Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Reflections

Christmas Reflections, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Yesterday my dad and I took a hike around the lake at Mountwood Park near Parkersburg, WV. There is this little rock formation nestled away in the hills that surround the lake, and I think it makes a great place to sit, think, pray, and even get photos taken. This time I did less praying and thinking--it was nearly dark, and my dad and I were trying to make our way around the lake. It was a little different twist on the holiday. I think it was the first time I had ever been hiking on Christmas.

But this year's Christmas was different on a number of counts. This year we had our meal and our gift exchange at my sister and brother in law's house. This year, my sister cooked the meal. This year was the first year we spent Christmas without my mom.

I understand that it's tough going through the holidays without recently departed loved ones, but I don't think I ever fully realized how much my mom did to make Christmas so enjoyable for everybody else. Even last year, when she was recovering from a bout of chemotherapy, she cut homemade noodles, baked cookies, and cooked the Christmas meal in it's entirety. My mom was greatly missed yesterday by all of us.

But my sister was amazing. Often, I am called upon to pray for meals, etc. at these family gatherings, but this year I asked my sister to pray (as a Christmas gift to me). My sister is not very confident praying out loud or in public, but she should be. She uttered one of the most heartfelt, genuine, thoughtful and beautiful prayers I think I have ever heard. It was a great gift indeed.

I intentionally stayed away from the phone and computer for the day. I knew that the moment I picked up either of them, it would be hard not to do work on the holiday. It was kind of nice to be disengaged like that. I typically call a couple of close friends on Christmas, but this Christmas it was probably good just to be close with my dad and sister.

As we spent time together, it was comforting to know that my mom is with our savior, and it is comforting to know that on this particular day, as we mourn losses we know that we celebrate an even greater gain. One day, everything will be put to rights in the world. But for now, we will celebrate the fact that in the middle of the hurts and joys, there is a God who comes along side us and enters into all of it with us.

Merry CHristmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Nativity Scene

Christmas Nativity Scene, originally uploaded by krisdecurtis.
Well tomorrow people all over the world will exchange gifts and unwrap presents in a worldwide celebration.

The celebration will only be a shadow though of what it could be. I mean think about it, how difficult is it for one to even begin to fathom the magnitude of the event we are celebrating.

Approximately 2000 years ago, God's perfect plan unfolded in humility. In a cave somewhere in the middle east, a little baby was wrapped up in "swaddling clothes". Even at his birth, kings wanted to kill Him. This birth meant that God had entered our world. In the middle of all of the pain and suffering and hurt God arrived. In complete vulnerability, Immanuel entered our brokenness to bring healing and reconciliation.

This was the first triumphal entry (to be followed approximately 33 years later by a second significant entry that was moving toward the consummation of His mission.

As a result of this amazing arrival, we have been freed from our captivity and slavery to sin and have the opportunity to spread the word about how our fellow man and woman can be reconciled with God!!! What a great message!!! What a great Christmas gift!!!

Take some time as the day progresses and the rush slows down to meditate on the wonderful arrival of our marvelous Savior! Take some time to move beyond the presents to the presence. Jesus our Immanuel (God with us) entered our world and set us free--that's a celebration that deserves all of our heart mind soul and strength devoted to Him in loving worship!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Way of the Heart Part I

solitude, originally uploaded by Villi.Ingi.
From time to time I like to share some insights I am reading in a variety of books. Recently, I picked up a book I read a few years ago, and began reading it again. The book is called The Way of the Heart and it is written by a Dutch theologian named Henri Nouwen. Over the next month, I would like to share insights from the book with you. It may be a once a week entry on my blog, or it may be more often. Regardless, I hope you enjoy this little twist to the blog.

The book deals with solitude, silence, and prayer and shares with the readers some of the practices of the early church (particularly the desert fathers) and their experience and lessons learned in solitude.

There are a number of quotes I would love to share, but for now I will give you this little nugget.

"We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our LORD. Without such a desert we lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others. But with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to Him in whose Name we minister."

With that thought in mind, let me ask you this question? Do you have a space in which you can shake off the compulsions of a busy schedule and the countless voices who seem to vie for your attention?

As I read this section of this extremely brief book, I couldn't shake the fact that I have often struggled to find that desert space in my daily routine. Seems like every minute of my day gets invaded--like people are working frantically to build Los Angeles in the middle of my desert.

May you and I both find a space in our days for solitude, and for abiding in the loving presence of the King of Kings.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Moving to Michigan

Coach Rod at a B-ball Game, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
It's been a bit since I blogged--something has been up with my internet, and ironically, since the end of the semester, my week has gotten busier and not slower.

But, I finally got access today at sozo--the friendly little coffee shop in downtown Morgantown. So I had to write about this latest move to michigan.

I can't believe that we lost both of our coaches to Michigan within months of each other. I've been to michigan a couple of times, and I've even spent some time in Ann Arbor. I'm really not sure what the allure is. (Of course I did go in winter, and most of the time I was there was cold, rainy, snowy, and miserable.)

For me it is kind of tough to see, but I don't have all of the details. I have friends who played under Beilein and Rodriguez here in Morgantown, and it was definitely a shock and adjustment for 'em. People are being tight lipped about Coach Rod's move in general. Here's a statement from Athletic Director Ed Pastilong. Not a lot of detail and commentary are floating across the web and other venues. I think most fans and friends are simply shocked that someone from WV who played for WVU would leave a "dream job" like this to go out of state.

So what prompted coach Rod to leave? He just won a BCS bid, and will not even be taking the team to play in the fiesta bowl in January. He has one of the fastest backfields in the country here in Morgantown. He had just signed a huge contract with WVU a year ago (like 3million?) And now this?

I don't get it. I'm saddened by his departure, but life goes on I suppose. It seems like the era of coaches who invested their lives into a program are coming to an end. The days of Coach K, Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, and others are coming to an end.

So what do you think about Coach Rod's upcoming move? One person placed the blame on the agents who help coaches find jobs like this, but really, is there any fault in those guys? What''s the real root of the problem?

Speaking of root, maybe that's just the problem. Do we contemplate roots anymore? I think we live in one of the most transient cultures in world history. Maybe the move is just part of the reality that most of us have very little real sense of community. For instance, can you name five of your neighbors? Do you know what they do for a living, and do you really know anything about em?

Just a little food for thought.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Winter Time Tree

Winter Time Tree, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Last week I was able to snap this photo of one of the trees behind my house. I think we received about 6 inches of snow Wednesday and of course you have already read about how that precipitated my experiment with the bus system here in Morgantown.

It's almost a week after that snow, and now it looks like the snow was never here. We've had rain, rain, and more rain (which could have been snow if it were colder), and so it has started the migration to stay inside and out of the weather.

It seems like winter settles in, and one hardly sees the sun here in Morgantown. Although, when I took that photo, it was blue skies and white snow. I love the way the snow looks lying on the top side of all of the branches. I like it when there aren't tracks or anything and it looks like a clean blanket over the earth. But in order to really enjoy it, one must walk in and through it.

I think it is easy as the winter weather approaches to find a million reasons to stay inside. It's too wet! It's too cold! There's no place to go! Nobody will go with me.

I think it's times like this that we've gotta fight the urge to stay inside, and get out and enter the adventure.

I remember a few years ago, I made a commitment to walk/run 1000 miles in a year. I remember one day I had planned to go to coopers rock to hike. It was cold, and I got out of work late--there really wasn't much point in going. But I grabbed my parka and hopped in my car and drove.

I was the only person in the whole park. I walked back through to raven rock. I ended up walking back in the dark, but the entire time was amazing. I heard snow and ice fall like crystal all over the trail and the wilderness. It was truly amazing and beautiful. Some of my most brilliant times with the Creator, and some of my most amazing experiences in life have come in the woods in the winter.

So as winter creeps in, what are you going to do to overcome the inertia that leads you to stay indoors? Get out into wilderness, and get into the mix. Or at least get out of the house for a bit. I would hate for you to miss out on the beauty that may just be right outside your door . . .

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Ultimate Gift

The Ultimate Gift, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
As we wrapped up our semester at h2o, we took a look at several responses to the gospel.

In the stories of the Incarnation, we see a wide variety of responses to the birth of Jesus.
Herod and those in power, do everything within their power to see Jesus killed. The Magi come from a faraway land to worship the King, because several hundred years before, somebody told their people about the future birth of the messiah. The shepherds also journey to worship and celebrate his birth. The magi and the shepherds weren’t exactly considered the “in” crowd, but yet, these are the folks who come to worship the King of Kings. Mary and Joseph, respond with faith that is amazing, mary pondered in her heart the comments and the worship demonstrated by others toward her son. Joseph demonstrated radical faith when he trusted circumstances that defied all physical and biological laws—a virgin birth.

And then there’s us. What do we do with the birth of Jesus. I think the birth of Jesus presents us with some major challenges. I mean, everybody in the era of Jesus had a response to his birth—and there is so much this birth teaches us about God and about his kingdom and about our own hearts.

When we consider the Christmas holiday, it provides a great time to take stock of our life and who or what we are living for. Jesus is Lord at birth, and we each have a response to this simple truth. How we respond to Jesus says a lot about what we really believe about Him and what we believe about ourselves. You see, every day we have a choice—we can live for the glory of our own kingdoms or we can lay down all for Him.

If we are honest, much of our lives are spent building our own kingdoms with little consideration for His. We’ve become a world of exploiters—we exploit creation, and we exploit each other. When we live for our own kingdoms we bring conflict, abuse, addiction, shame, disorder, and confusion.

When it comes to Christmas presents, God gave us the ultimate gift—Himself. And he presents us each with an opportunity to consider. What could we give him in return? Those who were far away and those who were near brought the best of what they had.

Wise men and women who still seek Him will find Him. When you find Him, bring the best gift that you can—the gift of your heart!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mafalda and Charlotte

Mafalda and Charlotte, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Yesterday, a group of friends and I took a trip to the Sundale Nursing Home in Morgantown to do some Christmas caroling. That's where I met Charlotte and Mafalda. Charlotte is on the left, and Mafalda is on the right with my friend Brittani. About 20 of us converged on the place and spent about an hour singing to residents of the facility. These two ladies were just so full of life during our visit, I had to get my picture with them. i told them it's not often I get to be photographed with a couple of beautiful ladies like them, and they (along with all of the other residents) were just thrilled with our visit!

It was a very emotional evening for me. My mom's last days on this earth were spent in a similar facility connected to a hospital. Some of the folks we sang for were like these two ladies, and some were not very responsive at all, but it was really clear that all of them really appreciated the visit and the music. When we asked if anybody had a favorite Christmas carol, we received the response--"All of Them!" So we sang a few songs in different rooms and in the hallways.

As we started singing the first time, I found tears welling in my eyes because I just thought about how these people seemed to be sequestered away from the rest of the world, and could easily be forgotten. I was supposed to be happy when I was singing these christmas carols, but I kept vacillating between joy and sadness. Joy in singing and sharing with these folks, and sadness thinking about these really special people being forgotten.

So today I'm writing and reflecting on the experience. Multiple people asked us to come back and visit again soon. It was hard saying that we didn't know how possible that would be. While I felt joy in sharing a little light on a dreary winter day, I think I left with sadness.

I thought about my mom a lot. I still miss her. I guess being in this place made me think that these men and women were somebody's moms and dads. I wonder if these people see their family often. I wonder what their days are usually like--mafalda and charlotte said it gets pretty boring and monotonous--I can only imagine.

I guess my heart gets overwhelmed when I think about the needs that this world has, and it makes me long for the day when Jesus will make all things right and all things new. So I guess sadness and joy are understandable responses to a night like yesterday.

Overall, it was an incredible experience, and a good reminder of the very real needs all around us every day to love others.

As Christmas approaches, think about how you might spread a little Christmas joy around your neighborhood. Charlotte asked if she could give me a hug, and when she tried she couldn't lift her arms, so I told her if it was ok I would hug her--I think she really appreciated that. So many lessons God was speaking to me last night, but I only have time for brevity here.

In the end, the question must be asked, how will you demonstrate the love of Christ to the world around you? The need is great, but our God is greater, and he has challenged each of us to be a light. May God enrich your life as you love Him and love others.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bus Ride

Lonely bus ride, originally uploaded by MirandaRae.
Yesterday I performed a small experiment during my day. We received about six inches of snow during the course of the day, and so my day was slightly adjusted as a result. The streets around my house are among the last to get cleared when streets are being cleared and salted, so I have learned to make alternative travel arrangements. When you drive a small car with low rolling friction tires, and you live in a town that is built on a hill it is not wise to attempt to drive—the odds are stacked against you.

Yesterday, I had some meetings at Chestnut Ridge Church, but my automobile plus the steadily falling snow made that seem like it wasn’t a viable option. But then I got an idea. Morgantown has a bus system that they are looking to expand called Mountain Line. (There may be a bus that goes to your favorite place to shop in town, or that would take you to and from your place of employment.) I wondered if they had service that stretched out to the Cheat Lake area. I called and asked, and they said they had a bus that went right by the church. The bus left every 90 minutes from the depot, and one was leaving 15 minutes from when I called. Of course, there were also delays caused by the inclement weather. (Even big buses have some difficulty along the snowy winter hills of Morgantown.)

Although my bus was about 40 minutes behind schedule, I was still able to make it to the church in time for my meetings. It cost me a whopping 75 cents to travel to the church. Of course it did take slightly longer than traveling in my own car, but I also didn’t really have to pay attention to the roads—in theory, I could have made phone calls, worked on my computer, read, studied, composed emails, wrote notes, or a number of other tasks, but I didn’t. I spent most of my time talking to John, my bus driver, while we journeyed through some rough weather to reach my destination.

Of course, I did pick the worst time to ride the bus in one sense. We were in the middle of a huge winter storm, so more than likely the buses would all be behind schedule. But at the same time, it was the best time. When better to take a bus than when smaller vehicles should not be on the road. Lot’s of people site the time it takes to journey by bus as the main reason not to ride on one, but I think there is a lot that can be done with that time.

One of my old roommates lives in the DC area. In order to arrive at work each day, he takes a bus and then gets on the subway. It is inexpensive and relatively efficient transportation for many people. And the more people who use it, the better it gets.

For most of my trip yesterday, it was just me and the bus driver. There may have been a half-dozen people total at the bus depot. As the city of Morgantown expands, it only makes sense to encourage residents and students to consider alternative modes of transportation. Walking or Riding a bike can work for most trips for a large portion of the year, but sometimes our trips in the city are a little longer, or they require multiple stops.

Wherever you live, if you live in a semi-urban area, take some time in the next few weeks to try the bus system. As more people use these public transportation systems, they can only get better.

Did you know that only 8% of the world’s population even own cars? So driving isn’t a luxury for them. Did you know that 89% of Americans own one or more cars? Maybe you live in a place where public transportation isn’t available, or your job requires access to a vehicle at all times. That isn’t the case for most of us. So instead of spending time digging your car out of the snow and stressing out over the drive to work, maybe give your local public transportation system an opportunity to serve you. It never hurts to try something new, right?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Do THEY Know it's Christmas? Give Life

DSCN0705, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

It's been a little difficult getting back into the groove of blogging and catching up with multiple tiny projects and people who I haven't seen since before thanksgiving break. But I should be getting back in the groove now.

So we are continuing our series at h2o Do THEY Know It's Christmas? and this week's message is entitled Give Live.
You know I think that one of the biggest temptations in the Christmas season is to forget about those who live on the fringes—I mean the real fringes. I think we have this huge fear that we are going to miss out on something if we don’t have everything we desire. But we have sooo much more than we need, and I think there is a purpose in it all. I think that maybe Jesus gave us so many resources and so much wealth so we could actually use it to bless others.

Another option is that he really just wants to give us tons of nice stuff solely for ourselves, and he really doesn’t care about other people, but I strongly doubt that.

Jesus tells us in Luke 12,

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

God has given us the ultimate blessing by giving us access to the Kingdom. He tells us to sell our possessions—not because our possessions are bad, but because we can give to those who have REAL needs when we see our own excess, and we can demonstrate to others what life looks like in the Kingdom of King Jesus. If we took serious as Christians our charge to be ambassadors of the Kingdom, I bet we would make a major dent in poverty in our world.

Where are treasure is, there is our heart. Where are you looking to find your treasure? Ultimately, our treasure is Jesus, but it is so easy to believe our treasure is found somewhere else. In fact, marketing companies are spending billions to make you believe that your treasure and your life is made up of the abundance of your possessions, but it is simply not true.

I think deep down we don’t want to ignore those who have nothing, it’s just that we get duped into believing we are the ones who are deprived. It’s really easy to feel like we don’t have enough stuff, and fail to have a heart of gratitude. I mean, how much do we really need. How much could we give up for the sake of others if we took the time, or took advantage of the opportunities around us?

How much would we be willing to share? We take for granted so much stuff in our world. Sometimes I think we get our priorities all wrong at Christmas, and really all year round. Having nice stuff isn’t a bad thing—I hope that I am not coming across that way; it’s just that I think that we can spend so much time, effort, and energy on ourselves that we neglect some really great needs in our world.

As you consider Christmas this year, and as you consider your life in the years to come, will you consider ways in which you can show your love to your fellow man and remember “the least of these”? You alone may not be able to end hunger, but maybe God wants to use you to help take a step toward one more person not going hungry. You alone may not be able to bring clean drinking water to the world, but maybe some of your spare change can be given to help “one of the least of these” to get access to medicine that will prevent them from dying of dehydration from diarrhea or other ailments.
Maybe as a family, or as a small group of friends you can do something for people who you’ve never met. People who won’t be receiving the latest ipod, or something from the fall line at banana republic, but who simply want the technology that will allow them to afford medical attention for their family. . People who don’t have any use for a cd or a plasma screen tv, but who simply want to hear the sights and sounds of another day of life.. People who have no use for a gift card at the olive garden, but who simply want to have enough food for their family today.

Maybe this Christmas you can start a new tradition of caring and Give Life.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cell Phone Woes

Red , originally uploaded by Ð×ßîŋά ♥.

Well, I have had a lot to blog about and I've had limited access to the technological world lately. My internet has been out at home which means that I have had to be more mobile in posting. Not that being mobile is out of the ordinary for me, but after about two weeks of being away, it's hard to squeeze time in for the practice of blogging when I am out and about--seems like I'm always running into people--which is always a good thing. (Although maybe I should watch where I'm going--guffaw!)

On top of the limited access to the web, I also lost my phone (actually I think it may have been stolen but I'm not sure by whom). It was a (PRODUCT) RED phone, so a portion of the cost of the phone went to the global fund to fight against aids, tuberculosis, and malaria--just trying to be an advocate!!!

So I've been scrambling around a bit trying to find someone with a phone I can use temporarily until I can get my phone (with nearly 1000 contacts--maybe yours was in it?) replaced.

If you called me earlier this week, I assure you I have been paying my phone bills--I turned off my phone so someone else wouldn't be able to make a bunch of calls on it.

One of my dear friends let me have her old phone so I am back on the grid.

The really weird thing about it all is that I realized how integral the cell phone and computer have become to working efficiently in our world. I was literally off the grid for about 24 hours. Being off the grid is great if it is intentional, but when it isn't it is frustrating.

How often do you use a cell phone or the internet? How much would it break the rhythm of your life to be unplugged (on a monday at that!!!)?

The cool thing is that our lives and our callings aren't dependent on technology--in the middle of it all, I have been able to respond to God in gratitude for the tools He has allowed me to have to connect with others, but these tools are NOTHING when compared to the GIVER of the gifts.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Do They Know It's Christmas? Part I Commercial Christmas

Last night we started a new series at h2o called Do They Know it’s Christmas that will take us to the end of the semester. This week in particular we looked at a story Jesus told about a man who had so much stuff he found himself needing to build bigger barns. Before Jesus tells the story, he warns people to guard themselves against covetousness and tells them that their life consists of more than the abundance of their possessions.

Essentially, he says the exact opposite of what modern marketing gurus would like us to believe. Many of us have heard the story multiple times, and yet, when we are succumbed to over 30,000 commercials a year (on average) not to mention countless billboards, neon signs, and newspaper ads, it is easy to drown out the voice that tells us we have more than enough.

In the words of Ron Sider in his book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, “The increasingly affluent standard of living is the god of the twenty-first century in Northa America, and the adman is its prophet.” His book doesn’t say that Christians are the problem, he just argues that affluence is not our god. But you know, if you were to look at the average American household, you might be tempted to think that our source of strength was found in the amount of stuff we could hoard. It is so easy to get caught up in “building bigger barns” or believing the lie that life does not consist in more than the abundance of our possessions. And so we go out and spend money like crazy to buy more stuff—last year Americans spent $455 billion during the holidays.

It’s not that buying things is bad either. Especially around Christmas time it is nice to celebrate the arrival of our Savior by exchanging gifts since God gave us the ultimate gift in Christ. But do we need to be so excessive in our spending? Sometimes I feel like we can get caught up in “building bigger barns” as the holidays arrive. I don’t want to seem trite or judgemental or even seem like I have it all together—because anybody who knows me well knows that I don’t. I still oooohhhh and aaaaaahhhhhh over every new release that apple makes.

But maybe, as we scurry about this holiday season, we can think about gifts and giving in a different vein. Last year, I made photo albums for my family and sort of wrote a little “book” for them. I think it might have been the best gift I had ever given. Instead of giving them more stuff, I gave them something that I took time and care and LOVE and placed them all into this unique gift.

My mom made me a quilt and a scarf just a couple of years before she died. While I won’t see my mom again until the day I go to be with Jesus, every time I see the things she has made, I am reminded of the intense love she has for me, and that she took the time to care for me many, many times over the years of my life. And to me, that’s the most meaningful gift of all.

Seems like it rings familiar of another story I read where someone else loved so much that He worked tirelessly to give us what we really needed in the greatest act of love history has ever known.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if our gifts echoed that this year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

West Virginia Hills

West Virginia Hills, originally uploaded by J Fred.

It feels like forever since I've been back in these hills. I think it will always be home for me. Although I didn't take this photo, I really love it. More than the photo, I love the sites and sounds of home.

California was great and I really enjoyed seeing friends and family out west, but as my friend Dave Nancarrow is fond of saying, "It's like the hills envelop you and give you a hug to welcome you back."

It's good to be welcomed back with a hug from these West Virginia Hills!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Delayed!!!, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

So my last day in California has arrived. But, it's a long one. My dad and I woke up at 4.30AM and started our journey west to go east. We connected with a few different friends among the 17million folks who call LA home, and eventually we made our way to the airport. The high today was in the 60s along the coast so it was a bit chilly.

We were in Anaheim, El Segundo, Culver City, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Marina Del Ray, and then Burbank during the course of the day today--we spent significant time in each of those places too. How about that for a last day tour!

We felt a little pressure to arrive at the airport for our getting seats, but the fog has kept flights delayed. You can read about the delays here.

What's amazing is that we have no choice but to deal with delays at airports. I don't know about you, but I feel like I get stressed out by delays in most of my life situations. It's like I'm always in a rush to get somewhere--but why? Today, I can honestlysay I just enjoyed the journey.

May we all learn to respond to delays and realize there is Someone greater in control of our lives than ourselves. Maybe that's the point point of stress--we forget that we aren't in control, and sometimes we get so deluded. Today, I can honestly say I'm glad to yield any presumption of control. I hope you and I can both learn to trust the One who knows every hair on our heads and not get stressed out by the little delays that come at us each day.

Keep on going, and remember, a delay is usually not a cancellations, it's just a slowing down--and who can't use a little slowing down in this fast paced world!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Untapped Energy

While visiting my brother in California, I've seen some different commercials on TV, and this one in particular I thought was really cool. It's a Chevron commercial talking about the oil industry and alternative energy sources. There's actually two or three I have seen no--including one that proclaims that chevron is the worlds leading producer/developer of geothermal energy. I hadn't really considered this type of energy until during the commercial it was shared that one plant could provide power for 7 million people. Pretty cool stuff.

My brother works for chevron, so I think it is cool to see the company he works for launch out and engage culture with the desire to work for solutions and pursue alternatives. Often the oil industry gets a bad rap as gas prices increase and make our lives a little more difficult.

But, in the spirit of the commercial, I have to ask, what about us? Are we getting innovative about getting around from point A to point B? Yesterday I was on a freeway in LA and I noticed that the overwhelming majority of cars on the road were single passengers. One evening I actually took a picture of an exquisite sunset through the smog produced by these vehicles (perhaps a future blog entry?).

As energy prices increase and we are tempted to complain, maybe it is time to start asking ourselves some hard questions about our own consumption habits. Do we really need multiple vehicles? Could we walk or bike instead of drive where we are going? Could we carpool--I mean really--do we all have to drive by ourselves to a place where other people we know are going? I could generate many more questions, and as I write this, I realize I need to contemplate this as much as any other person.

As I watched the video and thought about the concepts of this video, I think it would be easy to take it a step further. What untapped energy and potential are you not using? As the week comes to an end, maybe the next couple of days could be times of evalation and change--Sunday is the beginning of a new week after all!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dad's Restaurant

Dad's Restaurant, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Monday as we were traveling from Burbank to El Segundo we made a stop at a place called The Grove in Los Angeles near my buddy JR’s apartment. The Grove is an outdoor mall of sorts (complete with it’s own trolley) built around an old farmers market. The farmer’s market includes both fresh vegetables and a variety of food establishments, including this little place that bears my dad’s namesake. I thought it would be cool to get a photo of him in front of the place. Ironically, we didn’t stop to eat there as we walked through, but we did have some ice cream nearby.

It’s been a lot of fun traveling with dad. He is a champion walker too. Yesterday he and I walked a total of 11 miles on three short loops we did at different points of the day. Today we went for a hike in the desert with my brother so he could scout out an area for a 5 mile hike on a future weekend for some boy scouts (including my nephew). By the way, my nephew is Senior Patrol Leader for his troop which is a pretty cool honor.

My dad has been getting me into shape a wee bit on this little vacation. I’m amazed at how far and frequently he hikes, and it’s been cool exploring with him. Maybe before we head back east we will be given another opportunity to stop at his restaurant and give it a try.

Here’s to getting in shape, or at least getting out and walking more—not to mention spending time with family and friends!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cooking with Jesus

JR and Lenny, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
While JR was showing us around town, we stopped at his church in East Hollywood and he gave my dad a tour of the space. As we were walking around he introduced us to a guy named lenny who fixes two meals a day for the homeless people in the neighborhood. Lenny was a really cool guy who’s passion for Jesus shined through during our conversation. While I would like to capture for you everything he said during our short exchange, I’m afraid it would be extremely difficult, so I will just touch on highlights.

Lenny explained to us that he had been doing this ministry for a long while and that he was amazed at the food that was produced because with his limited ingredients, he couldn’t make food that tasted so good. But he was not alone in the kitchen. He was cooking with Jesus, and he said that Jesus made every meal very special and added something special to the meals to make them taste so good.

Lenny talked about cleanliness, and how much easier it is to keep something clean than it is to let it get really dirty and try to clean it. I feel like different area’s of my life have been a testimony to both sides of this story over the years too. Lenny provided me with a good reminder to keep on top of things the best I can. He said that as we let things go that they become burdens, and Jesus didn’t come for us to have burdens. We experience freedom when we don’t allow burdens to pile up on us day-by-day. Pretty cool insight.

As we talked Lenny shared with me a fresh insight with regard to the Bible being the “living Word”. He said that one of the ways the Bible comes alive is through us. You see we give the words life when we live them out. When we become advocates for the poor, or when we take the time to care for someone who feels like they can’t be cared for, we make the word of God come alive for that person. Sometimes I think we can get so self-centered in our faith that we forget about caring for this good world that God that has made, and all of those who inhabit it.

A few years ago, Lenny started cooking two meals a day for homeless people in East Hollywood. When he started, there were about 25 people each week who would come out. Actually, he said it was twenty five total people coming, but it was really the same five guys who all lived near the church. Sometimes only one or two would make it to a meal because the others were drunk and hungover. But Lenny labored, and shared His faith with these men and impacted them—one by one. And now, today, Lenny cooks food for about 60 different people each meal. God has expanded his ability to give, to care, and to impact the city with his meal ministry. He started the ministry, and he continues the ministry as a way of being Jesus to the world, and sharing His love and His hope in his neighborhood and beyond.

When we do care for the poor, the suffering, the downtrodden, the lonely, and the hurting in obedience to Jesus, we become his hands and feet to the world. We become the only Bible that many people read, and we change the landscape. Personally, I think the world needs to see more people who have trusted Jesus for their salvation being Jesus to the world around them. How are you being Jesus in your neighborhood?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Writer's Guild Strike

Writer's Guild Strike, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Monday morning around 8.30AM, my dad and I arrived in sunny Burbank, California at the Bob Hope Regional Airport. It was a bit odd to be in the middle of this big urban sprawl, and land in such a “tiny” airport. (I think it had about 15 gates).

When we arrived we were quickly picked up by my friend JR who lives in East Hollywood, and who showed us tons of kindness and gave us a tour as we made our way to El Segundo, California where I left my wallet (Inside joke), and we met up with my brother for the next leg of our journey.

While driving through Burbank, we went by a few Studios, including this shot at the Universal Studios back lot, and witnessed firsthand the Writer’s Guild Strike.

How ironic—I mean, I just recently took the plunge and got cable for the house, and now the writers of all of those great and highly addictive TV shows like Heroes are going to potentially run out of material. (I was really looking forward to at least a five season addiction with this show!)

So the guild is on strike, but why? According to one banner I saw, the reason is greed. As we were driving down the 101 toward Hollywood, I saw a “banner” (big spray-painted sheet) which said, “Six greedy moguls are killing LA!!!”

While talking with JR, he explained to me that there are about 250,000 people who are affected by this strike. 250,000 jobs are being brought to a halt simply because television stations don’t want to pay their writers more money as they expand profits through all sorts of media representations of the writer’s work. For instance, the episodes of your favorite shows that are available online through network websites don’t have any direct benefit for the writers.

Of course it would possible to say that the writers are being greedy too, but, as a writer, I don’t see any problem with defending one’s writing right to receive benefit from their art. I have heard that it has been about 20 years since the writers have had an opportunity to negotiate a new contract. 20 years!!! Just think how much technology and media have changed since 1987, and you might understand the protest.

Twenty years ago, cable wasn’t digital. There weren’t dvd’s of our favorite shows available at best buy. We couldn’t download episodes of TV off itunes, or even watch them streamed from the internet. Our cable wasn’t HD and there weren’t hundreds of channels to chose from. A lot has changed in 20 years that has significant bearing on how we “kick back and watch TV”

What do you think about the strike? To be honest, I hadn’t really considered the reality of what an effect this situation might have until I drove by the studios. Now, I’m thinking about 250,000 people who are in the industry and how your life and mine will be impacted by how this strike pans out. It isn’t just 250,000 people in the industry who will be affected by this—there are even more people who are outside the industry whose livelihood is being affected by this strike. Who is going to be their advocate? When any of us fail to pursue right relationships with those around us, we affect people far beyond our immediate circle—and yet, we so seldom think about that—maybe today could be a little different.

A Different Light

A Different Light, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this photo while sitting in the woods along the shaver’s fork of the cheat river while on a retreat with a number of folks from h2o a few weeks ago. We were all just taking some time for solitude, silence, and reflection when I snapped this mid-morning photo.

Over the next few days, I’m uncertain as to the availability of internet access for blogging because of my current location, but I’m gonna try to at least write regularly, even if I cannot post. For me, blogging/writing provides an opportunity to reflect on our world, and even to contemplate how the Kingdom of God comes to bear on everyday life.

On the flipside, as you read, it’s my hope that this blog might provide an opportunity for you to reflect on your own experiences through the day as well. Perhaps, a photo will bring back a memory or a comment will remind you of something God has been teaching you. Or . . .you will read, and perhaps even see the world in a different light.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Gospel According to Moses: Exile and Exodus

Exodus, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

This week at h2o, we finished up our series The Gospel According to Moses with a look at how ancient Israel had defined itself as the people of exile and exodus.

You may or may not be familiar with the story of how God delivered ancient Israel out of slavery in Egypt, and led his people into the promised land.

Years later, Israel found itself in another period of Exile, and they were patiently waiting for the time when God would make all things right in the world. During this period of exile, they were looking for deliverance once again. It's during that specific time that Jesus came on the scene.

But he didn't come for Israel alone, he came for all of the earth. You see, each one of us has experienced exile from God. It's kind of like we are similar to the people in this picture. Some of us are still in this place where we are the walking dead. We are slaves to sin. We seem to be very alive, but we are spiritually dead.

Into the midst of this scene of exile, Jesus arrives and he rescues us. He leads each one of us out of slavery and into a right relationship with God through the reconciliation accomplished through His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.

As a result, we who have put our trust in Jesus, can remember the days when we were walking dead, but now we have new life, and a new opportunity to share with others how they may find "life, and that abundantly."

Take some time today, and consider the mission God has given you. When you experience new life in Christ, you have an opportunity to be an ambassador to the rest of this world of how truly great it is to live under the loving reign of King Jesus and no longer be in exile and slavery.


Thankfulness, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

As I get ready for a week of travel (and potentially infrequent blogging), I've just been taking some time to consider the coming holiday of thanksgiving.

I was just reading this passage of scripture, and wanted to take a moment to share with you and encourage you toward a greater sense of thankfulness as the holiday approaches.

Philippians 4.6
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

As the semester approaches it's end, it is really easy to get anxious. Finals are coming up, and maybe your grades aren't as solid as you might have hoped. Maybe you had some big goals for 2007, and as the year approaches it's end, you are feeling pressure for not completing those goals. Maybe you are just stressed out about big events at work, family stuff, or any of a number of small crises that creep into our day to day existence (like will WVU be able to play in the National Championship?).

Regardless of the scenario, the God encourages on multiple occasions to STOP worrying, and to be thankful for the things that we do have. How often do you take time to consider the ways in which God has provided for you and given to you. We really have SOOOOOO much!!! So this week, as you get ready for the big holiday. Take some time, and start preparing your heart to be thankful. Life isn't nearly as stressful or worrying if you just take time for appreciating all of the little things (and big things!!!) that are going well.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Gold Rush

Gold Rush, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Mountaineer fans are popping up everywhere--I love it. I walked by a few folks decked out in WVU jerseys as I walked through the Orlando airport on my way back to the place that's Almost Heaven.

I arrived in Morgantown last night around 4.30PM, and then I began making a number of connections that would eventually place me at Mountaineer Field.

First, our canvas group had a tailgate at one of my friend's house. It was great!!! There was cornhole, community, and even cider.

From there, I had the privilege of joining with a former Mountaineer mascot who was in town because this week is Mountaineer week! He had hooked me up with a ticket to the Alumni Association tailgate tent, and it was phenomenal. I had a rack of ribs, and a bbq chicken breast sandwich among other phenomenal foods.

Then it was time to find our seats. I found my self sitting in a box seat right behind the student section and surrounded by a swarm of former mountaineer mascots--it was AWESOME!!!

So needless to say, my return to Morgantown was phenomenal. WVU won the game, and the theme of the night was Gold Rush. WVU Fans are encouraged to wear gold to every home game, but this game featured an even greater push, and the team even wore all gold uniforms.

It was simply an amazing night, and it was great to see a little Mountaineer Magic in the fourth quarter too! There's nothing that quite compares to being in a crowd of several thousand people all united in one purpose. WVU has three more games, and could be playing in the national championship this year--it's so exciting to look expectantly toward future weeks and celebrate with friends.

The food, the fun, the friends--I think they are all little reminders of what heaven will be like. Although I'm pretty sure heaven will be on a much larger scale. But, I'll definitely enjoy the days I get to spend in Almost Heaven until that day comes!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Travels, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Over the last few weeks I have noticed that I've been on the road a lot. Last week, after going to the Jeremy Camp Concert, I drove to Pittsburgh to hang out with Willie and his family. I left Pittsburgh and drove down the Ohio River (where I took this photo) and visited some relatives in Parkersburg. Then I returned to Morgantown just in time for shifting my clock and going through a full day of meeting and connecting and church services.

After all of this I went home, packed, and got up around 6AM to head out to the airport for a couple of conferences involving the ministry I work for in Orlando. Orlando sounds really awesome this time of year, but it has actually been uncharacteristically chilly--plus I've been inside most of the time--no surfing for me! :(

I gave a small seminar while down here on the value of spiritual disciplines and particularly the value of practicing Sabbath. Good stuff.

Now I am about to board another plane to return to WV and hopefully enjoy some mountaineer football!!! Tomorrow is a day full of meetings and catching up on a weeks worth of emails. Plus there is a regional conference for the association of churches we are part of this weekend.

I love connecting with people, and the travel is also great, and its had me thinking about the bigger story.

In a sense, aren't we all travelers. Aren't we all pilgrims? We're all on a journey and looking to one day reach our final destination. Just like Israel wandering through the wilderness, we are journeying through life--but we have a purpose. Or at least we could have a purpose. As you travel through this life, do you have an end in mind, or are you just going through the motions? May you richly experience refreshment on your journey as you progress toward the destination.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Memories, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

I'm not sure when this picture was originally taken, or who the original photographer was. It's a photograph of me, Willie's wife, and his daughter standing outside our M'si Kah-miqui (Tribal Council House) in Maryland.

Saturday, I hung out with Willie and his family and I saw this picture, and I just thought it was awesome. There weren't any other pictures in the album we were looking at that had any relation to our tribal grounds.

It's kind of weird seeing an image like this and remembering how very important our Shawnee heritage is to each of us and it rekindles a desire to make sure that our culture gets passed on. It also reminds me of how beautiful our culture and our history has been. God definitely touched many lives through our time together on "the mountain" and gave us a richer appreciation of our faith.

My mom used to love going up on our tribal grounds for ceremonies, and so did my dad. But since my resignation from my chieftainship, it just hasn't been the same.

But at least there are memories and photographs--and even more there are ceremonies. Ceremonies that point us to King Jesus, the one who gives every good and perfect gift.

And traditions continue too. For instance, my brother recently received his name. Manitou Thee-po-wa-Thee. He waited a long time for his name, and he and I went about getting the name through honoring ancient traditions--like prayer.

You know there are many ancient traditions that we forget about every day. Studying the scripture, prayer, fasting, celebration, and worship are just a few. My challenge to you today is to soak in one of those ancient traditions, allow your memory to go back to a point in time when God did something beautiful in your life--remember and give thanks, celebrate and worship.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jeremy Camp Concert

Jeremy Camp Concert, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Last Friday night, I went to see Jeremy Camp in concert with around 2000 other people in Morgantown, WV at Chestnut Ridge Church. My dad, my sister, and my best friend and his family joined me for the merriment as well.

The concert was phenomenal on a number of levels. My sister was the one who was really enthusiastic about going, and I wasn't as excited initially. It wasn't that I don't appreciate the music, I just didn't know if a concert with a national Christian act would be just a concert, or a night of Christian music, or a time of worship, or what.

I was greatly enthused by what I heard and experienced. Much of the evening I was crying as I sang along with the rest of the audience. God was taking this time that I had dedicated to a concert to both minister to my heart and to allow me an opportunity to more deeply worship and appreciate Him.

If you ever get a chance to see this guy in concert, I highly recommend it. Through song, scripture, and personal testimony, he really ministered to my life, and encouraged me in my walk with Jesus.

One of the last songs he sang is called My Desire. The chorus of the song states This is my desire, this is my return, this is my desire, to be used by You.

It's a great song to sing, and a great statement of faith. As I sang along with him, I found myself really wrestling with the statement. Jeremy also shared how he wrestles with some of the statements in his songs. Deep down we want to be used by God, but sometimes our selfish tendencies get in the way. Sometimes I think we want to be used by God, but we just don't give consideration to what that would look like.

So I submit it to you, and I would love to read your comments. You can be both general and specific. What does it look like in general to be used by Jesus? . . .and what does it look like for YOU specifically to be used by Jesus? How do you make yourself available on the job, at school, in the house, in the neighborhood to be used by Jesus?

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Gospel According to Moses: Temple

Temple, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

I took this beauty a couple of years ago while on a mission trip in Amsterdam. This is Sint Nicolas Kerk in the city center.

This past week at h2o, we continued our series The Gospel According to Moses by looking at the Temple. During this series we have been looking at different ways ancient Israel found their Identity and defined themselves as unique people in the world, and the most important symbol of all was the Temple. The temple was believed to be the place where heaven and earth met, and the place where the God lived on the earth. The place where God's presence stayed was in this inner chamber called the Holy of the Holies. Only once per year would a single priest venture into this space. As he ventured, he would take extreme care that he did not carry in any impurity, as that would mean his death.

Jesus took this idea of the temple and redefined it for Israel. He told them that if they destroyed the temple, he would rebuild it in three days. He was talking about His body. You see, when Jesus walked the earth, it was in His body that heaven and earth met. It was in His body that the presence of the Lord dwelt on the earth.

The Bible says that He is also the cornerstone of the new temple, and that we are living stones. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. You see, when the People of God come together (living stones), they become a new kind of temple. And when we are together, united, loving each other, and caring for those who are outside our community, we become a sign of what it looks like when God's kingdom comes and his will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

In essence, we become the place where heaven and earth meet. It is no longer a building where God makes his home, but now He makes His dwelling in the community of faith. Think about it. When you gather with the people of God on Sundays it isn't the building where God makes His presence known--it's amid the people that heaven and earth meet.

Next time you go to church, think about what being the church means--it means that the presence of God richly dwells with His people on the earth, and that is simply an amazing gift!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Dreams, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Lately, i've been striving to learn to say no to more things so that I can say yes to more things. That sounds a little weird I'm sure, but let me explain.

There are constant demands on our most precious resource every day. Time. We have a very limited amount of it. (In fact I might write a future note on the subject itself.) But lately, I've been learning how to say no to some things so that I can say yes to other things that are better and more streamlined uses of my time.

As a result, I have been getting better rest, and I've started dreaming. I've started having dreams while I'm sleeping and while I'm awake. Now when you have dreams while sleeping, I have heard it means you are actually getting some deep sleep. Back in first century Israel, I have heard that there was a proverb that a person who went a week without dreaming was considered out of favor with God. (All the more reason to be glad I'm dreaming). I don't remember much about these dreams--just the people. For instance, my mom was in this last one. And I am frustrated that I didn't write out the details. But just like with any dream you feel like you will never forget it.

But I've also started dreaming in the daytime. Not so much day-dreaming as imagining what my life/ministry/community could look like. I was reading a book that said that many people don't have a dream or a vision that orients their life. They just go throught the motions and wing it day by day. For years. And years. And then one day, they realize that they have missed out on opportunity after opportunity.

As you read, take a moment and ask yourself Self, what are my dreams? Begin dreaming big. Just like the picture above--the sky is the limit. Most people at the end of their lives say they would like to have risked more, reflected more, and given their lives to things that will go on after they are gone.

What God-given dreams are you giving your life to? If you aren't sure, there's no time like the present to begin thinking about it and dreaming big!!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Gospel According to Moses: Land/People

Seneca, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I couldn't quite find the photo to represent last night's h2o message, but I hope you enjoy this view of seneca rocks.

Last night we continued our series The Gospel According to Moses at h2o with a focus on land and people. You can download this and other h2o podcasts from "H2O Morgantown Live" on itunes.

This series has been looking at some defining characteristics of ancient Israel, and how some very good things can go very bad at times. You see ancient Israel was promised through abraham that they would be a blessing to all of the nations, and that they would be given land from which they would be a light to the nations.

By the time of the first century, Israel had lost it's call. It had become a people who looked down on the nations, and who considered the lands beyond it's borders unholy. It had gotten so bad that if you stepped outside of Israel, you were defiled, and you were supposed to "shake the dust off your sandals before heading back within the borders of Israel.

I believe every group of people on the face of the earth has wrestled with similar ideas. How often do we wrestle with ideas like this in contemporary society. We see our churches or our nation as the holiest place, and we don't dare set foot outside them among the "bad" people. We don't want want to step out of our comfort zones and reach out to those around us who may be in "dark" places.

When Jesus preached he reminded Israel and us that we are meant to be a blessing to those around us. Our borders are not simply geographic. He encouraged patriotism but not nationalism or territorialism. He encouraged people to reach beyond their comfort zones and to love enemies and bless those who curse you and despitefully use you. He told us to help the ones who are lying hurt along the side of the road, and to help bring them restoration instead of busily walking by.

As you go through your week this week, take time to consider being a good citizen in the Kingdom of Heaven, and invite others to share in its amazing blessing. Reach out and step out of your comfort zones and engage in a conversation with some people who are different than you. If you've had a condescending or patronizing attitude toward others, check your heart, and make a change. Don't become territorial and spend time only with people who are just like you.

Look out your window and seek to be a blessing this week to the world around you!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Butterflies, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I was looking at the photos of our day in the wilderness together, and this photo just captivated me. There's my dad. So focused, and so full of care for his family. I just appreciate all the times we get to share to gether, and the adventures he's willing to go on with me. So many thoughts and memories get captured in a photo, and then get set free in our own minds.

Looking at this image, I remember that slightly after I took the picture, my dad had butterflies.

When I mention the word butterflies, I'm not talking about the small winged creatures that were at some time in the past caterpillars. Nor am I talking about the nervous feelings right before a big game, or a big speech, or that light feeling you feel when you are in love. If you are a fisherman butterflies have a whole different meaning.

I took this picture of my Dad as he was tying a trout magnet lure onto his fishing line. Just a little bit later, he had butterflies. A butterfly is a term used to describe what happens when you are fishing and for some reason (usually because you are casting too hard for the amount of weight you have on your line) your fishing line doesn't go back onto the reel properly, and you end up with a huge tangle--a butterfly. And if you aren't careful, the butterfly will knot up as you are trying to untangle it. Generally people will cut their line when this happens, but if we are patient we can slowly undo the butterfly and get the line back on the reel properly again.

Butterflies are a part of fishing, but they are also a part of life. Maybe we go at it too hard, and push too much in an area, and we produce butterflies. Sometimes, we just want to cut the line and start over, but in real life, the tangled line usually involves real people. So we slowly untangle and make things right. We reconcile. And when we do that, we have fresh opportunities.

For instance, I untangled the butterfly in my dad's line, and then I caught that awesome brood trout. Made for a great photo too!

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Perspective, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Early this morning I read this scripture, and it has just really stirred me today.

Only fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24

You know, it’s really easy to get distracted. It’s really easy to get caught up in the wrong things, or even to let your circumstances dictate much of your life. It doesn’t have to be major events either. I think it is in the little day to day events that we get tested. We learn how to have selective memory.

The other day, I was fishing with my dad, and I drove my car into a ditch. Needless to say I was less than ecstatic over the recent turn of events. My dad was visibly upset too. He had a look as though all was lost. A few seconds later, I was able to drive my car right out of the ditch. It was all pretty amazing really.

You see, my dad and I had a phenomenal day. I caught a beautiful brood trout. We fished in a mountain lake. The fall colors were peaking and we were able to take some great photos. And the smells, there’s something amazing about those leaves on the ground, and the last harvests of autumn all swirling together in the cool October air.

And the conversations. We had great conversations about God and family, about remembering mom, even some dreamy conversations about potential future vacation together, and all of the trips we have taken together in the past. We were completely relaxed all day (a rarity for me), and we were immensely blessed with amazing weather, and plenty of time to enjoy walking talking, fishing, and exploring a small area of West Virginia’s beauty.

Sometimes we get caught up in the little ditches in life we get ourselves into. We begin to let those ditches define our lives. We end up getting into a panic during which we will do just about anything to get ourselves out of the ditch. We forget about all of the great things that happen along the journey.

You know it would have been really easy for my dad and I to both get so centered on the
I don’t know where you are spiritually as you read this blog. You may be bitter. You may be on the mountaintop. You may be just about to justify some secret, hidden sin.

Whatever it is you are going through, I want to encourage you today to take a moment and consider all of the GREAT things the Lord has done. I think that as we learn to look at life in general with a greater sense of gratitude, we are better able to take the tough moments in stride. May you find greater faithfulness and joy flowing from your heart as you reflect on His steadfast love and goodness in your life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fall Color

Fall Color, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

This fall has been amazing. Although autumn certainly took it's time arriving, the colors have been radiant and seemingly lasting for a long time. Perhaps it has been all of the varied landscapes I have scene over the last month. I don't ever remember being able to enjoy so much of the color in the past.

And I don't ever remember being able to enjoy color so full or so late in the year. It's the last full week of october, and look at the orange and the yellow. (There were reds in some places too, but this color just seemed to illuminate the road).

My mom and dad had a tradition for several years of driving around the state and enjoying the Fall colors. Last fall, our entire family was able to do that together for the first time in years. And now, it is Fall again, and it's like my mom pulled some strings to get us the most amazing fall ever.

I feel like sometimes, we can be so hurried in our day to day toil that these seasons just slip right away from us. Even amid the search for Jacob, there were times I would pause and marvel at the sheer beauty God had placed all around us. I hope you have been able to get out, give some pause and appreciate this beautiful autumn.

What a gift!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Trout Fishing

Trout Fishing, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Yesterday, I decided to call up my dad and see if he wanted to go to Spruce Knob Lake and fish. I have been trying to juggle some things around to get a day to hang out with my dad, and things just worked out. Also, I knew he really wanted to see the fall color before it was gone. For several years, he and my mom would travel the state in autumn to enjoy the changing colors and the scenery of the place we call Wild and Wonderful and Almost Heaven. It was really cool to be able to venture out together.

For me, it was cool because Dad and I were able to spend some quality time together with no hurries and no worries. Seems like more and more I have a hard time making a clean break from my vocation and my "normal life". Seems a bit strange probably, but for as much as many would applaud my efforts to create a space of separation for relaxation, there are those voices in my head(maybe they came from other people at some point)--those voices that lay a huge burden of guilt at times for trying to pull away.

Well, regardless of all of that, I had a wonderful and relaxing time with my dad yesterday. And I caught a monster brood trout too. We met in Bridgeport, and drove together into the fall color. Yesterday marked the first time I have been able to fish with any seriousness since my friends Steve and Liz flew me to Minnesota and took me to Canada because they wanted to insure I took a break and relaxed once in a while.

It's so ironic to me that back when I started working at Mylan I bought my lifetime hunting and fishing license, and it was around then that I found myself with little time to hunt or fish.

Do you ever feel like that--like the gaps or the margins keep getting smaller? I think we have to really fight for those margins.

And in the end, if we fight for the margins, we might be able to enjoy the fall colors with family, or even better, we might land a huge trout on the bank of an Appalachian lake with enough witnesses for photographs.

True Heroes

True Heroes, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This past Sunday, we interrupted our series at h2o to talk about something a little different. The title of the message was True Heroes: Extraordinarily Ordinary.

Recently I've been watching the TV series Heroes. If you've seen the show you know how amazingly addictive it is. The show features a number of ordinary people who discover that they have supernatural powers. Each one is unique, and part of the series is about these people learning how to use their unique gifts together for the cause of good.

Last week, a number of real heroes marched around in the woods. They prayed at their workplaces, and in their homes and churches. They made food for a number of search and rescue teams. They donated funds to help provide for the efforts of finding one little boy.

But at the same time, these were ordinary people. People like you and me. People who have bills to pay, and families to feed. People who have homework assignments due, and classes to attend. People who report to other vocations much of the time, but make themselves available when they are needed.

As people ventured into the woods to look for Jacob on different days in Dolly Sods very few were search and rescue experts. They were just regular people who were willing to step out in faith.

I think God has given each one of us a unique niche for influence. He has equipped each one of us differently and has great things he longs to do through us. The great things might not be what we expect, but rather, he is looking for folks who are available.

When folks were walking through those woods, it had very little to do with our expertise—it had to do with availability. When folks were praying for Jacob and his family, it had little to do with expertise—it had everything to do with availability. When we share our faith or listen to a hurting person, or feed a hungry person it has little to do with expertise—it has everything to do with availability. God wants to use each one of us for His kingdom purposes. But will you be used? Will you be available?

It’s so easy to get caught up in a daily grind of tv, internet, clothing, gossip, youtube, facebook, fashion, sports, food, reading, and playing that we drown out the voice of God, and busy ourselves with things that have very little eternal value. Maybe God needs us to tune out of the daily routine, to tune into what he is up to.

Every day you have an opportunity to make a choice, you have an opportunity to invest in something bigger than yourself. You have an opportunity to simply show up. Much of what we are able to do has to do with simply showing up and not checking out from where we are. Lot's of people make it their life goal to check out instead of show up.

Do you believe that God could use you? More importantly, do you believe that God wants to use an ordinary person like you? Every day you have an opportunity to make a choice, you have an opportunity to invest in something bigger than yourself. I think that when we make those investments, and we make ourselves available, we become Heroes in God's story, true heroes.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Search Party

Search Party, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Hallelujah! Jacob Allen is found, and is recovering well from four days in the Dolly Sods wilderness area of the Monongahela National Forest. I am completely amazed at how thoroughly God answered the prayers of so many people this week.

Yesterday afternoon, a search team found him napping in a small clearing in a rhododendron thicket. He was alert and responsive, and they were able to get him out of the woods rather quickly. I am thoroughly thankful for God's care and provision for the Allen family during this time.

I'm also thoroughly thankful for the talented individuals and teams I was able to work with as we all searched for jacob together. In the above picture are my buddy Jeremiah, my friends Gina and Andy, and a handful of high school and college students including Johnny Haring. These folks were amazing, and it was really cool to pray together with these folks who are part of Chestnut Ridge Church. The really wild thing is that Johnny just happened to see me at the base as they were being sent on assignment. Jeremiah jumped out of the transport van when he saw me, and I was quickly added to their team. (This whole set of circumstances was pretty miraculous in itself, but there are much more important things to share in this blog.) It was even more phenomenal that because we completed our assignment which was near the vicinity where jacob was found, we were able to see Jacob come up out of the woods, and share some sweet fellowship/celebration with Jim and Karen as they waited for their boy to arrive!

So many people made the drive from Morgantown (and from even farther away too!). I met some folks from Charleston yesterday as we made our way back to the base station.

This whole series of events was marked with providence, here are just a few amazing occurances. First, Jacob was ok--that's pretty amazing for someone who spent four days in the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on his back. Second, the weather kept getting warmer each day--Dolly Sods is not known for warm weather in October--plus it was supposed to rain, but the rain stayed away for the most part (just a slight sprinkle one night). Third, so many volunteers, search teams, search dogs, etc. came on the scene--this is remote wilderness, and it is extremely difficult terrain for anyone to cover. (my team yesterday ascended nearly 1000 feet in our vertical sweeps over uneven and rocky ground with thick ground cover.) Fourth, a physician's assistant found Jacob--this meant that he could quickly go over Jacob's vitals and make sure he wasn't severely injured. God orchestrated everything to insure that a medical professional would find him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dolly Sods

Dolly Sods, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I just pulled back into town late last night from working in Dolly Sods with rescue teams and volunteers from all over the area. So far, we haven't found Jacob.

Here's another associated press article covering the situation. I believe it was updated around 8AM today.

Please pray for Jacob Allen and his parents today. Also pray for the safety of the rescue and search teams. This is extremely rugged country, and, for those who are attempting to scour the landscape, very physically demanding. The area me and the team I was part of searched folled both sides of a stream which runs through the wilderness area. The rocks are extremely slippery, and the canyon on either side is composed of rhododendron that is extremely difficult to navigate. When the thicket thins out, the ground is usually quite rocky and uneven.

It's been cold at night, but thankfully, unless something had changed since I left last night, at least the rain is staying away.

Bloodhounds are being used in the area of his disappearance to attempt to track him.

Please keep jacob and his family in prayer, and spread the word to pray as well. If you google his name, it should be a way to get updates on the situation as well.

Thanks again.