Day 27 – Tuesday Q&A

Day 27 – Tuesday Q&A

Woke up – pool time – shower – got ready – breakfast – one, two three, four, five and the day began. The blues of yesterday were gone and I felt much better. I walked Melissa to her car as she headed to work and it felt as comfortable as if we had been together for years. I told her that we would start doing our relationship questions later – see how compatible we are. She said she was excited to see if we were going to be a match. I said that I hoped we were because I would hate to get married to my sworn enemy (I’m a goof ball.)

I got a call from my Snyder connection at Western Texas College and they wanted to make sure I was going to focus on three key word phrases in my marketing plans. I told them that I was going to use best colleges in Texas, Texas colleges with online degrees and just regular Texas colleges. They agreed with these words and said that my simplicity in marketing was perfect for them. I promised to call them back in the coming weeks to make sure my marketing for them was delivering the sort of ROI they wanted (Return on Investment). They said they appreciated it.

After this call, I decided that it might be smart to call on my other clients to see if they were happy with the direction that my company and I were going with their campaigns. I began by calling the church architects to make sure church design was their main focus and ended by calling the real estate company to see if Lubbock homes for sale was their best option. Both agreed.

Besides these calls (which I made in the car) I made a visit to two new clients who wanted to discuss the possibility of using Google Adwords. I told them that this would be a good idea and that I could handle it. That was basically my work day.

When I got back to my suite, I laid down for a nap because I was a tired boy. I also took advantage of the time before Melissa got off work. When she got back from work, we went to a really good restaurant (Stella’s) and we discussed the first question in the book.

“What are your motivations for getting married?”

This question was not directed to getting married to each other, it was just a general question about marriage to anyone. Why marry anyone?

We both had to think about this pretty hard. I said that I wanted to get married so that I had a companion to walk through life with. Melissa agreed with that and added she wanted to be intimate with someone who knew her better than anyone else in the world and who still loved her despite her weaknesses. I thought that was a cool answer and claimed it as well. To be deeply known and cared for is a major thing.

Pretty good start towards compatibility. The night was a success.

Awe-inspiring Church Design

Awe-inspiring Church Design

A lot of pastors and church leadership teams have the burden of trying to stay relevant in a fast-moving hi-tech world. Many of them I have talked to think that if they are not relevant to our culture that they will decline in membership and soon fold. So, from sermons to kid’s ministries to worship music there have been significant moves to be trendy and cool to a fickle crowd. And in some ways I don’t blame them. They see corporations and even local stores go out of business because they don’t conform to the patterns of this world. Who wants to be the church that plateaued and started declining in a very entitled culture? I was a pastor in several American churches (mid-size cities to major cities) and I felt this pressure as well. Who wants to become a religious dinosaur? So, with relevance as the target and church growth as the goal, post-post-modernism has taken over. This reality has even changed church design and brought about church capital campaigns as the norm. And most of these church designs have the look of a culture bent on comfort. In this article, I wonder this: Should churches bend over backwards to please their “consumers” or should they stick with traditional church designs, which often lend themselves to a more awe-inspiring worship style?

I used to be all about relevance. In fact, I was asked several times to consult future ministers on how to stay relevant at every turn. And I pressed even mainline churches to stretch out their budgets to have contemporary and hi-tech services where the scene looked more like a movie theatre experience than a church service. Now while I will still say that pastors need to keep their sermons short so that their members, who have limited attention spans, can hear a message and not drift off into other dimensions, I will say that I have moved away from what is known as democratic contemporary services. In this I don’t mean that every song has to be a hymn and every window needs to be filled with stained glass – preachers can wear jeans and a t-shirt if they like them over suits and robes. But, the move away from traditional church buildings is a bit disconcerting. I know some church architects who are great at their crafts and who can pretty much nail any design out there. But these church architects are pretty bound to the visions of the church leadership, which want modern style that stinks of cool.

What am I calling for? I want to see at least on building in a church be awe-inspiring. I want at least the chapel to smell of incense and offer traditional services to a crowd who I believe want a break from the conforming culture. I want to bring the cross back to center stage and the Bible to be taught verse by verse rather than stylizing a beautiful cross (putting it in the corner) and the bible used as a one-verse pop psychology proof. I love entering a church and being greeted by hymns that have deep theological meaning.

Day 26 – Another Monday in Lubbock

Day 26 – Another Monday in Lubbock

I have found that I enjoy Lubbock – it’s one of the top 100 cities in the nation and it really still has that small town feel. But on this particular Monday, I’m not really feeling like being anywhere. Radiohead has a song called “How to disappear completely and never be found,” and it’s one of my favorites because on a day like this it seems to fit. You know how some days just feel overwhelming? This was one of those days and I can’t tell you why – it was like a super temporary depression in which I slept walked through all of my business meetings – just going through the motions and not having any success. I did find it kind of funny though that the two clients I met with (three church architects and a group of Lubbock commercial real estate managers) didn’t look like they were too enthused to be with me on a Monday either. So, maybe there was simply something in the air.

Even my time with Melissa at our Lubbock corporate housing space didn’t drive up my emotional thrill as it had been doing. Melissa was so excited about the roses I had sent to her the day before that she greeted me with a long kiss and a loving hug. But when she spoke with me after planting those romantic gestures on me, she could tell that I was in this funk. She held my hand and asked me what this was all about. When I told her that I couldn’t get to the bottom of it, she was good about not pressing me. She did ask if she could rent us a movie (The Revenant) and I agreed. I don’t know if you have seen this movie but it is very well made and the main character’s huge struggles kind of brought me back to reality. As this movie went on, I found myself picking on my attitude. I had not been attacked by a bear and left for dead in the freezing cold (as main character was) but I was acting like a baby whining inside for no good reasons. By the end of the movie, I had forced my attitude to shift. I opened up to Melissa and apologized for acting as I had – for being a bit terse and short with her. She quickly forgave me and said that she gets like that too.

It was nice to have someone like her around me as I found my way out of this junky attitude. Love is patient and it bears all – even with me.

By the end of the night, after retreating to my bedroom, I was actually smiling and looking forward to a new Tuesday.

Day 25 – Sunday – Lazy Footballing

Day 25 – Sunday – Lazy Footballing

Or should I say Futbolling (sp?).

I grew up playing soccer and I loved it. From age 4 through age 24, I was a right wing forward who was known for speed and scoring. I truly thought I was going to be a pro soccer player and really didn’t think about much else for my future vocation, which was not that smart looking back on it. Anyway, I have some messed up knees and some weak ankles that keep me from playing locally or I would still be out there risking my body on what I consider to be the coolest sport on the planet. But, since I have these issues I have become a soccer-watching fanatic and on this Sunday the Euro 2016 soccer finals between Portugal and France (home country) were played. So, I settled in and watched two really good futbol teams go at it. I was pulling for France for no other reason than Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo (I think he is a bit of a diva who should not be listed as a competitor for G.O.A.T. next to Lionel Messi). Anyway, I was mainly looking to see good soccer and France played very well creating many chances that were very close to hitting the back of Portugal’s net. Portugal played a very defensive style that was effective for the whole of the contest and they had to do it without Cristiano Ronaldo who got hurt early in the game and could not play (I don’t like the guy, but I hated to see him go down with an injury.) When he went out of the game for good, I thought France would easily prevail, but it was a hard fought match that Portugal ended up winning in extra time with a great long shot by Eder. I’m sure you saw the highlights or read about the match. Sorry to recount it here, but I can’t help myself sometimes when I am talking about soccer.

Beyond that game, I caught up on some Wimbledon highlights (I used to play a lot of tennis too) and I took advantage of my little Lubbock corporate housing space. My new girl Melissa was working a double shift from early through a graveyard shift and so I didn’t get to see much of her at all. Still I ordered some roses to be delivered to her at her nurse’s station in hopes of raising her spirits and gaining myself some important romance points. I got a call from the Realtor who was just checking on my interest in seeing more Lubbock homes for sale and who was sort of just encouraging me to check out a few neighborhoods. I told her I would do some internet research about the homes for sale in Lubbock and check out some of the neighborhood ratings. I’d call her later in the week.

The last real thing I did on this Sunday was to consider the church I had been attending. I started asking myself the question, “Why did they choose this style of church design over another one?” With this capital campaign going full steam ahead it seems they could have built up their sanctuary to modern standard and added on a chapel that was smaller but more traditional and awe-inspiring. I decided I was going to ask the church architects why the church leadership had chosen to go with modern all the way around. I know I am too nosy, but I was now invested with my time and my money. So I figured I kind of had a right to know – I know this is such an American entitlement. I should repent. Instead I slept.

Day 24.5 – Saturday Church service and my giving

Day 24.5 – Saturday Church service and my giving

Melissa and I made it right on time for church and its worship. The worship band was extremely tight and they led the congregation into the presence of God (as they say). It’s a contemporary style of worship with hands pushed up into the air all over the room and a five-voice chorus leading them all. I really liked it and I thought it was funny and sort of nice when I looked over at Melissa and saw her singing with all her might with her eyes closed. She had one hand in the air and was going for it. I guess her conversion stuck and that the Holy Spirit inside of her was showing her how to handle all this new spirituality. I recall when I became a Christian (March 19th when I was 18 years old) and I remember trying to learn what it meant to be a disciple of Christ. For me it took a while to let my emotions join up with my mind – I didn’t really know what to do during worship time. I didn’t want to fake anything and I didn’t want to just do what everyone else was doing. So, I just took my time and let God move me to my own style of worship. That’s why I looked at Melissa with some surprise – it looked like she had already given her whole heart to God in both mind and emotion. She was doing her own thing as the music played and it didn’t look like she was doing it for anyone. I really don’t think she cared if she fit in with others. Much respect for that.

This is a major area of compatibility for me. If we weren’t on the same page spiritually, then it would be a deal breaker. I believe this is the most important piece to consider for a Christian who is dating someone else. And I will ask Melissa all sorts of questions when we do our Bible study later in the week. I want to make sure she understands that following God is not all fun and games. I want her to understand that being a Christian can be really hard and it doesn’t guarantee happiness. We will talk about really counting the costs before moving forward. For all I know she may already know this stuff, but it doesn’t hurt to check, right?

When the sermon about the healing of Bartimaeus was finished (good stuff), the 3D animations and architectural renderings showing the church design came up on the screen and I was excited. This time the leadership only showed the first stage of the vision, which I thought was smart. No need to show everything every week – give the members of the church some time to process each stage. Anyway, I was excited because I had prayed and I believed I was supposed to write a check for $5,000 to this project. I know that $5,000 is not a huge contribution for a project this size, but it was the biggest donation I have ever given. It felt nice to let go of that money and put it toward something bigger than myself. I had inherited quite a bit of money when my grandmother passed away so I felt like this was a tribute to her, because she was a diehard Christian. She would have been proud.

Okay – this day ended well with Melissa and me chalking it all up more movement in our relationship. I was still shaken by the reality of our relationship but unless God stops it, I will keep pursuing a strong connection.

Day 24 – Saturday – Prairie Dog Date

Day 24 – Saturday – Prairie Dog Date

After the party last night there was clean-up to be done around the pool area at my Lubbock corporate housing rental space. So, me and the three traveling nurses and a guy named Brice joined me in taking on that task. We might have had more helpers if there hadn’t been so much alcohol at the party. There was a lot of drinking but really nobody got out of hand. No fights, no bites, no drownings. I did feel a bit tired but since we were the ones in charge of the party, I couldn’t much complain. It was a good time and I hope that some community was built in the midst of what can seem to be a lonely world. And loneliness is expected when people just leave their extended stay rooms to go back and forth to their car – living in their room, going to their car, doing whatever, returning in car, and walking briskly back to their room. That makes it hard to even build acquaintances much less build a friendship or two while on the road.

So loneliness was put aside last night and people were transformed from human scenery into persons with personalities and jobs and interesting stories.

After clean-up, I asked Melissa to join me for a date – we decided to do our book of questions on the next date. This date was reserved for looking at the Lubbock homes for sale and for going to a place called Prairie Dog Town. Prairie Dog Town is a Lubbock landmark where prairie dogs live and are protected. I have to admit after visiting for about fifteen minutes I was bored as hell. We saw a few prairie dogs running around but there wasn’t any real guidance as to what we should be doing there. I thought they would have a big animatronic prairie dog standing in front of a rip-off of a gift shop where you could buy all sorts of prairie dog themed merchandise, but alas, there wasn’t one. So, besides Melissa trying to get close enough to pet one on the head, Prairie Dog Town was a waste of time.

Neither of us minded too much. At least we can tick this box on the Lubbock attraction forms. If we hit a place called Joyland (“where the fun is”) and the Ranching Heritage Center then we will surely have done most of the useless things in Lubbock.

On to looking at homes for sale in Lubbock, Tx – I had called up the Realtor who had been searching with me before and she took us back to the place in Kingsgate. Melissa liked the place, but the Realtor was a bit nosy. She asked, “So, are you two about to get married or are you just moving in with one another?” I responded, “Well, we just met a few weeks ago and we don’t have any set plans yet. Give us a few months and we will see.” Melissa smiled and blushed. Beyond this house in Kingsgate, we explored Tech Terrace, which had a bunch of houses, which reminded me of Austin in that they had the cool styles and character I love. None of the houses there looked at all alike and the Realtor told us that a lot of doctors, creatives and professors lived in this area. Both Melissa were very impressed with a four bedroom on 16th street and really I cannot imagine that anyone would not be impressed by it. It was beautiful. And it had plenty of room for the as of yet conceived children and for the as of yet month old couple.

I will leave it there and tell about Saturday church and its 3D animation in the next journal entry.

Day 23 – Friday – Party time

Day 23 – Friday – Party time

After I got back from Amarillo, I went to check in with my traveling nurses and fellow party planners. They had checked with the owners of our short-term apartments (corporate housing hosts) and told them about our idea to have a party on our floor. The owners said that it would be better to have the party out near the pool so that everyone who wanted to could be a part of it. They agreed. So, the flyers announcing our shindig had been placed by the nurses at every door on the property and it looked like we would have a lot of people coming. The flyer told everyone to bring their favorite snacks and favorite drinks (alcoholic and non). We had thought about having it on Saturday, but many of our potential partygoers suggested that we have it on Friday – give everyone an immediate release into the weekend. So, that’s what we did.

Party time!!!

About 75 people attended and it was a big success. I got to meet a lot of people, which satisfied my extroversion and I also got to hang out more with Melissa. Tom, the storage shed guy, actually made it. I thought he had already moved out but not yet. He came over to me and told me all about the new sheds he had explored lately. I listened but I really wanted to find out where these other people were from and why they too were sharing Lubbock corporate housing. Everyone has a story and when you add some alcohol to the occasion you tend to get more honest information. So, I went around and acted as my own information vampire. When Melissa was at my side, I wasn’t sure how to introduce her but she took it upon herself to brand us as an official couple. This made me feel good. Anyway, the party was great fun and I think lots of good connections were made.

Several people told me that they were in the market for Lubbock homes for sale and were just waiting for a few months in this housing until their new homes were built. These househunters found each other at the party and you could tell they were excited to talk to others who had decided to exchange their old cities for Lubbock. There were lots of affinity groups like this one that networked. I even saw several businesspersons passing out their cards to other businesspersons with hopes of working on projects together. I even passed out a lot of my own cards in hopes of extending my company’s marketing business. I figured while I am here being a sort of host, I might as well turn this into some biz opportunities.

After the party ended, Melissa came to my suite for a while and asked me what I was thinking about us. I told her I was waiting for a sign from God. She looked at me like I had said I was watching for a unicorn to appear and speak out some great truth. I explained to her what I meant and she acted like she was kind of impressed that I was taking this whole relationship so seriously. I told her that it might be fun to go through this particular book, which has a ton of relationship questions so we could see how compatible. She agreed to that idea and so we decided that on our next date, we would dig into that book. (We definitely need to know more about each other.) Anyway, as it was getting late, I walked Melissa back to her room and gave her a short kiss. She asked me if I wanted to come in. I told her that I might be a bit uncomfortable with that since the other two nurses were there too. So, the night ended.

It was a good day.

Day 22 – Thursday – Amarillo by morning

Day 22 – Thursday – Amarillo by morning

I kept up my schedule of taking on the pool at my new Amarillo corporate housing spot. I really enjoy these morning swims because it keeps me in some sort of shape and it gives me ample time to think. There is something about making waves and feeling the push of heavier waters. When I dive in I tend to stay on the bottom for as long as I can – until my lungs begin starving for some oxygen. I love the fact that I could die at any time. I know that sounds morbid but it makes me appreciate every moment I am alive. As well, my belief system tells me that the trouble experienced in this world will be quickly erased and replaced by glory in a kingdom run by God. I look forward to getting to that place and living it up. This world, no matter how manageable it is can be difficult. It can be sad and lonely. I would prefer a new world where those things don’t exist.

Okay – enough philosophy and spiritual reports…

To Amarillo now – It’s funny because this place was friendly like Lubbock, but I didn’t see the bustling growth here. Where there are plenty of Lubbock homes for sale in fancy developments just two hours away, there seems to be stagnation here. Where Lubbock has many commercial opportunities burgeoning alongside big city chain restaurants, Amarillo does not. I think some of this has to do with the fact that Lubbock has a 30,000 student population at Texas Tech and those kids need the housing that is going up. As well, these students bring lots of business. In Amarillo there is a college or two, but they do not have enough students to attract such subdivisions and restaurants.

With that being said, I was still firmly placed in the Bible belt where people tend to go out of their way to be nice – even to strangers like me. I was even asked to join a group of Bible studiers when I was having my Starbucks and reading up on some Psalms. I didn’t want to be rude and so I sat in on their fascinating talk about John 15. I love that chapter but I promised I wouldn’t keep going on and on about spiritual stuff. Maybe I’ll tell you about it in future reports. Anyway, after we finished, I shook the hands of all there and asked each of them what they did for a living. There were variations of occupations mentioned but one stuck out to me. One of them said he did church design and helped run Church Capital Campaigns. I asked him who he worked for and after he said the name, I laughed because his company was one that I was slated to visit today. He told me to stop by his office after I did my presentations and that he would take me to lunch.

I thought in my head, “Maybe this guy will be the sign from God I need to go ahead and pursue Melissa (or not).” Funny how when your heart gets poked, everything tends to revolve around that possible relationship. As it turned out, I had lunch with this man who was very kind (BBQ) and while there was no guidance one way or the other concerning Melissa, I made a connection that would certainly help the company I work for nail down this account. I felt good about my pitches today and even though I got no direct yes from either group, I had a strong feeling it was just going to be a matter of time. At night, I called Melissa and we talked about just about everything on earth. I made her laugh a lot and she made me miss her.

Day 21 – Wednesday – A full workday

Day 21 – Wednesday – A full workday

I had to get up extra early today because I had business to attend to in Amarillo, Texas, which is about 2 hours away from Lubbock. I packed up for an overnight trip and just went ahead and stayed in a sister suite (Amarillo corporate homes are just as nice as Lubbock’s and Midland’s. It’s good to see that an extended stay group stays consistent in its quality wherever they are located.) I met with an architectural firm that is aiming to build a really fancy outdoor mall – the sort that Lubbock just created and the sort that is all over Dallas. They showed me their architectural renderings and even impressed me with their 3D animations of the future final project. I showed them how my team and I could aid them in their marketing of this project and we agreed to do some work together.

Super salesman, right?

People just seem to trust me. I’ve been told by many people that I have high emotional intelligence that breaks down walls many people put up. Pair that with my personality, charisma and work ethic and I might just be superhuman. If only I had a high IQ and true humility I might climb up corporate ladders quicker. I actually don’t think of myself as anything special but I do consider myself very blessed. I haven’t run into long phases of bad luck where life crushed me and made me want to die. I haven’t had much loss or tragedy. I feel cared for by God and I know He is watching me (which can be a terrible thought when you think of all the crap you do and say).

Speaking of God, I have been reading the Bible a lot more lately and praying about my relationships. I don’t want to make huge life decisions without seeking God’s guidance. The problem with this is that I wonder sometimes if I block God’s voice out in favor of mine. I think I have let my desires win the day and just stamped God’s approval on it. That’s why I am reading more of the Bible and praying that He will guide me clearly using His word. After I did Ecclesiastes, I moved to the New Testament and am in the book of James, which is a butt kicker of a book. James didn’t play around when he took his pen and took God’s notes down. I’m sure I’ll hear something soon to help me (I’ve learned that if you ask to be spoken to, you better expect to hear – set your expectations high. As well, you need to pay attention to people around you and circumstances around you because God doesn’t always talk directly.)

Okay, that’s Amarillo day one – I’ll do a bit of a look-around in certain parts of Amarillo tomorrow to get a feel for this city. I’ve heard good things about it…

Day 20 – Tuesday – the end of my innocence

Day 20 – Tuesday – the end of my innocence

When the levee breaks…

My heart is a levee broken through. Why I let it break open is a mystery and why I have hope that two or three weeks does a relationship make. I cannot believe I have let my whole being be captured in just a few weeks. Why would I transfer my heart over in what must be a puppy love, happy relationship? Why would I trust my ever-unfaithful soul to someone who has no clue about my complexities? She must believe that my heart is better than it is. Should I sit Melissa down and explain to her that she is in some sort of love that is false and surely cruel?

Agghhhhh.

I feel like I’m hiding my true self so I did sit Melissa down and I told her how I was feeling about the speed of our relationship – how she didn’t know the real me and how if she did she would not be happy that she dedicated herself to me. Melissa smiled after all of my explanations and told me that she believes in love at first sight and trusts it in this case. I asked her if she had ever had that feeling before and been wrong. She said that she had liked certain men but never had felt this way before – I was the special one. But she did remark that she and the two other nurses would only be here in Lubbock for about two more months. I asked if we would try having a long-distance relationship. She said, “For sure.” I told her about my searching out some of the Lubbock homes for sale. She blushed and said she was honored that I would even think of doing such a thing.

So that’s what happened with Melissa – amazing really. I had no clue that moving into corporate housing for a little extended stay work would place me next to my potential wife. Life is funny that way. It drops all sorts of things – both good and bad – into your path when you least expect it.

All of this relationship stuff has made me even more energetic in all areas of life. Even work “tastes” better than it did. I landed another client today with no problem and went night-glo bowling with the three nurses. We all had fun and the other two nurses other than Melissa had a good time teasing us for being lovebirds. I can’t tell if there are some hints of jealousy driving them – not because I am a stud find but simply because they don’t have a partner in love with them. I guess that doesn’t matter – we had fun bowling. I rolled a terrible 94 and was beaten by all of my three guests. I suck at bowling. Other than that, it’s been a successful and rather fun Tuesday.