•July 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been back in Indiana for almost a month, and in so many ways, I feel at home again. Its a nice feeling. I love the quiet nights and wide open cornfields and country roads. I love riding bicycles and motorcycles and working at the bike shop. I love hanging out with friends and family and going to church and college group. All that being said, I’ve also had some cool learning experiences while being back.

Earlier this week, one of my co-workers and I went mountain biking after work. Al’s single objective for the evening was to get me over some of the larger log rolls, and teach me to jump my bike. Though I’ve been mountain biking for several years, and tend to ride with the fast-paced group, I aways skip the larger obstacles. But Al was convinced I could successfully ride them….without crashing. As we approached the first log roll, a pile of logs no more than three feet high, I freaked out on the inside. I’ve wrecked before. I know what it feels to go flying over my handlebars and land in a heap in the dirt. There was no way I could ever get my front tire up and over that pile of logs–much less the rest of my bike. I tried to calm the minions wreaking havoc in my chest as I watched Al go sailing smoothly over the log roll–effortlessly. Now it was my turn. I got on my bike and started pedaling towards the obstacle–and started second-guessing myself. When I did, I lost momentum, and rolled up the logs only to come to a precarious halt at the top of the pile–saved from crashing only by Al’s quick reflexes in holding me up.

I tend to do that a lot. Second-guessing, that is.

Just tonight, at college group, we were discussing our tendencies as individuals to be either cautious or risk-takers. I tend to be more of a risk-taker. I ride motorcycles. I ride bicycles down somewhat busy streets. I live overseas. I ride horses. I rock climb.

But when it comes to relationships, responsibility, and decisions, I second guess that risk-taking instinct. Constantly.

What if it doesn’t work out? What if I fail? What if that isn’t God’s will for me? What if that’s just the easy way out? What if people criticize me? What if I don’t make a difference?

On and on it goes.

And over and over, I ride up to the log roll only to come to a precarious halt at the top–frozen by fear of the “what if.” And on Monday night, when Al stood there on that log roll and caught me before I fell, I realized how paralyzing that fear actually was. Al was probably the only person who could have coached me over those log rolls. With anyone else, I would have made up lame excuses to avoid trying, if only to avoid letting them see just how scared I really was. But for some reason, I let my guard down and allowed Al to see my fear in all of its paralyzing reality. I was nearly hyperventilating from my effort to squash down the fear enough for a full-fledged attempt at the log roll. But he kept on encouraging me to commit. To give it my all, with no option of retreat.

And when I gritted my teeth and refused to second-guess myself, when I went all-in, with no “outs,” I made it over the log roll with ease. From there, we moved on to other log rolls. Some, I made it over. Some, I didn’t.

But I faced my fear.

And more importantly, I saw the consequences of second-guessing and fear.

Looking ahead, I have a number of important decisions to make. As I do so, I have to remember that God, in His grace and sovereignty, has given me a few guidelines to follow–but has given me the freedom to choose within those guidelines. As Solomon in Ecclesiastes put it (as outlined by Tommy Nelson): Do Right. Be Poised. Be Bold. Enjoy Life. Another author, Kevin DeYoung, also noted when considering the will of God:

“The decision to be in God’s will is not the choice between Memphis or Fargo or engineering or art; it’s the daily decision we face to seek God’s kingdom or ours, submit to His lordship or not, live according to His rules or our own. The question God cares about most is not ‘Where should I live?’ but ‘Do I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind, and do I love my neighbor as myself?’ (Luke 10:27) It’s that second question that gets to the heart of God’s will for your life” (DeYoung 2009).

I don’t have to second-guess. I don’t have to live in fear of the what-if.

Simply put, so long as I am loving God and loving people, then, well…”Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

And if life is anything like mountain biking, then such an approach will typically end with positive results.

I’d Rather Not Say Goodbye

•June 20, 2014 • 3 Comments

I’d rather not say goodbye.

Even though saying goodbye is normal.

In 2001, when I went with my brother to Miracle Mountain Ranch for a week of summer camp, my life changed forever. For the next nine years, my summers were a fast-spinning montage of strong friendships bonded in the forge of being summer camp staff, followed by tearful goodbyes.

Sometimes the “Ranch” felt more like home than home.

Sometimes my friends and mentors at camp felt more like family than family.

So at the start of every summer, I said goodbye to Indiana, and hello to Pennsylvania. And at the end of the summer, I said goodbye to Pennsylvania in order to go back to Indiana. When I finally returned to Indiana more permanently after two full years at the Miracle Mountain Ranch School of Discipleship, I spent three long years finding my place, only to move to Tanzania nearly as soon as Indiana felt like home. Now its time to say goodbye once again as students, staff, and friends leave–some only for the holidays, others permanently. I too am preparing to return to Indiana for a month to visit home, family, and friends.

Sometimes though, Tanzania feels more like home than Indiana.

Sometimes I fear whether my friends in Indiana will still be the friends that made it feel like home.

I wonder sometimes if all the goodbyes throughout my teenage years was part of God’s preparation for me to live in a place where relationships tend to be very transient. Expatriates come and go constantly. Friendships too, come and go. It is part of life as an expat. But even so, when the goodbyes begin, when people start hugging and crying and sharing last minute memories, I just want to leave. I hide behind my camera, or in my office. I slip out of the back of the room, escaping the emotion of the moment. Its not just at the big events, either. Even at house parties during the year, when its just goodbye for the night, or until next weekend, I prefer to slip away unnoticed. Because I’d rather not say goodbye. Some people say that they “hate” goodbyes, but I just avoid them.

Years of saying goodbye has taught me that it is easier to just not say it at all.

So for those who come and go from my life, know that you are loved–even if I don’t say goodbye.

Instead, I’ll see you later. Somewhere, sometime. Peace.

Until next time…

Free Dive

•June 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Breathe in. Relax.

The waves wash around me, my body floating, drifting with the swells.

Exhale. All the way.

One last breath. Slow and easy.

Turning, diving down.

Kicking slowly, long fins propelling me down.

The wreck emerges from the murky turquoise waters.

Fish surround me. Yellow, orange, purple, silver.

My lungs ache for air, but I follow the hull of the sunken ship deeper.

A spotted ray darts past.

One last peek through the shattered windows into the darkness below

Turning, floating to the surface.

Light sparkles on the water above.

Oxygen, precious air fills my lungs again.


A Month of Earrings… (Day 31)

•June 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

photo (2)

This pair of earrings was handmade by Tanzanian artisans at the Nuru Center here in Dar es Salaam. They are rolled paper beads with some silver accents, and despite being simple and small, are very cool.

A Month of Earrings… (Day 30)

•June 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

photo (1)

This is another pair of earrings that I purchased in Papua New Guinea when I was there for Interface in 2010. They are small and simple, nothing fancy.

A Month of Earrings… (Day 29)

•June 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

photo 2

These earrings are huge and so much fun to wear! Today I paired them with black shorts and a a gray top for a ladies event at church. They’re just crazy enough to make a casual outfit a bit dressy! At least I think so… ;)


A Month of Earrings… (Day 28)

•June 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

photo 1
Yes, more feathers. And this time, with some color! Once again, these earrings are a gift from my little sister. And once again, they are from Colorado. They are a fun accessory for almost any outfit!

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