Day 111 – Tuesday Tells

Day 111 – Tuesday Tells

Another day working on “catering in Lubbock” and “Lubbock Pre-K.” I know it must seem funny to you non-Search Engine Optimization people out there. Using specific keyword phrases to get a company to rank higher for words that potential customers will most likely put into their search bars requires a lot of research. It also requires a lot of consistent work and most of this work is creating content. As they say in my business, content is king. Those who can place strong content on high-ranking websites typically win the day. There is a lot of backend administrative work that has to be done in the initial steps, but most of the rest of it is writing powerful and keyword-rich content. If you can’t write well then you definitely should not get into my business. You will suffer with frustration because you won’t see many gains and the clients who you signed up with promises of ranking improvements will probably fire you in short order. Oh, and you also need to be able to sell your services to potential clients – introverts don’t do very well in this business either.

Wow – that sounded like I just patted myself on the back for my ‘skills’ in this area. I am the Spartacus of SEO – Truth is, I am pretty good at the above, but I am certainly not the best. I find myself running out of things to write that sound relevant and this leads to bad content. Google is the judge of my writing and my placements and I don’t do well quite often. I can admit my weaknesses. I am humble, right?

Melissa and I went to our future house and did one more look through to determine what furniture styles we wanted to be keeping our eyes open for – we made notes relating to all of the rooms and then we went to shopping. We found a couple of couches and a recliner that we wanted for the den. We went ahead and bought them to put into our future house storage place. I found out from the management company that they had already rented this house out to an orthopedic surgeon and her family – they were having a house built and so they needed a place to settle in Lubbock until their house was officially finished. I was happy that I would be receiving extra revenue from that source and happy that the management company had found the perfect couple to live in my house.

Good news all around!

Day 107 – Saturday nights are okay for sliding

Day 107 – Saturday nights are okay for sliding

Since I took a day and a half off with my food poisoning sickness earlier this week, I wanted to get at least a few things done on Saturday morning. I worked on the keyword phrases “Lubbock catering” and “Midland Corporate Housing” and felt good about what I did – There’s that Bible verse that tells me to work on things as if I working on them for God – which means full attention and full energy. Sometimes I pull that off and sometimes I don’t. It depends if I feel like throwing myself into a project or not – That’s not good. God deserves my best in all of my doings – even if they are done alone for secular clients. That wasn’t even my meditation for the day – It happened to be the topic of the sermon at Saturday evening church. I had to attend this service by myself, because Melissa was working. She has been working a lot lately – I think to make up for her missed time due to the accident. This shows her dedication to her craft and I bet she lives out her work at full energy. She probably didn’t even need to hear this sermon because is already doing it. My respect for her grows more and more by the day. It’s one thing to fall in love with someone and an entirely different thing to respect this same person. I am a blessed man.

Meditation: We have a devourer who is out to lie to us, steal from us, kill us and destroy us. We have an enemy of our souls and spirits and bodies and he waits for “opportune times” to come after us. When we get bored, hungry, angry, lonely and/or tired we are most susceptible to fall into temptation that works – the kind of temptation that matches our desires with well-marketed evil. I forget this truth most of the time – I get my eyes on this world that is dominated by the senses and forget that there is a powerful spiritual being who is just waiting for me to open my life to his schemes. I don’t have to open a Ouija board or attend a séance or go to a Wiccan meeting to welcome him in to my world. I just have to forget he is around and lose my awareness of where I am in relation to my God. If I stay close to God, I have a refuge that protects me from such attacks – I forget to do this as well. But, now that I have been reminded of the reality of an evil that wants to put me on its menu, I plan on running back to my godly base and staying there. Good meditation today – especially as Monday night Bible study draws closer.

 

That’s all I have for this day of restful work and prayer. How are you in your world? How do you deal with the enemy of your soul? I recommend a book by C.S. Lewis entitled “The Screwtape Letters” for more on this topic. It’s a creative and powerful book.

Day 104 – Wednesday Recovery

Day 104 – Wednesday Recovery

Didn’t have to hang out with Mr. Toilet today, but I am still on the slow mend. You know how it always takes a day or two after such a stomach turning event to be able to return to normal life activities.

It was sort of weird having Melissa take care of me seeing as how she has been recovering herself. I felt kind of selfish because I only had food poisoning and she had a major car wreck. But, she told me to shut-up and to just let her be who she is – her very identity is “Helps.” And I am the lucky recipient this time. As far as our relationship goes, it’s full steam ahead. We are keeping our promise to not have anything but PDA and we are better for it. I am less likely to grab at private parts or lay on top of her at the supermarket or at the Laundromat – it’s a stupid but great rule.

By the way, does the song Loser by Beck ever get old? I think not.

Also, I don’t know if I mentioned it but I got Corporate Housing Midland accounts and a Corporate Housing Amarillo account that has made up for losing those others. I am relieved by those additions because I hate feeling like a failure. There is nothing like feeling defeated and beaten – even especially at work – maybe especially at work. When you are unemployed and you cannot get an interview no matter where you put your resume is a butt-kicking feeling. I feel terrible for those around me who have lost their jobs and cannot find another one that will pay the bills. It’s easier than you think to become a chronically unemployed person. And trying to start your own business using your entrepreneurial skills is super difficult. I actually took some time to pray for those in my world who cannot find work. I have a good job and the company always evaluates me favorably, but it only takes one year of budget deficit and I would be out of work. Ughhh. What a miserable thought…

In other good news, my Lubbock catering clients are kicking some butt…

Meditation: With these things in mind, I went to the verses that talk about how Christians should rejoice when others rejoice and weep when others weep. It’s a show of community that is filled with compassion for one another – We should share the emotion and also try to help the weepers stop weeping by meeting their needs if possible. I don’t think I usually care enough about those around me – I care for those who I love, but when it comes to Christians I don’t know I don’t have compassion. This is a problem I must fix.

That’s it for today – hope you had a good one!

Day 103 – Tuesday Throws

Day 103 – Tuesday Throws

I woke up today with some kind of stomach sickness – the kind that wrecks you for at least a day. I was throwing up for most of the morning but I got some Phenergan after calling in to my doctor at my old city. He thankfully prescribed this wonder drug and I mustered all of my energy to go and pick it up. Thirty minutes after taking it (suppository version – TMI?) my vomiting ceased and I was out like a light. I think I must have gotten a bit of food poisoning from one of the fine restaurants in Lubbock and the very thought of any sort of food made me retch. Oy…

I could only do some work from my Corporate Housing space, but at least the bathroom in these suckers are spacious. Just one more reason to stay in these short-term furnished apartments. Sometimes I take for granted the glories of American restrooms – but no longer. When you have had to basically sleep on the bathroom floor or lay your head on top of the top seat of the toilet for hours you suddenly realize what a blessing a top notch bathroom will get you during these times of distress.

Okay, enough of that sickness talk except to say that when Melissa got home and slept off her hard working night, she took good care of me. You find out a lot about people when they are sick and when they are caring for the sick. It was hard to be sick in front of her, but I let her use her special nursing touch to raise my spirits and to heal quicker. And I found that she was a caregiver at heart. She wasn’t the sort who would just say, “Get up. Be tough.” She was a Jello maker, an ice chip maker and a chicken noodle preparer. Someone perfect for me.

Even in my sick state I did get some Biblical meditation done – I’m sure the prophets never let a stomach sickness stop them from seeking God. Anyway, I read about how Jesus was saying to Peter that he would build His church on Peter (the rock). But I had never noticed before how in the same meeting, Jesus told Peter that he was being like Satan because he was refuting claims from Jesus that He had to die and be resurrected. Jesus told Peter that he was thinking like a person who is tied into this world rather than as a disciple who understood heavenly things.

What did this say to me? Well, I think I can recall arguing with God on many occasions and telling Him what I thought should be so, rather than letting the spiritual view be digested. I also imagine I would be called Satan a lot by Jesus because I am always thinking in this temporal realm,

That’s about it for this day of struggle. May tomorrow be better for us all.

Day 99 – Friday Party like it’s…

Day 99 – Friday Party like it’s…

I did the Corporate Housing pool with extra vigor today – I think the Friday bug is getting me too – probably because I know that I had a cool date with Melissa ahead of me. It’s amazing how someone can not be a part of your life at all and then all of a sudden become the sole focus of everything we do. I have to watch that she doesn’t ever replace my devotion to God because I am thinking of her all of the time. I wonder if she thinks of me all the time – even while cleaning bedpans and such. That would be fitting.

I ran into Sarah who told me that she and Tom were getting more and more serious about their relationship. Both of them have decided to relocate to the same town to do their businesses and even to share a corporate housing suite. I asked her if she has a hard time keeping her hands off of him and she said yes. I decided that I would delete that picture from my head as soon as I posed the question. A nude Tom is not what I want to think about.

I spoke with my realty company and I told them that they are continuing to rise up the rankings due to my efforts at inbound content. They said they were grateful and that they had seen a boost in business in the last week. That made me happy. I also got similar news from my friendly Lubbock catering group who are making great progress with the community I am a part of.  I was happy for them.

Meditation: My time with God has grown and so has my desire for Him and His words to me. I read Psalm 103 again and was reminded to allow God to satisfy my desires with good things. This must be a warning to me because I run into it all of the time. I need to watch my desires for acceptance and happiness. I need to be patient as God brings those things into my life rather than me trying to add them via Melissa or otherwise. I think that too many of us do things to satisfy our begging feelings with little thought about what God thinks of our efforts. I know I chase little addictions to grab a buzz or two when I should be slow to chase anything that isn’t God.

Well, apart from a date with Melissa at Café J’s and a follow-up classic DVD (Cool Hand Luke), it was a fairly normal day. And normal is something that can’t be taken for granted. Thank God for a good day!

Day 92 – Friday Hail The King

Day 92 – Friday Hail The King

I have to admit that I usually rush through my journals lately – almost like it is has become a must-do that I need to just get out of the way. But today I am dedicating myself to take the necessary steps to prioritize it as a spiritual discipline that can deepen me. So many things we do seem to require an intentional restart at some point or they become stale. I think that about going to church, doing my work rounds (Today, short term furnished apartments and Lubbock Pre K ) and I can see how this attitude could creep in between me and Melissa. I also do this same thing in prayer. Some days I hit my knees literally and bow my head so that I trigger my spirituality and show God that I am here for a longer time so that He can speak to me – some days I just lay in bed and rip out a lightning fast Lord’s prayer. Prayer and study must be the foundation for everything else – if I am rushing that part of my life (which includes journaling) I will be on shifting sands in every area. So, all that to say, I better get my butt on the floor with my journal and Bible every morning so that I best prioritize everything else.

Speaking of that, as you know I have been reading Ecclesiastes and digging into it so I can be ready to lead an upcoming Bible study. Today was all about accepting and living in a specific season that God has you in – Most people know these verses from that Yardbirds song (Turn, Turn, Turn) but I have never thought much about it until now. These verses teach an important truth – You aren’t always going to be on the positive side of life – sure there are seasons of happiness and joy where everything seems to be going your way, but there also times that seem dark and hard. Sometimes God wants to teach us how to handle success and sometimes He wants to teach us how to handle failure. Sometimes He wants us to laugh and sometimes He wants us to mourn – there are times for everything in this life which is preparing us an eternal spot. It’s like taking different classes – some easy and some hard. I know a lot of people (like myself) who freak out when things hit seasons of difficulty rather than accepting the time as a time to grow. People who get an A+ in each season are the ones who are willing to take on anything instead of demanding ease all the time. Anyway, this has got me to thinking that I have been in a season of ease and good things but I wonder what is next. Will I be taken into a desert of life where I have to lean harder on God than I have to now? What will trigger this season? I don’t know why I wonder about it or try to predict when and what it will be. When something different comes, I just need to be ready to roll with whatever punches come.

As for everything else, work is good except for the loss of that client yesterday (still makes me upset that I couldn’t do more) and Melissa and I are considering going to a premarital counselor who can ask us questions that we haven’t thought of yet. We will see how that works out. It seems like that book we have been going through has covered almost everything imaginable but we figured why not let a professional dig into us.

That’s it for today. Always feel free to ask me questions or make comments…

Day 90 – Wednesday Hump-ty

Day 90 – Wednesday Hump-ty

Today marked my three-month stint in Lubbock, Texas and I’m so happy to get to stay here. I know that many Lubbock natives would scoff at me and say that Lubbock is nothing but a black hole that consumes dreams and happiness – a wilderness that rains mud and blows cruel dust into everyone’s face – a true exile that must be escaped at all costs. But, I have loved my work here and I met my future wife here and I’ve chosen from all the Lubbock homes for sale to stake my claim to a wonderful time in a wonderland. No John Mayer, Lubbock is the wonderland…

I will get to church stage design, Texas colleges and Lubbock catering at some point in this journal entry, but I have to start by saying that I not only had a really hard time falling asleep last night. It was either too hot or too cold. My pillow didn’t hold my head in its usual cradle. My legs itched and my arms cramped. It was a tough toss and turn existence. And when I did finally fall asleep at 4:30 a.m. I had a most disturbing dream that I was trapped in a household of dangerous hillbillies. These were not the Beverly Hillbillies. Nor were they the banjo-listening hillbillies of the Deliverance movie. They were somewhat in between – like I felt that they were going to kill me at certain points but then they started singing death metal country tunes. And sometimes all of this could combine to be funny, but it didn’t feel funny to me. I hated every second of my time in their dream house but whenever I tried to leave, a really oddly shaped bus with couches inside would pull up, put me inside and take me to a clinic that was giving flu shots with dirty needles. I wonder how I survived the night time – I’m still mad at those imaginary people put forth by my brain. I’d like to wall them in Amontillado style. Do them some Edgar Allen Poe damage – teach them to stay out my sub-conscious.

Anyway, I woke up in my fine short-term furnished apartment tired and a little frustrated but I didn’t let that stop me from doing my swim routine and my meditation on Ecclesiastes. The part that stuck out to me from Chapter one today was that no matter how hard we try to be remembered for our great human deeds, we will soon be forgotten. This was a good reminder for me because sometimes I put so much pressure on myself to succeed that I hit near-panic. Sometimes I think so hard about how to act in front of others because I want to be memorable or impressive. These verses from Ecclesiastes tell me that in just a few generations (if even that) I will be forgotten. And if you think about it, the entertainers who get most of our culture’s air time are quickly forgotten (even by TMZ) if they don’t star in any more movies, plays, concerts, etc. Sure, names like Michael Jackson will be remembered for a while as the King of Pop, but no one really cares anymore. Is that mean to say? I hope not. I’m sure prideful people who have a lot of power on this earth will hate these verses because they have done all they can to extend their legacy. But fact is, legacies are remembered by name only. Sure your name might be on a building at a college somewhere, but no one will remember you as you are. Take that William Taft and Abe Lincoln…

That’s all I have for this day – I’ll catch you up on other stuff tomorrow as it happens.

Day 85 – Friday date

Day 85 – Friday date

I watched everyone around me today to see if I could get the emotional pulse of the world I live in – not the whole world, just my sphere of influence. Here’s what I got: People who are not patients in the hospital seemed to be overjoyed that it was Friday. “At least it’s Friday,” was uttered at least four times to me. My Realtor who is out there staging all those Lubbock homes for sale said it – even though she works on the weekends. My church architects who really love their jobs and will present more 3D shows to prospective clients tomorrow said it to me on the phone. My lawn care buddy and my Lubbock catering point person both said it when I talked to them on the phone.  The barista at Starbucks named Joseph said it as he looked at the line stretching behind me – his statement I understand because he happens not to work on the weekend. Funny to me – Friday is like the ultimate day because even though it requires work to be done on the day, it shines out that beautiful nearby anticipation that we humans just love. Saturday and Sunday cannot compete. That’s how I see it anyway. Feel free to disagree.

Speaking of Starbucks, I hung out there for three hours today and did some basic observance of how people act around their coffee. I’m sure nobody was watching me because I was pulling a casual Friday – wearing some colorful golfing shirts and a Tiger Woods retirement shirt. To top it off I wore a bright green visor. I’m sure people thought I must be on some golf tour and so they dared not look me in the eyes. Anyway, I ordered some of Starbucks mega-strong Cold Brew without water or ice so that it would give me the ultimate caffeine buzz and grabbed a morning bun so that it would complete the healthy breakfast/lunch combo. I don’t know why I even brought this up except to say that I do exist in places other than work stations – or I should say that I do vary my work stations because I was set up in this Starbucks all plugged in and laptop ready. There was one very interesting fellow there who didn’t bring anything into the store, who ordered only water and who chose one of the soft recliner-type chairs to fling his left leg over as if he was in his very own man cave. He was there to get free relaxation, but he wasn’t looking to engage anyone in particular. I knew this because I gave him a strong head nod when he looked at me (everyone knows that a strong head nod means I am open to someone saying at least, “Hello.”) and he passed me by without even a slight head nod. I felt momentarily slighted but when I realized I could see his underwear as he sat down I decided he was not the sort of fellow I needed to know.

Melissa is good. We had a date night and it was filled with some painful kisses and deep discussions on relational topics. I asked her if she thought I should go ahead and buy furniture we would like – and then store it in a climate-controlled storage space until we were ready to use it. She said that if there were pieces we found that we just loved, we could add it to the storage. This would give us the year to collect furniture we really liked rather than put us in a rush to fill up a house all at once. My Melissa is a smart and beautiful one. That’s all for today.

Day 81 – Monday once again

Day 81 – Monday once again

Normal corporate housing stuff in the early on the morning – this seems like the longest I’ve stuck with a workout regimen since high school. There is just something about climbing out of the walking world and diving into a swimming world that gets me going for the day. I’m noticing my “skinny fatness” is going away too, which is a bonus. Also if you were wondering, the home I bought in Lubbock has a pool so I can keep it going whenever I do move in – probably in a year. I know that many homes for sale in Lubbock don’t have pools because of the upkeep. But swimming is too important for me now.

My workday began with the church architects and we had a great meeting. They were seeing good results as a result of my work – more clients were calling them for all sorts of work projects and they attributed it to me. I personally think their portfolio speaks for itself and word of mouth has taken over for them, but I’ll take the credit if it keeps getting me paid. I’m also getting good reviews from my company – I won employee of the quarter and was given a $1000 prize. It surprised me and I was humbled by it. They are talking about leaving me in this region for three more months beyond the first 90 days – The relationships I have built are strong and it seems that there are plenty more clients to be had. Plus, I actually am learning to love Lubbock – as insane as that sounds. I guess I better love it – I’m going to be living here with Melissa for our married years. After these three extra months I am considering asking my company to open an office I can be in charge of – traveling has been good, but I want to settle down. I’d hate to have to switch jobs because of the long travel times.

Melissa is already doing physical therapy and she is doing amazing. She had enough paid time off that this recovery was not affecting her finances – plus the hospital she works for has some sort of fund to cover these sorts of events – at least for a while. This whole wreck thing still has me shaken – I keep thinking about how she could have died but even more now I am thinking of just potential injury. What if she had been severely burned? What if she had ended up as a paraplegic? Would I have loved her still? What if something similar happened to me? What if I got sick to the point that she had to take care of me around the clock? How would our relationship survive? Would it survive? I don’t think these aren’t things that most people think about when they are dating – I think most people imagine that sickness or injury won’t hit their marriage. I think most people imagine that all will be the same good forever. I asked Melissa about this and she believed we would still remain in love because we are going beyond the externals and are digging into the depths of one another. I told her the same, but if I am being totally honest, I’m not sure I could hang on if something terrible happened. I would probably stick around but I don’t know if I would love her as much as before. I know that sounds terrible but this is my journal and I can be terrible if I want to.

Anyway, I did call the head of the Christian school (Pre-K Lubbock – 12th Grade) to ask for her prayers for Melissa.  She was happy that I had felt like I could call in with prayer requests and she said she would put it on their school’s prayer list.  I told her thank you and I promised that I would keep her updated.

That’s it for today – a pretty great day.

Day 80 – The Lord’s Day

Day 80 – The Lord’s Day

I got up early again today but I skipped the usual pool time at my short term furnished apartment. I wanted to get to the hospital as soon as I could. I wanted to see just how much progress has been made in the case of my fiancée and celebrate with her that this wasn’t fatal. When I got there, a hospital chaplain was already in the room – nice guy who you could tell was pastoral in the sense that he was made to visit and care for those in trouble. Some ministry people are like that with a calm demeanor and a listening ear while others who call themselves pastors are actually just good speakers. On this tangent, I wish that churches would name their workers according to their giftings rather than naming them “pastor.” I’ve sought advice from nametag pastors and I could tell they were more about missions and evangelism. I’ve also sought advice from other nametag pastors who actually heard me and were able to advise me in a helpful way. But, I guess nobody has asked me and so this isn’t going to change anytime soon. As well, who am I to judge? Being a church worker must be super hard with all the demands and complaints. I don’t want to be one who adds to those stacks.  (I like how my private school clients (Pre K Lubbock – 12th Grade) list what  gifts each teacher and administrator has on the doors and on the website – lets you know where to go in special situations.)

So, Melissa…She is looking great and moving around even better. I heard that our nurse friends were going to be here later so I wanted some alone time with my girl. Once the chaplain prayed with the two of us for our relationship and for her injuries, he left and left us to be together. I gave her a light kiss on the cheek so that I could avoid her stitches and bruises and she did her best to smile without pain. I felt like I was seeing a miracle right before my eyes. I took a moment to thank God for His covering – It was like Psalm 91 – protection from The Man in the Sky. Melissa asked me if she was still cute enough for me to marry. I told her I would marry her twice if that were possible. Lots more mushy stuff like that – I enjoyed her. But I figure you know that already.

One of the church architects actually came by the hospital – he hadn’t come by just to see Melissa and me – he had someone else who happened to be stuck in this place. But it still meant something that he came by to check on Melissa and me. He told me that he wanted to talk with me at some point about doing a new project for the Texas college I represented. I told him to give me a call in the middle of the week and we would discuss it. It seems that in a strange coincidence, Western Texas College had need of a new auditorium and had heard of both Halo Architects and Gone Virtual. Funny how things like that happen.

Meditation: More on the Prodigal since I am re-reading the Nouwen book – The main thing I am wondering is why the Father in the parable agreed to bankroll his son on this journey he was about to take. If the Father had not given the boy his money, the boy would not have been able to go to the distant country to screw his life up. Is God like that? Does He give us what we need to go risk everything even if what we are after is negative? In some ways, I think this is the ultimate proof of freewill. I think God gives us what we need to choose, which can be bad for me because I choose stupid a lot more than I choose good. Oh well. Maybe I’ll stay home with my Father next time…