Day 121 – Friday Freedom
Drinking Cold Brew coffee from Starbucks is both an addiction and a hatred – I order this drink probably three times per week and expect it to amp my caffeine levels to dangerous levels (which it does). I also expect it to taste like a bad cigar in liquid form (which it does). I get this drink without water or ice so I maximize my Starbucks investment, but every time I swallow it back I nearly gag on the taste. I should just change my order to something more palatable, but when I get to the counter I feel that I have to take on my coffee nemesis – to face my fears – to battle my Goliath. I keep thinking that it will become an acquired taste that I actually acquire, but so far I have no acquisition. Maybe if I ate some tar on the off days I would be able to fall in comparative love with the Cold Brew. Anyway, I begin with this because this was one of those Starbucks days. I could have just drunk my free corporate housing coffee, but I had to brave this challenge one more time. Cold Brew – I will conquer you by falling in love with you…
So as most Fridays go, I had a good one. I started off meeting with my Lubbock Pre-K group and then I met with the lead from the Lubbock landscaping group and went through their analytics. I talked to them about how their holiday lighting business was going and they told me it was busier than last year – they blamed me for that success. I accepted that blame. After this I hung out with Melissa for lunch at Carprisi’s Italian eatery. As we chomped on Manicotti and Canneloni, we talked about whether we would have pets after we get married. Animal preferences are a big deal. Trust me, it’s deep stuff. After some emotional discussion we decided on starting with a turtle over a dog or cat so that we could ease into taking on more responsibility. Turtles are cool – we both like them. And Melissa said that if we wanted to have something we could pet, we could just glue some soft wig hair onto the turtle’s shell. I already feel sorry for this turtle – kind of like I feel sorry for dachshunds that are forced to wear sweaters. Still, I think we will have the softest and coolest turtle in town.
Meditation: Jesus offended the religious leaders with several different statements and told them that they were doing the religious things correctly but were forgetting to handle the bigger things that please God – like doing justice and bringing mercy to bear on others. I couldn’t really put myself in the place of these leaders, but I did get convicted by the fact that I don’t take opportunities to do justice and to mete out mercy. In many ways I think that I leave those actions to church leaders. I sort of expect them to be the ones who do the “professional” ministry, while I go about just working and making a living. I need to stop thinking like this. I need to realize that I am a disciple of Jesus who needs to actually put God’s desires into practice.
I have a long way to go…
Day 118 – Tuesday Trash
I woke up in my corporate housing bed much happier than yesterday – I guess my Central Nervous System just needed to reset my balance of good and bad. Anyway, I started my normal routine and headed downstairs to swim. Both Tom and Sarah were there this morning as I went for my daily swim – they were there to say “hey” and to invite me to go on a storage war in Midland that is happening on Saturday. I told them that I would if Melissa wanted to accompany us – they were cool with that. It would be a double date going hording for many pieces of obsolescent trash and broken knick-knacks – might be fun to expose Melissa to the weird lives of our neighbors. What was really interesting was that Sarah showed me a diamond band on her finger and told me that she and Tom were going to be married in a few months. She said both Melissa and I would be invited to that occasion as well. Tom thanked me for setting them up in the first place and while I doubted they had put as much work into their “getting to know one another” process, I had high hopes for their marital success. They were two lonely people in the middle of their lives and they had found someone who wanted someone else. So why not? Let them give it a shot.
Speaking of Midland, I had discussions with their marketing lead person and assured them that their “Midland Corporate Housing” keyword was on the upswing. It was taking longer than expected to get Google to crawl their website. This delay happens sometimes and can make customers uneasy because they want to see upward movements in their rankings – I don’t blame them. If I was on their leadership team and I was paying someone like me to do things to their site, I would expect rapid and reports about things. I told them that one of my analytics tools did have them ranking in the top 10 overall and that I would have an official report for them in a week. (I hate making clients wait – makes me feel like I am not doing my job correctly. But I am not the implementation specialist at Google and thus I can’t make things pop as fast as I would like.) Anyway, the rest of my workday was easy because I had good movements for all the rest of my clients.
Meditation: 1 Thessalonians – The verses that stuck out to me were the ones that talked about the end of the world and about how those who believe in Jesus would meet him in the air once he comes back to bring a new kingdom on the earth – a kingdom that would last forever. This was written to encourage the believers who were having to struggle against daily oppression but for me as a modern day reader, I was simply encouraged by the fact that the boredom of the current systems would someday end. I could not and cannot wait for Jesus to come back and change everything into The New…
That’s it for Tuesday –
Day 116 – Sunday schooling
After getting myself ready in my short-term furnished apartment, I actually went to church this morning. I didn’t really go to hear the sermon again, but I had heard that they have Sunday school classes in between the services and so that piqued my interest. I hadn’t been to a Sunday school class since I was a little kid and so I didn’t know what the adult version would be like. But, I wanted to see – I figured it wouldn’t hurt to dig into the Bible with other like-minded people. I chose a class called “When Woe means Whoa.” It was about all of the times in the Bible that God said woe to different nations and individuals and how these different groups or individuals responded to this warning. I really liked hearing this man (Mr. James Rhoads) expound on some of these times and I think the way he handled the Scripture taught me something about how to lead the Bible study I lead on Monday evenings. At the end of the class, he asked if anyone had prayer requests or announcements and I told everyone that we had a Bible Study at my Lubbock Corporate Housing spot and that they were all invited (I told them that there would be good food provided from my favorite Lubbock catering spot). I had some extra flyers folded up in my Bible and so I put them at the back of the class just in case anyone wanted to join us. The teacher of this class encouraged the class to show up and I felt happy that I wasn’t blown off. Anyway, I was happy I came to this class and I planned to come next week – that time with my beautiful Melissa in tow.
Speaking of Melissa, she was asleep for most of the day after working hard for fourteen hours. Her schedule makes me feel like a lazy person. She puts all of herself into caring for people in rough conditions. I so respect her for how she does what she does. I also especially respect the fact that she has bounced back so quickly from her wreck and got back in the swing of things. I know that I have been blessed with a winner who will be my second priority (behind God) for the rest of my days.
My meditation was about how Jesus healed a large crowd of people who followed Him for miles and then how He fed the 5,000 with just a minimal of supplies. What stuck out for me was how Jesus takes care of everyone. He didn’t ask for any money or any applause. He just does good to us even though we don’t deserve it. I can see this kind of generosity being played out in my life on an every day basis and I am thankful that He doesn’t leave me hungry and/or broken apart.
Anyway, this was a good day.
Day 115 – Saturday Alone
Meditation from the comforts of my Lubbock Corporate Housing space: I read Ezekiel 16 and was taken aback when I read about God’s fury at Israel. He describes Israel as this little baby that had not been cared for. He tells about how God took that young country and made it special – made it beautiful – made it pure. But then he described how Israel grew up to become a prostitute of a nation that always gave itself away to other nations – how it committed adultery by serving other gods – how it made love to dishonor. God even says how Israel had gotten worse than Sodom at its worst and that He was going to bring Israel down to where it deserved to be – exposed and defeated. But then He said how that one day He would be merciful and make Israel special again. This was the part that stuck out to me the most. Sure, I noted how my own nation is as adulterous as it comes and how I am a part of it. I also noted that we most likely deserve major judgment because we are like Sodom on our best days. But to read about how God loves so much – how He is love – and how He redeems even the worst of us made me feel closer to God who has been so very patient with my disobedience. I suddenly knew that Jesus was what made me special and lovely. I suddenly knew that God was overlooking my unrighteousness because of His nature and I knew I would be carried above it all and placed in an undeserved eternal home someday. Suddenly, homes for sale in Lubbock meant little to me because I could imagine the perfect home in Heaven. I actually felt overwhelmed with emotion after reading this. I had read it before but it had never struck me like this. I gave thanks for the Holy Spirit who opened my eyes to this piece of scripture.
This meditation led me to my church service in the afternoon – I went alone because Melissa was working the late shift. I felt alone when I was there among my fellow sinners but I still carried with me the feeling of glory from the meditation. I worshipped with all my might and surrendered everything I could think of during the music and my mind was on super focus mode while the preacher preached. He gave a sermon that reminded me of the Lubbock Pre-K school that was my client – It was about raising up children that knew the Lord and could stand on their own in their own spirituality instead of resting on their parents’ faith. It was solid and I was happy to have had such a wonderful spiritual day. I hadn’t expected it at all – I expected normal but God gave me so much more.
Have you ever had such a day like this? What do you think of being moved so strongly by the Holy Spirit? Feel free to comment.
Day 105 – Thursday Arises
After my bout with Food Poisoning, I felt fit as a fiddle in the Charlie Daniel’s Band – Okay, maybe not that fit. I’m not up for a challenge from the enemy of my soul – I’m more ready for a normal day of customer service followed by analytics reports. I took my time swimming at my Lubbock Corporate Housing pool – getting my body stretched out to set up new campaigns for my new accounts (Midland Corporate Housing, Amarillo Corporate Housing and Lubbock catering). Swimming is a mind and body exercise that every salesperson needs to engage in. There is nothing like chlorine in your retinas to grant you clear vision. Anyway, I rejoiced that I could eat a bagel with butter today without immediately without my stomach rolling itself out of my mouth.
Melissa and I had a lunch date at Torchy’s Tacos (might have been pushing myself a little too hard there). The food was grand and so were the conversations we had about our lives together now and in the future. We actually Skyped her parents after lunch so I could see them and officially meet them on the virtual path. They were very kind and they laughed at some things I said – that always makes me like people more. They also told me about how much they value their daughter and about how much they expected from me as her husband. I was earnest in my responses and I think they were satisfied that Melissa had not linked herself to some Lubbock psycho.
Melissa and I also went to our first premarital counseling session with a psychologist that specializes on helping pre-married people understand the challenges of marriage. Dr. Atkinson (actually a female) took us in her office and just had us tell our relational story. She asked some background questions and our answers took up the rest of our time for this meeting. It was nice to hear from Melissa about how she viewed our story – similar but different than mine. I think we both surprised one another with some things, but nothing was shocking or scary. The PhD. said that she was impressed with how much we knew about each other already and that she felt like we were going to be a fun couple to counsel. We did tell her that we had been using both The Love Dare and I guess I do: The Ultimate Marriage Survival Guide to get ourselves to wrestle with some things that most people never think to ask themselves before getting hitched. Anyway, it was a good session and we both said we looked forward to doing it again next week.
Meditation: Be still and know that I am God – This one always challenges me because it tells me to stop what I am doing and focus my attention on God as the One who cares for me in the most crazy of circumstances. I have got to stop pushing the Panic Button every time there is a life upheaval. I need to be a leader for Melissa as we head into uncharted territory and show her that her husband really trusts God when it’s not easy to trust God. Good stuff all around.