Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kicking the bucket list

I realized the other night that I hadn't looked over my bucket list in a while. So long, in fact, that I really couldn't remember anything on it! Sad, I know. Without further ado, here is my bucket list (in no particular order or priority):

  • Drive on Pacific Coast Highway
  • Fully restore my '80 Camaro
  • Play bass guitar in a pop-punk band
  • Record a song (where I'm playing bass or rhythm guitar)
  • Drive a four-wheeler
  • Visit another country
  • Visit another continent
  • Eat an authentic Philly cheesesteak

It's not a long list, but I think most of these are doable. I'd rather just have a few items that I realistically could accomplish, rather than tons of nonrealistic goals. That being said, I'm certainly open to adding more items to my list - I just have to think of other things to include. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vroom vroom...

Well, after talking about blogging with my friend Bekah, I've got the itch to write again. So let the scratch-fest begin. :)

I FINALLY got my Camaro back last night! Since I haven't written in over a year, let me fill you in...I have a 1980 Camaro that I bought during my sophomore year at IWU. It's my baby. It's got quite a bit of rust, but the interior is still pretty nice. The design of the '70-'81 Camaro is hands down my favorite. Growing up, my dad always lamented not hanging on to the cars he had when he was younger, specifically, his '67 Oldsmobile 442. Not wanting to live with a similar regret, I bit the bullet in 2005 and purchased my Camaro off of a guy I went to high school with for $700. I've spent a ton on Striper (the car is black with white racing stripes) over the years...WAYYYYYYYY more than the car is worth.

Last summer, on my way into Marion one evening, Striper died. The car hadn't been running very well, but everything under the hood looked fine - I thought driving it might give me a better idea as to what might be wrong. (I'm still not sure exactly what caused the motor to blow.) As my powerless car coasted down State Road 9 into the back lot of Joey's Wallpaper, I was actually more excited than sad - I finally had the green light to rip out the wimpy factory V-6 and make my Camaro a true American muscle car!

Unfortunately, this put Striper out of commission for the rest of the summer and fall, and much of the winter, as I got all the kinks worked out of the new motor and other little things repaired. But she's back, and is now sporting a 350 V-8, 4-barrel carb, dual exhaust, glasspacks, a new transmission and radiator - it's pretty much a brand new car under the hood. :)

I haven't had a chance to give Striper a bath, so I haven't taken a picture of it recently...but here's a super OLD picture of the car (and me) and the new motor:

Mark and Striper - soon to be prowling a neighborhood near you. :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's time to dig.

I was in my IWU work van driving to one of the buildings on campus a couple of weeks ago. I always have the radio on, and this particular morning was no exception. Lately, I've been listening to WTUR 89.7, which is Taylor University's radio station. TU broadcasts their chapel services live, and I just happened to tune in while a very familiar voice was speaking. My pastor, who is an administrator and professor at TU, was the chapel speaker. He began reading a prayer by Liam Lawton, an Irish priest and songwriter, that really spoke to me and made me reflect. Here is that prayer:

Why is it that at the most confusing time of our lives
We have to learn the most?
We have to carry so much within
We must learn to listen
We must learn to listen

All is decision
All is choice
All is question

Help me to find friends who will accept me
Help me to be strong when difficult choices come
Help me to live with values that You value

When I am anxious
When I am hurting
When I am confused
When I am lazy
When I am troubled
When I am fearful
When I am rejected
When I am ridiculed
When I am moody
When I am misunderstood

Be with me Lord

When I am happy
When I celebrate
When I win
When I fall in love
When I pass with flying colors
When I finish my assignment
When I find my place
When I belong

Be with me Lord

Teach me understanding
Teach me compassion
Teach me empathy
Teach me respect
Teach me graciousness
Teach me forgiveness
Teach me courage
That others will find in me
What I long to be

On each new day
Bless those who love me
Bless those who teach me
Bless those who befriend me
Bless those who accept me

Bless my family and friends
All who know me

May all that I have learned
Be not in vain
For if I have never lost
I will never search again
At 26, I'm still trying to understand my place in life and where He's wanting me to go. It's confusing. It's frustrating. I flat out hate uncertainty. I can't tell you how many times I've prayed for guidance and direction with various issues in my life. I've learned that I need to stay faithful to Him during those moments of clarity as well as those times when I feel so far from Him. James 4:8 says that if we come near to Him, He will come near to us. My goal for 2011 is just that - to come near and stay near to Him. In order for God to be more real to me, I know that I need to be more real with God.

He's challenging me to dig deeper. Guess I better start digging...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What a ridiculously awesome week...

This has been a really good week!

I mean, most weeks for me are usually decent, but this one was one of the better ones I've had in quite a while. I was the only network tech in the office this week, and I've only been on the job for two months. But I was encouraged, because I handled the work load just fine and had multiple opportunities to practice some of the skills I've learned - and was, for the most part, successful in those opportunities! :) People have been asking me quite frequently, "How's your new job going?" I can't tell you how awesome it is to be able to reply, "I love my job." It's truly lifted my spirits and given me a renewed passion and enthusiasm for serving others, IWU, and most importantly - the Lord. Pretty awesome stuff.

I also had the opportunity to see Switchfoot in concert at IWU last night with my good friend Rachel. Those guys know how to put on an incredible show! I was screaming. I NEVER scream. Haha. I gained a new admiration for Jon Foreman's gift of writing and delivering deep, uplifting, thought-provoking lyrics in a band that's taken pride in carving its it own unique sound ever since the mid '90s. The guys in Switchfoot just seem honest and genuine - and I could tell that they truly appreciate their fans based on their interactions with us last night. Also, I think it's pretty rad that Jon and Tim still jump off amps and drum platforms in their early-mid 30s. :)

This week also gave me an opportunity to hang out/catch up with friends, both old and new. It's fun to be crazy and silly and to know that you're accepted for who you truly are. It's comforting and encouraging on so many different levels. Even if it's something as simple as eating pizza and watching episode after episode of The Office, meeting up for lunch, or grabbing some coffee. I value my friends very much, and I try hard to show them that I do. Anyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy spending quality time getting to know people one-on-one. I know not everyone is wired that way, and sometimes, it's hard to concede that the deeper, more genuine relationships that I crave with people may not always happen - but that's not about to stop me from trying. I try to make the effort, and I definitely appreciate it when others reciprocate the effort. I've realized that some friendships are seasonal, and while that does bum me out a little, it is pretty cool to see how God places certain people in your life at certain times in your life when you need them most. Awesome stuff. :)

So,'s been a good week, and I just felt like I should praise God for it publicly! And to all my friends - I appreciate each one of you very much and I pray that I can continue to become a better friend to you.

In Christ,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

You can't live in the past, but...

Fall is beautiful. The temperature is still warm, but with hints of crisp air. The hooded sweatshirts make their return down from the shelf in my closet. The leaves on trees change from green into a multitude of gorgeous colors. The orchards begin selling freshly-pressed apple cider. The bleachers in once-empty stadiums begin filling up with spectators, as football makes its triumphant return. Although I enjoy parts of every season, fall is the one I look forward to the most.

I decided to go for a walk on this glorious afternoon. My favorite place to walk is the Sweetser Switch Trail, but this time, I decided to visit Playacres Park in Fairmount. I walked through the park and ventured over to Vine Street. I looked through the fence at the increasingly dilapidating Fairmount High School. As I gazed up at the once stately three-story brick building, I began wondering what it used to look like inside. I tried to picture teens (namely James Dean) standing at their lockers, ascending the stairways, and sitting in classrooms.

I walked back to the park and stopped at one of the baseball diamonds. I stood at the fence and began reminiscing over the many games I played on that field some 17-18 years ago. As I processed my nostalgic thoughts, I realized how truly different the world has become in just those 17-18 years. Innocence and naivety have almost become a thing of the past. I remember classic cartoons on Saturday morning. I remember wholesome, hilarious TV shows without sexual innuendos. I remember eating hot dogs, grilled cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I remember playing baseball in the backyard with Dad. I remember tree houses and sandboxes. I remember playing Boxcar Children and spy games with my cousins. It was truly a time of simplicity and innocence.

I wondered to myself, "What kind of world are my children inherit some day?" That might seem a bit strange, considering I'm a single, 24-year old guy, but then again, I'm a bit strange. :) I like reminiscing over the past - even the eras that I never was alive to experience. I enjoy looking through my mom's old yearbooks and trying to imagine what it would've been like to experience Madison-Grant High School, my alma mater, in the 1970s. I guess I did get a taste of it, as many of the teachers I had at M-G were teachers my mom had, as well. But it seems like the 60s-70s era had cool music, cool cars, and an overall cool culture. The past truly intrigues me on so many levels.

I've heard many times that "you can't live in the past," and I know that's true. As grateful as I am for things like computers, high-speed Internet, satellite TV, cell phones, and iPods, I can't help but wonder if today's culture could learn a lot from previous cultures. For instance, rather than sending text messages back and forth, what if we actually CALLED the person to whom we were texting? Or better yet, what if we actually hung out in person and spent face-to-face time with people? Maybe it's just because I'm a communication guy, but I feel like interpersonal communication was more meaningful back then. It wasn't as impersonal and cyber-based as it is now. You could make a case that people communicate all the time now, more than ever before - but with the increase in quantity, has there been a decrease in quality?

The world is a very different place in 2009, that's for sure. I know we can't live in the past, and I'm not suggesting that we try. But I think that today's American culture could greatly benefit from slowing down and appreciating/re-adopting some of the simpler, more meaningful things of generations past - with innocence and interpersonal communication being two of the top items on the list.

Just some food for thought on this fall day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tonight, I finally have complete closure to what had been an unresolved situation in my life for the past several months.

After all was said and done, a person who I used to care very much about confirmed that they no longer wanted to be my friend. I don't know whether they were unable to put forth a consistent effort to be a friend or if deep down in their heart, they simply didn't care. But really, the reason doesn't matter. I can hold my head high knowing that I did everything I could do to be the best possible friend to this individual. I forgave this person multiple times and gave them numerous chances to right their wrongs against me. I said prayer after prayer for this individual. Many tears were shed over this person of whom I cared so much about for so long.

But no more.

This person knew what I needed and expected in a friend. They knew me probably better than anyone else. They knew what I was all about and how my mind operated. When I realized that I was being abused emotionally, I knew things had to change. I was having trouble figuring out who I truly was inside. It took a while for the wounds to heal and for me to rediscover who the real me was. The person I believed this individual to be turned out to be nonexistent. I greatly over-idealized them. We had some good times, yes. But in the end, those were not enough to outweigh the bad times. I still held on to an ounce of hope that perhaps one day, this individual would mature and become the kind of friend I believed they truly could be to me.

But no more.

Despite all of the pain and heartache this person caused me, I believe I see what God wanted to teach me. I have such a large number of true friends in my life - true friends who have remained honest, loyal, and even-tempered. True friends who say what they mean and mean what they say. True friends who truly and completely let me be me, and accept me for who I am - not slack me down for who I am not. True friends who help me grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ. True friends who I need to keep near to me. True friends who are worth fighting for and who I can strive to be a true friend to in return.

This is not the way I hoped things would turn out, but in the end, I realize it was not my choice to make. I know in my heart that I gave 110% effort to try and establish a healthy, genuine, two-way friendship with this person. I can honestly say that I have no regrets and that I wish this person the best in whatever the future holds.

Goodbye and so long.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What's next?

When I was little, I was always told I could do anything I wanted.

Whatever happened to that?

I feel stuck. I hate feeling discontent. I'm not sure what I'm really passionate about, and that bothers me greatly. There are a few things I do feel more passion for than others (i.e. radio), but the opportunities to feed this passion appear to be nonexistent right now. I'm wanting to move to this supposed "next stage" of life - find a career I'm passionate about, marry an amazing woman, and own my own house. All of those things feel so far away, though. I know I'm only 24, but I really don't know what my purpose is right now. I've been seeking God's direction and guidance and will continue to do so, but I do feel as though my patience is running thin. I just want to have some new, exciting changes happen in my life that will encourage me and bring me closer to feeling more fulfilled. I believe I do have a purpose in this life. I believe God can and will work through me to further His kingdom.

I just want to know what's next...