Thursday, June 30, 2005

Back on the Court

Yup! Plantar Fasciitis didn't stop me tonight. But I did stink up the court pretty bad. Made a few friends in the process though. A couple of the guys I played against were deaf, and wow were they good ballers. It was fun to run a little bit, but I am really out of shape. Soooo humid down here. Five minutes after we started playing, you could wring the sweat from my West Virginia jersey (of course I had to represent!!!). Now I am really dehydrated. I am completely wiped. Thankfully I have two days to recover. I just hope I am good to go for surfing this week--I am jones'n to hit the surf for some fun longboard waves.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mariah Keigley

You may be asking yourself who is this person? I would have responded the same way an hour ago. Mariah Keigley is a 14 year old girl who was recently murdered in the hills of West Virginia. After searching for a couple of days, her body was found in her home in Miletus. The story was covered in local news. I just read a second follow-up story that is even more disturbing.

I have had a hard time containing the tears since hearing this story and reading these articles. Mariah's story isn't the only one of it's type. Mariah's story is a reminder though. How often do we turn a blind eye toward injustice? What are we doing to prevent these things from happening?

I'm praying for God to help us be active in participation in His healing of the world. I'm praying that Mariah didn't die to make a headline for a day or two after her death. I'm praying that God would stir us to be awake.

I am really without words over what my friend shared with me about Mariah's story...

Recent Movies

The last couple of nights I have gone to see movies with some of the LT'ers here in Orlando. I saw batman begins Sunday night, and thought it was great. There was a powerful theme of combatting injustice, and that seems to be a theme I've been thinking about more and more lately.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

This theme of injustice was repeated in last night's film--The Longest Yard. It's a comedy featuring Adam Sandler. While I appreciated the theme of fighting injustice, I did not appreciate much of the humor (don't get me wrong there were moments). It seems like humor in films is moving more and more toward the crass, the coarse, and the filthy. Maybe it has always been this way, and I just never noticed, but I found myself a little disappointed in the film none-the-less.

With injustice being a common one in the films of the summer, what are some ways we might be able to jump into this aspect of God's story and be obedient to the verse in Micah in the place where we live?

Dance Dance Revolution

Last night I took the plunge and joined with a bunch of staff in Orlando for a little DDR competition. I am terrible. I don't know if you have ever played it, but it definitely has a brutal honesty to the game. Each time one of us would step wrongly, or time things a little off, the game would begin to boo us. (this happened too often for this Indian, so my game ended fairly quickly.) Instead of seeing the words Game Over, when too many mistakes were made, the word FAILED would show up boldly on the screen. I am still recovering!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Busy week

This last week has been very hectic, but fun. I officiated my first wedding on saturday, and drove to Orlando from Morgantown Saturday night. Sunday, when I arrived, I took my friend Cameron to a job training close to the orlando airport. I sprinted back to participate in a discussion with students about moral purity. The rest of the week was a whirlwind of special projects and an intense time of personal development.

I started to feel a bit of the "summer's almost over, what have I accomplished" stress. But I am getting through it. Took a trip last weekend to South Florida and visited/made a number of friends.

Yesterday, I shared with our project a little of the difficulty we experience in attempting to remain "unstained by the world".

This week looks to be better, and I look forward to getting back in the flow.

1st marriage

Saturday, june 18th, 2005. Brett and Amanda Jo Huffman were joined in holy matrimony. I officiated--can you believe it? From all that I heard, I even did a good job. It was a fun day for all of us, and I was definitely privileged to be able to be part of their special day. There is something wonderful about sharing in a day like this with friends like these two. It will be a day remembered for all of my life.

Wow, I love those two!

Cheat lake

Cheat lake, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
It was so nice meeting Brett and AJ's friends and family at the rehearsal dinner the night before their wedding. It was also nice to do so with a view like this.

I love seeing the hills and being enveloped by them. You don't see sights like this in Florida, but it does have its own beauty.

I still love West Virginia, My Home.

Summer Reunions

Whitney, Billy, Brittany, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
While I was in Morgantown, I had the privilege of getting together with a number of friends at my house. I also had a great opportunity to put the ultra-pod (min-tripod) my brother bought me to use to take this picture on my deck with my friends Whitney and Brittany.

I am really excited to see the new faces God is bringing into our community in Morgantown, and I am looking forward to the fall!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Appalachian Morning

The air is definitely different up here in the Mountains. I woke up refreshed about an hour ago, took a much needed shower, and I am enthusiastic about starting the day here in Morgantown. The air is a little easier to breathe this morning. It is cooler, and less humid, and the birds are singing. As I look down into the Monongahela Valley from my back porch I realize that this is home. As much as I enjoy surfing, there is something about these hills where my family has lived for as long as we know history.

I am looking forward to a very full and invigorating day as I spend time connecting/catching up with people in this new atmosphere. At the same time, I greatly miss my roommates, and friends from my project in Orlando. They are such a quality group of men and women, and I really feel like I am missing out by not being around them this week.

Just the same, I love these hills I call home.

Driving to Motown

No--not detroit, but morgantown. I drove up yesterday with Ryan and Miranda. We left at four am from Orlando, Florida. Fourteen hours later, we pulled into Morgantown. Had a bite to eat at Zen Clay, and I was able to visit briefly with my friend Micah. I was also able to see the soon to be bride and groom during that quick stop at the "Tea Garden/Zen Clay".

Afterward, I rolled into the summer Bible study/gathering of H2O at my house. There were about 20 people hanging out in my living room and talking about James chapter two. Almost everybody went out to Cici's Pizza after the study and hung out. I was able to talk with a few people about a mission trip to Amsterdam happening over thanksgiving. There may be a few spots available to join us if you are interested--let me know.

It was definitely a full day, and I finally fell asleep around midnight.

Monday, June 13, 2005

St Pete Beach

St Pete Beach, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I was hoping to get a sweet sunset picture along the west coast of Florida, but there was a bit of cloud cover along the horizon.

Just the same, it was a beautiful sight, and the cool gulf breeze made the evening a time of refreshment for all of us.

Becky and Ray

Becky and Ray, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
After a wonderful day of surf and sand at Cocoa Beach. I journeyed to the West Coast (of Florida) for a day of relaxation and celebration with my sister and her husband.

Me and my buddy Joe drove over and chillaxed along the gulf coast under a sunny sky. (It was anticipated that there would be 3-5 inches of rain, but it was a beautiful day.)

My sister was celebrating her Birthday, and so it was awesome that we were all able to spend the day together. We spent a little time in the gulf, did some body surfing (at least Joe and I did), and had some great conversations and great food while we hung out together.

Unfortunately we don't get many times together like that, but this makes me cherish my times with Becky and Ray even more.

I think sometimes it is really easy to get caught up in "doing" stuff and we miss out on quality times relaxing with those we care about and talking about things that matter in life.

I think my sister had a great day, and it was a blessing to hang out with her and her husband. It always is.

If you get a chance, today might be a good day to call someone you haven't talked to in a while (maybe a family member), and try to get together just to talk and hang out together.

Cocoa Beach Connections

Cocoa Beach Connections, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Cocoa Beach, home of Ron Jon's Surf Shop, is only 45 minutes away from my apartment on the UCF campus this summer. As a result, trips to the beach have been a frequent source of refreshment during my sabbath each week. This is the location where I learned to surf, and have been keeping up with the new passion. Friday, I went, thinking that the swells from Arlene would make for some sweet surfing. it was pretty choppy though, and hard to sustain a ride. Actually--it was pretty difficult to get out to the place where the waves were breaking. I need to work on my paddling a bit.

While I was there, I met a couple of really cool guys. Cyrus and Matt Vepa were on vacation from Alabama when I met them, and Cyrus had asked if I might give his son some surfing pointers. So Matt and I started paddling out into some sweet waves. During the course of our conversations in the water and on the beach, we realized that we were all followers of Jesus. What ensued after this realization was some great conversation and fellowship. It is so cool how close we are all brought together by being part of God's family. They offered me a place to stay if I wanted, and even let me use their shower to get the salt water off me. I just think they were a huge testimony of what we should be like with regard to hospitality, care, and compassion. We were able to share a meal, and spent some time in prayer together to end our evening.

We are hoping to stay in touch, and I consider it a privilege to be encouraged and exhorted by those who are a part of my family in Jesus.

Is God calling you to reach out with hospitality and trust to somebody in your community?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Life Lessons from Saul

OR...How to Destoy Your Life in Five Easy Steps

This was the title of last nights talk here in Orlando.

Looking at I Samuel 18 as the primary text, we examined how saul's lack of ability to resolve conflict ended up in his undoing.

Life is full of conflict, and the rest of the world just goes with the flow, but we are called to be different. We are called to be people who seek to make things right and to bring healing where there is hurt. Many times, we miss this though. We hide, we lose God's perpective about unity, and eventually we run from God. The impact of this is far greater than what it does to us, it affects everyone around us as well.

If you are reading this and there is someone you need to "get right" with, read Matt 5:21-26, and think about taking the steps indicated in that passage. Jesus tells us that the world will know we are his followers not by the size and grandeur of our churches, or the style of music we play, but the love that we have for one another. If we are at odds, then no matter what we say with our mouths we may be sending a louder message that we aren't following Jesus.

Pretty scary thought...

Into Thin Air

Friday I took some time and finally read a book my friend Curtis has been encouraging me toward for years. by Jon Krakauer. I read Krakauer's first book two years ago, and really enjoyed it. This recent read tells a graphic story of a disaster atop Mount Everest in which many people horrifically lost their lives, and through a a series of poor decisions many more are scarred physically, emotionally, and spiritually to this day.

A couple of themes stuck out to me. One was the importance of making plans and holding fast to them. Not that we shouldn't be flexible, but when the stakes of danger become more possible we need to hold fast to our original ideas. Sometimes in the heat of the moment we make decisions that at any other time we would realize were bad decisions. Most of the last minute decisions made during this disaster were made in an oxygen depleted environment, so people were already suffering from clouded thinking, and difficulty in breathing/moving. In spite of this many heroic acts were commenced that cost some their lives, and saved others theirs.

The other theme was the significant impact our "little decisions" have on the lives of those around us. Many times we justify a behavior or an act believing that "it wont hurt anybody". Even the smallest of acts can have great implications for others. There is an old asian proverb that when a butterfly flaps it's wings it is the beginnings of a devasting wind. We need to weigh the implications of our decisions as we seek what glorifies God most, and also what is best for humanity. The two should work together as one.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Weather break

Well, it was pretty awesome today. A bunch of us wanted to have a BBQ and connect with our neighbors down hear in O-town. Unfortunately it has rained pretty steadily for the last week, and it was supposed to rain heavily during the time of our get together. Thankfully, we prayed and God answered. He literally split the clouds and let the sun shine and dry up a wet basketball court. We grilled, we hung out, and we met quite a few of our neighbors. It was a pretty cool day all-in-all.

The whole way that the rain was abated reminds me of a story one of my elders once told me. There was a guy whose name was Pangee Maumee (Blue Heron), who had some really big medicine. From what my elder told me, this guy was really old, and was very much a man of prayer. One time, probably thirty years ago at least, this guy was present during one of our tribal ceremonies. Well, the people couldn't celebrate the ceremony because there was a fierce rain coming down. So Pangee Maumee walked out into the storm and he said "Stop!". The storm diminished a little bit, and then came down more violently. Undeterred, Pangee Maumee stood in the storm for a minute, and then exclaimed,"I said Stop!!!" The clouds then lifted, and the rain stopped as Pangee Maumee walked from the middle of the field to return to his sitting place.

Pretty wild how God answers fervent effectual prayer!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Learning to Fly

Flight 101, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Sure, I know you're probably thinking this is going to be some spiritual message about God and soaring to the heights with the Spirit (which I highly recommend).

But this is a little different. I flew a plane today. Let me state that again...I FLEW A PLANE TODAY!!! I went to New Smyrna Beach with some of the staff down here at LT, and one of the staffer's has a relative who has a plane. I spent the afternoon learning a ton about flying, and then we went up for a cruise around the coast. It was freakin' awesome!

As far as new adventures go, my sabbaths the past two weeks have really rocked. Last week I learned to surf. This week I learned to fly. I don't know what is in store for next week, but I can't wait.

I wasn't doing anything really fancy, but I flew for a while, and did a couple of turns and ascensions/decensions. It was a really awesome day!

I now have two new hobbies as a result of my summer at LT.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Life Lessons from Hezekiah

Over the course of the summer in FL we will spend some time looking at life lessons from various kings of Israel. This past week we talked about Hezekiah, and how he was a man who trusted God, and lived a life of prayer. In a discussion the next day with a couple of students, I saw a need for people to think a little more deeply. It seems like a no brainer that people should live lives that reflect a deep trust for God, and to be consistently praying.

A couple of students started talking about whether an elected leader who was of a faith should bring their faith into their work, or check it at the door and focus on accurately representing what the constituents wanted to see done in leadership. The students philosophized over the pros and cons of both sides (a good exercise in itself). When I suggested that they might look at Hezekiah's life and see what they might glean from examining the lives of leaders in scripture for a clue.

What emerged was that if Hezekiah gave the people what they wanted, there would still have been idols in the temple, and altars in the high places. But he could have been really good at praying still. Instead, Hezekiah made decisions based on his faith, for the good of all people. He couldn't check his faith at the door. After all, is it really a consistent faith, if it is merely based on circumstance, and isolated to become the private compartment of our lives. If what we believe about anything is true, then it should impact all of our lives. Not just an isolated area.

Jesus Indians

Two days ago, I had a really great conversation with a girl who is a part of the Leadership Training program I am doing here in Orlando. It is a Christian based Leadership program that stresses character centered leadership, and a deep and enriching relationship with God as the center piece to leadership. Anyhoo, the girl I was talking to is a Rappahannock indian from Virginia. It is rare to connect with other Indian people with any regularity it seems like, but it is especially rare for me to connect with many other Native people who are passionate followers of Jesus.

Living in the Tension

It's been a while since I have written on this blog, but this week's talks have been interesting at LT. Maybe LT could stand for Living in Tension. Anyhoo, there seems to be a tension we live in between being yielded to God's grace, and living out big dreams for God. Without the proper perspective we can end up trampling the grace of God by wanton-ness. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we can get so works based that WE become the center of the universe, and not the God who gives us us grace. We end up believing it is up to us to live out big dreams and not up to God.

So...the important thing seems to be living in the tension. Motivated by grace, we walk in the works He has laid out for us, the purpose of our lives, the calling of God, to the end that we glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I'm reminded of a passage in Ephesians tonight.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)