Flood My Soul

Wrench my soul free from thirts

For lower things, frivolous thrills, wrench my soul

Flood my soul, ‘whelming fount

Abundantly fill with passionate fire, flood my soul

Keep my days for your glory

Secure my heart for your ways

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

Stir my soul, boundless Light

To humbly display your radiant love,  stir my soul

Keep my days for your glory

Secure my heart for your ways

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

Set my gaze to the Kingdom

Ignite my love for your name

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

Lines.

Lines.

I grew up in Texas, mostly. My family is from Georgia and Alabama with a little Mississippi thrown in. I’ve lived in 9 states. I understand state lines. I understand borders. The Alabama part means I understand football rivalries. I went to Texas A&M. I get pride. I get yelling and thinking you’re better than someone else. I get it.

There is a cast system in the southeast part of the United States that is alive and well. Just ask the frat brothers at Ole Miss. Go to any of the small towns in Georgia and look at the neighborhoods on either side of the railroad tracks. There’s the wealthy, the social elite, the upper middle class, then the working class, and then the poor. Everyone beats on the poor. Racism is alive and well. Progress has be minimal since the 1960’s.

When I moved to Kansas City two and half years ago, I was initially impressed with the “forward progress” the city seemed to have in regards to treating people equally. The last 30 months have slowly whittled away this progress. Kansas City is great at the appearance of progress but it is divided at every turn. Kansas vs Missouri. Black vs White. Downtown vs Suburb. Rich vs Poor. Christian vs Non Christian. White Collar vs Blue Collar. The list goes on and on. The tricky part about dividing lines within Kansas City is they are passive aggressive. At least in Georgia, or Mississippi, they put in on their flag and not try to hide it.

I am not condoning treating any one differently based on appearance, skin color, gender, etc. I am condoning being honest and forward thinking.

Tuesday, Redeemer Fellowship, the church I am a member of in KC, hosted an event that promoted, and delivered, honest conversations and opinions about race issues in town. This (hopefully initial) meeting wasn’t about solving The problem. It wasn’t about simplifying issues. It was about being honest about the angst on both sides, where some of these issues come from, and what baby steps we can all take towards a unified Kansas City. It was about hope that God will continue to redeem His people, His people who call Kansas City and the surrounding areas home.

The biggest take away for me was about living in community with others, spending money in your own backyard, and voting for people who have unity as a core belief.

I live west of the plaza. Right now I can’t change that. But I can continue to be in community with people from other parts of Kansas City. Redeemer Fellowship makes that pretty easy. Different people come to services each week and I love playing boardgames on Monday nights with our neighbors living at 39ths and Baltimore. (Come out the 1st and 3rd Monday’s of the month to experience these amazing people and get beat at spades!). Being a minority in my high school in Austin Texas means I love different backgrounds and food. I aim to treat everyone compassionately regardless of background.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

So what can I change? I can buy gas at the QT gas station on Westport road close to my house even though it costs $0.15-0.35 more per gallon than the QT by my office so that the money and buying market stays in my neighborhood and not down in the suburbs. I can continue to buy food at the local farmer’s markets (already one of my personal soap boxes). I can continue to be active in service projects in my community. I can also take a look at who is running for public office and make sure I’m voting for people based on their committment to unifying Kansas City.

What can you do?

Pray. Pray for the people of Kansas City to love each other and to seek out relationships with each other. Buy local. Help your neighbor.

The Open

For those of you who don’t CrossFit, this is going to sound a little weird. I’m sure my posts about CrossFit already sound weird to you but this will probably push past your understanding…

The CrossFit Open begins tonight. I am terrified. I am praying to God about the CrossFit Games.

There. I said it (kinda). I am completely afraid of the workouts they will be posting for me to do. At this point, there really is no joy or excitement about this actually. I am sure this will grow but not at this particular moment.

What is the CrossFit Open you ask? The CrossFit Open is the first in a series of CrossFit competitions that advance you to competing in The CrossFit Games. The CrossFit Games determine who (male and female) are the fittest person on the planet.

It is actually a pretty cool and all inclusive process. For five weeks (starting tonight), a workout is posted online and the two winners from last year’s competition complete it. You then have until Monday night to complete the workout in front of a judge or video record it and submit you time/reps online. Online ranks you against everyone else on the planet that has completed the same workout. After 5 weeks, the top so many people go compete at the regional competition. Those top two athletes then go compete at the CrossFit Games.

Anybody in the world can compete (for $20). It is truly a global competition. The Olympics try to accomplish this but certain countries, political issues, and monetary contraints apply. With CrossFit, it’s you against everyone else, with the support of your local CrossFit community of course.

I workout three times a week at a box I love and with people that make me happy in the midst of intense physical and mental challenges. I don’t want to workout anywhere else.

But.

I am scared of these workouts. I am scared to see how low I will be ranked. It’s pretty common for me to be one of the last people to finish or one of the people with the least amount of weight on my bar. This doesn’t bother me in the comfort of my own box, with my own people. Seeing it displayed for the world to watch is another story.

This fear of approval from others is an idol in my life. It is something that I strive for that is not God. At church we talk about this all the time. God please help me to remember that you don’t want me to be perfect, that you only want me to seek you. Help me remember that Jesus was perfect so I could have the freedom not to be.

It’s the same reason I never took to learning foreign languages in school. I studied spanish for 6 years but would get cold sweats everday when I had to go to class and actually speak it in front of my peers. I don’t want to mess up, to sound dumb, to be the person to not get it. This is the same with me trying to learn Creole to go to Haiti. I want to be perfect. It’s unrealistic. It inhibits my drive to be a witness and seek Christ. It is sin. With God’s help He can change me. I can’t do this myself.

So I signed up for the CrossFit Open. I am not going to make it very far but I am going to enjoy an additional workout each week with folks from my box. It’s going to be fun to see myself struggle and perservere. It’s going to be incredible to push the body God gave me in ways I never imagined when I walked into my first CrossFit box last year.

Running

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Somtimes things in life are worth being awake early for.

This was the case Wednesday morning as I found myself on a plane at 6am bound for Houston from Kansas City. As I looked out the window, I found connection with God. The Holy Spirit lives and dwells within us always (after conversion) but sometimes I don’t listen to those feelings. I don’t pay attention. I need God’s help for me to pay attention and when He paints the sky in these remarkable colors, I can’t help but sit up straight and give my full attention to where He is pointing.

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It’s only been above freezing in Kansas City the last couple of days which has been a nice change of pace but feeling the mid-70’s on my skin in Houston Wednesday was incredible. My current project in Houston is growing increasingly more challenging by the day. By 4pm I was done. I drove to Spring, to my friend’s house, and decided I was going for a fun. I needed to run.

I felt this way this weekend but a silly shuffle on the ice Thursday night had rendered my right big toe painful so I went to yoga but skipped the running this weekend. I hadn’t run in a long while. This probably contributed to my shorten ability to handle my work situation gracefully. Running was in order.

I laced up my crossfit shoes (since I didn’t bring my running shoes), took some directional advise from a friend, and headed out. It was a glorious 35 minutes and 3.5 miles. I ran mostly off-road (not entirely intensional) and was privy to some gorgeous scenery like the photo above. By the time I returned, I was ready to make some phone calls, dig thru some data, answer some emails, and finish the work I was too scattered to do earlier.

Thank you God for providing me two gorgeous opportunities to feel your closeness yesterday. You love us so much you paint the sky all different colors as a display of your power and ability. You love me so much that you give me eyes to see and a heart to understand that. Thank you. Thank you for my body; my body that runs, slowly, but still runs. Thank you for the lovely weather and the safety I found in those minutes. Please Lord, help my heart to stay that connected and aware of you today, and in all the days to come. Amen.

Double Life

How do you live in two places at once?

Trick question for most but for me, I’ve been doing it (fairly) successfully for the last few weeks. My mailing address is in Kansas City (Missouri, not Kansas) but I’ve spent more nights in 2014 in Houston Texas. And by more, I mean I’ve spent double.

I manage subcontracts for a living and have a couple vendors in the Houston area. The products they are working on for my company will eventually end up installed on our project in Mont Belvieu Texas (east of Houston). One of these contracts needs my physical presence to help us be successful. I have friends in Houston so I don’t mind.

O I used to mind. If I had a penny for every time I’ve told someone in the last three years that I was never going back to Houston or that if my employer told me I was moving to Houston it was going to be my two-weeks notice, then I could afford to pay a mover to pack my boxes in KC and haul them back to Texas. So what’s been different in 2014? Why the sudden change of heart?

God.

Period.

That’s the only way I have this kind of change of heart. I said “never” and God smiled and said “we’ll see.” In my rebellion, He is true and soverign.

Now this is not a moving announcement (yet). But I’m open to those conversations. I do not yet know what God has in His plans for me. But I do know that I cannot put my foot down and say “no.” I love God and desire to follow His directions so that He can use me for His glory. One of the prayers in church on Sunday was asking God not to pass over us in choosing who to send. Lord, please send me. I won’t say “never” again.

I’ve re-connected with people God put in my life in college. People who are and have served a distinct and divine purpose in shaping my life today. I pray that they will continue to influence me. I am thankful to God for sending them and ask for His protection over them.

Several of them have told me in the last few weeks that this is the happiest they have ever known me. It’s such an odd statement. Initially, I shrugged it off but it’s hung with me. These people knew me when I was in the darkest part of my existence. When I completely ignored God. When I acted like He didn’t exist except for the part where His Son was going to save me from hell. These people have accepted me. Be-friended me. Want to spend time with me now. They wanted to back then too but I was too busy with all the wrong things to see what amazing community and friendship was open to me.

In the few days I’ve been in KC in 2014 I’ve had some incredible conversations with people, with friends. There has been lots of opinions about my possibilities in Houston. I am immensely grateful for the food for thought although some of it has sat with me better than others. I’ve never had community that told me they would miss me if I left. I’ve never been that vested in relationships before. It’s super uncomfortable. It’s super messy. It’s amazing.

There are lots of details to work out with my job over the next few months. It’s difficult to maintain relationships in two different states but it’s what my life is right now. I get to experience both cities, pros and cons, and figure out where God is leading my heart. Please pray for peace and direction for me. I would much rather life this double life than the one I was living a few years ago, but it can’t go on forever.

Shots

Right or wrong, God and I have quite a few conversations about how if He wants me to do seomthing that’s out of my comfort zone, then He should make it incredibly easy for me. This has resulted in where I went to college (Texas A&M), what I ended up graduating with (Civil Engineering degree), which company I should work for, where I shoud live, etc.

When I started praying about Haiti, it was about how if God wanted me to go on this trip to Haiti, it needed to be easy.

  • I felt peace about the money – I had some funds from my Christmas bonus to spend (truth be told, I didn’t even know how much the trip was when I signed up).
  • I was nervous about telling my Mom – she basically forbade me go to Peru during Thanksgiving with some friends because my grandmother is dying but when I told her about this (after I had paid for by the way) she was thrilled for me.
  • I all-of-a-sudden had zero meetings at work that week which hasn’t happened since I started working years ago.

I made an appointment with the health center at work for a trip advisement session. They basically walk you thru the CDC printout for the country that you’re traveling to. They recommended I get a Tetanus shot (I’m 18 years over due), Hep A (I got Hep B in school already), take oral Typhoid medicine, and start a Malaria medicine the day before I leave the USA.

I can now use my arm without soreness (the Tetanus shot is killer on the deltoid) and am going to start the fundraising process. I’m paying for the trip but we take a suitcase full of toys and crafts (per person going) that I going to start collecting items for.

Please continue to pray for safe travels. Please pray for people to be generous this week so that I can have the problem of not having enough room to take everything. Please pray that I would not be stressed about leaving work behind for a week. Please pray for the people of Haiti.