Man. It’s been so long since I’ve written.
not just a blog–but just WRITTEN!!! And I used to tell myself I did my best “thinking” when I let it come out onto paper and I could re-read, re-vise, re-visit these thoughts so that they didn’t get lost with the other thoughts: caught by the wind.

But, i’ve had something on my mind: The only thing worth thinking. The Spirit of God is active! Man, I’ve “known” this for so long, but between several conversations and a couple tangible reminders of His work in this world, I can’t NOT say it. It’s the only thing worth proclaiming: God is Love and Love is real! “Love is all we need!” “Always Love!” Fill in the blank. God created all of us, loves all of us, & can be seen in everything. There is beauty in the world, and where there is beauty, there is God! Every good and precious thing comes from God and how could I ever forget it?!?

Ok. That was rapid fire.

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or whine, Israel, saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts! He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine! He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath. And he knows everything inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire & drop out, young folk in their prime stumble & fall. But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, & they won’t lag behind.                                                                                                                                       Isaiah 40.27-31 (the message)

Without even knowing it, today a friend of mine reminded me that EACH day we have a decision of what we will live for. Ourselves?  The approval of others? Most of the time, by not consciously fixing my thoughts on God, I choose vanity, prideful ambition, or selfish gain. Oh, but in our darkness a light shines! And all I ever want to say for the rest of my life is how the light is GOD! And though I’ve been mistaken on this or that point, that light is God.

So, first, let me clarify that the title of this blog comes from a hip-hop song that i’ve got stuck in my head right now…other than the extremely loose connection (name only) to the scholar that I plan on quoting shortly, there is no relation between “Swagga Like Us” by Jay-Z and T.I. (featuring Kanye West) and the rest of this blog…I just thought I should clarify.

So, I viewed a documentary a couple nights ago about human trafficking. Extremely compelling. I’d absolutely recommend it (Call & Response). Anyways, Dr. Cornell West was interviewed for the documentary. If you’re not familiar, Dr West is a scholar, public intellectual, philosopher, critic,pastor, and civil rights activist–all the while, a professor at Princeton. He had some brilliant historical insights into the problem of human trafficking we have in the world today.

Although the topic deserves our attention, this blog isn’t about human trafficking either. There was something that Dr. West said that’s stuck with me. Forgive my paraphrase–i wasn’t taking notes–but it was somthing like this:

I say these people deserve our attention. When someone feels like they are not worth attention, they feel as if they are without worth. And feeling worthless is hardly a step up from being extinct. If you agree with me–that these poor, disenfranchised outcasts deserve our attention, give them back their sense of worth. 

Apply “these people” to any number of groups of people–those Christ has called us to give our attention to…the orphans, widows, hungry, sick, in prison, lonely, broken, disenfranchised, hurting…

I feel like i’m doing his quote an injustice. I should’ve taken notes. But maybe you can catch a hint of the magnitude of his intent?

 

Another quote of his that I’m crazy about: “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

This is a story from the Bible (message version)–the book of Matthew and chapter 14.

 Moving to Portland was really exciting. Really hard at times, but a decision that I really felt led to in love and completely thrilled about what I came here to be apart of. The first couple of months were fairly difficult. I was homesick for who and what I left in Nampa and the shocking reality of how different life was here was scary and unexpected. 

Through love, prayer, council, and direction from those around me, I pressed through those difficult months and I’m thrilled to be able to say that I made it. The last one year has been the most fulfilling time in my life. Love has been real and has saved lives. 

However, just about three weeks ago, I found myself devoting my time and energy to unworthy causes and isolating during my “free time.” I was paying attention to all the wrong things. It didn’t take long for me to feel more detached from everything I love here. I felt like I was sinking.

But the second I cried for help, help was there. Relief came immediately. Peace was breathed into my being. Unity was restored.  I love it here.

“Faint-heart, what got into you?” 

Dang, this summer’s been awesome so far! I’ve been spending lots of time with lots of really great friends (several of whom I’ll be sad to see them return to nampa not too long from now…) (really great friends also includes these guys I live with), I’ve made lots of new friends too, and to top it all off, the weather’s been awesome.

Oh, and i’ve been reading a lot instead of watching movies…and it’s awesome!

Oh, and i’ve been cooking for myself instead of going out a lot…and i love it!

Oh jeez–how could i forget–I’ve been riding my bike tons! I love my bike!

 On monday nights during the summer, there’s a Portland concert series that takes place at a beautiful park on the river in our neighborhood. Our church was asked to host the Bike Corral this year. It’s pretty much just a bike parking lot, but we keep them safe and organized. They’ve never had a bike corral until this year and we made it happen! It was just such a great snapshot of what’s been happening–I had one of those moments where the sight, sound, smell, feel is all etched into my brain as I’m looking down across 3000 people to the river where the sun’s being reflected off of it and back at us as wisps of cotton meander through the air like summer time snow flakes–all the while, i’m surrounded by several great friends as well as meeting many more…It was beautiful.

 Another snapshot from the summer i’ll never forget is on the 3rd green of The Childrens Course (a 3 par, 9 hole golf course in Gladstone, OR). Chris Spicer tees off and manages to send his ball straight towards a small group of elderlies enjoying the 4th green. It seems Chris can’t shout “FORE” loud enough, or soon enough because no one seemed to react. Chris had just recently proclaimed how he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but right then he hit the broad side of a man’s leg. The man was totally fine so I felt ok about practically being on the ground laughing about it as I’m teeing up to go next. The icing on the cake was when the man in the motorized wheelchair, oxygen tank in hand, wheels up to the ball, miraculously stands up out of the chair to toss Chris his ball.

They were all really good sports about it.

 All the while this beautiful summer’s been happening around here, my dad’s in the middle of an epic motorcycle road trip with his best friend, and my sister and caleb are on an even more epic road trip on the east coast. (Follow their blogress at http://calebandtori.blogspot.com

 I love life. And i love you too.

I had one of “those moments” today. I don’t really know what to say about it–and the elements in and of themselves weren’t more spectacular than they usually are, but there was just this culminating moment that I felt God drawing my attention away from my book to say, “Hey, I made this. Enjoy.” 

I need to make sure and do that more often.

Keep it simple.

Always love.

Float on.

 

Each of these phrases have brought me to tears this month–all at different times–and for various reasons i won’t go into–but I’m crazy about each of them. They are all phrases I plan to live by. the first was spoken to me by a drunk-turned recovering alcoholic-turned best friend. The second was spoken by Jesus (well, i mean, pretty much…)–also a great friend, the wind in my sail, and my source of joy. The third is from a song by Modest Mouse.

 

God, i love life.

Deconstruction is something that I don’t want to be apart of anymore. Particularly when it comes to the church. I was in this mode of deconstruction when i was still in Idaho…for at least the last year–no definitely longer than that. At least 2 years before I moved to Portland, and honestly, I don’t know if I would’ve moved if it weren’t for my deconstructive attitude…

i’ll explain myself.

I was so stuck in thinking about all of the things I really didn’t like about going to church…and the church in general. It was like I got a high off of imagining what a really awesome church would be like and having conversations about how much change needs to happen. This is a mode I was in for over 2 years. 2 years of discontent with something I was so involved in–even in leadership in–and I didn’t do anything to change it.

 

And here I am. In portland and on staff with a really great church that really is a beautiful expression of church and something I’m really thrilled to be apart of. I hope I’m not coming across like I’m expressing regret for moving here–but more regret for my terrible attitude towards churches I went to in the treasure valley. There’s not a single church that I really loved going to there–but there were definitely really wonderful people (at least one or two :-]) at every single one I went to…and I’m sure if I got involved enough (or cared enough?), I would have found some really great people whom I could have learned a lot from.

 

I’m not even trying to say “be the change you want to see.” I mean, sure–change stuff if you have the capacity to and you really believe there should be change. But I would definitely encourage anyone/everyone to find what’s beautiful about somewhere rather than looking for what about it pisses you off.

 

believe me, you’ll enjoy it more and you’ll probably be a lot more pleasant to be around.

I love this place. No doubt about it. But sometimes I get so frustrated with things. I don’t even know what I’m saying. As I write this i’m flip-flopping which way to take this…

 

I mean, I miss people that still live in Nampa and Boise everyday. And there’s probably about 5 minutes a week that I think, “You know what? I could really be a lot more comfortable back in Nampa working at the flying M again…” And then I’m brought back.

 

So I live in this house that’s a ‘re-entry’ house for guys who’ve been addicted to drugs and alcohol–but more than that, we really just want to focus on the communal living aspect. Which is awesome. I mean, I’d way rather be a brother to these guys than a drug counselor. But it’s easy to get frustrated when you feel totally insulted by a guy who you find out has been lying to you for weeks. That’s usually when I want to move back.

 

 And then, like on days like today when I’m sitting in the living room with Ron who is single, 55, and spent half of his life living on and off the streets–all the while addicted to heroine and alcohol. He’s older than my dad. We were both reading our respective book or magazine, and he just looks up at me and asks, “C-Bones, would you be offended if I called you ‘Son’?” This question kind of caught me off guard. I looked up and he continued, “It’s almost slipped out of my mouth a couple of times–but then I think about it, You are really the closest thing I’ve ever had to a son. And I don’t mean that like I’m here giving you instruction on how to live properly–because obviously I’ve blown that opportunity. But more like, I think of you when I make a decision. And I know that I should check in with you when my plans change. And I really want you to think highly of me and all the choices that I make.”

 I’m nearly in tears at this point.

I said to him, “Ron, in one respect, I’d like to think of us more as brothers than one of us being above or below the other–but on this journey together…but Ron, in the respect you speak of, I can’t think of anything that would honor me more than you calling me your ‘son’.” 

 

Then he says, “Alright. I just didn’t want you to be weirded out when I call you ‘son’.” And went back to his magazine.

 So that’s what I’m doing here…

i made a mixtape 

here 

 I haven’t blogged in more than a week. 

I’ve been doing some contemplating lately. A lot of it has to do with being spurred on by shaun and kylee and their recent blogs… furthermore, tori and caleb being here this weekend added much to  this subconscious/blogged conversation I’ve been having (and with shaun via his blog)…I want to emphasize shaun’s blog here because he said some of what I’m going to be trying to say so absolutely perfectly. I’m just reacting to that and my experiences with tori and caleb this weekend.  This will also help me refine my homework for kylee. 

 

I had the pleasure of spending most monday with tori and caleb (just the three of us) after a busy easter weekend with other family (church and biological) in this place that i call home now. What was so refreshing about the whole day was that I felt so at home with them.

We went to lunch with my good friend/pastor, jim. He was asking them about nampa and their life there. As we started talking about me and reflecting on my process that led me to Portland, and once i was here, dealing with the homesickness and maybe even coming to a head with some kind of identity crisis once all of you who I associated my identity so closely with were now a long way away. Tori and I started crying as I talked about her and caleb and joe and diana and kaysha and shaun and how amazing my last 3 months in Idaho were. But also how I had something drawing me away from this home I’d been apart of.

 

 

I’ve been thinking about all those/these things and realizing that yeah–home is where the heart is. But no, my heart isn’t in any location really–but my you have my heart, she does, you all do. and fortunately, i think my heart has enough pieces to share with some people here too…which is why this house, yes, but more-so, these people also feel like home.