Monday, July 29, 2013


Too many things to mention from one of my best weekends in Washington. Timber! Outdoor Music Festival was this weekend, featuring an array of talent from the Pacific Northwest. There were some amazing folks I've seen a few times before like Ivan & Alyosha, Lemolo, and my favorite Seattle songwriter, Noah Gundersen, and some other great performers I hadn't seen before like Bryan John Appleby, Hobosexual, and Fruit Bats. The most pleasant of surprises was Vikesh Kapoor, who I expect to see more in the near future, including August 13 at Fremont Abbey.

I could honestly write a whole lengthy blog about this amazing weekend, but the One Awesome Thing I want to address today is people's stories. Listening to dynamic songwriters this weekend reminded me that there are plenty of stories to tell.

Everyone has grown up in a different place with unique parents and a variety of rituals and traditions. Listening to Noah Gundersen sing about Jesus, wondering what his thoughts are today, what they were a year ago, and what they will be in ten years is what makes music transcendent. I wonder who was "Easy to Love" for someone in Ivan & Alyosha or who's been off and on for Megan or Kendra from Lemolo.

Stories are what songs are composed of. Without the people living those stories, there would be no story to tell.

We all have our own story. Looking around Timber or the Mariners or Sounders games this weekend, I could only wonder what everyone's story was. Seeing wedding rings on some artists fingers and wondering if they'd told their wives they love them that day. Seeing college-age kids and wondering what other nonsense they'd get into this summer before classes start again. Wondering what brokenness might be temporarily mended by the words Eric D. Johnson or Bryan John Appleby.

This weekend, my story was of a celebration of life celebrated with people whom I care for in a time of my life I'm sure to look back on with thankfulness for the fullness I've experienced.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Spirit-Led Blogging

There were a lot of Awesome Things coming from our weekend in Portland visiting Tim and Lauren. A bagpiper riding a unicycle. A Hispanic folk band doing a photo shoot in the middle of a busy crosswalk. A stretch Geo Metro. If you've been to Portland, you know the list goes on.

But the One Awesome Thing came in my inbox last night. I've been writing this blog for 5 years this summer and it's never been about anything in particular; just random thoughts I've had about the world around me. I left one career (youth ministry) to pursue another (higher education management), which led me from home (Pittsburgh) to where I am today (Tacoma, WA). Despite the seemingly disconnected subject matter, one thing has been consistent; my faith in Jesus Christ.

Writing from the perspective of a twentysomething Christian has helped to engage in some conversations, but mostly with my friend, Meg. We worked together in high school, were friends outside of work for a while, and had lost touch until she started reading my blogs when they'd occasionally pop up. She contacted me to talk about being a twentysomething recovering from "church" (like many of us are), and the conversations have gone from there.

Meg recently made a Spirit-led decision with her life to relocate and wanted to share that with me. I couldn't be more thankful to know that the truths I've shared about who God is have resonated and helped Meg to explore and learn who God is on her own.

I often think about things to write about with the purpose of tooting the horn of my own opinions, but the Tim Keller sermon that Aly and I listened to in the car yesterday reminded us that the Gospel is about the blood of Christ and not our own interpretation, denomination, or philosophy. I'm thankful that I can look back at most of my writing and know that the Spirit and the blood of Christ have been in the marrow of my writing. When Meg reads anything that is good, she's reading the words of the Spirit written with my fingers. That's Awesome.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunrise, Sunset

I have not had much free time near a computer lately, so I apologize for slowing down with my One Awesome Thing series. Today's Thing was too good to continue putting off. Sorry, too, that I will be brief today.

This past weekend, we celebrated Aly's birthday with a belated trip to Vashon Island where her friend Kelsey's family owns a house. I could get into details about what we did (biking, sailing, catchphrasing) and how great it was, but I'm sticking to One thing here.

After a long day on Friday capped off with a few rounds of Catchphrase, we started to set up a Roku box to watch a little Netflix. Apparently something was watched, but I fell asleep almost instantly and ended up sleeping on the couch for the first 4 hours of my slumber. Around 4am, I awoke, considering whether to remain on the couch the rest of the night. It was cold and I had a sleeping bag and bed upstairs, so I arose to find this sight.

What beauty! The sun was off in the distance still and was shining some of its light toward Dead Man's Cove (it's not actually called that). I couldn't believe how amazing this sight was, so I snapped this picture.

After going back to sleep for a couple of hours upstairs, I rose to find what seemed to be a light that someone had turned on in our stairwell. I arose to investigate, only to find that the sunrise itself was what was causing this sight. See here.

I could go on and on about this beauty, but I'll let those pictures speak for themselves. In short, it is moments like these that remind me how blessed I am to live in Washington.

Friday, July 12, 2013

When Someone Else Makes Plans For You

I had started to write a couple different blogs yesterday then stopped. They weren't appropriate and were too prideful in nature, talking about things I like but with the context of things I don't like. That's not the point! This is!

We're going to Vashon Island tonight to belatedly celebrate Aly's birthday. Her best friend's family has a cabin on (near?) the Sound, so it sounds like it's going to be a great time.

One of my favorite parts of this excursion? I haven't made any of the plans! If you look at my desk, you might think I'm a pretty solid "P" on the MBTI, but I lean more into the "J" category simply because I like to make sure my ducks are all in a row before letting myself relax. That especially goes for making plans to do FUN things! I like to be in charge of what sort of fun is happening, where, and when, so I tend to insert myself into the planning role.

Not this time, though. I have very little idea what sort of entertainment even exists on Vashon, so I haven't bothered to so much as make a suggestion. I knew we'd have to get there via ferry and that we'd leave today and come back tomorrow, but nothing else. Tell me where to be and what to bring. It'll be a great time celebrating Aly!

Our lives can be lived this way every day. God has a plan, which means that any plan I make can just be thrown out the window, anyways. I constantly have to remind myself that I'm here for a reason. There are plenty of good things about living here (Aly, Michelle from the Club, this beautiful summer), so it's easy to remember why I'm so far from my familiar territory. I know that living in Pittsburgh or anywhere else would not be as ideal as I romanticize, so it's good to remember that and constantly think about the good things in my life.

God's plan may not always feel good, right, and perfect; but it is! All the time. Everywhere.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I have only read a collection of short stories and 1.4 of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s novels (Slaughterhouse-Five with Breakfast of Champions currently in the mix), but I love them all. His satirical approach to describing war and America is something I simply haven't experienced otherwise. We take ourselves very seriously here, which is why I'm not surprised by the friends of mine over time who have enjoyed Vonnegut's writing. It's cutting, witty, and matter-of-fact. Moreso, his cuts on American society in the 20th century carry truth; which is really the point of satire, isn't it?

I was going to list satire on its own as the One Awesome Thing today, but that goes against the point of this series. Satire is defined as "in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement." This pointing out of shortcomings would do the opposite of injecting positivity into our lives, such as the 21st century's most prominent satirists do in most cases (i.e. Jon Stewart, Seth MacFarlane, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone).

Vonnegut's satire, however, provokes thought. It calls to mind the things about American society that we can change in our day-to-day lives. Things like self-centeredness, inconsideration, and over-consumption are addressed with witty humor in a way that makes you laugh at yourself and think "is this really what someone would describe to someone who had never been to America?"

These sort of wake-up calls are necessary to get us going, but to also make light of some serious matters that could easily bring us down. There's a blurred line between negative and positive satire, but Vonnegut does a good job of erring on the positive, whether he intended to or not.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Competitive Sports

Anyone that knows me knows that my two favorite things are sports and music. Since moving to Tacoma from Pittsburgh, I've had the opportunity to play a LOT more music, but a LOT less sports. I won't complain much since the music half has been a great opportunity, but this weekend I finally got to catch a rhythm with my competitive side.

The One Awesome Thing from this weekend was competitive sports. I'd specify one, but there were a few examples to note. On Friday, a pair of co-workers and I played some basketball at lunchtime, which is great for the summer because we've got a nice dry outdoor court and a lighter schedule allowing for a little extra lunchtime bonding. We decided to make this a weekly game on Fridays and to try to move forward organizing a game against a team of students. Basketball has always been my favorite sport, so I'm excited to play more often.

Saturday and Sunday continued my pursuit of tennis with Aly. It was the second and third time we'd played, but we noticed a LOT of improvement! Aly's roommate, Andie, joined us on Saturday, which was great because the extra person could retrieve balls and get a break while the other two played. Aly still has my number as I haven't beaten her in a set yet. My day will come, though!

Finally, Sunday morning I got to put on a glove and do some fielding for the first time in a while. Some folks from church have put together a softball team for an adult league and had a practice on Sunday. I cannot play on the team because I'm not free on the nights they play, but it felt great to get out and run, catch, and hit for the first time in several years. I'm hoping to be able to play in future years because I love the excitement, strategy, and drama of softball/baseball. As effortless as professional players make it look, baseball is a game of constant movement and strategy. If someone is out of position for a relay throw or to cover a base, it could mean a run or a rally for the offense.

That's it for now! Thankfully I got to get some of my own competitive energy out as the Pirates blew a 3-game series with the Cubs this weekend.

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July

To cut right to the point, my mid-year resolution is similar to my new year's resolution; to be more positive. So, I'm starting now with a series of blogs that I hope carry on for a while. I want to write about one awesome thing I experience every day.

It's a day late, but yesterday's awesome thing was so rad that it needs to be shared!

Yesterday, I spent the day celebrating the 4th of July with friends. My roommate from college, Josh, moved to Seattle a few weeks ago, giving us a chance to spend time together for the first time in about 5 years. Josh moved here for a job at Amazon, so we spent the afternoon on the roof of their temporary apartment building overlooking Lake Union. The view and friends were great, but not quite the awesome thing I was talking about.

Next, I went to Bellevue to spend time with my favorite gal, Aly, and some of her friends. We went to the Bellevue Family Fourth, had some free food courtesy of Aly's friend, Augusta, who was working the event, and enjoyed a cover band (no seriously, it was enjoyable). That was nice, but not the best part.

The best part was this; Aly and I left around 9:45; a bit before the fireworks were starting. We hit I-5 south en route to Tacoma in good time with basically no traffic. Again, pretty cool, but not awesome. The awesome part was the fireworks. After we started driving a few minutes, we caught a few glimpses of fireworks; pretty natural given the occasion. As we kept driving, though, we kept seeing fireworks. Right in front of us, too! The WHOLE way down I-5, nonetheless! We caught fireworks being shot off from every town all the way down to Tacoma. Somehow, our timing to get home early enough to wake up for work the next day gave us the opportunity to see fireworks all the way home completely unplanned. What an awesome way to finish a brilliant day off.