Day 30 – Saturday architects

Day 30 – Saturday architects

Melissa worked all day and so I didn’t see her but I’ve been thinking a lot about her. I kept asking the question in my mind: “How would we survive the 60% divorce rate?” I don’t ask for any other reason that over half of people who go for a full commitment for life don’t make it. That and the fact that probably 98% of everyone who do get married believe they are in love. So couples are in love one glorious day but despise each other so bad later that they cancel their vows and divorce. And here we are, less than a month in to a monster crush that might turn into love, and I think we are being a bit prideful to imagine we can beat those odds. Obviously marriage is a hard thing to maintain or everyone would stick in it for the long run. So, I am going to talk about this with Melissa and see what she thinks about how she imagines us making it together for the rest of our lives. I have heard from a lot of people in my past that marriage requires lots of hard work. I also believe it requires a ton of humility as couples enter into it. As well, a lot of help from God. I prayed about this whole thing today and felt some comfort. But, I gotta say the odds are bad regardless of how I feel. I probably wouldn’t play the marriage game if it was in Vegas because of those odds. But, I am not going to let this fear stop me from pursuing Melissa. Why? 40% of people do make it. I want to be one of those 40%.

From that to the evening worship service – The church architects who said I could shadow them to see how church design works called me and asked me to join them as they presented their stage 1.5 to the congregation. They told me to write down as many questions as I could think of and give them over to their project manager. So, while they presented, I started writing out as many questions I had – I think they saw me as less of a burden now – I think they are a bit happy to show someone like me who has curiosity how they do their thing.

Besides this, I enjoyed the worship a lot. The worship band backed off of the usual big and emotional arena level charge and they went unplugged. I found out they do this once a month to bring more of a contemplative feel to the service. I loved the fact that they played some really cool old hymns that had some really good theology to them. The sermon was good because it held my attention for the whole of its 20 minutes. Its subject matter was about the widow who gave her last piece of money to the temple back in Jesus’ day. Of course this was tied to sacrificial giving – which happens to be important in persuading the congregation to give more to the new church capital campaign. This was followed by my architects who showed off an early stage of this campaign. I tried to look around to see if people were receptive to this whole shebang and for the most part I saw people being attentive and not showing frustration. Again, people don’t love to be asked to give more of their money – but this crowd seemed to be receptive.

I left the service feeling uplifted and encouraged – ready to see Melissa and ready for a new week.



Day 29 – Friday Night Lights –

I was met at the front of the main parking lot on the campus of what is known as one of the “best colleges in Texas” or so I was told again and again by the two recruiters who had made it their job to sell this college. I told them I already knew that of all of the Texas Colleges, this one had the top graduation rates. I found it funny that they kept sneaking in their message even though I already knew what they thought – even though I was already on their marketing team. I sort of liked how dedicated they were to their recruiting craft. They loved their school so much they couldn’t seem to turn off their pitches. I have been like that before back in the day when I was recruiting students to a private school. I told them they could relax though, because I needed to discuss strategy with them and with my drive back from Snyder looming I had to get to it. We worked out a plan for the next 3 months of marketing and they waved goodbye as I backed out of their lot. Good people.

Recruiting is a funny business. Just like marketing you are trying to convince and persuade other humans to go your way. You are using your skill as a speaker and communicator to have others buy into your sell. And there is a lot of psychology that goes into it – so many studies have been done on how to get others to do what you want them to do. I won’t go into these because it would take too long, but if you pay attention to our culture, ads are everywhere repeating themselves over and over again using colors and personalities and charisma to influence a certain demographic. Most of the time these are done so that people will trade their money for a product or a service. You know how it goes. And if was a younger man and looking at a college to attend I would probably be positively affected by these two recruiters who were charming and constant.

Anyway, I drove for an hour and 30 minutes back to Lubbock listening to Greg Laswell’s new album – great stuff – and if you are not a Greg Laswell fan yet, I highly recommend you listen to all of his stuff. I’m a hard sell when it comes to great music but from the first listen to his cds I was convinced he was one of the most talented artists out there (see, I’m trying to persuade you even here.)

Okay, when I got home to my Lubbock corporate housing spot, I took a shower and prepped for dinner with Melissa at a really fancy steak house called Tbe Double Nickel. I figured it would be a great place to start our conversation regarding our Human Fax Reports. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous about revealing my weaknesses that came about because of the negative stuff from my past, but Melissa was not. She wanted to get her past off of her chest and she did it well. By the end of her revelations, I saw a beautiful girl who had been treated selfishly by several men and even by her family. I’m not going to get into mine here, but Melissa said that she understood how my past was affecting my present. We agreed to pray for one another as we both entered into a time of allowing God to be our mechanic. Neither of us wanted to carry old and sick baggage into our relationship. It was nice to shine a light on our junk and to see more honest versions of who we are.

Day 29 – Thursday Blur

Day 29 – Thursday Blur

I had my normal start to the day in my corporate housing. I cannot believe I have been here for almost a month. I also can’t believe how quick days can go when you feel the first vestiges of love. Call it a mutual crush if you must. I’m sure you are thinking I am crazy for taking this relationship so seriously, but it feels fantastic to wake up each day knowing that there is someone beautiful and kind who wants to go along for a ride with you. It makes life into a wonderful blur where I know neither of us can see straight enough to make wise decisions but the chemical that’s released in the brain is worth it. I think it’s dopamine and me likey dopamine.

When I met up with Melissa in the evening after a good workday, she said that her day at work had been really bad. She said she made some mistakes and that she was reprimanded by the charge nurse. She noticed that other nurses were looking at her with disdain. She felt bullied a bit and since she didn’t have Aubrey or Stephanie there with her to encourage her. I didn’t say much in response but I listened for as long as she wanted to talk about it. I asked the occasional question so she felt supported by me but I was not about to try and fix her situation. I learned from my past relationship that women tend to just need to verbally process their emotions (some men too) without the boyfriend interruptions. As the Bible says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” For you daters and even you married couples out there, I’d mark that biblical statement down as a winner. It’s saved me numerous times and it will save you too. If people want your opinion about something they will ask for it. If they don’t ask, they just need to be listened to.

Anyway once she was done, she took my hand and thanked me for listening. I kissed her on the cheek and told her it was a pleasure to be the ears she trusted. I then told her about my thoughts of buying one of the homes for sale in Lubbock and renting it out until we saw how serious we were about possible marriage. When I mentioned marriage I could see her perk up. She said she thought it would be a great idea to invest my money like that. She had never really put down roots and she also had never had the money to try something like this. I told her that I was going to look in the Tech Terrace area and so she wanted to drive up and down those streets to see the Lubbock homes for sale in that neighborhood. So we did that and it was fun having her there alongside me. We found like five places that we marked down as possibilities and vowed to go back with a Realtor to see the insides and get details on the selling price. When we got back to our housing space, we hung out, made out a little bit and said we would talk about our Human Fax Reports on Friday. She told me that hers might not look too pretty and I assured her that mine was a bit scary as well.

Anyway, we ended the day like that and we were both blurry and happy.

Night 28 – Romance turns into Good Logic

Night 28 – Romance turns into Good Logic

So I said I would save the specific questions about our reasons for wanting to marry one another until now. Well, now is now. I hope you are into relationships or this one will bore you.

But before I get into that, I had a very interesting thought about actually buying one of the homes for sale in Lubbock. Even if Melissa and I don’t make it to wedding bliss and settle down here, there are so many Lubbock homes for sale and it looks like the growth of the city is only going to make housing a smart investment. I could buy a turnkey house in the Tech Terrace area and rent it to some medical students or law students. Like I said in another blog, I did receive a sizable amount of money from an inheritance and I was told by a personal financial planner to diversify. I could diversify it into a house here and skip the unsteady stocks and bonds market altogether. With the global markets so wild and crazy I think I would do better gambling that money in Vegas rather than shove it into a stock. What do you think of this move? I could easily buy a nice place here for a reasonable price and have a management company take care of the particulars while I was back home. Anyway, that has been on my mind and I figured I’d get your take on it if you comment.

Now to the relationship: How does someone know that they should head toward marriage with a particular person? Truth is, there is no way to know if one person is your “soul mate.” We can only know the smallest bits of a person before marriage can happen – and since most people only show their best sides in dating, the bits you can see are not even close to reality. The book we are reading suggests that we should both do a Car Fax/Human Fax report on ourselves to reveal the dents and dings and total damage we have undergone in our pasts. The author says that if we are willing to show those real problems of our past to our mate then you will know if you getting a “human lemon” of a person. The author also says that revealing such junk can get you to go to God, the only true mechanic, who can do repairs on you and prepare you for an honest marriage. This sort of advice is important for me. I know I have had times when my past relationships have done real damage to me and have made me into a broken person who holds onto insecurities and selfishness to protect myself from future wreckage. I told Melissa about this exercise and she thought it was a great idea to go through. She said it would allow us to give grace to one another as we are being fixed. With this information in hand, we could both enter into a deeper relationship as those who might be able to avoid the 60% divorce rate. More on that later – We will discuss that question in another article.

Okay, back to my Lubbock Corporate Housing room and watch a bit of Sportscenter. My favorite show on that channel is Highly Questionable but I never get to see it anymore because of my schedule. I decided to go ahead and start my Human Fax report – Melissa is already done with hers in the other room. I can’t wait to see how this all goes down.

Day 28 – A Wednesday to Remember

Day 28 – A Wednesday to Remember

I have really grown to love my Lubbock Corporate Housing situation. I know some people feel like they need more space to get their vocational lives straight, but it’s not like this place is too small. In fact, I find it to be quite spacious compared to other hotels and suites I’ve stayed in and I have become totally satisfied by it. I don’t know why I felt like I needed to share that, but maybe it’s because I think people are never satisfied with that they have – they think they are entitled to more no matter how much they already have. That’s one thing I really cannot stand in the American culture. Taking things for granted and always wanting more drives me crazy. But who am I to judge or critique anyone. I have my weaknesses too and I would hate if someone called me out on my junk.

So, I did my normal routine this morning and dealt with one new client and one client who we have had in our bag for a while. I finished with them fairly early and so I made a call to my church design experts and asked if I might be allowed to shadow them for a few days. I only understand what they do from a distant land. I want to grab a hold of their every day detail. I’m sure they were like, “why do we have to deal with this nutty marketer?” But they said I could shadow them over a few weeks as they begin a new project so I could understand their process. That made me excited. A Wednesday score…

The same thing happened with my homes for sale in Lubbock contact.

I know I am rather weird.

Live with it.

I know Melissa will have to deal with it if we keep motoring towards a long-term relationships. I thought about our answers we gave yesterday and looked forward to taking that same question and making it more specific to us: Why do you want to get married to this person in particular? I figured she would probably say that she wanted to marry me for my money, my good looks and my charm and I would tell her that it was her whole person. And then we would make out under the stars somewhere.

I’m only kidding. I actually had to put some deep thought into why I would be a good husband for her and why she would be a good wife for me.

I think I will save that for the next article.

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.