Day 45 – Saturday Church –
In all of the excitement of the double date, I forgot to report on the church service that Melissa and I went to before we grabbed Tom and Sarah. Besides watching the architects do their movement from church stage design to an overall sanctuary 3D animation/visualization piece, it was a powerful service. I already told you about my earlier meditation about Isaiah and how it affected me both positively and negatively. Well, to top it off, the church worship was all about surrendering control. We even sang the old hymn, “Here Am I” to a much more up-tempo pace than the original. I felt like God was trying to get this message all over my brain and inside my heart. And this wasn’t all. The regular pastor was not speaking. He was taking the week off and had asked a furloughed missionary to come and speak.
This guy – wow – what a powerful man with a great story of God’s faithfulness. This guy was like a modern day Isaiah. He had given his life over to the work of God from a young age and he never wavered. But he didn’t speak pridefully – he seemed to be a super humble guy who was not trying to impress the crowd with stories of his exploits. He was not trying to make the crowd feel like they were less than. He just told them matter of fact and they came across in an amazing way. I don’t know what you know about being anointed by the Holy Spirit, but this guy was anointed. Power and love mixed together in his presentation as he shared about his time serving female sex slaves in Thailand. He helped to rescue over 250 of them and help them get resettled in the US. He also had been one of the first people to go into the Soviet Union (now fallen) and to smuggle bibles in there. There was a lot more, but I won’t keep telling you.
All I know is that he was used to affect me. And it was funny that before I had thought God was asking for my relationships. That’s not all He was asking for. He wanted my whole life. He wanted me to stop acting like my world was so big and important. He wanted me to be humble too – to be willing to go do His will wherever that might be. I talked to Melissa about this after the service and she was wiping her eyes from the tears that were drawn out of her from this speaker. She said that she had never felt so moved. She said that she really needed to change her whole life focus. I thought this was such a mature response from her. Actually, it was more childlike than “mature” but that’s what God wants.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot that I ran into both my corporate housing and Lubbock landscaping point people. They go to different churches than this one, but they had heard that this specific missionary was going to be speaking and so they took the opportunity to check out a new church space.
Okay, that takes care of the rest of Saturday that I wasn’t able to write about before. I thought this one needed its own writing space. Have you ever been moved like this? What did you do with it? Comments are welcome.
Day 44 – Saturday – Double date
I knew it would be an interesting day and night knowing that I was going to be hanging with Melissa, Tom and Sarah. Everything started with my pool swim, my breakfast and my other regular things at my corporate housing, but it got immediately weird when I got a frenzied call from one of the best colleges in Texas and the voice on the other end of the line was panicked. They said that their whole website had disappeared and they needed to get it back online as fast as possible. They didn’t want one of the other Texas colleges to get their prospective students. Personally, I was not panicked because I knew this was not our fault or really our problem since we had not built their website. I also knew that that they were not going to be losing too many prospective students. Still, I felt bad for them and wanted to see if I could help. So, I got permission, logged into their site and went searching for their webmaster. After about 90 minutes of talking to their site builder, they were without glitches and their site was back. Emergency avoided. They were so thankful that I helped and I told them that it was no big deal. And in fact, what I did for their site was no big deal because I just got in touch with their site builder and their person responsible for upkeep. I would have had no clue what to do if left on my own.
After this web scare, I had my meditation time, which focused on Isaiah when he volunteered when God asked, “Whom shall we send?” Old Isaiah didn’t ask what he was signing up for – he just raised his hand and said, “Here Am I send me!” Incredible to me. What I learned from this was that if we are to be servants of God then we are to just say “Yes” to Him without knowing the details and without being able to negotiate the what, the why or the how long. My personal takeaway was that I needed to let go of control and let God move me around as He so chose. A thought hit me about Melissa, which stuck with me. “If God says to let her go and end this relationship, then accept it and obey.” That made me choke a bit – not because that’s what God was saying to do, but that He could and I’d have to go with God over my heart. I re-committed myself to God’s way no matter what but I’ll admit that it was hard to consider. Still, followers of Jesus don’t get to choose when God says to go one way or another. We are either dedicated to Him or we are not and we see this dedication when it comes down to the hard stuff. Good thoughts for me to lean on.
One more work thing: I worked on the Christian school’s website to make it more attractive to Lubbock Pre-K parents. They told me about their desire yesterday but I could only get to it today. Anyway, I did what I knew to do and they should see a big increase in exposure for that demographic.
Now on to the date – Melissa and I agreed that we should let Tom choose the restaurant and after talking with his date, Sarah, he told us that we would all be going to a really good place called Triple J’s BBQ. We ate there and it was fantastic. Even better was that you could see some sparks between Tom and Sarah begin to develop right from the start. Tom had a good sense of humor and Sarah laughed at all of his stories. At one point when she was laughing, she put her hand on his arm. Boom – the first physical contact. Melissa noticed it as well and we smiled at each other. I felt like the stud matchmaker. After the meal, we all headed to see a new movie with DiCaprio. I made sure Tom held the tub of popcorn so that Sarah would have to keep leaning over and putting her hands into his midst. It was a sly move on my part, but no one argued with the set-up. Anyway, by the end of the date as we pulled into the parking lot – all of us travelers – Sarah and Tom were already holding hands. I didn’t want to follow them in – mainly because I wanted to get my own kisses in with Melissa. Overall, it was a successful day and night.
Day 43 – Friday Fun
Back to my Lubbock Corporate Housing routines with Sarah sitting poolside again. I told her about Tom and asked if she would like to meet him. She said, “Why not?” So I extended an invitation for them to be dinner companions with Melissa and me on Saturday night (post church). I talked to Tom and he said he was up for it. I knew this would be an interesting pairing.
But as for today, a fun Friday, I asked the three nurses if they liked to bowl and they said yes. So, I told them that I would buy their dinner and we would go roll some balls at some pins afterwards. I told them that if they had dates they wanted to bring along, the more the merrier. Both Aubrey and Stephanie said they had guy friends from the hospital that might be able to go. So we made plans for it.
I’ve always loved bowling but I think I have mentioned before I really stink at it. But maybe my machismo would give me adrenaline as I attempted to prove my manhood in front of these other men. I might throw 12 strikes and have a perfect game to make Melissa proud of me and show me to be a man’s man. I’ll tell you about all that happened at the alley in a bit.
First my meditation: The book of James where it talks about taming the tongue. It says that the tongue can be a fire that burns everything it touches. It also says that if you can control your tongue you will have done the near impossible. I don’t want to be a pyromaniac who destroys relationships with a word. I have trouble keeping my mouth shut when I am tired. I am coarse with my joking and often hurt people’s feelings. I also am prone to argue a point so I can be right. This comes from insecurity and pride on my part. I asked God to help me with this. I believe He will, but I need to do my part in shutting up, especially when I notice my tiredness.
Work: I picked up a business that focuses on landscaping in Lubbock and surrounding areas. They also do yard care and holiday lighting, etc. I’m excited to work with them.
Dinner was good. We had food from a place called Crafthouse. I was super impressed with the quality and the presentation of the food. The three nurses and I got different things so we could try a bit of each thing. Great feast. Then we headed over to the bowling alley where we met the two other fellows for a bit of pin knocking. I knew I was dead when both of them showed up with their own bowling balls and even those wrist contraptions used by professionals. Even as they rolled 240 average, doubling my score each time, they were cool guys and it seemed to me that they were interested in being more than friends with Aubrey and Stephanie. And vice versa. Anyway it was fun to play and also to watch pre-relationships grow. I whispered to Melissa that I would give it two weeks before there were new boyfriends and girlfriends. I also happened to run into one of the church architects while we were bowling. He was with his family and it looked like he was at about the same level as me as far as bowling skills. Anyway, I said met his family and told him that I would see him and his colleagues tomorrow evening at church.
Day 42 – Thursday Thoughts –
I covered the rest of my Midland clients by around noon and decided to go ahead and make the 2.5 hour drive back to Lubbock. I knew Melissa would be around without her work depressions and we could go tour some homes for sale in Lubbock.
My meditation today was the parable of the Prodigal Son. This one always gets me to thinking and the specific question I focused on was why did the younger son leave in the first place? He lived in a house filled with love. He had servants. He had a generous dad. Everything in the house was his to share. There was no greener grass to run to, but he ran nonetheless. Was he bored? Was he simply taking everything for granted? Did he just want something different? Had there been rumors that the distant country was better suited to his tastes? I recognized myself in this son as far as wasting time chasing worldly things instead of digging into my relationship with the Father. I have had my own prodigal days – even weeks and months – where I took what God had given me and I spent it on less than good ways. I still carry guilt and shame from those times. What I got from God on this day was that I needed to accept the grace offered to me and become the son again. I’m not meant to be a servant who is beating himself up for the past. This is key for me. I need to let go of shame and guilt and replace it with the ring and the robe that my Father is giving me. I am a loved child of God and once I got home from those bad days I was to take my rightful place as an heir. If I can give myself this slack I would not be so hard on myself. I think if I let love in to replace the shame, I will be able to love all that much better.
Enough of that.
Melissa: It’s funny and a little bit strange that in these early romantic days of a new relationship that one day being away from your girl/boyfriend feels like a hundred days. I couldn’t wait to see her. I also could not wait to take her to see the house in Tech Terrace. Of all the Lubbock homes for sale, this was the one that stood out. I had called the Realtor from Midland and set up a meeting time for today to show us both the inside of this home. So, at 5:30 p.m. Melissa and I went to see it. The Realtor was very cool to meet us there and to open it up for us. Melissa was blown away by it. I asked who was in charge of this Lubbock landscaping and she told me it was Lubbock Roots (www.lubbockroots.com). Melissa said that this was exactly the sort of place she would like to live in. I winked at her and said that maybe her and her traveling nurse friends could rent it from me. I asked the Realtor how long it had been on the market and how much time I might have before it would be gone. She said she had no idea and that most houses that come up for sale in Tech Terrace get bought up very quickly.
After we had marveled at the cool house, we went to dinner at Chili’s and talked about our next relationship question which was: How do you teach people a lesson if they do something wrong or something you don’t like? I said that I typically go quiet and sulk. Melissa said that she often gave the silent treatment when someone made her angry. We agreed that we needed to change in these areas. No talking cannot be good for a burgeoning relationship.
That was how Thursday went – a good day with many new decisions to make.
Day 41 – Wednesday Midland Travels
It’s Wednesday and I’m heading back out to take my place in my home away from home away from home – My Midland Corporate Housing, which is quite nice too. I am impressed with how this one company who runs all of these corporate houses is able to maintain such quality housing for people like me. I will admit to being low maintenance and fairly easily pleased, but this company goes above and beyond in their attempts to make each space into something livable. I should try and represent them. It would be fun to market them to extended stay travelers who want more than just a crowded space. I’ll check into it when I get back to my corporate housing in Lubbock.
When I got to Midland I noticed a strange hush in the streets. The typical bustle that comes with an oil boom is palpable, but I heard rumors that the boom is turning quickly into another bust. It seems like the cycle for Midland is about 7 years of wealth followed by 7 more of famine. Hopefully, the residents and oil riggers really made an effort to save what they made so they don’t face bankruptcies and foreclosures as is so common. Anyway, I did my deals with one old client (make sure they are happy) and actually picked up another one because of a referral from one of my past clients. I always appreciate when people who are satisfied you’re your work review you well and take the opportunities to start a word of mouth campaign for you. Good people do that. I do that. I guess that makes me logically good. Who knows? I always sucked at logic in school.
My Meditation today was when Jesus was asleep at the bottom of the boat when a fierce storm hit. His disciples were freaking out and even went below deck to ask Jesus how He could possibly sleep at a time like this. The part that stuck out to me in all of this was the disciples saying to Jesus, “Don’t you care if we drown?” Here are His closest followers who had seen miracle after miracle and who knew Him to be the Messiah who had come to save the world and they had the nerve to question His care for them. Jesus yawned and went up and calmed the wind and rains with a few words. Then He asked those close followers where there faith was. What I take from this is that sometimes life hits me hard and there are even those times when God sends me to do something and I get hit with a storm. I get all whiny and ask the same things the disciples did. I throw a temper tantrum and decide that God just doesn’t care about me. Not smart. I have to keep my beliefs and what I know about God to be steady. I need more faith. I always will.
Melissa: I caught her on the phone after she was woke up from a workday. We talked about the next questions from the book: Have you ever had a roommate? What was that situation like? What would your past roommates say about you as a roommate? This question was aimed more at me because I knew that Melissa was sharing a space with Aubrey and Stephanie and they have said over and over what a great roommate she is – always cleaning up and never complaining. That’s a good thing to have. As for me, I have a mixed report. I had a college roommate who hated me because I was always leaving my chewing tobacco spit cups all around our study desks. Plus I was a heavy drinker at the time and I often came in late, drunk and often throwing up. I am ashamed of all that pre-Christian living, but I don’t blame it all on the booze. I think I was just selfish. And if you have one good roommate living with a selfish one, it’s gonna get ugly fast. I had another roommate who stayed with me in my later 20’s and he said I was a good person who went above and beyond to be a good roommate. So, who knows which one I would be with Melissa. Hopefully, I’ll be the best version of me and we can just get along swimmingly. I guess we will find out.
Day 40 – Tuesday Shapings
From the Lubbock Corporate Housing suite that doubles as my sanctuary: (paraphrase) Who are you, piece of clay, to argue with your Potter? – God does what He wants and so keep your mouth shut unless it is being used to praise Him.
That meditation again reminds me of who is in control. God does owe me – He owns me. He is the one who shaped me to be the one that I am and He bought me at a high price. So, when I argue and complain about my shape, I am arguing with what God wanted in the first place. There are reasons for everything even when you cannot figure them out. God’s ways and His thoughts are much higher than mine will ever be. So I am humbled again. I know I am loved and that should be enough. That private Christian school I am representing (Lubbock Pre-K – 12th Grade) has a poster in one of the kindergarten rooms that has a Play-Doh can taped at the bottom of it. At the top, it simply says, “God molds you into the wonderful person you are.” Good stuff from a young age I’d say.
Speaking of shaping, the church architects who are doing everything from church stage design to the finishing touches have this quote on their website that I really like. It’s by Winston Churchill and it says, “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.” If I had to take a guess as to what that means is that we do our best to make beautiful and functional spaces but then the shape of our buildings ends up affecting our heart, mind and soul. If architects cut corners and leave out the creative parts that could have been there, those who take up residence there (vocationally or residentially) are not being shaped creatively. What you put in to a building comes back one hundred fold in how it affects those who hang out there. Anyway, I like how those at Halo Architects and Gone Virtual Studios aim high in their 3D visualizations. They set a high bar but its their standard and that means a lot. Good people and hard workers.
Melissa update: My girl worked the whole of the day and was too wiped to go see that house in Tech Terrace. I told her I loved her and that she should rest. She confided in me that she really hates her job as a nurse – that if she had it all to do again she would have studied to be something else that doesn’t require cleaning up so much poop. We laughed at that but I could tell she was sorrowful.
It’s a shame to work so hard to become something and then regret it because it’s not what you thought it would be. I am lucky because even though my job has challenges, I get to mostly do what I love. I feel bad for her. I hope I can get her to where she wants to be someday. Get her back in school to try something new. But here is one thing I know: Most jobs deal with people and people are not easy to deal with. So whether you are a plumber or a teacher, you have to put up with difficult clients. That being said, poop is a whole other level of “crap” if you will.
Enough for Tuesday…
Day 39 – Monday Light Blues
I woke up in my corporate housing suite to a light bluesy feeling. I think it was because I had had such a good weekend – contrast kills sometimes. But I pushed back the feelings of woe with every stroke I took in the pool. The sun was already pressing in on my skin and it felt amazing. I love the sun and how it can shift a mood. If I would just pay more attention to the creation around me on a day-to-day basis, I’d probably be less blue. The world can be a tough place, but the creation is stunning if you check out the extremely intelligent and intricate design.
Lectio Divina: I am just a blade of grass that will soon be gone. Life is short and while I am a super small piece of it historically, I still have value in God. Humbling verses about being just a flash in time, but also joy-giving in that the ultimate Being in the universe tells me that I am important to Him. I really am enjoying this meditation stuff. I’m glad I got back into it. Hope it is not boring to you. But if you are bored, you can stop reading.
Bad news: Despite using the same methods of marketing for the private Christian school in town (Lubbock Pre-K – 12th grade), they reported to me that they are seeing very stagnant numbers and no increases in enrollment. They said they would give me one more month to do my stuff, but if there is no tangible return on investment, it would mean the end of their contract with my company. I get where they are coming from. Marketing, both physical and online, is not any good if it doesn’t accomplish what a particular company needs and wants. But truth is, I cannot force a ROI with my marketing. Our style is much better than spinning signs on the curbs in front of the business, but in the end, consumers have to be taken from exposure to conversion or the cost of marketing is not warranted. I’ll redouble my efforts for this school, but I don’t know if their enrollment will increase no matter what I do. I think it should because of their quality of schooling and because of our marketing efforts coming together into a combination of collective beauty. But who can say for sure?
Melissa: Question of the evening at our Lubbock Corporate Housing lobby was “Do you understand that in the future you and whomever you are married to will get old, wrinkly and out of shape?” This question made us both laugh because we tried to picture each other in that way. Old me and Old Melissa. How vain am I? How much can I love someone who is no longer externally beautiful? How can she love me when I am unattractive? We talked about how the years of marriage that got us to that point of “ugly” would make us fall deeply in love with the whole of the depths of each other. We wouldn’t be looking for beauty in a body that guarantees obsolescence. We would experience the beauty that comes from the heart and soul of the other. Good answers I thought. But I guess you have to just wait and see.
Okay – that’s how you live out a bluesy day.
Day 38 – Sunday – new questions
I woke up late – like noon – because I could afford to. Why not take the day of rest to rest longer than normal in my plush Lubbock Corporate Housing? I took Melissa to eat for a late lunch and we talked about the next questions in that book we are studying. The book asked us to answer the following: Can you easily admit that you are wrong and How are you at saying sorry? As for the first question, I had to admit that I can be a total jerk when it came to admitting “wrongness.” I know this comes from a place of pride as do most of my “sinful” ways. We all have strong opinions about the right and way to do things and to be challenged by someone else to think different makes me angry and I usually don’t budge. This inability to budge is bad for marriage because it means I am putting my opinions out there as convictions when they are not convictions. I told Melissa I would try to work on this and asked her to forgive the times I “knee-jerk” a response. Melissa said that she didn’t have many problems with this – she has this natural inclination to listen and learn from everyone. She also has the ability to keep her mouth shut and to cut off an angry conversation by holding her tongue. She can be persuaded that her ways are wrong and she can say so. That’s rare.
As for the second question, I think that people hate to say sorry. I know I do. If I have been in an argument or have a clash of wills with someone I sulk and hand out the silent treatment. Even though my insides burn and scream out, “SAY SORRY GOOFBALL!!!” I tend to wait for the other person to acknowledge their sorrow and then I come around. This is a big weakness that can hurt relationships for sure. Melissa also admitted that she doesn’t like to sorry because it makes her feel weak. So this issue must be dealt with. We both agreed to practice saying sorry so that it becomes a habit.
Lectio Divina: 1 Kings 11 – Solomon, who was the wisest person on the planet, stops serving God because his heart held fast to women who got him to worship other gods. I thought that this was another warning regarding Melissa – Even if she is a total blessing from God, I need to keep my life focused on God and His will. It’s easy to lose your way because of girl-idolatry, even if you are wise and know better. Humbling to me…
I got an unexpected Sunday call from the Vice Chancellor at the Texas colleges I am representing and got some good news. This person, Matt, told me that they were getting a lot more interest in their school because of some of the marketing I had been doing. They saw enrollment going up. I said that I credited the human recruiters too. Anyway, it was nice to be told good news.
I also drove by one of Melissa’s favorite homes for sale in Lubbock (the castle-cottage) and was surprised to see an open house sign our front. So, I pulled up and went inside. It had hard floors and was quite charming. It still had furniture in it, which probably made it nicer looking than if it had none. Still, it was an awesome and the price was perfect for my budget. I told the Realtor who was showing the house that I would be back soon with my girlfriend, because I knew this house would not stay on the market very long.
Day 37 – Saturday – Wrong and Sorry
I love my Saturdays because they give me a break from the normal work week and I get to take my meditations of the week into a church setting. I used to never go to church on Saturdays because it felt like I was cheating on the cultural “Sunday = Church.” But now that I’ve done Saturdays for several weeks I am hooked. Things are still aimed at pleasing God, but everyone around me seems less uptight. It seems that people are able to worship God with less insecurity. Anyway, I love going then.
My Lectio Divina for the day was: “God satisfies my desires with good things.” Unlike Mick Jagger, I can get some…Satisfaction. And this satisfaction will come from God and will be with good things. This stuck out to me because I think of how many times I have tried to satisfy myself with worldly things that were ultimately bad for me. This passage made me think hard about Melissa. Was I trying to satisfy my own desires for love with her or was this most excellent encounter an example of God doing what He says He does? In the past I had relationships that were all about me searching for a girl to make me happy and they did not work out at all.
I lifted up my relationship with Melissa to God and told Him I would go His way no matter what direction that was. At this point, I really think that God is showing me that He truly can satisfy my desires with a cool woman. If that is what He is showing me then I will be all the more thankful.” Praise the Lord and forget not all His benefits…
At the Saturday service, my church architects showed the congregation its church stage design. It seemed like a small thing, but once it was shown up on the screen I saw how vital this part of the capital campaign was – Most of the time spent in a church is spent looking up at the stage. This means that if you do this part right, you can capture your crowds’ attention for longer and keep them focused. So the theory goes…Today, I went to the front of the church when they asked if anyone needed to be prayed for. I told one of the praying pastors at the front about my current relationship and asked them to pray for me that I was being guided by wisdom rather than by my loneliness. It was an important moment of surrender for me. I told Melissa about it and she thought that it was a smart idea. She too had been wondering is she was being immature and stupid for jumping into a serious relationship but that she now felt she was on the right path.
After the service we took an evening drive through Tech Terrace looking at the Lubbock homes for sale there. I showed her the select few I had my eye on and she gushed over one that had the look of as castle-cottage. I marked that down in my memory so I could give that one house a definite look. After this drive, we sat in my car and stared lovingly at one another. And we also made out – I don’t think God gets made about that but maybe He does. Lots of Christians think that any physical intimacy is dangerous before marriage. I’m of the mind that as long as the kissing doesn’t go beyond that, it’s ok. Any comments on that, readers? I’d love to hear what you are thinking. Feel free to smite me if you want. I’m in suite 211 at my sweet Lubbock corporate housing spot if you want to try it, buster.
Day 36 – Friday Fanatic
I went to the lobby of my Lubbock corporate housing today to do my Bible study.
My Lectio Divina today was based around the need to forgive people completely no matter how many times they screw up and ask for forgiveness. I admittedly have some grudges I hold over peoples’ heads. One person in particular who signed a $250,000 contract and then reneged on it still gets under my skin. Now here is my question: If someone does wrong to you or sins against you but does not ask for forgiveness, do you have to forgive them? Is forgiveness dependent on that initial ask or do I have to forgive no matter what?
I think I ask that question because it feels good to not forgive certain people and I am trying to justify my behavior. I don’t think God put those verses in my path today for the kicks of it. I better change my judgment and my lack of forgiveness or risk being unforgiven for all my own sin. God has mercy on us when we have mercy on others. That was loud and clear to me this morning. So, I forgive you Michael. There…that’s done. And I moved on with my day.
I met with a church today who is about to run a capital campaign (raising money for more buildings or renovations to existing buildings) and they wanted to know if my company would be able to do their marketing and necessary change agency for a new church design. From my past in churches, I know how much energy it takes to walk a church through this process and I also know that my company does not have the capabilities to do important things to sell this to congregants (3D animation for one), and so I had to say, “No.”
Even though this “No” kind of felt like a failure for me because I couldn’t close the deal that would have been fairly lucrative, I knew it was better to stay out of this because it would be a significant headache that would have sucked the energy out of our company. Many other firms specialize in doing church campaigns and they do it quite well – let them find them.
Melissa update: We went through our resumes and our anti-resumes and it was hard to be honest about our junk, but it forced us to come out into the open with it all. After we both heard from each other, we still agreed to move on with our relationships. I think it forced us to have more grace for each other. I also think it took out future surprises that would have threatened to derail us. By the end of that conversation we were smiling and ready to ask the next question. I’ll get into that one in my next journal as I hang out in my short term furnished apartment.
Until then, be forgiving and merciful. You will feel better once you live a life that isn’t carrying grudges around with you. Don’t you think?