have.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Satan works in funny ways, too

Our computer is currently dead. Hopefully, I can raise it from the dead tonight so I can continue the mission trip stories. Otherwise, I'll be continuing to use my cell phone or blogging from work, neither being a great option.

Clearly, Satan is doing everything he can to prevent my stories about God's work from getting out. He'll do everything he can to stop The Lord from getting glory. But, he won't stop me from spreading my message me God's glory and love. One way or another I will get my stories out so whoever reads them can learn of God's love and grace.

Thank you Darrin, Liz, and Sis for the very well-timed Bible verse text messages. Believe me, they all came at a time when I needed them most. We had just taken a lunch break when I started to get discouraged and was disappointed I hadn't received any Bible verse messages since we arrived. Once that thought was expressed to God, in the time it takes for someone to type a message, Liz texted me Romans 5:3-5. The timing was more than mere coincedence. Hope does not disappoint us...