Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Words 2.0

I say 2.0 because I've done Wednesday Words before, obviously. It's the best day to do a "words" post, not just alliterationally, but because...because...I say so.

Okay, so really alliteration is the only reason that Wednesday is the best day. Sue me.

1. Hot: It just got hot here. Today. June 12. In Augusta. Usually by now, it's been hot for at least two months. We've had warm days, sure. But today, when you walk outside, you get punched in the junk with heat. Welcome back, jerk. I hate you. Bring on the cold weather again!
2. Home Group: Different churches call them different things. Our church also calls them Kinship groups, but they can be called D-groups, cell groups, bibles studies, whatever. But anyway, they are the lifeblood of our church, we always say. And it's true. I've made lifelong friends in my home groups in the last 11 years, people who are now spread out all over the world. The one I'm in now I lead with a couple of those lifelong friends, and in a month we'll be splitting this group into two because of how big it's gotten, and I'll be leading a group on my own for the first time. This is frightening to me. I mean, I've already been leading the worship team for two years, but this feels different. It's very easy to all-of-the-sudden look at my life and say, "Me? Who am I to lead a group of people in anything? I suck!" But it's going to be fun and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
3. Monies: I hate money. Seriously. It's been rough. I have two jobs, one at the church and one at the hospital, but I just make enough to get by. I've been applying for more X-ray work, but every time I feel like the Lord is lining something up for me, it crumbles. I just try to be thankful and trusting, but SRSLY! Come on, Lord! I have some interviews coming up soon, so pray or think about me or whatever you do, friends.
4. Scrabble: On a lighter note, I've been playing Scrabble a lot lately. There's finally a good Scrabble app for iPhone, and I've been playing my nemesis, Jeff. Scrabble is 10 times better than Words With Friends, so all you guys get on it!
5. Top 5: I recently made an adjustment to my all-time, top 5 movies list. This is a huge thing for me. You may recall, dear reader, that this blog was, in fact, originally titled Top 5, an homage to my favorite movie of all time, High Fidelity. ("Rob? Top five musical crimes perpetrated by Stevie Wonder in the 80's and 90's: GO. SUB-question: Is it fair to punish a formerly-great artist for his latter-day sins? Is it better to burn out than to fade away??") So anyway, former top 5 list was, in 1-5 order, High Fidelity, Top Gun, With Honors, So I Married an Axe Murderer, and Reality Bites. After reading about Ethan Hawke recently, I realized that, while I do love that movie, there are better, more befitting movies that could sit in the coveted #5 spot. And in the last week it hit me. A movie that I've talked about on this blog, that has gotten me through hard times, has an unbelievable 1-2 punch cast, and was, unbelievably, one of JJ Abrams' first masterpieces (writer). I refer to, of course, Regarding Henry (careful, that link has bite). Farewell, Reality Bites. I will always be a fan of Hey, That's My Bike, and you have one of the best soundtracks of all time.
6. Eighty: I've been listening to 80's music a lot lately. Right now, in fact. It's the best decade.
7. Yoga: So I started doing DDP Yoga. Watch this inspirational video to see why! After three weeks, I must say, it's been amazing. What an incredible workout. It kills me, and I feel amazing afterwards. I'm just getting started, but I love it already and I'm already trying to figure out my schedule to do yoga AND get back into running. Go healthy!!
8. Apartment: I've been apartment hunting for my girlfriend! I know, right? Victorie is in OT school in Birmingham, and is in the middle of her first 12-week fieldwork rotation. She originally was going to be at Johns Hopkins for her second, but that fell through, so now she's trying to get located here. I feel so grown up! 
9. Friends: My friends are doing awesome things! Kristen is of course kicking ass, as per usual. My friends Richard and Sarah have just uprooted their lives and moved to Portland, OR, and I'm not at ALL jealous (maybe 5%). Babies are growing everywhere. Justin Bieber is going into outer space. Daniel and Karis are getting married. Vic's friend Shanna is photog'ing at the Spurs game tomorrow night. Life is good. 

Anyway, that's me. And some other people. How are you?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A short reflection at 35 years and one day

"You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be," said Aslan. 
Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often." 
"No fear of that," said Aslan. "Have you not guessed?" 
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them. 
"There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands - dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning." 
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them is was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at least they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.                                                                                            
- The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis
This is the last page of the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia, and it destroys me. In the best way possible. The Chronicles are among my favorite books of all time, and I've read them probably more than 20 times. They are an allegory for life in the faith, a children's tale that speaks to the heart of adults as well. I'm 35 as of yesterday, and I still learn from these books.

When Jeff read this page during his sermon the past Sunday, I wept. That's who I've been in the last six months. As I've delved deep into the heart of God, he has churned me up. He has made me raw.

This passage, very obviously, is about death and the life to come for those who believe in the Lord. And it, more than almost anything, makes my heart cry out for it. Not that I long for death by any means, but in that I  desire to be done with all of this, to be done with the questions and the pain and the destruction and the decay, and to be there in the Kingdom, a new body and a happy heart, being full and assured of God's love and blessing, sitting with my Father as I've longed to do all my life. As we all have longed for, whether we've known it or not.

I probably won't leave this world for a long time, and I'm very okay with that. I will persevere and run after God and enjoy the good things of this life and thank Him even during the bad things, even when I don't mean it. I will run with perseverance the race set before me.

But oh my goodness, when that day comes, I will not miss this life for a second. I will lay down every second of confusion and frustration and anger and happiness and laughter and music and just I will be done with it. I will not turn my head and look back. (Unless we get to fly through outer space - then I will probably look back just to see the earth with my own eyes. Also, I'd like to see the moon landing up close just to make sure they weren't making that up. Okay I'm joking.)

I used to not get excited about heaven and not think very highly of God as a father. But I asked Him to change my heart and He did. Of course, I have a long way to go. It makes me tired thinking about it. But I have so many things in this life to look forward to, which keeps me going. And it makes me happy to have all of you on this journey with me, believer or not. My favorite thing about life is relationships, and I think God made it that way on purpose, because our relationships are an echo and a shadow, a picture of what He wants with us. I know that I was made for all of you, and you were made for me. And we were all made for Him, and He loves us.

Here's to 35 more years (and more) and love and friendship, and of cherishing each day, and of counting the days until I go home.

Thanks to the blog over at SixSteps for the copy of the text. The italics are mine.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It's like I can't help myself

And so begins my next schooling adventure, this time in seminary. I'm now in VLI (Vineyard Leadership Institute), which will not leave me ordained but WILL leave me with an exhaustive inward and outward understanding of scripture and leadership. BLURG. 

I'm actually really excited about this, because of my self-proclaimed dummyhood when it comes to knowing the Bible. I've been in church all my life, but I feel I'm fairly lacking when in comes to an in-depth knowledge of the Word. Many "christians" claim to know the Scriptures, yet sadly few actually KNOW it. Also, many who oppose the faith claim to know it more than Christians do, yet their knowledge has always, in my experience, been very shallow and one-sided. It's actually the same on both sides of the coin. Many claim knowledge, yet their knowledge is skewed toward their own view or what they want the scripture to say. I'm happy that in my first day of class, the lecture was on getting rid of your own bias when interpreting scripture, a practice that will take me a long time.

I'm ready for the challenge...

...I hope.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

a most memorable evening

There are some nights when you are with your friends, speaking about the things of God, and you feel loved and warm and that God is in the midst of you. It's not just a good feeling. It's memorable. About five years ago I had such a night with my friends Jeff and Elsie, where we talked and talked and I cried and we laughed and it was good. Tonight was another such night. After a wonderful leadership meeting at church, Jeff, Mike, Meghan, and I sat and talked and laughed and shared. And it was good. And it was such that you never wanted it to end.

Jeff quoted St. Augustine: "the quality of friendship was so good that if it were one step better, we would be in heaven.

And then he read from Augustine's book, Confessions:

"And when our discourse was brought to that point, that the very highest delight of the the earthly senses, in the very purest material light, was, in respect of the sweetness of that life, not only worthy of comparison, but not even of mention; we raising up ourselves witha more glowing affection towards the "self-same," did by degrees pass through all things bodily, even the very heaven, whence sun and moon, and stars shine upon the earth; yea, we were soaring higher yet, by inward musing, and discourse, and admiring of Thy works; and we came to our own minds and went beyond them (what we cannot conceive, as it is, we know not (as we ought) but whatever occurs to our conceptions, we cast aside, reject, disown, we know it is not this we seek, though of what nature that is, we know not)."
 I confess I am severely lacking in the area of conversation, so when these rare times happen, I cherish them to no end, and I hide them away so as to never forget, and to be able to look toward the coming of the Kingdom as an eternity of these feelings, and of love and acceptance, and peace.

" that day when we were speaking of these things, and this world with all its delights became, as we spake, contemptible to us.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The photo

I just wanted to post this. This is currently my wallpaper on my laptop, and it is maybe the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The photo was taken in Feb 2011 in Egypt, and shows part of a wall of Christians, joining hands to protect a group of Muslims as they pray. This was during the riots after the Alexandria bombing in January of that year. Apparently the Muslims also stood in protection of the Coptic Christians as they prayed.

This is Jesus. This is love. This is beautiful.

You can read the story here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On fathers and forgetting what day it is

I almost forgot. Usually I remember that it's coming. Usually I'm prepared for it. I didn't this year. My mom had to remind me when I was on the phone. I remembered last week, but I didn't think about it today. Today I led worship and went to lunch and watched the Falcons lose and texted my girlfriend and generally had a good day. I've gone into a funk in the last hour and almost forgot again. Now I'm pretty sure this might be why. Also, I've been ignoring God this week kinda, so that would have something to do with it. Actually, that might have helped me with this. 

I've been reading a lot of Donald Miller lately. Vic gave me a copy of his book To Own a Dragon, the original version, not rewritten, and I also just reread Blue like Jazz. Don, like me, had a lot of father issues. Actually, in reading his books, his life and mine are eerily similar. Very eerily similar. And he shares my sentiment. It is strange that God chooses to be known as a father, when our earthly examples of fathers are f**ked up. Mine was. So was Don's.

I remember sitting back in high school and thinking about my friends. All of my friends, except one, came from two parent families. Like, both original parents. All my friends at school, all of them at church. In college, I began to find more friends that came from broken homes like me. I always wondered if I hung around those friends subconsciously.

I'm listening to a 90's playlist on Spotify while I'm typing this. It's helping.

My first memory of my dad is burning our house down. It was post divorce, and he had come over to light the pilot light for our gas heater, but since our house was filled with gas because of inept installation, it blew instead. I think he flew across the kitchen and landed in the sink, but mom says that didn't happen. And come to think of it, that doesn't seem realistic. 

Dad lived around Athens for a while. I have spotty memories of him. I remember telling him outside his car one time that my grades were good. I was in kindergarten. I remember going to his house usually every other weekend. Mom says I usually would call after one day wanting to come home, and dad never cared. I don't remember that. I remember always wanting to go there, usually when I was in trouble or fighting with my mom. I believe her on this one. Knowing what I know now. 

I remember getting skates from him on one birthday. I remember a birthday cake another year that made me sick and I ended up vomiting at 3am. I remember him being hard. I remember that when I visited him, I usually hung out in a hotel room at his work while he worked all day. For years. I remember that I only got to see cable when I was at his place, because we didn't have it back home. I remember that I could almost always see naked women when I was at his place, either from his stash or from cable, or on his playing cards. I started smoking when he was living in Alabama. We were out on a sailboat in Huntsville and he made me go down below and light a cigarette for him because it was too windy. And then I snuck a pack from him and smoked them. Actually, I lit them and made them puff and I would blow smoke out, but I would never inhale. I even tried to teach myself to inhale in college, but I never could. Different story.

When he lived with his fourth wife in Warner Robins, he had a pool table. I got pretty good. It was in that house that I officially lost my ability to watch scary movies. His stepkids were watching Hellraiser and it freaked me out and then I couldn't go upstairs because it was dark and I freaked out even more. 

After I graduated high school, me and my then-fiance went to Virginia for the summer to work at his restaurant. That summer was weird. All his employees expected me to be this spoiled asshole because of him, so they were surprised that they liked me and it surprised them that, when he was being a douche to them, which he always was, I took their side instead of his. Actually, one night he and I got into this yelling match because of this, and I was screaming crying in his office, and he told me he loved me. I shit you not, that's the first time I ever remember hearing that from him. Also, that was the first time I remember him actually wanting me around. Reason: he found out I was good at darts and so he and I playing other guys in the bar and won. That was fun.

I didn't see him for five years when I went to college. Summer after my fifth year, I got off the Greyhound bus in Bayse, VA and he said "Damn. You're big." Go figure.

His restaurant had bankrupted and he was living with some woman. She was probably 20 years older than him but she had money and he "loved her." He gave me his car when I was there. That was cool. He had bought that 1991 Thunderbird when it was new, and I loved that car. I drove it to death. Literally. 

Dad always gave me money and stuff and so I came to expect that. When I was young, when I would visit him, he would either be managing a restaurant at a hotel, or he owned his own bar and restaurant in Athens or Virginia, so I always got unlimited food and tv and I don't think I really cared that he wasn't spending time with me. It was heaven for me. One time I conveniently forgot my shoes when I went to see him, so he took me to get some and bought me some Nikes. If you want to know which ones, go find the episode of Friends where they are looking for Monica's christmas presents in the apartment, and Chandler finds the shoe with the note attached. It's that one. I swear.

When he was going bankrupt, I got a letter from him. It was near Christmas. He sent it to my mom's house, and I just happened to be there and got it and it was awful. He was so sad and depressed. It was all incomplete sentences and lots of ellipses. Funny thing about that. When I spent that five years not seeing him in college, I always felt bad for him. I thought he was alone and sad, and usually after I got off the phone with him I would cry. I don't know why. He always talked about his bar and restaurant and people he knew and whatever, and when I was there, he hung out with people. I just thought that. Or maybe I just wanted him to be interested in my life and he wasn't. I would say about 95% of the communication we had in my life, prior to him getting sick, was done by me. If he ever called me, I would usually be dumbfounded. 

After I got his letter, I emailed him back, and I told him I loved him and I told him the Lord could help him and basically tried to get him to love Jesus, but I don't think it stuck. I've said before that I asked him if he prayed in the last days of his life, and he says he did. I don't know. I was very self-absorbed in those days, even in trying to be selfless for him, I was still doing it for myself. I think I wanted to come out on top. I think I was trying to show him by my kindness and love how little kindness and love he had. I know I wanted him to know God before he died. 

I found out more about him after he died than I had ever known of him before. I had never seen a picture of him younger than...33. Seriously. No childhood photos, no college or 20's pictures. Now that I know my brothers and sisters from his first marriage, as well as his first wife, I know a lot about him. I know what he was like back then. I know what happened to their family. I know what he was like. It's surprising. It seems that, at one time, he was cheerful and hopeful and enjoyable. He did theater. He failed 6th grade. He went to Virginia Tech. He and I actually worked for the same company, probably 30 years apart. 

I've written some other blog posts about him here over the years (four links there). 

So, anyway. I wasn't even expecting all this. It just kinda...vomited out. Sorry it was so long. 

Happy 68th birthday, dad. 

Fuck you.

I love you.

Post Script: If I could talk to him now, I would say this: "Your life wasn't as hopeless as you led it to be. You could have had happiness if you weren't so greedy. People were drawn to you because of your personality and you crapped all over them. But God loved you just like he loves me and everybody else, and I hope you knew that. I wish we had had a relationship. You messed me up. I miss the idea of you." 

Okay that's it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting there

 It's coming along...

Update: My Gmail inbox went from 340 emails to 15. That's right.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

pipes and starbucks and the coming of the internalization of pat

Beardyface and I are sitting outside on this gorgeous night, smoking pipes and being generally awesome. I know you agree. He's reading An Introduction to Theories of Learning, and I'm doing this.

So, I didn't notice until I started writing this, but I really do look like my dad in this picture. He was much more tan than I, but other than that. Also, the way my glasses are down a little bit looks like his reading glasses, so...there's that.

So I come to this Starbucks all the time. I used to study here two or three nights a week while I was in radiography school. There are these two people that are ALWAYS. HERE. One is a middle aged black gentleman who kinda looks like Kenan Thompson doing Herman Cain, only completely bald, and a thicker mustache. He comes here to watch videos on his laptop and read the newspaper. I cannot think of a single night that I've been here that this guy has not been here. The other is this early-60's white lady that, quite frankly, looks like Mortianna from Prince of Thieves, only just chilling with coffee and newspapers and this white plastic bad she always carries around, not all freaking out about a painted man that haunts her dreams. (Love that movie. LOVE Alan Rickman.)

These two skeevers, as I've unfairly labeled them in the past, cause me to think. I mean, honestly, I come here all the time, too. I used to come here all the time to study. Now, not so much. I mean, I come for the free wi-fi, and the awesome chai, and the feeling like I'm not alone, but I guess because I know my reasons, then I know I'm not a skeever. And they aren't skeevers either. The baristas speak very highly of both of them, and I'm sure they are charming people, but I never do what Rick Springfield tells me not to do.

Being that I'm getting older, and also being in love (oh YEAH, I should post about that sometime!) has caused (have caused? had causeded? has causededed?) me to being being more introspective, which I have wanted to happen to me for a long time. See, my brain, for all of my life, has been a jumbled mush of useless trivia (awesome), movie and tv references (awesome), random images from my past (uh...okay), all the arguments I've ever been in (except in my head I win them), girls, comic books, the internet, money, and sometimes Jesus. This has frustrated me to no end, and has complicated my spiritual life and thought life dramatically. I want so badly to delve into the spiritual mysteries, to be able to sit down with a book that doesn't sword fights or car chases or boobs, or a text book for that matter, or to sit with a friend and talk about real life and not drift off into la-la land. I've long thought I have A.D.D. (still haven't talked to my doc about that yet), but I know that when I've done well with my eating habits and my running, that I feel a lot better and have more energy, so I'm not going to buy into the myth until I've gone hardbody and still can't concentrate.

But. I have started internalizing a little more. Started digging into the whys and hows of my life, growing a little bit. Becoming a little less angry. Not reacting to things the way old Pat would have. I even got a planner. I dunno. I guess that's growing up. Growing up is not as whack as I once believed. I'm just going to start working on clearing out all the garbage a little bit (not so much of that stuff 'in' anymore), and quieting myself a little more, and we'll see what happens.

True life. Word is bond.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tom Conlon

Tonight we had a wonderful singer/songwriter named Tom Conlon come to the church and do a little concert. You've never heard of Tom Conlon, and I really only knew him because Jeff, my best bud and pastor, has been a huge fan and friend of his for years. Tom, now also my friend, dresses in all black and brings his motorcycle with him on tour and plays GORGEOUS music, guitars tuned in open D, creates ambiance with candles and voice, and exudes cool. And he's the most unassuming, sweetest guy you could ever meet. Jeff calls him "one of the last troubadours," and he really is, because troubadours are rare nowadays. I wish I could snap my fingers and make him famous, because I think he deserves it. He writes deeply introspective lyrics about life and love and Americana and Jesus, and his sounds just rises up out of his feet and blows you away.