Saturday, December 30, 2006

Death of Saddam


Ok, this is big news, and the photo appeared on the washington post dot com website. Here is their article.

I'm sure everyone has an opinion on this event. I'm sitting at a hotel right now, and I've seen footage of his last moments about 8 times in the last hour. (Actually, make that 9 times. While I was typing this it was shown again.) How many times do we need to see something like this? How often does it need to be recapitulated in our news. I realize that by putting this in a blog, I am probably doing the same thing.

What do you make of the way we report news? How do you feel about the death of Saddam? I'm really not sure what to make of the event myself. It's hard to know how to feel when someone dies you have only seen on television. How do I feel about the death of James Brown, or the death of Gerald Ford. I guess overall, I'm a little sad, because we were made eternal beings in the image of God, and when someone dies, I wonder--will they spend the rest of their eternal lives in the presence of the Creator of the universe, or will they be eternally separated.

And what about us? While we still have breath, are we contemplating the type of people we are becoming, and preparing for the kind of life that is eternally in the presence of God, or outside the presence of God?

I'm not articulating these thoughts well. It is difficult to process exactly what I am thinking right now. (especially now that the video has been shown a 10th time while I am still writing). I think I am going to prepare for a drive back from Terra Haute to Parkersburg.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Apple World



Apple World, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Apple has definitely come a long way. Wired Magazine had an article about how this is Steve Job's best year ever. You can read it here.

I'm looking forward to the new iphone. It's just a rumor right now, but I have a feeling it will be coming out soon, and my phone is in rough shape right now, so I think it will be a cool replacement.

Anyhoo, I thought this picture might make some people nostalgic for gradeschool or somethin'.

Photos and Technology


Here is yet another video from Royksopp. Actually when I went to amsterdam the first time I picked up a CD of European house/lounge music, and this song was on it, and quickly became one of my favorites. It was also the song Apple used when you turned on a Mac with the Panther OS. In other words, when I received my mac, and turned it on for the first time, it was not only visually pleasing, but also it was music to my ears.

So this video really intrigues me. I like the way the images end up being continuous layers of photos. (I think HP did a commercial with a similar concept).

After I was introduced to the other Royksopp video, I thought I would search to see if eple was on you tube, and since it was, I figured I would share it with ya.

I am amazed at the illusions we can create through technology. Just when you think you are seeing a "real" image, it fades into the background and becomes a photo on the wall.

You could think about the whole thing as an illusion, but the more I think about it, I think of it a little differently.

Photo's capture an image of a larger story. The video demonstrates that the image is only an image, but it is a part of something larger. As the camera moves in the video, we are taken into a story that is larger than the photo's although it is an unfamiliar story. When we look at our own photo's we are immersed in a story far larger than the moment captured, and in those instances, it seems like we are more cognizant of it.

Just some random thoughts to coincide with a cool video and tune.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blogging from Nowhere



Blogging from Nowhere, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
So, I took this picture of the Ceiling of the Egyptian theater in Los Angeles when I went to see the film Los Angeles Plays Itself with my Friend JR May.

What's new in my world? Well, my flickr account just said I need to upgrade to pro if I want to be able to see all of the photos I've uploaded.

I'm in the middle of nowhere in Missouri at a conference right now, and just wanted to take a minute to blog. The conference is great, and I finally found a wireless signal.

My pink eye has cleared up, and my GI tract has returned to a somewhat normal state finally.

And then, after everything else that happened to me, my camera died somewhere around Christmas. When I pulled it out to take some holiday photos, it wouldn't work.

So I have purchased a new camera, and it should arrive in Parkersburg by the time I make it back that way. I plan on spending new years with my family (including my best friend/brother--willie and his family). We are going to see Brett Cain on New Year's Eve.

Initially I was thinking it would be cool to have a bunch of people come join us, but given my mom's health situation, this probably wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had.

So those are some random things happening in my world. A little disconnected and random (especially with the picture).

If you would like to read more about my experience at the Egyptian, click here.

Hope to write more (and photograph more and become a flickr pro member) in the future.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

pink eye and quarantine



reflections in a pink eye, originally uploaded by I, Puzzled.
I didn't take this photo, but I can empathize with the dilemma of pink eye. I found out out that I have contracted pink eye, and right now I am in the process of treating this illness with an anti-biotic.

My internet access has been limited over the last few days, and so I haven't been able to write. Plus, I have felt like yuck!

Thursday I left Morgantown only to find out that I couldn't come to parkersburg for an additional 24 hours, or I would put my mom at risk exposing her to pink eye.

So I drove to Pittsburgh to do some Christmas shopping, and then I drove to wheeling to visit some friends, including Brett Cain. I would put a link to his website in this blog, but it is under development right now.

So I drove back to Morgantown Thursday night, and left Morgantown Friday afternoon. I did some Christmas shopping in Pittsburgh again (different mall), and then proceeded down the road to Parkersburg.

Along the way, I started to feel sick. I think I might have gotten food poisoning. I decided to stay at my sisters because of the sickness. And then I ended up getting a fever (which broke around 4AM Saturday morning).

Right now, I am still under a limited quarantine, but I am feeling better, and I am looking forward to seeing my mom and dad on Christmas day.

It's been a difficult couple of days, but compared to many, my problems are insignificant.

I've been trying to figure out what God was trying to do in the middle of all of this. I haven't been sick like this for six or seven years. I think maybe God was wanting me to spend some time with my sister and brother-in-law. In spite of my illness, we had a great couple of days together.

In spite of our circumstances, we can be faithful that God causes all things to work for the good.

And even though I have pink eye, at least I am not as hairy as the rabbit in the picture!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nothing simple is it?


My friend Jeremiah sent me a link to this video on youtube. It's by a European lounge band called Royksopp, and it is called "Remind Me". The whole video is oriented toward proecesses, and it is a good reminder that nothing is as simple as we think it is. When we see how complex our world is, it gives us a picture of how much more complex God is. He sustains it all. And there is so much happening every day in our world that we take for granted. Have you given much thought to how the water cycle works, and the distances water travels from your home to the rivers, and back again?

I marvel at the complexity that this video shows of our world. Even in the beginning, to think about how complex our bodies are--we take it for granted because everything in each one of these systems works well most of the time. Sometimes we need to take a step back like the song says and let the visuals "remind us".

Friday, December 15, 2006

Beautiful City



Beautiful City, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I was going to entitle this "City of Blinding Lights" after the U2 song, but then I realized . . .Morgantown isn't exactly a city of blinding lights.

But the sky the other night was beautiful. I went for a walk through my neighborhood with my friend Ryan Huffman (who just got engaged!!!) and we just took time to catch up.

As we walked out of my driveway, I saw this sight, and pulled out my camera to capture it.

This town amazes me. I remember when I was considering college, this wasn't exactly number one on my list. But I love this town. With views like this, who wouldn't.

If you have ever been to morgantown you know what I mean. What's your favorite view, or place to hang out round here?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Night Sky



Last night I drove out with some friends to my friend Jeremiah's house to watch a meteor shower. Ricky Beamer took the picture above (among many others) and posted them to facebook if you wanna see more of em. I tried to take some photos with my camera, but unfortunately I just couldn't get anything but darkness--no stars, nothing.

So a half dozen of us took some blankets, and laid down on a hill close to Jeremiah's house in Preston county. It was really relaxing to just spend some time like that. I realized that most of my life I have rarely taken time to lay on the ground and just look up at the sky for an extended period of time. The night sky is beautiful. The daytime sky is pretty cool too, but I just seem to get so busy in the comings and goings of life that I fail to really appreciate the beauty of looking upward.

Of course there are all kinds of spiritual implications to this. We need to not be so busy that we forget to look to God, and ideas like that are definitely true, and came to my mind last night.

But much of the evening I thought about two things. Firstly, I thought about how the heavens declare the glory of God. I thought about how vast the heavens are, and how much more vast Christ is, and how it would be easy to begin to explore the heavens and get distracted in the process, but how wonderful it is to explore the created order and see the fingerprints of God--everywhere.

The second thing I thought about was having undistracted times with people. I thought about my tribe's land, and how we would often stay up half the night talking about Jesus, and drumming and singing, and watching meteor showers on our little plot of land. We would share stories with one another, and as the weekend continued on, life would take on more and more of a simple beauty. I feel like last night touched on that simple beauty. There is something about connecting with others, connecting with creation, connecting with yourself, and most importantly connecting with God that happens most artfully as we leave most of our daily distractions behind.

I hope you are able to take some time to set aside the busy plodding of life to soak in the special moments with friends and family over the holidays. Maybe give the television a rest for a bit. Shut off your computer. Turn off your cell phone. And enjoy the simple beauty of a night with friends and family.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Chasing Darkness



Chasing Darkness, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, folks have been wondering how my mom is doing. While she is dealing with a cough and some shortness of breath, I have some wonderful news to share.

All of the cancer is gone except for the tumor in her right breast!!! She is starting a different chemotherapy plan Wednesday. I am totally thrilled. I don't have a lot of the details, and unfortunately I wasn't with her when she found out or there would be a picture of her crying tears of gratitude.

Just like the light chasing away the darkness, God is using your prayers to chase away the cancer in my mom's body!

Thank you for your prayers, and thank you God for chasing away the bad stuff that was trying to hurt my mom!

I am soooooo immensely grateful for the gracious mercy and love God has made evident in my life over the last month. What am I saying, ha! He has made his gracious mercy and love evident over my whole life. I guess we have those moments of lucidity though.

I hope to be more God aware for the rest of my days on this earth! And I hope I can encourage the same in you!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Woodburn Whiteout



Woodburn Whiteout, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this picture at about 1.30PM today. It looks like dusk is nearing because the snow is falling so heavily. That's woodburn hall in the background. You can tell it is daytime because the woodburn lights aren't on yet. Not sure why the light posts are on.

In-Flurry-Ated


I was walking down to campus this afternoon, and a storm blew up. I thought it would be cool to take a picture, and in the few seconds between that thought, and stopping to take this photo I was saturated with snow!

Not so long ago, it was sixty-five degrees. Maybe the cold weater and snow are finally here to stay.

The wind and snow were coming down similar to the rain I experienced last week. The snow hurt as it hit my face, and before I knew it my body was covered in white. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on whether you have to drive or commute in this), the snow has seriously slowed down since that gust.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

One Billion Bulbs



This morning I received an email from my best friend on the planet, Willie, about an environmental website that is encouraging people to switch from incandescent bulbs to lower wattage fluorescent bulbs. I've just recently started switching out my bulbs, and the idea behind it is to save money on the electric bill, decrease the amount of environmental waste done through normal lighting, and also reduce cooling costs for homes in the summer.

It's pretty amazing to look at what happens when you change one bulb out. I am in the process of placing some of these bulbs in my house. I am so excited about it that I created a group that you should join!!! I thought it would be cool to see what kind of impact we could have on the environment. If you look on this blog, I have added a link to the sidebar that will track the total impact this group is having, and the total amount of savings that just me and my friends who join the group are accruing.

I hope you will go out and buy some bulbs and consider joining my group!

Also, earlier this year, I had a post about discovering your ecological footprint. In other words, if everybody on the planet lived like you (or me), how many planets would we need to sustain everybody. Click here to find out what your ecological footprint is. I just did mine again this morning, and because of some changes I have made, it would now only take 2.8 earths to sustain the world if everybody lived like me. Only 2.8 earths!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Following Jesus


A friend of mine loaned me a book about five years ago that I am just getting around to reading. It's called Follow Me, and it has been a really interesting read so far. In the opening chapter, Jan David Hettinga, the author, proposes that many who profess belief in Jesus have never made a decision to really follow Him. Below is a quote of what he says a life like this might look like.

If I were to put myself inside the skin of a Christian who believes in Jesus but doesn’t follow Him—what would my life be like? What would I experience? I would:
Be Cynical about church and the possibility of the Christian life actually working.
Cover the fact that I was spiritually empty, dry, and unsatisfied.
Tend to be passive and apathetic. I would have good intentions but lack follow-through.
Be focused on myself—my needs, my rights, my options.
Prefer being a spectator—watching, listening, but not really participating.
Occasionally admit that I have a busy, fast-paced, cluttered life, and a short attention span.
Insist on arranging my life around my personal preferences, pleasures, and comforts.
Subdivide my life so that I could move from one sealed compartment to another, keeping each strictly separate—church world, work world, leisure world, family world, and so forth.
Go through the motions, doing what is expected, more out of habit than anything else.
Be spiritually sterile, barren, and nonproductive in witness, and not troubled about it.
Experience the frustration of trying to have the best of both worlds, attempting to serve two masters—Jesus and someone or something else.
Pride myself on my ability to be independent and self-sufficient.
Keep my options open and remain uncommitted in order to avoid getting tied down.
Have little or no sense of overriding spiritual purpose or cause, and prefer to drift.
Cover up a quiet desperation inside—“There’s gotta be more to the Christian life than this powerless state I’m experiencing.


After I read this, I couldn't help but feel like this could describe periods in the life of every person I know, including myself. It has been a good reminder to me of my need to take regular time to evaluate what I am centering my life upon.

As Dallas Willard is fond of noting, we are all students of someone. We are all learning how to live from someone, and following some teacher. The question we are compelled to ask ourselves is "Is our teacher Jesus, or somebody or something else?"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Temptation



Temptation, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I was walking to visit/study with some friends at a the Zen Clay Cafe in Morgantown when I saw these berries hanging from the limb of a tree.

These berries look so delicious. I just wanted to pick a cluster and start eating them. But, I have the feeling they are poisonous. They seem to be ripe a little out of season. It is december, and the tree these were hanging from has no leaves. In fact, no tree in the area has leaves. They are all barren. That just makes these berries stand out even more. They are just so tantalizing. I wonder what they taste like. Maybe just a little bite . . .

I think that's the way temptation works in our life. When we are walking along on a cold winter day, and we see a splash of color, something that we wouldn't pay much heed to at other times can be quite consuming. Temptation always looks good. It sets itself apart from everything around it. It makes itself look more satisfying than it could ever be. And before we know it, we are captivated by its allure.

How do you respond when temptation presents itself so delectably?

Tears of Joy



Tears of Joy, originally uploaded by tiffany_harned.
I was trying to find a photo that captured the pulchritude of salvation, and I found this image on flickr. The woman who took the picture said that she believed this flower was crying tears of joy after a rain storm.

A couple of months ago, I was contacted on my myspace account by this gal who had found my blog and had been reading it for a few months. She wanted to write me about what she had been reading, and thankfully I had recently set up a myspace acount.

I received an email from this gal on myspace, and in the email she shared how she had been an athiest/agnostic most of her life, but through reading this blog she felt inspired to find some way to dig herself out of what she had buried herself in over the past few years.

An email correspondence ensued. She came to check out our small faith gathering, h2o. She told me she couldn't just start believing something blindly, so I encouraged her to begin reading the Bible each day starting with the gospel of John. Last Thursday, she called me and told me she wanted to meet with me if I had any time available.

So we grabbed lunch at a restaurant in downtown Morgantown called Black Bear Burritos that was started by my high school senior class president. We enjoyed a great meal, and I proceeded to share with her how our satisfaction was meant to be found in God alone, but that we were all estranged from God because we have been seeking our satisfaction in other places. Thankfully, because God is immensely gracious toward us, He has allowed us to be reconciled to Him through Jesus the Messiah.

I asked Kristen if there was anything that would stop her from putting her trust in Jesus Christ to reconcile her to God and to lead her life. She said there wasn't, and so I asked her if she would like to pray with me and invite Him into her life. She said yes, and so right there in the middle of the restaurant, we prayed, and and cried tears of joy, just like the flower in the picture. Now Kristen is a Christian, and nothing can separate her from God's unfathomable love!

Isn't that wonderful news?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Summit



Summit, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Over the last week or so, I have been in some interesting dialogues with people about radical life dreams, goals, and things of that nature. On three different occasions, Mount Everest was brought up. I even watched the movie Into Thin Air about an Everest disaster while at my parents Thanksgiving weekend.

A couple of years ago, my dad and I hiked to the top of Seneca Rocks, and took this picture. The same summer, my brother hiked to the top of Mount Whitney, and is trying to persuade me to join him on a possible trip next summer.

What is it about these places that draw us to them? What makes us want to climb Everest? I recently saw this link on a friend's blog, and thought you might enjoy it too.

I believe there are several reasons. One reason is the challenge. Nobody, in their heart of hearts, is truly content with mediocrity. We enjoy pushing our bodies, our minds, and our spirits to their limits. In fact, truth be told, it is in those moments that we probably feel most alive. Maybe it is adrenaline, but I think there is something beyond that.

I believe we climb to these summits to experience God in His transcendence. When we look from Everest or another summit, we get a more robust understanding of the grandness of God. All of creation points us to the magnificent glory of God, if we just take the time to soak it in.

What are the summits you are seeking to experience more of God's supremacy in your life?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mom Around Thanksgiving



Mom Around Thanksgiving, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, I was able to spend time with much of my family. Unfortunately, my brother Chuck, his wife, and their son were not able to join us. But, my best friend on the planet (who is also a brother), Willie, was able to join us with his wife and Children for Thanksgiving. My sister and her husband were also there.

I didn't take many pictures during the time, but I definitely took time to appreciate all that was happening. I even cooked the turkey!!! Of course everybody was a little concerned because they had questions about my culinary abilities. Their concern turned to joy when they tasted that bird!!! It was delicious, and made for an extra blessing for everyone. (I guess I am not a bad chef).

Mom's had a bit of a tough time because her chemo testing has been delayed for the next couple of weeks while she waits to take a test and get results. Her spirits are up, and I think she really enjoyed having a full house for thanksgiving. Willie's children are like her grandchildren, and Sue is like a daughter to her too.

It was really cool just being able to have so many of us together to celebrate the holiday. Mom is as radiant as ever. It would have been great to have my brother Chuck and his family around too, but perhaps that will happen in the near future.

For all who have been praying, thanks for that gift of grace you have given us. My mom is doing great through everything, and it is your prayers that are making the difference!

I hope you also were able to savour the thanksgiving holiday amidst people you love deeply. Even if you didn't take photos, take time right now and savour that memory. What did you eat? What did people talk about? Who where you with? Were you thankful? Are you now?

Times with loved ones are precious--cherish them!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Illumination



Illumination, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
While traveling with my family last Fall, we came upon this beautiful valley in Letchworth State Park.

Teere was a huge rain storm that cleared up just as we entered into the 13 mile park that is called the Grand Canyon of the East. It was probably the high point of our vacation to Niagara Falls. (Ironic that Niagara wasn't the high point.)

Lately I have been thinking a lot about light. In this picture, look at how the sun seems to bring life into the upper right hand corner of the photo. This whole valley is filled with color but only the spot where light is shining is fully appreciated.

Last night, my friend cameron talked about advent at church. He talked about how Jesus is the logos and the light. Until we allow ourselves to be vulnerable under the light of Jesus, none of our beauty will fully be made manifest. And when we let that light emanate from us to others, we help them to see both the beauty and the ugliness that potentially lie in the darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Are you letting the light of Christ shine into you and bring out the beauty that He has built into you? And, are you allowing the streams of living water to emanate from you to bring light and healing to others?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kneeling in Study



Kneeling in Study, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Last night I walked in on my dad reading. He was kneeling at the foot of his bed, and reading the Bible. When I saw him like this, I couldn't help but be touched. This image speaks volumes for his reverence for God and his Word. It also speaks to me of humility. My dad is a strong man, and during moments like this I see a gentleness and tenderness that not many people see. At least not until this picture.

How do you approach the sacred text? Do you approach it in humility, or as though entering a chore?

I love my dad.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Father's Instruction



Father's Instruction, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
For as long as I can remember, my dad has been sharing insights with me and my siblings. He and my mom have shared a lot of wisdom over the years, and to my shame I have not always been a good listener.

I just started reading the book of Proverbs this weekend. The book starts out with a little exhortation. "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching," The book of proverbs is meant to be words of wisdom passed from fathers to children.

Often we ignore wise counsel when it is presented to us. Sometimes my parents have been wrong about things, but regardless, we do have book full of warnings and words of wisdom that equip us to fully enjoy life abundantly.

Shamefully, we miss out on the treasure of good counsel from our Creator. Shamefully, we often ignore the wisdom that many counselors bring us when making decisions. It doesn't have to be this way. At any moment, we can commence listening and following wise counsel, or we can stop.

What are you doing right now?

People of the Book



People of the Book, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
In the last couple of weeks, God has been revitalizing my passion for the sacred scriptures. As followers of Jesus, our life becomes shaped by the story of this text. This becomes our story, our history, and our connection with the past in a very unconventional way.

Christians have been called the People of the Book because of the centrality of this story to the shaping of our understanding of the world in which we live, move, and have our being.

I heard this quote recently about the scriptures that has really made me think about the place the Bible has in our lives.

"This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book."

So the question we might want to ask ourselves when we feel our passion for being shaped by this text start to wane is simple. What other thing has captivated our heart? What is enticing us away?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sunshine and Shadow



Sunshine and Shadow, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I fell asleep to a heavy rain last night, and woke up to more of the same. Then, at some point this afternoon the clouds broke, and the sun began shining. It feels like spring, but it looks like late autumn in Morgantown.

It's amazing how bright the sky is, and yet much of the landscape is dwelling in shadows. So much of our world is like this--it dwells in shadow, just waiting for light to illuminate it and either expose its ugliness or reveal its beauty.

Aren't our lives more of the same? We're like icebergs--only 10% exposed. We are in need of illumination as well. There is a beauty that lies dormant in each one of us, just waiting to be revealed. And yet, there are aspects of our lives that we enjoy keeping in the shadows for fear of being exposed. But those areas can only be dealt with when they are brought to light. Maybe if we spent a little more time in the light, we would have a much brighter world, because we would radiate beauty instead of hiding in shadow.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mom After a Long Day at the Cancer Center


Today was supposed to be mom's fifth dose. She was a little leery this morning that she wouldn't be able to get her chemotherapy. She's had a cough and shortness of breath for the last couple of weeks, and she was a little concerned about it.

So was the doctor. When she arrived, he brought her directly into his office, and had her get an x-ray to check for a possible blood clot in her lungs. The x-ray came up negative. He also did standard bloodwork, and my mom is pretty healthy. She is a little on the anemic side, but that is fairly common among American Indian people.

While the doctor was glad to see the negative x-ray, he wanted to be extra sure about things, so my mom had a CT scan of her chest. Again the results were negative--which was good. The doctor did notice some congestion in the lungs, so my mom is on a diuretic to try to get rid of the fluid.

The doctor also noticed what looked like a potential enlargement of her heart. (This is a possible side effects of one of the chemo drugs.)

Tomorrow morning she goes in for an echocardiogram. Friday she finds out the results, and so for the time being she is on hold for chemotherapy. Hopefully she will be able to get her dose Friday or Monday.

In the meantime, she has been tired, and a day of tests doesn't help that. But her disposition is as bright as ever. She is so filled with joy in the middle of it all, and peace and hope just radiate from her beautiful countenance.

to quote Stevie Wonder, "Isn't she lovely?" (By the way, I have been singing that to her all day.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Famiy Fun



Famiy Fun, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this shot two or three weeks ago while walking with my dad, brother-in-law, and sister in Parkersburg. There is this place called fort boreman park that we started going to this summer. I can't help but think that people have been going to this place for a long time. It has a great view of the Ohio River ande Blennerhassett Island. My dad and I go there almost every time I make it home now.

I like this picture because it reminds of me of simple good things like family and good stories. Things we tend to take for granted in a world that is constantly telling us that we need more things to be happy.

I haven't been able to blog much this week because of limited internet access, but I've had so much to think about, write about, and reflect upon. I've been on the road for about 1500 miles this week, and it seems like I have had a lot of time to reflect, pray, and enjoy solitude and silence.

I think many times our world and life is so fast paced that we rarely take time to enjoy what is happening around us. We rarely find ourselves in a place to reflect. It's a bit ironic, but it seems like it's largely when my life is travelling at 65-70mph that it feels like things slow down a bit for me.

How do you slow down to enjoy life and laughter in a fast-paced world?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sunset on Lake Erie



Sunset on Lake Erie, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this picture last fall in the Canandian village Niagara on the Lake. I just love the way the sun is setting along the shoreline of Lake Erie.

I've been close to lake Erie for most of the last 24 hours. Not close enough to see it, but close enough to feel it. I don't know if that quite makes sense, but it is like I could sense something larger than me very close to me, but I couldn't quite directly see see it. I even drove by an exit ramp that leads to a bridge to Canada.

I think that's the way it can be for us with God sometimes too. Most of us have a vague sense that God is somewhere out there, but we can't quite figure it out. The apostle Paul tells us that we might feel our way to God and find Him if we only seek Him, because He is not far from us. It's a pretty wild thought really.

It's like God is withholding Himself just waiting for us to seek. As we seek He reveals. It's not a matter of earning some privilege, It's almost like He opens our eyes to see and experience as we yield ourselves to Him.

So, if you aren't experiencing God beyond just a vague sense that He is there, perhaps He wants you to spend some time seeking His face. According to Isiaiah the prophet, God longs to be gracious to you, and He reserves a special blessing for those who long for Him. Take some time to seek God and freshly experience His grace and mercy. It's more beautiful, refreshing, and enjoyable than a sunset on Lake Erie.

Plans, Car Wrecks, God, and Character Development



So yesterday, I left super early to get to a conference. I left with plenty of time to spare so I could relax and maybe enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal in Toledo or Detroit (I've never been to either town, so I thought it might make for a refreshing break from my driving. Well God had something different in store. In fact, instead of a relaxing journey, I was stuck in traffic for between two and three hours a few miles north of the Ohio border in Michigan. Before the traffic jam, I was taken on a detour that added an extra 30 minutes to my trip. And then, when I finally made it to my final destination, it appears that I went to the wrong location, and so I spent an extra 30 minutes trying to contact someone to get directions to the location of the conference. My map directions took me to a location about half a mile away from the event, and so I had to call people and back track. I was tired, hungry, and frustrated by the time I arrived, which was actually the perfectly place for me to be. Why was this perfect? Because it served as a reminder to me of what a selfish, impatient, prideful, easily irritated, and wicked person I am when I choose not to keep Christ as the center of my life. I will gravitate toward selfishness everytime.

The reason why I was in a traffic jam was because of acollision resulting in fatality that happened early Monday morning on I-75. No matter how early or late I would have left, I would have been stuck in traffic with thousands of other people. Somebody lost his life in that accident, and that's a reality we seldom consider when we are stuck in traffic. Usually we are centered on the inconvenience it causes us. Yesterday, for some reason I was very aware of the severity of the accident, and my heart definitely goes out to the families of all those who were involved. I mean, what did I really lose in the accident--a little time. And yet, when I think about it, most of us are so selfish that we aren't even concerned about the severity of things going on around us. One man lost his life, but the rest of us only lost a little time, and even that time could be constructive. Maybe we need to learn to slow down and not be in a rush (but that's another thought for another blog).

By the time I had arrived in this traffic jam, cleanup of the accident was well underway. It involved three semis, so it took about 12 hours total. I gave some time to reflect on what might be going on up the road, but for the most part I was in my own little world.

It's funny how quickly things we enjoy can become idols or distractions. I had been listening to my Brett Cain and Keane CDs earlier on the drive, and thoroughly enjoying them for the good music that they were. When I was stuck in traffic, I got bored. I wanted to pull out my cell phone, but I don't have service in Michigan. I wanted to listen to music, but I found that the music wasn't as satisfying as it had been earlier. I wanted to get out of the car, but I was already getting a little light headed from all of the exhaust fumes I was breathing in on the interstate. I even wanted to start memorizing scripture (that's godly--right?), but I couldn't focus on anything. In the middle of all of that attempted distraction, God met me, and confronted me about my character, and my willingness to run to distractions instead of running to the loving arms of Jesus.

Why are we like this? I don't think I am alone in this struggle against distractions. I couldn't help but thank God in the middle of my frustration because His grace is sufficent for me to stand in the middle of trying circumstances. In the middle of this explosion, and this traffic jam, God was willing to bear with me, and work on my character. As much as I wanted to have some relax time, God wanted me to be confronted with my proneness to wander. What do you run to be distracted? What beautiful thing do you allow to become an idol? How do we recognize these things when they come on our radar?

Just a few thoughts from a long and character developing day on the road.

16 oz of delicious goodness



tea-w-legs, originally uploaded by Elan Photography.
Ok, I normally wouldn't blog about something like this, but it is soooooo good. I'm currently in Ann Arbor Michigan at a conference. But, on my way to the conference I stopped at a Starbucks in Canonsburg, PA for a little java for the journey.

So I asked them the big question--are they serving chai eggnog lattes yet? The answer was YES!!! This is like my all-time favorite seasonal coffee drink. Literally it just tasted soooo good when it hit my lips.

It tasted so good that I had to call someone. So I called my mom, just to tell her how good this drink tasted. I was in pure ecstasy with one drink. I highly recommend this drink if you get the opportunity to partake of it.

And while I am on the subject of delicious drinks. Is there anything that you have ever eaten or drunk that has taken your tastebuds into a virtual party? As I slowly sipped this drink (you don't want to drink it too fast--it's hot, and plus you want to savor the flavor), I thought to myself, I bet there are lots of chai eggnog lattes to be drunk in heaven. I can only hope.

But now we see in a glass dimly. So that means that whatever we enjoy in the present, things are going to be even better when the Kingdom is fully realized. I'm looking forward to it for sure, but in the meantime, I've got two months to enjoy these chai eggnog lattes!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Picture of Jesus



Picture of Jesus, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I'm not sure how much accessibility I will have for blogging this week. I am leaving in the morning for two conferences in Michigan.

But, before I left, I figured I would take time to write a little something. Tonight at h2o, we had an artist by the name of Seth Hill come in and paint this picture. It started as just a rough sketch that looked like a landscape of some sort. And gradually it became a picture of Jesus.

It makes me think of the Ben Harper song of the same title. We all long to be a picture of Jesus. In fact, that is our calling. We are to become like Jesus, and be an image of what our life would be like if Jesus were to live it.

In all honesty we are a lot like Seth's picture. Initially there is not a lot of form to us. We are in disarray. Our lives are a mess. But as Jesus gets hold of our hearts, slowly we are changed. We move from being a mess to being more like Him.

Are you becoming more like Jesus? On top of being God in the flesh, Jesus is the perfect example of what a human life can be like. If you think about your life right now, and project five years down the road you won't be the same person you are today. You'll either be becoming more fully human (like Jesus), or more fully inhuman. So which are you going to be? I hope that I am becoming more fully human with each day.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

West Virginia Huffman and Me


Last night, my friend cameron had a costume/birthday party at his house. It was a lot of fun, and there were plenty of meatball sandwiches for everyone (it's a cameron king birthday party tradition!)

Nothing really deep to say here. Just me and my good buddy ryan posing for the popparazzi.

Birthdays are great days to celebrate though. God says that he knew us when we were in our mother's womb. But nobody else really had a chance to meet us until we were born. Take time to celebrate the people God has brought into your world today. What a gift that he has given each of us.

I have been thinking about the wonderful people I've become friends with over the years. It is the providence of God that people come into our life. He appoints the times and locations where we will live (Acts 17.26). God, in His providence has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people from virtually every corner of the globe.

Have you ever taken the time to consider the divine appointments God has brought into your life? There aren't chance meetings--it's God's providence that determines where we will be, and who we will meet there. Think about that--what a wonderful Creator to do something so amazing!
WVU Basketball Recruiting

I just saw this video on youtube, and well, I think every person in the state fell in love with this team. The video is a little bit long, but I'm sure it will bring to mind some great memories of the 2004-05 season. Let's go Mountaineers--basketball season is just around the corner!!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Black-Eyed Susan



Black-Eyed Susan, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this picture a few weeks ago while my family was visiting the new river gorge. We were having a deluxe meal (subway--eat fresh), and my brother and I wandered into a flower garden to take some photos of some late blooming plants. My right big toe is also making a cameo appearance in the lower right corner.

It's kind of refreshing to look at this picture as the clouds have gatherd over Morgantown this evening. I was reading a passage in Isaiah 40 that says the grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of the LORD endures forever.

I went for a run yesterday, and today I am feeling a little tired. The same passage says that those who wait on the LORD will run and not grow weary. It's amazing when you think about it. If we run hard, the natural consequence of running is that we become tired. I had taken some time off from running, so my body was out of condition.

Just imagine what it is like when we are spiritually out of condition. We forget how to wait. We forget how to be patient. We forget how to love. And we grow spiritually tired much like a runner out of condition grows physically tired.

How do you remain spiritually fit? How do you practice patience? Take some time and enjoy the flowers before they are gone for a season, but remember that although the flower fades, we can experience the beauty of our Creator at any time.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Brett Cain



Brett Cain, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Last Friday night, I went to the wheel house in Parkersburg with my best friend Willie. One of his old friends, Brett Cain had returned from the west coast and was performing in Parkersburg.

Willie had told me that this guy was really talented, and joy filled, and that when he first heard Brett, he knew he would make it as a musician.
Willie also said that listening to brett, and watching him perform just left him feeling joy. Brett was able to bring joy and fill a room with his music.

I went to the concert with Willie, and I was blown away. Brett was extremely talented and joy filled. I was blown away by His music.

And I found out that Brett will be on television in January on the show America's Got Talent. He's a Weirton, West Virginia native, so of course I feel compelled to support him. His music is on myspace, if you want to give it a listen.

One of the songs on his album really hit me. It's called "Find Time".

The chorus goes . . .

Find time
To make time
Cheating yourself is your biggest crime
Step into your spotlight
Cuz it aint gonna make you
You've gotta make time

Do you need to take some time to rest and be refreshed? Make sure you find the time.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Watkins Glen



Watkins Glen, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I love autumn. Actually there are aspects of every season that I enjoy. Last fall I had the privilege of travelling to Niagara with my parents. I really enjoy trips like this because I drive and they can relax and have a vacation. It's like paying them back for all of the years I whined about going to the bathroom, or I kept crying out at five minute intervals, "How much further?"

So we travelled to western New York upon returning from Niagara. We toured around a couple of the finger lakes, and during that venture we stopped in this place called Watkins Glen. I don't know anything really about how the park came about, but my dad and I hiked up Watkins Glen, and saw 13 waterfalls trickling through this glen.

It's nice to spend time with family, and close friends. More than the places we saw, my memories go back to the people I enjoyed the place with, my mom and dad.

I'm in parkersburg with them right now. it's about a year later, but here we are enjoying one another's company.

Make sure as you walk through life you take time to enjoy the company and share the experiences. My mom couldn't journey up watkins glen with me and my dad because she wasn't able to walk it. But we were able to bring her images. These images were beautiful, but not as beautiful as time shared. Are you neglecting people to chase images? Call time out, and enjoy community and make memories with the people around you. Chase the images together, and make history, one memory at a time.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mom After Dose #4



Mom during dosing, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, Mom has gone through over half of her chemotherapy and she is doing GREAT!!! The dosing takes a long time, but yesterday I believe was a record, and she was able to leave the cancer center before 4PM. That never happens. She was done with everything in around 6 hours, and, although it was a long day, we are all getting a little more accustomed to the longevity of it. Mind you, it is not the kind of thing anyone ever wants to get comfortable with, but we are all going through it together.

When I took this picture, Mom was knitting two washcloths at the same time. My mom and dad are both skilled artisans. Dad can build unlike anybody I have ever seen, and Mom can make some really beautiful crochetwork, quilts and knitting. These two can do pretty much anything (kind of wonder sometimes what latent skill I might have!).

Even though it has been a really hard time for all of us, we are getting through this trial together. If anything, we are growing in our love for one another, and in our trust in the love and mercy of King Jesus.

Isn't Mom beautiful! I'm so proud of her, and she is overcoming!!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

distorted beauty

My friend Noel shared this on his blog, and I thought I would do the same. It's pretty provocative. I have a number of friends who have nearly killed themselves trying to be "beautiful". The video brings out the reality of how the media and advertising we are saturated with can distort our perceptions of what is real and true. I'm hurt deeply when I think of the disservice done by popular media to all people, but especially women. I get tears just thinking about my friends, and those who I may know as friends but who may be hiding eating disorders or other addictions while they get all of this body image distortion stuff shoved in their faces.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Prince of Shalom



Looking Horse, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Last night and this afternoon, I had the distinct privilege of being in the presence of some very wonderful spiritual people. Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Lakota White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and Paula Horne Mullen, coordinator of the Wolakota Foundation, were present and speaking in Morgantown on the campus of WVU. They came to the university as part of the Helen Coast Hayes Peace Lecture Series at WVU.

Chief Looking Horse worked to found World Peace and Prayer Day that happens on June 21st each year. As these two people shared their hearts with a number of students, faculty, and community people, I was deeply touched by their sincerity. They are genuinely compassionate and caring people. Ms. Mullen shared a wrap with me at a luncheon that was held in their honor at the university after they had led out a Peace Tree Ceremony on campus.

I was deeply touched by the words and hearts of these wonderful people. Chief Looking Horse was leaving Morgantown to receive the Temple of Understanding award from the United Nations tomorrow night. He will be the first First Nations individual to receive this award and it is an extremely high honor.

As I think about the subject of peace though I am troubled. You see, I know a number of people who come from a variety of faiths and backgrounds who are interested in the subject of peace. I think it is a very important subject. As I was saying to a Jewish friend of mine last night, "It is very difficult indeed to live and work for shalom."

Honestly, I think part of the difficulty is the fact that there are so many perceptions of how it is brought about. And that's really troubling to me. You see, I know that a part of our nature is selfish, and self centered, and as much as we all desire peace, we have this inner conflict between our own selfishness and that desire.

It's interesting because around the world there are myriad beliefs about things like this. And I think about the sincerity of so many people, and yet, I also know that according to ancient prophecy, shalom can never be obtained without Meshiach. Jesus, the one who was pierced, and resurrected, is called the prince of peace, or the prince of shalom.

It seems like if we want to see any lasting peace, at some point it is going to be necessary to begin to trust the Prince of Shalom. And if we want our world, and our neighbors to experience peace, we need to point them to the Prince of Shalom.

I know that this is an uncomfortable subject for many. There have been so many horrible atrocities committed by every tongue and tribe and nation in the name of shalom. And yet, inside our hearts, we know that if shalom will ever come about it will take someone who is capable of living a different life than the one each one of us lives.

I hope that more and more people have an opportunity to experience the Shalom of God, and that our world is transformed, but I believe that the only true hope for our world exists in the crucified and resurrected Messiah, Jesus.

And that's why I have committed my life to sharing His message of shalom to our world. As we trust Him, we are restored to right relationship with the creator, the creation, other humans, and our ownselves. We learn to speak and live in love as we trust the way of King Jesus.

It's strange. In our modern world we are afraid of offending others with spirituality. At the same time, if Jesus is really the true King of all peoples, then by all means we need to let others know that the road to peace runs through Jesus. But we need to remember the words of another Jewish man by the name of Saul who said that we are to be "speaking the truth in love so that we may grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ." When we learn to speak truth in love, we become like the Prince of Peace, Jesus. And then we become amazing instruments for peace in His great universe.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sacred Text



Sacred Text, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Recently I had a conversation with a friend who asked me about how to read the Bible. they asked me if it should be taken literally and if it was fiction or non-fiction among other things. As I answered the questions, I reflected back to the Gideon Bible I received early last week. Inside these little new testaments is the following quote. I think it is a beautiful quote.

"The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents." [Found inside a Gideon's New Testament]

How would you describe this text if you were asked?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sunset from Highland



Sunset from Highland, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Although I am rarely around to enjoy it, I have one of the best views in Morgantown when it comes to sunsets.

I started reading Hebrews last saturday. Ironically, I started reading the last chapter. There was so much good stuff in it that I hadn't noticed before that I decided that maybe I should read the whole book.

In particular, this verse stuck out to me the other day. "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." Hebrews 13.16 (ESV)

Well, I have this view, and I think that by sharing a picture of this view, I am making a tiny sacrifice of time and energy, but I think God wants more than that. I think God wants our hearts wrapped up in all He is, and when that happens, we won't be able to neglect doing good.

Right now I feel like there is a constant tug in many directions to do many good things, it is just a matter of balancing out what is best to do at any given moment.

There is so much goodness that the world needs to see, and so often I feel like I am leaving my sunsets under a basket instead of out for the world to see.

What are you neglecting to share or do that's causing your light of your life to be hidden?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stored in the Heart



Gutenberg Bible, originally uploaded by nastiki.
Last night, I was doing some reading and study and I came across this really cool article written by John Piper.

I can think back to various times in my life when I made scripture memorization a priority. My life and my passion for God were radically impacted from engaging in this spiritual discipline. It is amazing how easily we can get distracted from habits like these that have such profound potential to transform our lives and hearts to be more in sync with God.

To summarize Piper's article, he lists the following reasons for memorization, but I really suggest that you go ahead and read the whole thing. I hope this article stirs your heart for God the way it has mine.

1) Conformity to Christ
2) Daily Triumph over Sin
3) Daily Triumph over Satan
4) Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
5) Communication of the Gospel to Unbelievers
6) Communion with God in the Enjoyment of Person and Ways

He also tells us that there are other reasons for memorizing scripture, and he suggests that we find them through actual practice.

Do you make scripture memorization a regular practice? If you have, how have you benefitted from it? If you haven't, maybe today would be a good day to start.

If you are looking for additional reasons, maybe take some time to reflect on Psalm 119. Here is just one verse, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word."

I hope you can allow the sacred text to transform your heart today and every day!

Monday, October 09, 2006

living water



Water clarity, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
The picture has little to do with this blog, I guess it is just a reminder of how a crystal clear image gets distorted so easily.

Earlier today a guy walked into our cafe. He had been here a couple of times before. He entered with a lit cigarette, and so I had to let him know that there was no smoking inside the establishment. He went outside and finished his cigarette.

He came back in, and he asked the question he has asked on two other occasions, "What is this place?"

The first time he asked that question, he asked for my friend Eric's shirt.

The second time he asked that question, he tried to steal money from the cafe. When he was caught, he begged my friend Aaron not to turn him in. He said he was down on his luck, and that he was a vietnam vet. I'm not sure how either of those statements justified trying to walk out with money.

Today, I caught him stealing again. I let him leave through the side door. And then I followed him out. He had dropped some change in our cash box, and poured himself a cup of coffee. I asked him how the coffee tasted. And then I asked him if he took any money. He assured me he didn't.

I gestured to his hand. I asked him where that came from. He told me it was just a dollar. I asked him if he took it from us. He told me that he did and that he was sorry. Again, he begged me not to turn him in, that he was down on his luck. I told him that we weren't going to turn him in but I reminded him that this was the second time he had stolen from us. I also reminded him of how someone had given him their shirt. And then I asked him why he stole from us. I asked him this same question repeatedly actually.

He told me the bank was closed, and he really needed the dollar. Then he told me he didn't know why he did it. Then he told me had been drinking, and didn't know why he took the dollar. Then he told me he needed the dollar to make a phone call to his AA sponsor. Then he told me that he had lost a lot of money gambling and that he really needed this dollar. Then he told me that he needed to use the dollar to make some phone calls as a result of his gambling. All the while he grew more and more angry with me.

Then he started screaming that Jesus Christ had forgiven him and asked me if I could forgive him. I told him that I had forgiven him, but that I still wanted to know why he stole the dollar.

He said he was sixty years old, and he started to ask me how old I was. Before I could answer, he told me he was a vet. Then he tried to make me feel bad by asking if I had served in viet nam. Then he said I probably wasn't a vet at all. I agreed with him.

Then I asked him why he lied to me about the money and why he took it.

He kept saying that he was going to walk away from me, but for some reason he couldn't. It was very strange. I think he really wanted to be honest, but he had spent so much time lying to people he couldn't do it.

As frustrated as I was by the cleptomania he has demonstrated, I was more broken by the fact that this guy had become so distorted by lies, he found himself incapable of telling the truth to me about why he stole from us twice.

It's really sad to think that we are all walking around believing lies about ourselves, and about other people. It's really sad to think that people don't feel safe around each other. It's really sad the lies we seem to be satisfied believing.

Ravi Zacharias once stated, "To be handcuffed by a lie is the worst of all imprisonments." I would have to agree.

Placed in This Hand by the Gideons


The gideons were on campus today. In all of the years I have been at WVU, I have never run into them and received a Bible from them. (I guess I just skipped too much class).

Isn't it amazing that they took the time to give people this free gift. I wonder how often people stop and read these little scriptures. I wonder how many lives have been transformed by this small gesture?

How many of these testaments have been passed on to people who really need them?

How many do you have on your shelf that you need to pass on to someone?

"In it lies the key to salvation."--Shawshank Redemption

Signs



Signs, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Yesterday, I had lunch with my old friend John Hancox and his family. It was really cool to catch up on all of the things going on in our lives, and to just share in some laughter with one another.

After lunch, I noticed his 15 month old son started crying. John and Melissa explained to me that he is not accustomed to going without sleep for so long. He usually has a nap at 10 AM, and a second nap at 2PM. He didn't get those naps in and he was a little irritated.

He understood his body was trying to tell him something about rest. We need rest, but we don't take it. Our body cries out to us that we need rest, but we ignore its pleas. This weekend, I went rafting with some friends, and we were all tired. Unlike my friends, I refused to listen to my body. They took naps. I stayed awake. I thought we could all watch a movie and hang out. They thought we could all go to our respective homes and get showers and go to bed. They were listening to their bodies, but I was not.

As they left my house, I walked up my stairs, and I realized, "Hey, maybe they were thinking a little more clearly than me--I'm tired--I should get some sleep." So I stayed up for another three hours before my heart, mind, and body could finally agree to slip away into slumber.

When we live in a culture that values efficiency and productivity, it is hard to listen to our bodies. Sometimes it is good to ignore our bodies when we have a penchant for laziness, but I feel like I often miss the warning signs.

I need to be more like John's son. Because when I don't listen to my body, and I try to do more than I should, I end up being irritable and cranky and frustrated easily. I also find that when I push myself beyond these limits it becomes very challenging to continue walking in the Spirit. Sometimes that challenge can be good and faith stretching, but other times, it is just an important reminder that we need balance.

Although, I find myself able to handle more than most people, I still need to realize my limits.

I need to look at the signs that come up in my life, and not just the physiological ones. Kind of like this picture. Here is a man offering people free bibles. He's standing in front of a stop sign. Maybe this picture is meant to remind me (and you) that no matter how busy our life gets, we need to have space for certain things. Maybe we need to just stop for a bit, and spend some time allowing the Sacred Text to shape our lives.

Maybe we just need to stop, and take an interesting picture like this one.

Maybe we just need to stop, look, and listen to what God is trying to tell us through a variety of sources.

What do you need to do right now?

Snake in a tree



Snake in a tree, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
You've heard all about snakes on a plane, but yesterday, I saw a snake in a tree.

It was a bit of a strange afternoon. I was chilling out on this rock in the middle of cooper's rock, and I was surrounded by ladybugs. There must have been thousands of them. I'm sitting there on this rock praying, and ladybugs are just surrounding me. It was really cool, but a little on the annoying side eventually. When the novelty wore off, I still had ladybugs in my hair, on my clothes, and on my face.

And then, I saw this snake, lying in a tree, just a few feet from me. I started thinking about the Garden, and how beautiful everything was. This poor snake was probably just trying to stay warm, but I saw it as a symbol. And yet, the snake didn't try to bother me. He just chilled out on a branch just a few feet away from me.

Maybe that was what it was like in the garden too. Maybe the snake just hung out and became familiar with Adam and Eve. Maybe he was such a regular part of the landscape that they never expected what came from him.

At first I was alarmed when I saw the snake, but then I was finally able to relax. He became a familiar part of the landscape just like the rock and the trees and the ladybugs.

It's ironic isn't it. We go through these cycles of awareness and lethargy, alertness, and complacency. Complacency and comfort seem to call more loudly to us than any sense of deep awareness. As I fight fatigue today, I am finding it very difficult to stay focused and not just want to relax. But I know we are called to be sober minded and watchful because we have an enemy who is looking to devour us.
How do you keep alert when fatigue and the familiar call you to complacency in your life and your faith?

Submerged



Nearly Drowning, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
So, this weekend I floated down the Upper Gauley River. This river is rated as the most intense whitewater on the East Coast, and the second most exhilarating in the United States.

A group of four of us went down the river, and we didn't lose a single person from our raft.

But in this picture, I am the guy toward the back of the raft that has water pouring over. You will notice that the entire back side of the raft was submerged. I am just to the left of the guy in yellow.

While we didn't lose a single person, we definitely got wet. There were some intense moments, and we saw other people/groups take spills.

Although it seemed like a relatively safe and uneventful trip, I am still somewhat tired from the whole thing. I never thought a boat ride would take so much energy out of me. I just feel kind of beat up, like I ran a long race, but it really didn't feel like I expended that much energy.

But, maybe that's what happens when you get submerged a few times--even if you don't get flung out of your raft.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Humble Beginnings



Humble Beginnings, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Two weeks ago, I went for a drive through the southern part of West Virginia with my mom, dad, brother, and sister. Among our stops, my parents wanted us to see some cool scenic spots that they love to visit. One of these stops was the source of the Gauley River just below the Summersville Dam. It was interesting because that particular weekend was "Gauley Fest" and people had come from all over the country to celebrate this intense whitewater river. The Gauley River is a National Recreation area. You can read more about that here.

Well, as I looked at this river, I started thinking about a rafting trip that was in the works for a future weekend. I looked at this river right where it all started. It was like I was being given an opportunity to survey the situation before the journey down the river began. I read some of the materials available at the restroom/changing area here at the park. I've never seen a river with such intense warnings and tips for would be river riders. And yet, in this picture, well, the Gauley, she looks benign and friendly.

I love this picture. The calmness before the rapids begins. The mist rising up over the hills. The gradual disappearance of the watery path as it winds through the gorge. It is both nerve-wracking and exciting to plunge into the unknown isn't it?

I don't know what this river trip has in store for our raft's crew, but I think it is going to be a pretty amazing time. This is world class whitewater. And yet, this picture looks so calm and soothing.

This will probably be my last blog for the weekend--no sense in taking a computer down world-class whitewater. Some might think to themselves, "No sense in taking ,yourself down world-class whitewater either." But where's the fun in staying on the shore? Sometimes you've gotta get in the water, right?

What challenges are taking place around you where maybe God is calling you to take a dip in the water and explore the unknown? Will you stay on the shore, or will you enter the adventure with Him? Who knows what will come up around the bend in the river? What we do know is that no matter what God is with us in every rapid, every falls, and every inch of the way!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lightning show



Lightning show, originally uploaded by copeg.
Unfortunately, this picture isn't mine. I couldn't get my camera set up in time for the light show we saw last night from my deck. Morgantown had a huge lightning and thunderstorm. It's been a while since I've felt the power of a storm like that. It was like medicine for my soul. If I didn't have a bunch of people over for a little faith community gathering, I think I could have sat outside in the storm until my clothing was completely saturated by the downpour, the display of power, and by the intense winds that seemed to direct the storm.

I've always been drawn to storms. The ones that give the awesome light displays, not the metaphorical ones that take place in our lives. I've never had a fear of the storms of nature. Ironically it is the metaphorical ones that can cause my faith to shake. Just like the disciples, I feel like I need Jesus to calm the storm, and just like the disciples, I often hear Him say "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"

How do you weather the storms--the physical ones and the metaphorical ones? Do you take time out to enjoy the light display, and feel the power of it all? Do you keep in mind that there is a greater power at work within you to accomplish great purposes in the world?

That, is a beautiful thing indeed!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sunrise



Sunrise, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
From the Rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! (Psalm 113.3 ESV)

This morning as I was driving back from Parkersburg, I saw this beautiful sunrise. God gives constant reminders of His goodness, but often we are too busy, too pre-occupied, and/or too distracted to see it.

God put this scene right in front of me as I drove to Morgantown this morning. I love it when God illuminates the clouds with sunshine. I love it when He illuminates my life with His love.

What a gift, to see something like this as I was driving away from home this morning, I hope you enjoy it as well.

I love the mist in the mountains, the sun and the clouds, and the assurance that comes through an image like this that everything is gonna be alright!