Friday, December 26, 2008

Meineke Car Care Bowl Bound

White Out, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Three days ago, I began a whirlwind of travel. It started in Morgantown, and the first stop was Parkersburg, WV for Christmas.

Today begins the next leg of the trip. Today, I leave for the Meineke Car Care Bowl. I think it's gonna be a great time with some great people. We will leave around noon for Huntersville, NC where we will stay at the world famous Nic and Tara Culp house.

And then tomorrow morning we will rise early (before noon) to drive from Huntersville to the center of Charlotte, NC. After the bowl, we will be traveling west towards Ashville, NC where we will be attending the 2008 Faithwalkers conference. Pretty exciting stuff! (Hopefully we will be able to find a station that covers the WVU/OSU basketball game too.

Of course after all of that comes a return trip to Parkersburg, then to morgantown, then to Pittsburgh, and then to San Francisco.

Soooooo. . . it may be a few days before I'm able to blog again, might even be 2009. I've got some books I wanna review, and I'm hopeful God gives me some cool adventures to share with you in the interim.

In the meantime, let's go mountaineers!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Presence

I hope you are with family and friends during the holidays, and I hope you can savor every moment. We have been given so much. Today we celebrate a baby being born halfway around the world in a small middle eastern town. Kind of crazy when you think about the impact that little baby has.

And kind of crazy when you think about this. According to the theme of the story, that little baby came into the world as a sign of the great LOVE the CREATOR of the universe has for us. He came into the world to be WITH people. God WITH us.

So today, as you read this message that I am writing and you are reading on a computer screen, I want you to do something that sometimes I feel like we've forgotten. I want you to be WITH people. Laugh with them, cry with them, open presents with them. Let your mind and your heart be there with them. The best present is your PRESENCE.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and that you savor the time you have with the people around you. In a world that seems to be running at an ever increasing pace, perhaps that's the best gift of all.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Me and Justin McRoberts

Me and Justin McRoberts, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Last month the guy on the right in the photo above rolled into Morgantown for a concert. His name is Justin McRoberts. I first heard Justin's music when I bought his CD on a whim at a bookstore in Frederick Maryland called The Shepherd's Table. His voice was rich and robust, his guitar was simple and yet a perfect complement to his voice. His lyrics were very straghtforward, but there was something about his voice singing his lyrics that communicated passion, honesty, and a vulnerability I have rarely experienced.

I was going through a lot when I picked up Justin's first CD, and his music was a gift from God for me. I don't like to categorize music in this way, because all music is an opportunity to reflect the beauty of the Creator as we engage in the creative endeavor ourselves. Justin's words were simple yet true, and I found myself hijacking his lyrics and making them my own personal outpourings of prayer to God. Many times I would find myself in tears while singing the songs Reason for Living (which is also the name of the album) and Galatians 2:20.

It was great being able to connect with Justin in sozo of all places. Judging by the lyrics of some of the songs from his latest album (which I purchased that night), we are once again thinking in a similar vein about how to live this life of faith to bring God the most glory.

One other thing, Justin and I were able to talk about my recent endeavor of my friends Jake and John to do holistic sustainable development among the world's rural extreme poor. Justin does some similar work to promote another non-profit, and it was just cool to talk about our generation's desire to live out our calling in such a way as to transform some of the ugliness in this world into beauty.

If you get a chance, you should definitely check out justin's music, or catch him in concert somewhere. He's a talented musician, and it's evident after spending some time with him that his desire is to both sing and live from the heart.

What would happen if we all strived toward that a little more?

Postgame Prayer

Postgame Prayer, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I uploaded this photo a while back, but I haven't been able to write about it since. Been fighting a really bad cold/flu or some kind of malady, but today I feel like I am on the upswing.

This photo was taken after the final WVU game of the season, which was also Pat White and many others' last game in Morgantown. It was a low scoring game without a lot of big plays, but it was a great game to experience too.

One of my favorite parts came after the game was over. Pat White was surrounded by reporters, and he fought his way through those reporters for one last prayer huddle with both USF and WVU players on the 50 yard line. It's so cool to see a public testimony like the large swarm of players and coaches huddling together in the middle of a field surrounded by 60,000 people.

And after the game and the prayer were over, white did something I had never seen a player do before. He made his way slowly around the edge of the stadium and shook the hands/high fived every fan who reached their hand over the wall of the stadium. After making his "final victory lap", white was picked up by a golf cart and proceeded to start a second lap around the stadium on his way to the locker room.

I'm looking forward to seeing this guy wear the gold and blue one last time in Charlotte in a few days!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This video was on my friend Ricky Beamer's blog, and so I thought I would put it on mine too. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that my eyes are being opened constantly to the great needs in our world, and the fact that we in the west have tons of resources to do something about those needs. But it all starts with change. And I invite you to think about that word change in all of the senses it is used.

It starts with change--what do you do with your coins? Your loaves and fishes? Would you be willing to change how you spent your cash? And how you celebrated the holiday season? Is it really your cash anyway?

Every year, we all run out to shop and among Christians we put taglines in our greeting cards and even on clothing that encourages others to "remember the reason for the season." It's a great tagline, but I wonder how much we think about the fact that the Creator of the universe, the one who gave you that last breath you took, came to earth in the form of a baby. LOVE entered the world, and dwelt with us. And our response is to spend a bunch of money on junk.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Gifts aren't a bad thing either. I feel a strong temptation every CHristmas to go overboard with my gift giving. I want to be lavish and extravagant with my family and friends. And I think that's a great thing. But maybe more could be communicated if I spend less on gifts (definitely getting gifts for folks!) and more on time. Time is a precious commodity. I want to be fully present with people when we are together, and I have a hard time at that sometimes, I think we all have a hard time with that. But THAT is a far better gift than toys and such. Time communicates love better than any other gift. Where are you spending your time?

Lastly, as a thought that emerged from the video, how could you take a little bit of that money you save on gifts to help someone in need? A better question than how is WILL you take a little bit of that money you would spend lavishing on people you love, and lavish some of it on people who are forgotten? Or maybe even giving some of those gifts to groups who are laboring for change in the world.

I want to suggest a few places where you could give for a greater impact.

1) Your church. One third of Christians say they tithe, 8% actually do. Imagine a company running on 8% of it's budget, and what it would be able to do. If you don't tithe, you should start. If you do tithe, consider giving a little more to your church this Christmas so they can redistribute those funds to further the influence of the gospel. Unless you don't think your church is doing that, and then you probably should talk to your church about it or find a new church . . .

2) Nuru International. Of course I'm going to plug this organization. It was started by my friends. It is doing great work at meeting desperate needs among some of the poorest people in the world. You could actually be part of helping a community of 5000 people have access to clean drinking water through Nuru. Water for Christmas? That sounds absurd--I agree, but over 1 billion people would enjoy water more than you will ever enjoy that new ipod.

3) International Justice Mission. I've blogged about this organization before as well, have you heard of them? They help rescue some of the 27 million slaves in our world today. Most of these folks are children. You could make a gift that will help these kids have an advocate, and to gain their freedom. Think about it. Freedom for a Christmas present.

4) Another great organization. There are tons out there. Look around. Pray. See where God leads you to give, and then do it.

This christmas let's all try to change our spending habits. Spend your time this Christmas. Bake some cookies with your sister. Go for a walk with your dad. Make a difference in the world with the abundant resources you have been given.

Take some time today to slow down and consider how you can freshly communicate your love to family and friends, and your love to those who you may never meet.

Love generously.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

La Belle Rivière

La Belle Rivière, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This is one of my favorite places. It's the Ohio River. The french called it "the beautiful river" and it truly is beautiful. It actually starts in New York and goes by the name Allegheny River up there. One time I drove along many miles of the Allegheny with my mom and dad. Many times we have driven along the Ohio. Every mile of it is beautiful.

Technically, the Ohio starts where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join at Pittsburgh and then it continues south and west to the Mississippi. This river defined rivers for me as a young boy. I can remember many fishing trips, many bike rides, many car rides, and many memories in general along the banks and in the waters of this river.

The banks along the river have changed a lot over the years. There's a little bar and grill that pollutes my night time view from the confluence of the Ohio and Little Kanawha Rivers now. There's also lots of new houses and businesses that keep springing up along different portions of the river.

The whole world seems to be in a state of flux. Things are changing constantly in our world, but the river itself, it never seems to change. I think maybe that's why this river has always been really important to my family and my tribe. The river offers serenity and stability.

Even as you read this, think about your life. Think about the changes you have witnessed and experienced. Consider how your life has been shaped over time and the beauty and agony of it all.

And then remember the river. Remember the water. Remember that there are somethings that give us stability in our life.

No wonder Jesus talked about rivers of living water that flow from within for those who know him.

I hope you can freshly experience that truth in your life today.

Superhero Family Photo

Superhero Family Photo, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this photo on Thanksgiving day while on a long hike with all of my siblings but one. My brother Chuck and his family weren't able to make it in for the holiday because they live in California.

My dad and sister walk every day. Willie walks every day that he visits my dad. ;)

It's incredible what walking does for a person. You know, I think the reason why so many folks are stressed and feel isolated so much of the time is because they have a hard time disengaging from the busy-ness for a bit and just walking.

i know I have that problem. I take some time out from time to time (like going to the WVU game), but that doesn't really cut it. Walking and talking or simply just walking and thinking--those help me to relax.

I used to take long drives, but I stopped for a couple of reasons. Gas prices tripled over the last three or four years, and it probably isn't the best stewardship of limited natural resources.

Plus walking is just good exercise. My dad and sister are in great physical condition because they walk. And Willie's health is improving as a result of his visits.

I hope you can take some time to disengage from the busy-ness as the year rolls to an end. Go for a walk. Breathe the air. Uncloud the mind. As I write this I realize, I'm in need of a walk myself . . .

Friday, December 05, 2008

Nuru Launches Episode 3

My friends Jake, Janine, Doug, and Nicole have been hard at work in a small village in Southwestern Kenya for the last 10 weeks. Their task? To listen to the people in a community of 5000 to help them to lift themselves out of extreme poverty--for good.

I'm tempted to write a lot, but honestly, I would rather you just take a few minutes and watch this video. If you like what you see then tell your friends about this blog, and about this video and organization. Also, go to the Nuru website for more videos.

Because we want to raise awareness of the crisis of extreme poverty that affects one out of every six people on the planet, we are relying on you. I can only tell so many people. But you can tell people I may never meet, and they can continue to tell people you may not know.

Together, we can end extreme poverty, one community at a time.

The only thing that needs to happen for evil and injustice to triumph is for good people to do nothing.--Edmund Burke.

So . . . do something!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Greatest Mountaineer Room

My cousin and his wife are finalists in the "Greatest Mountaineer Room" competition being sponsored by the book exchange. I am hoping that as you visit this blog, you would take the time to click this link and vote for my cousin's room. He is contestant #9 and the image at the top of this blog should be seen on the bookexchange website.

I'm asking not only that you vote, but that you tell other people to vote. You could share this blog with a friend and do to services. 1) You could help out my cousin. 2) You could spread word about this blog to others. (I'm always excited to have more folks reading)

I think you can only vote once, so it is really important that 1) YOU VOTE and 2) YOU TELL OTHERS.

Thanks for helping spread the word for my cousin and his wife. BTW, it's been a while since I've seen the actual room, but what I remember about it is that it is AWESOME!!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

msi kah miqui

This is my tribe's tribal council house. I have a lot of fond memories of this place. The building has twelve sides and twelve posts. These posts represent the twelve clans of my tribe, as well as the twelve disciples of Jesus. In the center of the building is a center pole. It holds the weight of the building. It represents the shawnee nation as a whole, and the God of all creation who sustains all of life.

I'm writing this blog entry not just to tell you about the building. Although I could go on and on about memories of this space--it's a pretty sacred place.

This weekend at chestnut ridge church, I shared a little story about my chief. He was asked to speak on American Indian issues at a nearby National Park, and he had invited some of us younger guys to join him. It was pretty exciting--we were dressed in our traditional ceremonial regalia, and were walking along a footpath at this park.

Sometimes at these parks they have historic re-enactors around. At this event they had some folks who were representative of "redcoats" british soldiers. They had a guy playing a flute, a drummer, and a guy playing bagpipes. They even had folks carrying around black powder rifles. It was when I saw these guys marching along the footpath that I got an idea.

The area along the footpath was a marsh--there were cattails and bulrushes growing along both sides of the path. I told a couple of young guys with me that we should form a "war party" and "ambush'" these soldiers. And so we hid among the cattails until they passed us, and then we rushed out with blood-curdling war-whoops! We scared the daylights out of those "soldiers". It was like re-living some aspect our our ancestors lives.

But then the park rangers caught up to us. They began to lecture us, and even threatened us with ejection from the park. And then one of the rangers asked if we were Shawnees with Chief Raincrow. I answered yes, and then we got an even greater tongue lashing. We were representatives of my tribe and now we had created an "international incident."

I knew we had to tell my chief, so our little "war party" went down the path for our confessional. We were so bummed about the thought of disappointing our okeema. But he told us not to worry--that if anybody from the parks service talked to him he would deal with it. He thanked us for being honest and telling him what we had done. And then he winked at us.

He was kind of impressed with our tactical strategy among the reeds.

My chief had a way of letting people know they were accepted, protected, defended, and cared for. That's a very special thing. Everybody wants that. Why wouldn't they? it's great to belong to a community and have a strong leader.

Even greater than that gift, is the gift that God offers us--we are uniquely blessed by the creator of the universe. We belong to Him. He has reconciled us to Himself, and He is our great leader.

Just some old memories and reminders of great truths from a Shawnee.