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, 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?


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, 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!

Guest Bed

Guest Bed, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Last night I spent the night at my mom and dads. I slept in the guest bed. Last time I was there, my brother was in the guest bed and I slept on the couch. it was kind of weird being there without him being there too.

I miss my brother.

Last night, I went walking with my sister and her husband along with my dad. Last time I was home, my sister and her husband had us over for dinner. We didn't make it over for dinner this time. My sister usually comes over before work and hangs out at my parents house. I had to leave this morning before she came. It was kind of weird to leave without seeing my sister this morning.

I miss my sister.

My family is awesome. I'm so glad that we are walking through this whole cancer thing together!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dad after 3 doses

Dad after 3 doses, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, my dad didn't actually have chemo, but he has sat with my mom all through this challenge. He has been awesome; it's like he is a hero protecting his damsel in distress.

Of course he would play it off like it wasn't any big deal, but it is a huge deal. You see, he is my mom's #1 supporter. He cares for her all of the time. Us kids, we are around a little bit of the time, but he is here 100% of the time.

It's awesome seeing how much love exists among our family. I think it's kind of like God's love. God's love is always there, but you really experience it at the times you are really close with Him, or when you are going through really difficult circumstances.

My mom and dad are heroes to me. I hope that I can love people as well as they love. I hope I can sacrifice as well as they sacrifice. I hope I can give like they give. Look at that glance. That is a glance that cares. He was lookng at my mom when I took this pic.

Do you have any heroes in this world? You should tell them sometime. Those words, and those moments are priceless.

After the Third Dose

After the Third Dose, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, mom made it through her third dose today! Here she is chillin' in her chair. It was a really long day for all of us, but the cool thing is that we were together. Each dose they have my mom come in earlier in the day in the hopes of completing her treatment before the cancer center closes. Today, she made it just under the wire, and we made it home by around five in the afternoon.

Doesn't she look great? I am so proud of her!

Up to Something?

Up to Something?, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this candid shot of my mom while I sat with her during chemotherapy today. She just looks like she is up to something in this picture. Maybe it is the dose of ativan she took before they started her chemotherapy.

It's been great sitting with her as she walks through all of this stuff. The doctor and her have both noticed a reduction of the size of the tumor in her breast. What does that mean? It means cancer is losing to this strong Indian woman (as if it had a chance!). I'm so proud of her for fighting through this.

She is making wise choices in terms of diet and she is probably the most compliant patient I have ever heard of. She is doing everything within her power to beat this illness. She has a positive attitude, and tons of support. And beyond this, her hand is being helped by the hand of the Almighty!

So many people are praying for her, and she knows it, and is extremely thankful. So if you are reading this blog and keeping up with her, she and I and the rest of the family send you a hearty thank you!!! Keep on praying--it is making a huge difference for all of us. In fact, if you are reading this, stop and pray right now--thanks again!

Fruit of the Vine

Fruit of the Vine, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
A few years ago, I went to hang out with my friend JR in Hollywood, and see how he and his crew were preparing for the launch of a new church in East Hollywood near Los Feliz, Thai Town, and Little Armenia. My brother and I attended the first gathering of this church together. It was a pretty cool morning because my brother was able to meet a number of my friends on the west coast, and we were able to just spend some quality time together as we made the long drive from Orange County to Hollywood and back.

That afternoon, he and I, along with his wife and son, took a little trip to one of the most beautiful places I have been on the West Coast--Laguna Beach. While we were sitting eating gourmet pizzas in a local laguna restaurant, my brother began drawing. We had enjoyed communion together with the church earlier in the day, and perhaps his mind drifted back to that moment as he drew. We were in one of those restaurants that gives people crayons and the tablecloth is made from paper, so we were enticed to be artistic. Well, my brother has a gift and a flair, I believe for capturing the profound in a simple sketch.

He drew this picture. It might not seem all that complex, but it has intrigued me since I watched him draw it. I asked him to sign it, and I took it with me from the restaurant, and I have kept it with me since that day.

For me, when I look at the grapes producing liquid, and that liquid going into the glass I think of a number of things. I think that is a quality of good art--it sends your mind going from a central idea in a number of directions.

Today, as I think about it, I think about my life. Jesus told us that He is the vine and we are the branches--apart from Him we can do nothing. Whoever abides in Him bears much fruit. I think about the fruit I am bearing on my branch. You see we are all branches either connected to the vine or not connected--if we aren't connected, we die. If we aren't strongly connected, the fruit we bear will be minimal. If we aren't pruned regularly, we won't produce the best fruit. Fruit like this cluster of grapes that is slowly dripping into the glass and becoming something that can be given to other people.

Is your life producing the kind of fruit that can provide sustanance to other people? Are you rooted to the vine? How is God transforming your fruit that it may be used in ways you had never expected?

So much profundity in such a simple illustration. Thanks Chuck, for this beautiful work of your hands, and the beautiful way of living that you demonstrate!