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justinpw@gmail.com, 574.360.8046



Updated: 2017-09-08T20:06:05.629-04:00

 



Five Months Ago

2014-06-04T01:27:41.014-04:00

This day five months ago my life underwent a tremendous transition. I embarked on a new journey with Cathy. Her home became my home, and mine hers. We vowed to join together in this life as an act of faith in the kingdom of God here today. These five months have been filled with a combination of new roller coaster rides and the delicate hidden changes that happen inside a cocoon.

Hallelujah! Praise God for his goodness and the life he gives us to be his new creation!(image)



our Ford Explorer saga

2014-06-04T01:27:41.018-04:00

Two weeks ago, Cathy & I drove up Greenlawn Ave heading toward my house, and when we took the left turn onto Cedar, I accelerated out of the turn in hope of fishtailing a little bit on the snow before straightening out, which I enjoy and feel like a race car driver when I do it. This time, instead of straightening out, my Explorer continued to rotate and turn on the ice, eventually sliding perpendicular to path of the road. We were slowing down, but not enough to avoid hopping the curb and giving a tree a little tap. It didn't sound too bad, but when I got out and looked, I saw a bumper bent in, headlights on one side cracked open, and the impact bending a side fender, contorting the wheel well. My heart dropped a little bit, I grimaced, and asked myself and Cathy why I had decided to do that. Approaching the holidays and the wedding, we did not need any new complications. We had a full day planned, so I put it out of my mind and decided I would get a quote on the repairs from Jordan Auto in Mishawaka, and thanked God that the damage did not affect our plans for the day. We then commenced and completed our Christmas shopping, putting a non-trivial dent in my available funds.Monday, I dropped off Cathy at work and then had Jordan Auto estimate the repairs. As they showed me the multi-page breakdown of everything it would involve, my shock gradually grew. At the bottom of each page I thought there was the final subtotal, yet more continued to be added. The final total was roughly 1.5 to 2 months of pay at my job, depending on how extensive any internal damage was. I said that I would think about it and get back with them, and walked out the door. Suddenly the free oil change from Rick's Auto Shop for Christmas seemed like a joke. I couldn't believe this was happening, and I knew it was entirely my fault, and that we were already spending large amounts of money on a large wedding and this is not the most responsible precursor to married life and whatever other depressing jabs satan wanted to hit me with. I despaired over it all. A minute or two later, I began to turn from the despair and decide that this is life and the Father loves me and we're all in this together, that I needn't give in to the tendency to slide away from those who love me. I knew that my minimal insurance wouldn't cover it so I decided I would call them anyway just to double check. For repair work not covered by insurance, they recommended a mechanic they know who does side jobs. It sounded risky, not knowing Dan, but I trust the office of my insurance agent, Rich Was. I called Dan and he told me he could blow their estimate out of the water and would be happy to come look at it. Meanwhile, we are 2 days away from driving down to Muncie for a 6-day Christmas road trip to Charlotte.I drive the Explorer across town to Dan. He looks at it, asks our preference on whether to fix it A) like new, B) to look ok but perfectly functional, or C) simply functional. B was our choice, and he sat at a computer and made some phone calls asking around for used parts and came up with an estimate at 45% of the lowest estimate Jordan had provided. I tried to keep a straight face when he gave me his estimate and told me he could do it in the same amount of time Jordan could. He needed it all in cash, and half up-front so that he could purchase parts. It's surprising how a day's events can leave me happy with repair work costing me 3 weeks of pay, but that's just how I felt. A large manuscript on the back wall of the office Dan used said, "This shop the Lord has made."Cathy and I decided to risk it and give Dan a pile of cash based entirely on one trustworthy recommendation and the spirit of support and honesty I felt present at the shop when I visited. We then had to get a car to drive down and leave in Muncie for nearly a week over Christmas. That could have easily been another $250 for a rental, but our friend Joe Gleason who was flying to MN for Christmas amazingly offered the use of his convertible for free! We cautious[...]



Planning, Organizing, Requesting...

2014-06-04T01:27:41.003-04:00

My life for the last 6 months and the next 2 months consists largely in planning this:

Cathy & Justin's Wedding(image)



Unitive and Generative

2014-06-04T01:27:41.010-04:00

Today I got to have lunch with Cathy out on her front porch at the Connolly's. As we were finishing up, we watched a large blue van pull into the Gilbert men's house across the street, and Kim DeCelles walked up to the house to drop something off. The van windows were down so it was easy to hear talking and laughter coming from it. A few seconds later the side door swung open, a girl got out and ran out into the yard. Another few seconds and the door swung open again, releasing a younger girl. Next the door produced a boy, as they all spread out on the Greenlawn property, unbeckoned by their mother. Knowing the Decelles, there was probably still another child in the van.

A minute or so later Kim returned, calling them all back into the van, and pulled the bus out of the driveway. As she turned down the road and saw Cathy & I sitting there waving, she paused long enough to yell to us, "Hey do ya wanna poke your heads in here and take a look at what your life will be like in ten years?"(image)



Wonder of wonders

2014-06-04T01:27:40.988-04:00

I still can't believe it. That's all it takes for it to be a miracle, right?

(object) (embed)

Another video from the same moment, and a photo of us shortly thereafter.

Now then, onto a new awesome phase of life. Wedding planning! :)

p.s. I love Cathy Grill!(image)



Encountering Embodied Humans

2014-06-04T01:27:40.984-04:00

A couple nights ago I went to Theology on Tap to hear John O'Callaghan speak about "The Church & Science and Technology - Are Science and Technology the Enemy?" He didn't refer directly to the Catholic Church at all throughout it, but referred more implicitly to the body of Christ which the Church consists of. I'd like to summarize my experience of it rather than a comprehensive overview of all of it.
  • Regarding the ethical dilemma of creating technologies that may be used for evil, there are two things to consider:

    1. We need to remain concerned about the big picture and not just the work on our desk. I work in a small division currently which forces me to be aware of the business opportunities and risks rather than just the programming that has been assigned to me. This needs to be equally true of our moral ethics.

    2. The relationships we experience in our work are quite possibly more important than our work may be.

  • We struggle with whether the variety of emerging web technologies are good or evil. The internet was created to give the war machine access to academia, and it's first popular privatized adoption was in the pornography "industry". But now I can communicate with friends and family on the other side of the world. Technology is something creative and unless it's use requires an inherently evil act, it's morally arbitrary. We should always consider whether our particular use of a technology "promotes an encounter with an embodied person." I found that ideal to be a good summary of how technology should be used, and how it often fails to do so. For instance, do you withdraw from a spoken conversation when you get a cell call or text message?

  • John shared about how much he encouraged his children to read while growing up, and how much that has impacted their ability to focus. He said their capacity to write a paper in high school is better than many of his college students. They were and are given very little opportunity to watch TV or use facebook. He insisted that these technologies are resulting in weakened attention spans and an inability to focus long enough to be very creative or productive. Though as proof that he's not anti-technology, when he spent a lot of time in Rome he frequently skyped and used a GPS device to superimpose his walking route onto Google Earth and annotate the route with his reflections.
(image)



Fluttering Heart

2014-06-04T01:27:40.991-04:00

Yesterday a man died on Silver Beach in St Joe, Michigan. Here is my experience of it.

I was on the beach with a group of friends, it was close to 90 degrees and sunny, and the sand was scalding hot. So hot that despite the dense sprawl of people enjoying the day and the cold water, the multiple volleyball courts - usually packed - were empty.

Mike & Sarah left to go for a walk in town, and when they got close to one of the entrances to the sand, they found a man laying face down in the sand. Other people noticed him too, and somebody rolled him over and discovered that his bowels had vacated. Pete G and Liz, both nurses, began assisting another nearby nurse in assessing his vital signs. As Dan B and I became aware of the situation, Dan suggested that perhaps our umbrella would help with what we presumed was some degree of sun stroke. I took the umbrella over and held it angled to shade the mans face and chest, and I remained there until the later-arriving paramedics took him away.

The three nurses began administering CPR. Liz poked a hole in a ziploc bag so that Pete could perform sanitary mouth-to-mouth. He appeared to be in his 50s and had a scar across his sternum. His wife who had been down by the water while he went to the bathroom eventually came and identified him, and that he had had multiple open heart surgeries before and was scheduled for a valve-replacement in two weeks. She was crying and very upset, and Liz was comforting her while assisting Pete. Others from our group were farther back, praying. We were all praying, especially those of us who didn't feel that we were helping in any other way. There were also lots of people gathered around. The closer they were to the center, the quieter they were.

Two police officers arrived and took over CPR from Pete. It was a relief to see Pete and Liz knowing what to do and smoothly handing it off to the officers. The officers continued CPR and prepared the AED they had. It indicated that he was not shockable. A few minutes later two paramedics arrived and took lead on the CPR, allowing the officer to continue with the chest compressions. They tried an oxygen mask with a pump, and a device for clearing his airway. They hooked up some IV fluids and allowed Pete to hold the bag up for them. A park staff member brought a medical board for them to use to load the man - Craig - onto their gurney to wheel him up the path and into their ambulance.

Afterward, our group stood together and collected ourselves and prayed together for Craig and his wife Donna and the paramedics. We cleaned up some of the defecation and the scrap paper and plastic from all the sterilized medical equipment that was used. We ended up staying at the beach for another 30 minutes or so. I don't yet know if or when he was pronounced dead.

I am thankful that we were nearby, of all the places we could have been on that packed beach. I am praying about ways we could have more boldly trusted in the Lord and acted with the power of the Holy Spirit. But I think we have to remain focused on today more than yesterday.

(Update: I was a little vague. His heart was varying between "fluttering" and not beating the entire time we were there, and he never breathed.)

(Update 2: His name is Craig Shreiner and there is a guestbook you can read.)(image)



I can't get over how much fun I had

2014-06-04T01:27:41.012-04:00

It's about 2AM and I'm finally home for the day, but I still feel like posting my thoughts.

This afternoon my former roomate Ricky married his best friend, Allesha. I was one of the groomsmen so I got close contact with the entire proceeding without necessarily having much responsibility throughout it. I tried to support Kevin Connolly - the best man - as much as possible, and get to know the other groomsmen and ushers that I didn't know as well. It was a great experience to share with my roommate Pete and with the so so so many other people that took part in the wedding in various capacities.

They had friends in from Louisiana, Minnesota, Portland, Rockford, Muncie, Indy, Evansville, Toronto, Northern Virginia, California, and Florida, from the people I knew at least. They also had a wide variety of friends from around town. There was standing room only in one of the largest Catholic churches in South Bend, Holy Cross Parish. The wedding party intentionally had no time allowed at the church for greeting guests; I'd never quite experienced that before, but I felt it really allowed the ceremony to be all about the marriage, while still allowing for a huge amount of greeting time during the reception.

Just like at two previous People of Praise weddings, I entered the reception reluctant to dance, and ended it feeling very carefree and enjoying both my own opportunities to dance and also just to see the huge range of people out there on the floor, from 4 year olds to middle-schoolers, high schoolers, college students, young adults, middle-aged couples, and older couples - the best ones out there. It's really a unique experience to be out there with all those age groups mixed together. I am repeatedly struck by how healthy and clean it can be while still attracting even the coolest of high-schoolers. :) A very enjoyable experience of unity!

And, like usual, it makes me yearn for the time when Christ will be all-in-all, when all divisions will cease. It's both a taste of it, and a taste of only having a finite amount of time to divide between all the wonderful people there.(image)



Of bachelor parties and brothers

2014-06-04T01:27:41.021-04:00

Try to imagine 100ish guys filling the screened-in-porch behind the People of Praise center, overflowing in fact out onto the grass, with Ricky Thomas sitting in a chair in the middle. The party had miraculously quieted down so that a few guys could publicly honor Ricky. Now imagine me stepping forward and pulling out a folded up printout and reading it's contents to Ricky right next to me, in an awkward sort of way, while attempting to speak loudly enough for all to hear.
Ricky, I'd like to honor you for living in the moment. When I met you two and a half years ago in Allendale, we quickly struck up a friendship. We went for a few evening runs together and it was easy to share openly with you. Then when you moved back to South Bend the following summer, you continued showing us how to live in the moment. You fostered friendships with the Kottkamp boys and excitedly shared about them whenever you had a chance. "Excited sharing" is a familiar thing to those who spend increasing amounts of time with Ricky. I see the joy of the Lord in his excitement.

I'd also like to honor you for caring for our sisters. You've taught me a lot by your example. They were served in a new way when we put together a formal dinner for Valentine's Day at your suggestion. They've been protected numerous times by your responses during and after large co-ed games of soccer. You've shown me how to take the initiative in group settings while still seeking the preferences of our sisters. I can't thank you enough for showing me this particular way of being Christ in the world today.

Lastly, I'd like to encourage you in your competitive spirit. I don't always have a good experience in competition, but I've been very honored and built up whenever I have the opportunity to compete with you. I recently noticed this on the soccer field that whenever we're going head-to-head, I put more into it than I do with anybody else, and was wondering why. The Holy Spirit is very active in you, and I see that in the way that you are a intensely passionate athlete, yet still charitable and considerate while playing. It's a great model for all life in Christ.

Praise God for what he's doing with you Ricky! I look forward to seeing his hand at work in the new family you are beginning with Allesha. God bless you and I love you man.
(image)



LFT

2014-06-04T01:27:40.999-04:00

A couple days ago I took part in a health screening offered to all LaSalle Company employees, which was fun. It included sampling for blood tests, and yesterday I got a call from my doctor's office that they had already received results from those tests. Apparently the liver function tests show elevated numbers for me, so they're asking me to wait 4 weeks and then take the test again. They didn't have any other information to give me, they said that the waiting would allow for any anomaly to pass, otherwise some more tests would be in order after that.

The cool thing is that they are giving me a month to pray for the Lord to clear up any condition! I randomly came across a favorite video of mine yesterday, a Ted Talk titled Dan Gilbert asks, Why are we happy?, and I thought perhaps it was a little reminder from the Holy Spirit.

Update: My LFT numbers are normal! Praise God!(image)



Always remember these 3 little words...

2014-06-04T01:27:41.001-04:00

"You're right, dear"

Yesterday I drove down to Muncie for 6 hours to witness the wedding of Ron & Sandy Mixell. I arrived at the same time as my parents and walked in with them and Terry & Patti Bomkamp in from Rockford. The deacon who had "prepared" them for marriage said that they were both the oldest couple he and his wife had ever worked with, and that they had scored the highest on the "pre-marriage inventory" quiz that he gave them, the highest in his 35 years of giving that quiz!

When they each lost their spouse recently, I regretted not making it down for the respective funerals. Barb & Karl were powerhouses in the Muncie branch. Surely they still are in a different way. So when Ron & Sandy announced their engagement, a shock of joy rippled throughout the community. This new step they are taking is some combination of "weird" and "perfect".

There were numerous honorings and thanksgivings at the reception. Tom Schmitt pointed to the beatitude, "blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Debbie Mixell highlighted the love that she experienced growing up, and concluded with the title of this post, to a roar of approval from everyone there. We all know how important those words are to all married people.(image)



I know Ryan!

2014-06-04T01:27:41.007-04:00

(image)
Over the years at the lake cabin, we've grown close to the Daman family two houses down from where we are. My dad in particular has spent a lot of time with Brad, but we all pretty much share everything we have, from our time to our belongings. Their two sons have always called my dad by his first name, a pattern I'm not used to seeing since they're only just now in & approaching high school. Anyway, one of the boys, Ryan, has been pursuing a career in refereeing, and I just heard tonight that he had an article written about him!

We've got some cool photos of him here, here, and here, and the article is Teenage basketball official isn't kidding around on the court...

Awesome, Ryan!(image)



Bangkok

2014-06-04T01:27:40.993-04:00

A week ago my brother moved to Bangkok, and yesterday The Boston Globe's popular photo blog, The Big Picture, ran a Protests turn deadly in Thailand post. Greg follows web sources closely, and has even compiled a Twitter list, @gregory_walters/thailand-journalists, of some of the amateur sources. A journalist relayed this perspective:
Getting some traffic from farangs (foreigners) asking if their loved ones are okay. Farangs are in no danger so long as they avoid the fighting. The fighting is localized. There is no general state of war in Thailand. Farangs are safe. Normal Thai life is going on outside the danger zone and normal Thais are very ...friendly. (They are friendly even in the danger zone.)
Greg is about 11 hours ahead of us in the U.S., and he posts photos to flickr. It sure makes you more interested in foreign events when somebody you know personally is very close to them!

Update: Another photo post: Crackdown in Bangkok(image)



The Lord is listening to you.

2014-06-04T01:27:41.023-04:00

I sat in a chair on the deck at my parents' lakehouse, surrounded by 7 other guys, ranging from 9th graders to a soon-to-be freshman in college. They all had their hands on my shoulders and head, as I had asked for their prayers, for the Holy Spirit, that I could take more leadership when I see the need. That I would know what to say when I see that something needs said. As we prayed, one of them told me that the Lord is listening to me. Another told me that the Holy Spirit would give me the words to say. Another asked if we could pray for my neck which I had mentioned during our earlier game of football.

When you speak, do you speak as if you are speaking to Christ?(image)



Cut back on Facebook

2014-06-04T01:27:41.016-04:00

I just disabled all of my FB information except for links to other websites of mine. It was very complicated but as I've been seeing more people do this, it made me realize that it is an option.

There are 3 basic reasons why:

1. I don't care for FB's advertisements which all users must endure.
2. FB's privacy policy has become a slippery slope to their profit.
3. A more personal reason, the prevailing culture in FB of indiscriminate intimacy spreads me too thin.

I'd like to redirect any energy I've given to FB instead toward stronger investments in loving my neighbor & the Lord.(image)



You wouldn't happen to have a few dollars so I can pay my electric bill, would you?

2014-06-04T01:27:40.982-04:00

Friday during the day I had very little planned for the evening. I expected to go to the Havard's to jog with Robert-Michael and make some final arrangements for dog-sitting for them. I also made some last-minute plans to briefly join a group of friend's celebrating Allison's birthday, who I've gotten to know recently through a Lenten faith-sharing group. They intended to continue the celebrations later into the evening watching basketball, but I had a number of missed calls from Charles, so I ducked out halfway through. I'm also not much of a March Madness fan, which I know is blasphemy. :)Charles is a neighbor of mine with no steady employment who bikes around the neighborhood and near Notre Dame asking people for money and collecting cans and any scrap items he can recycle or pawn. When I first met him, he readily accepted prayers from me and a few friends, and told us how important smiling is as we parted ways. I've never given him money in the numerous times I've seen him since then, but I've offered to try to help in other ways. I decided that anything I can do for him must result in more time spent with him. Money doesn't produce that. He now calls Ricky & I at the oddest hours, looking for rides places, probably because we try not to refuse him those requests. He's used to being charged for car rides. Now he shares openly with me about struggles and successes with odd jobs he gets and with depression and difficulties at home. He appreciates frequent prayers and has been asking for help in remembering how to pray for deliverance.Friday night, as I waited for him outside of his house in my car, another guy came out and came up to my window and said, "Hey, do you buy necklaces?" "Umm, nope, why?" "Well I'm trying to sell this necklace so I can get a ride to Mishawaka." "Well, I've gotta go do something, but if you want to wait for a half hour, I can give you a ride there myself if you want." When I did return later, he came back out and got in. We started driving toward Mishawaka, and about every other sentence he said was a request for a couple dollars, or ten dollars. About halfway there, he finally responded to my offer of food from my house, so we turned around and dug around in our refrigerator. I didn't mention anything about not eating meat today. He took a couple of sausage sandwiches, some gatorade, and two bags of popped microwave popcorn, which he said is his favorite. Robert said that he is 50 years old, while I'd have guessed 40, even in light of him asking me for a cigarette (the frequent use of which often make people look older). He kept asking me for money so he could get a bus ticket to go back to Fort Wayne. Eventually my responses changed from "sorry" to "no". The place I was taking him to is a house that he is being paid to gut, but at a much lower rate because he also sleeps there. No beds, no heat. He told me he believes in God, believes the devil exists, and when I asked him about believing in Jesus, he responded somewhat credulously, "Well, yeah! How do you think we all got here?" I told him to continue working on the house until he had enough money to buy his bus ticket back to Fort Wayne. When he told me's depressed, I told him God doesn't want him to feel that way. When he told me he felt like yelling, I said, "Go ahead!" with a smile. He paused for a moment, and then yelled, right there in the car, with a half-laugh at the end. Seems that "I could just yell" is an experience of pent up tension that you can't release. He invited me in to see the house when we got there, still occasionally asking for money. When I asked if I could pray with him, he quic[...]



Love by Jaeson Ma

2014-06-04T01:27:40.986-04:00

Now Hollywood wants to make you think they know what love is.
But I'm a tell you what true love is.
Love is not what you see in the movies.
Its not the ecstasy, its not what you see in that scene
you know what I mean? I'm telling you right now, true love is sacrifice.
Love is thinking about others before you think about yourself
Love is selfless not selfish. Love is God and God is love.
Love is when you lay down your life for another
Whether for your brother, your mother, your father or your sister
Its even laying down your life for your enemies,
That's unthinkable, but think about that
Love is true
Think.

Chorus
I'll put you in front of me
So everybody can see
My love, this is my love
I know that I'll be alright
As long as you are my guide
My love, this is my love

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast
It is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs
You see love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, it always perseveres
Love never fails. Love is everlasting
Its eternal, it goes on and on, it goes beyond time
Love is the only thing that will last when you die
But ask the question why? Do you have love?

Chorus
I'll put you in front of me
So everybody can see
My love, this is my love
I know that I'll be alright
As long as you are my guide
My love, this is my love

There is no greater love than this than he who lays down his life for his friends
Now are you willing to lay down your life for your friends?
You're probably willing to lay down your life for your mother
your father, or your best friends
But are you willing to lay down your life for even those that hate you?
I'm going to tell you who did that
The definition of love is Jesus Christ. He is love
The nails in his hands, the thorns in his brow
Hanging on a cross for your sin my sins
That is love he died for you and me while we still hated him
That is love
God is true love, and if you don't know this love
Now is the time to know, perfect love

Chorus
I'll put you in front of me
So everybody can see
My love, this is my love
I know that I'll be alright
As long as you are my guide
My love, this is my love
(repeat)


(video)(image)



Michiana Youth Ministry's "Love of God" retreat

2014-06-04T01:27:40.998-04:00

Most of you know very little about the retreat program that I involved myself with this weekend (my amateur photos are available), so I thought I would share a bit about it with you. Ron & Emily Collins are heavily committed to the Love of God (LOG) retreat that Michiana Youth Ministries cultivates multiple times per year, and I decided to squeeze it into my schedule this fall. They've spoken highly of it, and I was curious about what the Lord is up to in that neck of the woods, so when it appeared that their planning schedule could cooperate with my schedule, I decided to commit to help with one of the retreats. It is a student-run retreat in many ways, with a small team of adults, mostly volunteers, that guides the students in building & running it.LOG is loosely based on the cursillo retreat weekend, adapted to a high school-age and largely protestant audience. Represented on the weekend were teens from 8-10 different churches, including non-denoms, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Catholics. The director of the program is a Presbyterian minister named Terry McBride and he brought the program over from California and has since formed it into a self-sufficient program, drawing new retreatants from the friendships of previous retreatants, as they work to put on a retreat often within the same year that they themselves attended one. The retreat is designed to overwhelm the retreatants with a very visible tangible love that the team offers, and points to God as the source of that love. This consists of a variety of games, activities, exercises, meals, discussions, testimonials, talks, songs, and methods of personal and communal prayer and encouragement. The basic structure was familiar to me after having been involved with the kairos retreat program in college, and participated in Christ Renews His Parish a couple years ago. These retreats all have the same basic goal but with different audiences. It was inspiring to see the successes of this method this weekend. I'm not sure how strong the followup is, but in many ways that is the ongoing responsibility of the respective teams to nurture healthy relationships with their retreatants in response to the new friendships that have been formed. Elitism on various levels needs to be avoided.On a personal level, I got to share some perspective on ecumenism that I've gained through my life in the People of Praise. When I discovered that protestant communion was a core part of the retreat, I was a little bit concerned. Both of the other retreat programs I've been involved with, being Catholic programs, integrated mass & the Eucharist into the weekend, so I should not have been surprised to discover a protestant interpretation in a primarily protestant retreat. But LOG practices ecumenism, and so I expressed my concern that such a specific form of "remembering" the Last Supper was introducing a conflicting message which is not the unity that genuine ecumenism pursues. I didn't particularly expect any change because of the emotional attachment so many young Christians were experiencing to the program in it's current form, but was happy to hear that they did indeed make some adjustments! It will be an ongoing conversation, but I am excited for the increased unity and faith maturity this can mean for so many youth in the region. I don't know yet whether I will commit to this program in the future due to the finite capacity of my calendar. It's very apparent that God is working in the hearts of many youth through the efforts of Terry McBride and the adults and teens involved in LOG. I'm really happy I went throu[...]



We love because He first loved us

2014-06-04T01:27:41.027-04:00

Yesterday I entered into a deeper commitment with the members of the People of Praise. After spending the past few years discerning whether God was calling me to spend the rest of my life in it, I was invited by the community to do just that. Sarah, Laura, and Trish also did this at the same time I did. My parents came out for it! After being embraced and prayed over by many many people, we were each given an opportunity to reflect on our decision. Sarah has posted her sharing here, and Laura and Trish gave awesome glimpses of the events leading up to their decisions too. Here is what I shared with the hundreds of local branch members and visitors:I don't really know how to organize my thoughts about what this commitment means to me. When I moved here a few years ago, I only vaguely knew a handful of people here, but that was less important to me than what I already knew about all of you. I knew in my mind that there would be a bunch of saints here, doing something to lay down their lives for one another. I wasn't really sure what that looked like. I knew that I'd be sharing what I'm thankful for at Lord's Days, but that's about all I really knew about what I'd be doing. Since then, flesh has filled the skeleton of ideas that was in my head. I've prayed with all of you, and for all of you, and I've experienced countless opportunities to grow closer to you. You've changed, from a fabled Christian community that I knew OF, to an intimate Christian community that I know. Parents, you've trusted me with your children. You've encouraged me in youth activities ranging from kindergarteners to high schoolers, from soccer to camp to paintball to retreats. Speaking of retreats, if any of the guys who have retreated at my parents' cabin want to thank them personally, they're here with us today. I am a product of the Muncie branch of the People of Praise. I love the people in Muncie as much as my family, because they offered me something called disinterested friendship throughout my whole childhood. That means they each very clearly desired friendship with me with no ulterior motives, no interests other than friendship. As I entered college, I still had very little clue as to how rare this is. Away at college, I discovered how many of my peers doubted the love of their own parents. Can you imagine that? Or can you imagine that being an utterly foreign reality to me?The Holy Spirit was at work in me through all of this. I was baptized in the Spirit at High Country Adventure #1 as a high schooler, and Christ has reigned in me more and more since then. Each day a little more. I've discovered the joy of valuing friendship over comfort, and integrity over appearances. Working for the LaSalle Company and One:Ten, I've discovered what it's like when management cares more about me than about what I've done. At our office on-site at the Work College, I've discovered a level of intimacy amongst co-workers and peers that I never even thought possible. In fact, as a member of an area, but working in the midst of the the Work College, I often feel like a double agent. I get to soak up the wisdom of each group, and report back to the other group. Hopefully I will get up here more often and tell you about my life and what God is doing in it. For now I want to thank my Mom & Dad for getting me started, and all of you for carrying the torch. You are daily fanning the Spirit into life more and more in me. A few verses from 1 John 4 I wanted to read are:Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has[...]



Sharing

2014-06-04T01:27:40.989-04:00

This afternoon at our People of Praise branch meeting, Paul & Andrea Kane walked to the back of the room. There were a variety of furtive looks toward the back where she was. I tried not to be distracted from the meeting, but it was very apparent that we all indeed were distracted. It was then announced that she was suffering from a kidney stone attack, and we all turned and extended our hands and prayed for her. We then continued with the meeting. Toward the end, she returned to her seat and appeared to be back to herself. Amidst the final song, there was a lot of cheering at her return.

Of course, my first reaction to seeing her was joy at her return, and joy that she was able to raise her arms and praise God while just previously she was laying prostrate on the ground in pain.

But my second, and enduring reaction is my experience of the joy and relief that flooded throughout the room. I guess I'm an observer at heart, but I couldn't help but stand "outside" the shared experience and marvel at it itself. In fact, it seemed to strike me even more, both at first glance, and onward, more than Andrea's actual relief. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy her pain went away, but I guess I am more happy at what that reduction in pain resulted in. As a body of friends, we shared in Andrea's pain, and in doing so, we shared even more fully in her relief. It flowed through us like a wind.

Earlier in the meeting, Linda Porto had given us a word from the Lord that she had received. It was expressed more fully in a few sentences, but the first sentence was, "Because of you, my people, I am not alone in my suffering."(image)



Summer '09 begins

2009-07-01T12:59:13.869-04:00

These last weeks have not fit a mold. I attended People of Praise South Bend's summer camp for a week. It was my 2nd year of camp as an adult, and it was similar yet very different from last year. See my photos for a glimpse of the week. I won't provide an exhaustive rundown of the week, apart from my excitement that my team of unlikely winners WON tournament tuesday and I don't think I've ever won so much! I'll post the list of all the people that were on my team soon. Here is a little sharing that I read at our last branch meeting:I had a blast with the 15 5th graders. I had the same boys last year, so it was a great chance to see what a year had done to each of them. For the most part they had become stronger and more confident. Helping me out was Mike Wacker from the brotherhood, as well as Dominic Raciti, John Feeks, and Patrick Couch. There are plenty of stories about each of the boys stepping up and becoming even stronger this week, and about my counselors responding to our needs without hesitation. But I wanted to share about our evening prayertime on Wednesday night.Each night of the week, we gathered together in one end of the cabin, and reflected on the day. As you can imagine, it was often hard to have only one person speaking at a time, as eager as they all were to qualify the events of the day; every day at camp is totally different from every other day! Then we would try to discuss struggles of the day, and lay hands on guys who wanted to be healed of specific things. On Wednesday night, Mike told the boys that everything we do is a decision to be in Jesus' camp, or to not be. If you want to be in Jesus' camp, we can pray with you right now for that to happen. Who wants to do that? Immediately a couple boys said, "I do.". Then we all layed hands on and prayed over each boy individually. Ultimately about eight boys asked for that. The five counselors, all present despite it being late enough to be staff social time, took turns in leading the prayer for each boy. I just wanted to honor and thank the 4 other guys for their courage and strength in loving our group of boys! It was a huge blessing for me to get to be a part of it, and the 5th graders have had a new opportunity to respond to God's love! Praise God! Immediately after camp, I trekked down to Charlotte via the south shore train, CTA blue line, and O'Hare, to witness my niece Ella Grace's baptism! It was my first chance to meet her and I'm so excited to know her! Took some pictures there too.Then these last couple weeks it has been really the first hit of summerish weather, and I have been eating it up. Increased running, slalom skied with my mom, and lots of time with friends including visitors Mike & Jess, and Josh, in town from Cali & Shreveport. I'm just now getting over some burn from a long sunny afternoon on a Lake Michigan beach on Sunday. The day before, I went on a Pentecost Seminar in the branch here, and am so grateful that I was able to share in the experience with many friends, both in the PoP and otherwise! Summer camp's slogan was, "Led by the Spirit", and this verse was also at the heart of the seminar:Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if [...]



focus

2009-06-22T21:20:09.823-04:00

cloud as far as the eye can see
what do they mean to me
how can they always be
oh so free

look up at the sky will you
take a moment and drink
the scene flowing around you
in something far more than ink

i take my moment, i realign my thoughts
with a simple glance upward, the face changes
the brow unfurrows, the eyes widen
the combat stance opens

what are we here?
am i even here?
there is something great at work here
as i gaze at everything not here

the clouds they dance on
swirling about, repainting themselves
on a canvas of atmosphere
arrayed all around us

widen your perspective
open your eyes
love what we've been given
and seek to know him more and more(image)



Innocence leads to broken jaw

2009-05-20T11:09:21.240-04:00

This is a story from my friend K. If you know who I'm talking about, please don't use his name in the comments or I'll have to delete them. If you'd like to know who it is, feel free to email me and ask.



http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090520/NEWS01/905200314

Major facts are just wrong:

Both men eventually pulled into the Speedway gas station at Edison and South Bend Avenue, police said, and about 30 seconds later a third vehicle, a black Dodge, pulled in as well, blocking the victim from leaving.

Intending to apologize, the victim exited his vehicle, police said. He was met by the driver of the SUV, who punched him several times in the mouth, knocking him unconscious.


I had my seatbelt on the whole time, and I wasn't punched by the SUV driver. I was sucker punched by his buddy from the second car while I was paying attention to the driver of the suv who was walking around yelling.



This all happened in the early hours of Sunday morning. Thankfully, K had a buddy in the car, D, who was able to accompany him to the Medpoint. I know I am not the only one whose first reaction was strong anger toward the men that decided to treat K that way. I could just picture K being compliant and trying to rectify the situation of him cutting someone off, and what he got in return for it. I am proud of him for making that effort in the first place. I admire that he didn't just shrug off his mistake and keep going. I wish I could say that I have EVER responded like that! But when he did respond like that, he is taken advantage of. I just hope that K does not lose his compassion for fellow drivers. More caution will be necessary, but not less love!(image)



Indy Mini '09

2009-05-03T11:44:10.960-04:00

Friday at 5:55pm I left work and drove over to Sheila, Sarah, & Liz's house, where 8 of us gathered to load into a couple of cars and drive to Indianapolis. Along the way, I made numerous last-minute calls to arrange substitutes for the youth soccer program Saturday morning in South Bend. I also had a few phone calls with J-T and Ryan in Indy as they attempted to pickup required packets for each of us before 9pm. It turns out Kinkos will not let you print out a page containing 8 photocopied drivers licenses, two of which were from my Dad & his co-worker Darrell in Muncie, who gave us their own registrations to the sold out race. We were all going to run or watch the Indy Mini Marathon & 5k. We made it to the triangle, the People of Praise members living together on the north side of Indy near IUPUI. Liz, Sheila, & Allesha were dropped off with Trish at the women's household and Pete G, Pete T, Ricky, Kyle, & I walked across the street to an empty house. J-T & Ryan are hard workers, yet had made their home available, which was perfect for us to all go upstairs and roll out our sleeping bags in some common space together. It was about a mile and a half away from the race activities happening on the south side of IUPUI. 35,000 people register for the half marathon, 4,000 for the 5k. Liz & Trish dropped us off nearby, and we all squeezed into our "corrals" where the organizers have attempted to roughly line us up in massive groups based on how fast we've guessed we'll run it. After the gun went off, the tide of runners slowly crept forward. Some from our group made it over the start line 2 minutes later. Others (myself included) came by at 12 minutes, and still more went by at 35 minutes. Quite the procession! It was an amazing race, with countless bands of all types lining the streets. I was never more than a few feet away from other runners. Jam packed. You'd better like other people if you run this race. David Z ran with my Dad's registration, and even though he started a good 10 minutes before me, I ended up crossing the finish line only a good 9 minutes & 50 seconds after him. In other words, I beat him by 10 seconds! Too bad our separation in corrals meant we didn't actually run together! Too bad he didn't actually train. ;-) I had started w/ Pete T, and he beat me by a few minutes. I ended up running it in 1 hr, 46 minutes, 46 seconds, for an 8 min 9 second mile pace.We all gathered at a designated meeting spot afterward, and more POP'ers were there who had run or had come to see us. We reminisced in the experience and got to catch up with physically distant friends. Then we walked back to the houses, taking our sweet time on exhausted legs. Trish "threw together" a chicken salad lunch for us, and then we eventually made it to the canal walkway downtown for another leisurely walk with a pit stop for gelato in the middle. Then we drove to the Indy branch community center, which I actually hadn't been to before even though it's been in use for a few years. It's a beautiful facility, and it was being used for Jenny Sergio's graduation party. I don't really know her but it was a great opportunity to see all of her loved ones honoring her and congratulating her. Though originally from SB, she had lived in household with an Indy family for years, and many sharings testified to God hard at work through her presence in the branch. The biggest one being that her household went[...]



Marcus & Bekah Nayo!

2009-04-27T21:28:41.793-04:00

This weekend 2 friends of mine in the People of Praise got married. Marcus is originally from Togo, Africa, and Bekah is from around here. Marcus has been here for less than a year, after having lived in NYC for awhile. He is in my men's group, and I have enjoyed getting to know him since he's been here. For posterity, here is what I shared with him at his bachelor party. I always have to write stuff like this down, because I cannot think when I'm in front of people. Someday I'll be able to. But for now, I have this stuff written down which makes it easy to save too. It's kinda ironic because you'll only get to see this stuff until I get good enough at it that I don't need to write it.
Marcus, if your family were here with us tonight, what would they say? Would they allow you to stay here, or would they try to bring you back home? Would they understand what sort of life you have chosen to live here? What stories would they tell us about you?

I want to tell you how excited I am that I can call you my brother. I don't know very much about your family yet, but I do wonder what your family is like. They helped make you who you are, and you are an incredibly strong man and also one of the most peaceful men I know. That is what makes me wonder what they're like. It also makes me so excited to be growing in friendship with you!

All of us here are your brothers, and we are eager to share our lives with you. God has great plans for our brotherhood! Together, as his sons, we will stretch ourselves, and depend on one another, and depend on Him.

I am amazed at how much you stretched yourself to leave your home, leave what is familiar to you, and come here to Indiana to be with your wife. I am amazed that you would enter so openly into her life, out of a true and genuine love for her. Your example of love and sacrifice is a perfect model for me to learn from. The way that you live shows me the way that Jesus lives, and I want to thank you for that.

Marcus, may God bless you and be your strength! May He bind you and Bekah into one and shine forth into the world more brightly through you! I can't wait to know you more and more!
(image)