Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Prayers for Accident Victims

I have no images with this entry. I was just talking online with one of the staff members at Chestnut Ridge Church, and he told me about there is a major wreck at the entrance ramp for interstate 68 east just outside morgantown, wv.

There's been a really bad accident on Interstate 68 near cheat lake, WV. There aren't a lot of details available except that it was a really bad accident involving at least two semis and multiple cars. The trucks were coming down the hill when a car pulled out in front of them. The first truck hit the car. The second truck hit cars waiting to get on in an attempt to miss the first truck.

Right now there are lots of sirens and a helicopter; victims are being life flighted out.

The church parking lot is becoming a truck stop for vehicles heading down 857 from uniontown.

All of this has been heard by my friend second hand. If you hear additional details, or know more information, feel free to leave additional comments. Regardless, any prayers you can offer up would be awesome!

Here is a link to the story from WBOY news.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A New Candidate for 2008?

So I got an email this morning in which the above link was attached. I laughed a lot at the clever work of some of my friends. Hope you enjoy a little humor this monday morning, and who knows? After all there are few month left before november . . .

If you can't view the image, try following this link.

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Me and Dave Lyons

Me and Dave Lyons, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
it's kind of wild the turns our lives take, and the friendships that we make along the way.

In summer 1996, I ran into a group of college students who were singing worship songs on a pier in Myrtle Beach. As a fairly new Christian, I introduced myself to them--I was thoroughly excited to meet other young people who were Christians. One of those people was a guy named Dave Lyons.

Dave was involved with a college ministry/church on the campus of the University of Maryland called Maryland Christian Fellowshipwhich is part of an association called Great Commission Ministries. A ministry which unbeknownst to me, the church I attended, Chestnut Ridge Church was also part of.

Who could have predicted the turns my life and his have taken? Who could have predicted that many years later, we are both laboring for the Gospel and actively involved in service in our respective churches. Who would have thought that in the last couple of years we would be able to catch up, to pray with and for each other, and encourage each other in the specific work God has given us the opportunity to do.

This photo was taken of Dave and myself at the Great Commission Churches National Pastors Conference. We have some pretty cool conversations when Dave and I get together, and it is cool to be encouraged by a brother who I seemingly met by a "chance" occurrence while on vacation with my family in Myrtle Beach.

Just a few weeks ago, I visited the church where Dave is now serving, Oak Ridge Community Church to talk with him and others about a coffeehouse event they are starting.

When I think about meeting Dave and others back in 1996, I had no idea what turns my life or theirs would make. I had no idea if we would ever connect again. And honestly, that's the way most of our interactions with others take place. We have no idea. We have no idea what turns our lives will take. What we can do is be faithful to the gospel of our King. We can strive to love our neighbor as our self, and make the most of the limited interactions we have with others during our relatively short stay on this planet before the life to come.

I'm grateful for friends like dave, and opportunities to reunite, reacquaint and spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

So I guess I can just encourage you to be mindful of your time on this earth. Enjoy your friends and acquaintances you meet along the way, and always seek to be an encouragement and a blessing to others. Who knows what great friendships God has in store for you with people you haven't met, or those who you meet while on vacation far from home. Strive to be aware--there are no ordinary moments.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Me and the Kerr's Marching Through the Crowd

Yeah, i know. this is going back a bit, but this is a photo of me and the Kerr clan making our way through the crowd at the powwow. That's my hair in the foreground. ;)

So I decided against staying in a tent for now. Maybe it was the heavy rains over the weekend, or perhaps it's just the thought of dealing with the sand. I don't want to wake up in a windstorm or a tropical depression while staying in a tent. But maybe I'll try it later this week--time will tell.

Right now I am staying with 22 of the students who are involved in GCM's Leadership Training program. They have renamed their beach house The Soul Den, and it has been a pretty cool experience so far. Most of us don't do well with living in community like that, but there's something profound in the formation of our character that we are missing out on by not experiencing community in this way.

In my opinion, this is one of the best parts of the program. For me, it's also been cool sharing with the students and hearing what God has been doing in their lives this summer.

You know, as I was looking at the photo of my best friend and his family, I couldn't help but think--most of us spend our time navigating the crowd. We just kind of weave our way through. Maybe our real need is to stop weaving and navigating, and engage the crowd. We need to stop being passersby and get connected. With my frequent travel this summer, it has been challenging but possible to get connected with folks wherever I have been.

The sad truth is that many of us spend our entire lives in one place, and never venture to connect to the community around us. Take a step out today and make a connection with someone. Maybe it will simply be a gesture of hospitality toward someone else, or maybe, God will be doing something in you through the process.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My First Powwow in a couple of years

Well, I am attempting to catch up a bit from the last month. I took this photo at the Lost But Not Forgotten 1st Annual Eastern Woodlands Powwow. If you are interested in checking out powwows in your area, you can visit this sitefor potential listings.

Powwows represent a hodge-podge of Native American culture from various traditions. While there are both spiritual, financial, musical, and physical components, these events largely provide a space for Indians and non-natives alike to connect and celebrate culture.

I went to visit my best friend on the planet--Willie--and his family near columbus and we took a road trip to this powwow. Willie and I both felt like it was one of the best powwows we had been to in a while. We knew many of the songs, so it was a bit nostalgic for us--it's not often you here Shawnee songs being sung at a powwow. The vendors were really friendly and down to earth too. Sometimes you can go to an event like this (regardless of culture--people are people) and it's as though people take on a different persona--people were very real, personable, and friendly across the board at this event.

While I was at the powwow, I had a long conversation with a flute maker. He had some flutes that were made from olive wood from Israel. The trees were very old. I told him I had a really good friend who did some woodworking in Israel. At first he didn't get my drift, and then he knew the woodworker I was talking about--that was his Master. So me and the flute guy talked about Jesus and flutes and powwows and music. I bought a flute.

I used to play in my tribe's tribal council house a while back, but never quite had the opportunity to play a ton, but now, I'm learning it again.

After cutting my hair, it's been really good to walk in places like powwows and experience traditions like playing the flute. Of course, most people have no idea about my background, and that's ok. It doesn't diminish me, my culture, or my enjoyment of my traditions (and other's) any less. It's good to be around other native people--especially Willie and his family.

This event took place about a month ago, but the story is worth sharing. If I am able to attend this powwow in the future, I probably will. And in the mean time, I will definitely enjoy playing my flute, and learning to slow down and appreciate the world around me.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Into The Piedmont

Into The Piedmont, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
While I do have plans to give a quick recap of some highlights from some of the last few weeks (it is always good to remember where you have been!), I will be attempting to keep some blog entries in the present as well.

Yesterday evening, I made the drive back to North Carolina, and had arrived at LT at about 2AM. Last time, it was because I left really late. This time it was because I included a couple of stops along the way, like going to see my friend Ricky Beamer who is keeping a blog here, and is quite a photographer. One other stop was at Pilot Mountain in North Carolina. If you've ever made the journey from Morgantown to WInston-Salem, you've seen this mountain.

Well, last night, after many trips past it, and with additional encouragement from my friend Brittani Kokot, I finally made the stop. It was AWESOME. It's right next to the highway, so it really doesn't take you out of the way on a trip--beyond that, it provided a great opportunity to stretch my legs, and take in some wonderful scenery. Although slightly hazy from the top, it really was breathtaking to look down upon the piedmont and the atlantic Coastal basin from this vista that sits 1400 feet above the rest of the plateau.

Today I am back at The Grind, not so much figuratively, but literally. I'm trying to take it easy today, and get re-oriented to LT, but I did stop by my favorite spot to hang out, grab a coffee, work, and just connect with people--The Grind at Carolina Beach. These folks are just getting their business started, and it's a phenomenal place. If you are in the area, you need to make a stop here! As I stepped into the space it felt like a reunion and an opportunity to catch up. What a great group of people!

Anyhoo, ironically, I feel like these next two weeks promise a degree of "normalcy" for my life. I may be living in a tent along the north end of the island for a few days while a family is using the place where I typically stay. It's a different world down here at LT, and there is a wonderful familiarity to the whole experience. I'm looking forward to savoring every moment to serve and to grow with students, staff, and community before I head back into Almost Heaven.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

After My Cousin's Work Was Done--My Hair Cut

Well, I've been praying and considering for the past year, whether or not to cut my hair back to it's length before I was a Christian. I started growing my hair out as a cultural symbol of my Shawnee ethnic heritage, and also as a symbol of my faith in Christ. My ancestors used to grow their hair long as a symbol of freedom, and since Christ set me free from my sinful life, I felt it appropriate to grow my hair to honor my ancestral traditions and celebrate what God has done.

At the same time, my ancestors would often cut their hair as a symbol of mourning and honoring those who had past out of this life into the afterlife. When my mom died last June, I cut my hair significantly to honor/mourn her. As the anniversary of her death approached, I felt like I should have it cut the rest of the way down. My life, and the lives of my family will not be the same with out her. In my spirit, and after much prayer, I feel cutting my hair short was an extremely appropriate gesture.

Beyond this, since the resignation of my chieftainship, which you can read about here, I have been mourning and broken-hearted over the state of my tribe. I could write with profundity about the deep, rich symbolic nature of a Shawnee man cutting his hair, but I believe these few words will suffice.

People who knew me before I was a Christian, will probably vaguely remember me looking this way. People who meet me from now on will probably not know about this story. And many who know me now probably won't get it either. C'est la vie, I guess. Truth is there are stories we all carry that very few people are privy to.

Will I grow it long again? I don't know, I imagine it will be short for quite some time, but one never really knows what will happen in this life. I spent fourteen years of my life with long hair.

For those of you conscientious people who are wondering--the answer is yes--I did donate my hair to locks of love.

And for those of you who have seen me, and have been wondering--as so many non-native people do, "What's up with the haircut?"--now you know . . .

Me and My Cousin Jo Ann--cutting my hair

Me and My Cousin Jo Ann, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Looks like I'm getting a later start on the blog. I woke up later and with a few surprises on my plate. Nonetheless, I'm going to attempt to start at the very beginning.

This photo was taken last month when I returned back north from Carolina Beach, NC. That's my cousin Jo Ann on the right. We have been pretty close since we were kids. There's an old picture of us, and she is feeding me in my high chair as a baby.

For years, she has been a hair stylist/beautician, and I have gone to her any time I needed to trim up my hair. These times are just good reconnecting times, and I always appreciate talking with my cousin Jo.

I'm so thankful for family and for opportunities to catch up. I'm thankful also that my cousin understands the spiritual and cultural significance of my hair--I know I can trust her. If you are in the Parkersburg area, and you are looking for someone who know's what she's doing when it comes to hair--check out my cousin Jo Ann. She has a chair at Jon Six & Company. Ask for her by name, and let her know you learned about her through this blog. (Just in case she doesn't read this--at least she'll know her cousin thinks the world of her!)

And by the way, this is the last photo taken of me before cutting my hair last month. More on that to come . . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rolling Down the Highway

Rolling Down the Highway, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
So I've been on the go for a bit now. I've many stories to tell and many images to share, but it has been hard to find/make the time to get those images and stories out.

The photo above was taken on one of my professor's farm a little over a week ago. We had a mini-reunion as I was returning back from DC on the weekend of the fourth. Three of us went to the top of the farm and watched the sun set over the horizon. It was a beautiful tranquil evening, and one unlike any my friends had experienced in quite some time. It was a gift.

I'm scheduling time tomorrow morning specifically to blog and get caught up on somethings on here.

Last week, I made two trips to Parkersburg. My dad was having blurred vision, and I could tell it was bothering him. He was wondering if he might be losing his vision. He has macular degeneration, and if you take a moment to read that and say it out loud it just sounds scary. Thankfully, my dad's macular degeneration is barely visible and it's only in one eye. As long as he eats right, takes his vitamins, and wears sunglasses outside, he should have great vision for a long time.

But, his prescription for glasses had changed. His eyes are getting slightly more farsighted, so he needs to wear his glasses all of the time. His blurred vision was from not wearing his glasses, and his eyes were just straining to the point of exhaustion. He's getting new glasses this week, and he has been much better about wearing his glasses this week.

It was great spending time with dad while he was up in Morgantown, and spending a little bit of time with him, my sister, and my uncle this weekend as well.

Now I'm preparing for one last summer in a return visit to help close down the leadership training program GCM does in Carolina Beach, NC. Before I leave, my blog WILL be caught up though. So be looking for some posts, and have a great rest of your day wherever you are!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Floating for the Fourth

Oceanside Pipeline, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this photo while I was staying in Carolina Beach helping out with GCM's Leadership Training (LT) program. I took the photo while I was floating across the Cape Fear River on my way from Fort Fisher to Southport on a Ferry.

Speaking of floating, I feel like that's a lot of what I've been doing lately. Tonight after speaking to our summer canvas group at sozo, I'm going to float down towards Winchester, VA to connect with my friends Brett and Amanda Jo Huffman and spend the night at their place.

From there, I will float on towards Springfield, VA where I will participate in a rehearsal and wedding for my friends JR and Christy. In the middle of it all, I may float into DC to see some fireworks too! After the wedding and reception, I'm going to attempt to float towards columbia, MD to attend a church that Great Commission has in the area and sharing with them a little bit of the vision of our coffeeshop here in Morgantown, Sozo. Then I imagine I will be floating back towards Morgantown.

I imagine you might be floating somewhere to celebrate the fourth, or perhaps some people are floating towards you. Wherever you are, be safe, and make sure to take time to reflect on the ultimate freedom that was won long before the revolutionary war in the United States. The war that was fought on a cross in 33AD and the victory that was won as our King marched forward three days later. Now that's worth some fireworks and more if you ask me!