Saturday, November 22, 2008
Isn't it nice to know? That the lining...is silver. Isn't it nice to know? That...we're golden.
These questions were asked by Matt Thiessen who writes brilliantly cliche'd songs for Relient K. I was sure hoping to hear this song live in Kansas City tonight (as well as "For the Moments I Feel Faint", but instead I slept in (because I was over-scrabbled last night), handed out groceries at noon, and went for a mad 2-hour bike trek along the river this afternoon (and if you haven't ridden that 4 mile single track loop, chock full of small climbs and descents, your missing out on a hidden Manhattan secret).
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I probably spent upwards of $60 every month on Cappuccino and other fine espresso products. What does that mean? That means the farmers in Kenya, Ecuador, and Sumatra who harvest my coveted coffee beans probably don’t even earn $60 per month. (Editor's correction: it's more like $80-90 a month, so be honest with people) Well, that’s not the meaning. That’s more of a correlation. Well, statistically, it is not a correlation at all. But those two facts are tied to each other in an extremely negative way. So much so that the very thought is creeping into my comfort zone. I’d rather not think about it actually; especially the suffering and poverty aspect, because then I will begin to feel convicted about my habit. Which, in essence, leads to another actual correlation. Or set of correlations that just came to mind: The poppy farmer in Southern Afghanistan (Abdul Hakim is one of them) and the young women with track marks in her arms in Kansas City. Her name might be Heather Allen. Or what about the coca farmer in Bolivia and the crack addict (he only uses it socially) in Charlotte. The calcium phosphate miner in north Africa and the Crystal Meth “transformed” individual in Seattle or Wasilla (by the way did you know Red phosphorus, which is often used to cook ingredients like sudaphedrine into meth, does not catch fire in air at temperatures below 240°C, whereas white phosphorus ignites at about 30°C. Now I have no personal experience with Red Phosphorous, but I know all about the White kind. Whiskey Pete or Willy Pete as we like to call it will burn under water. Not something you want to handle after ignition).
In any case, am I an addict? Am I contributing to poverty in Kenya or fighting against it? What am I doing to help the other “addicts” in my own broken world? And will the elasticity of supply and demand in this uncertain economic downtown stretch me enough to cease and desist my intake of this fabulous hot beverage of choice? Those are questions that will need to be answered through some deep soul searching, serious counseling, or perhaps a pleasant conversation over a nice cup of java. Anyone want to join me at The Blue Stem?
Friday, November 14, 2008
The only things that stands in the way of your beauty are your fears and your doubts.
I read that the other day in Staci Eldredge's book: Captivating
You are beautiful. I observe so many young women who battle with this issue.
Your Hollister wardrobe, maybelline lined eyes, Aussie scrunched hair, and well-practiced laugh can do nothing to change the beauty that God has already created inside of you…
..and what is inside of you will shine, and glimmer, and shimmer, and glow from the radiance of God's love...if you accept it...and live in it.
You are beautiful. Yes, You.
In the car the other day I listened to a preacher talk about “taking risks” to obey the Lord.
Dr. Stanley scoffed a little at how we silly humans think it is a “risk” to trust God. Meaning, to live with complete and utter abandon.
Like, how is that a “risk”, if we really believe what we believe is real? And God’s promises are true.
I needed that word, and I wouldn’t have heard it if I wasn’t driving to the meeting that I later found out was cancelled that night.
And that reminded of how powerful God is in communicating. He has like mega-bandwidth to broadcast and disseminate when he wants to. We just need to ensure our receivers are tuned.
And the message was so timely because earlier that day, on a whim, I applied for a job with a particular agency. The job was right up my alley, although based in Charlotte, NC. My resume fit, and it had to do with what I have been doing for many years, and pays a lot more. Here’s the thing…I’ve been talking for months about how I’m ready to hang up my uniform in less than 9 months and live with complete abandon, in some community environment, serving the needy, here or overseas…or whatever.
But as I started contemplating post-military life (I’ve been doing this since I was 17), I started to get “scared”. And feared that my new found passion was becoming a big “risk”.
So, when I got the job announcement in my in-box today, and spent hours submitting the application and resume, I breathed a sigh of relief, and went home to open my bible to Isaiah 22 (New Living Translation), where God asked me: Why are you making all of these feverish plans and not trusting me you fool?! (Yeah, he said it in a Mister T sort of way).
So. At Common Grounds the other night, I overheard a young college student, I’ll call her Brandie, and her overtly liberal and soft-accented friend, I’ll call him Alistair, discussing Brandie’s break-up with her boyfriend, Joe. She was so frustrated with Joe, because he was drunk when they got home after dinner the other day, and she wanted to see the photos on his camera and he reused to show them to her. And then it turned into an argument because she wanted to know what he was hiding. And he denied he was hiding anything, he just didn’t want her to look at the photos. And then went round and round for hours.
So here is what I heard:
“I’ve dated every kind of guy there is, and the problem is I seem to only like the bad ones. Dating is to meet people and get to know them, not to fall in love. Marriage is the thing that is forever. But, half of all marriages end in divorce”. What a sad truth. What a very sad truth.
She also said she is breaking up with Joe. Then, in 2011 when she graduates from college she and Alistair will travel to
Ground Control to Major Tom.
So I ask myself. Why are guys such jerks? Why is it that a woman feels attracted to “the bad ones”? Why are people searching for truth in Eastern philosophy?
I think its because we are all seeking something better than our current situation. Something out of the norm. Something we cannot see. Something extreme. Or, perhaps something balanced. We aren’t satisfied or content with where we are or who we are. We want other people to change us and we want to change other people. And in many cases this can be good. We shouldn’t settle for the status quo if is unhealthy or ineffective to our purpose.
So where am I going with all of this?
I don't know. Do you?
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
US military deaths in Afghanistan region at 540
Of those, the military reports 389 were killed by hostile action.
Outside the Afghan region, the Defense Department reports 66 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, three were the result of hostile action. The military lists these other locations as Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba; Djibouti; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Jordan; Kenya; Kyrgyzstan; Philippines; Seychelles; Sudan; Tajikistan; Turkey; and Yemen.
There were also four CIA officer deaths and one military civilian death.
The latest deaths reported by the military:
— No deaths reported.
The latest identifications reported by the military:
— Marine Cpl. Jason A. Karella, 20, Anchorage, Alaska; died Thursday while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.
It is just a little overwhelming and surreal to read that OF THOSE, the latest identification was that of my young cousin Jason.
I'm grieving. I thank God for Jason. My heart hurts for his Dad and Mom and brothers. I don't know what else to do.
Pray for his family, please.
Monday, August 18, 2008
( I had all these cool photos I was going to post with this, but couldn't figure out how to make it work)
Live Journal Discoveries From the Past Week:
I thought I caught the bubonic plague today, but it was just a sunburn and an overwhelming sense of being lost in reality.
I found some copies of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency at the used bookstore. I might send them to Andrea. I like to read about
Sometimes I feel loved. Like the other day, I was driving my car…on a road…and I looked up to realize I was following some secret admirers. Well they weren’t so secret about it, since they were advertising their great love me on their rear windshield.
I helped cut some very tall grass and pull some overgrown weeds at this older man’s house today. His neighbors complained to the city that he was creating a haven for west nile virus infected mosquitoes. So a group of us from my church hauled tractors, mowers, and weed eaters over to his “field”, and spent a few hours eradicating.
Right now, on my ipod, the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is singing these lines: “a pebble in the water makes a ripple effect,
every action in this world will bear a consequence, if you wade around forever you will surely drown…I see what's going down…Face down in the dirt she says, this doesn't hurt she says I finally had enough.” I’m passionate about the words in this song. I watched an independent Swedish/Russian film the other day. I didn’t understand the language very well…well not at all, but the film was so powerful, it exposed the horrors and tragedy of the modern slave industry, and showed how girls from poverty stricken place in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Asia, are lured into finding work in well-to do western society. Once they arrive in the new country, they are immediately enslaved and used for prostitution and the sex industry. It made me so angry. Angry at the abuse they endure. Angry at the parents and families that let them leave. Angry at the patrons of these businesses or pimps. I know plenty of Soldiers or Sailors who, while on leave overseas, will ignorantly contribute to the abuse of these poor women and girls. Everything in my wants to fight to protect hurting people. Why don’t I do it then? I have a friend who doesn’t know what to do with her life, so she is heading to
Last weekend I spent some time with God. I mean I try to spend time with God all day long, but I sometimes get distracted. So I visited the International House of Prayer in
Many amazing and timely things happened during those days. In fact, I didn’t understand why I went at first. I was actually mad at God, because all of my weekend plans had failed and I felt stuck in
- I am a whore. Derek Webb sings about this in his Wedding Dress song. “I am a whore, I must confess. I put you on like a wedding dress.” I identify with that song completely. God calls us not to lift our souls to another. We make all these promises and commitments to God, and then fail. And feel bad about it. And ask God to forgive us. And he welcomes us back. These are the times when with think that Grace is cheap. But, though it was free for us, it wasn’t cheap for God, because as Bonhoeffer writes, it cost God his Son. I read through HOSEA, and the prophet Hosea married a prostitute, who was married to many men and kept leaving him. He kept taking her back. That’s why I feel like a whore.
- Be SALT, I am commanded. Sometimes I feel like my salt has lost its saltiness. So what is it then?
- Have mercy Lord, according to your unfailing love.
- Yaweh is my KING, ruling and reigning over me.
- Lord thank you for beautiful voices.
- We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. That’s from Colossians 1:9. I’ve been praying that over my daughters for a while now.
- God will bring about JUSTICE for his chosen who cry out to him day and night (Luke 18:7-8)
- I think most people don’t realize what they are really longing for, and therefore, search the world for things to try to fill the empty holes in their souls. Eventually when we fail to find satisfaction, we enter a place of brokenness, and then have a choice, to let God fill us and heal us, or to live in bitterness and despair.
- Lord, I want to love as you love.
- I think I’ve gotten to the point in my life where SHOCK doesn’t surprise me anymore. Isn’t that some kind of oxymoron?
- You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being (Revelation 2:4)
- Jealousy is a husband’s FURY!!
- I’m grasping how wide, how deep, how long, and how high the love of God really is.
- Lord, change my occasional flirtations glance to a steady and longing gaze!
Here is a first look at a song I started to write in KC. I have developed a melody already, but like all my songs, will collect dust until I am partnered with someone more musically inclined than me. I play it in the key of Em.
That you have for me?
I’m just broken man (who is)
Lost at sea
I have nothing to offer you
On my own
I have no power
To change the road I’m walking on
I can’t seem to figure out
What I’m doing here
Look, I’m only a child
And full of anguish and fear
But you call me
Back to you…
And now you send me
Where you want me to go
You are the Spirit
Release this anointing over me (3x).
Last night my friend, Dan, counseled me on the phone while I was parked at a Shell gas station. It was timely and good to hear a friendly voice in the wilderness. I have been mulling over things, and don’t quite no where to go. My thoughts, emotions, heart, longings, and passions are all jumbled and tangled together. They are not neat and orderly.
Yesterday in my alone time I drove the Outback through the unpaved county roads of the
Its great that all my friends are on the internet now. When I was in
Actually some of the Baristas and Baristos have gotten to know me, and I'm just starting to connect with some folks from the church community I've been worshiping with. Sometimes its hard for military folks to connect when they move so much. They often just stay on base and drink and that’s their community; even the families that live on base. I've never been one to do that, but when I came to
But anyway, NO I'm not going to stay in the barracks. I refuse! Last night, I went to a Bible Study (Ray Vanderlaan, history stuff), and then those guys took me out to dinner! Ye-ah! Then I talked on the phone with a friend from
Then I slept in until 0930, and YES it was peacefully quiet with NO fluorescent lights flicking on at 0500!
I washed clothes, read ACTS, ate brunch at the chow hall, and then drove downtown to find gummi bears and authentic German Haribo candy for Andrea. I was unsuccessful. I found regular gummi bears, but not the cool stuff from
I did buy some other knickknacks like a Hannah Montana back to school stationery set, a purple K-State T-shirt for my cheerleading daughter, some chocolate, and a few other things, and now I sit at the Blue Stem drinking an IRISH COFFEE (it’s a long weekend) and packaging all this stuff up. I'm also sending a package of chocolate to a chocoholic friend in
Monday, August 11, 2008
September 12, 2007.
In the past several months I have had the joy of sipping on espresso in both Austria and Switzerland with a great group of friends. It was the friendship that made the moment, but the coffee beans simply infused that friendship with great memories.
Today I submitted an application for a managerial or executive position with Caribou coffee. I don't know if any of this will come to fruition, but it would be just as fun to work behind the counter and serve up some great lattes.
I have consumed a lot of the espresso drug in recent weeks while exploring Alaska's oil fields, Mount McKinley, and my Mom's house. Fairbanks, AK claims the worlds greatest number of drive-thru espresso stands per capita in the world. For a population of about 75, 000 souls (and a few moose), there is an espresso stand on nearly every main street or thoroughfare, and their prices are competitive with Starbucks (which by the way, has not made inroads in this interior city, except for brands sold at the supermarket and bookstore). But what does all of this have to do with the price of tea in China? Nothing. All of this coffee has not really helped me reflect on the status of my life and the chaos that surrounds it. I have been working pretty hard and staying very busy, and have not had much time for true reflection and resting in God's shadow. A 36 hour round-trip drive on dirt roads to Prudhoe Bay on the Artic Ocean should have given me time for thought, but the unimproved roads jostled my brain and body so much that I developed ADHD (and the coffee didn't help).
June 2, 2007.
Well, its June already. Four days until the anniversary of D-Day. Drove through the Normandy coast recently. Walked the beaches where countless thousands of patriots and volunteers sacrificed their lives, for the freedom of a people and a continent that hardly remembers, it seems.
What would the world be like if we all learn to sacrifice for others at that level. Expecting nothing in return.
Its good to have a concept for your future. You realize your options, you think about them, and you walk through them. But its best to give them to God. We have much more "control" over our future than our past. That is a truth.
I know that it is important that we surrender our lives to God. But I don't think he just wants us to sit back for the ride. As Christians we are to be proactive. I just reread II Chronicles, just to examine the life of David (sinful choices and consequences) and then see how his era passed into the era of Solomon. None of those guys just sat back. They made decisions, sometime really poor decisions, but they made them.
I have enjoyed reading a book called Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus recently. McManus is part of a real life church group that meets in a bar in
I am fully committed to being engaged during the rest of my life. I have some hangups now. I can't see around a lot of my roadblocks, but I am not sitting back anymore.
I used to be caught up in this "glamorous" and mysterious career. But I have let go of that. I told one friend I would be happy being a Barrista at Starbucks, as long as I could really live (but she told me you had to be a woman or gay to be a Barrista).
May 12, 2007.
So, today is my youngest daughter's 11th Birthday. That amazes me. This miracle of life. I am an absentee Dad, I pondered over my Saturday morning cup of coffee.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
There is no fear in Love. Perfect love drives out all fear. 1John4:18
(extract notes from various emails I have sent…)
Funniest line I heard in a FDNY (Fire Department of New York) themed
So you guys usually pick up girls in the supermarket for fun?
No, I usually just throw them over my shoulder and carry them down the stairs!!!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
What's choking you??
Do you remember when Jesus was telling his disciples about the farmer dude who planted a whole bunch of seeds in different types of soils during planting season? Those seeds all reacted quite differently according to the type of soil in which they were planted. I believe the soil you really want to stay away from is the soil that contains a lot of weeds. Those weeds will choke your seeds, or the resulting plant, to death. It seems Jesus often communicated to his disciples and us through these crazy little stories called parables. He rarely laid down the law. He simply suggested that people ought to do what they know they should do. He usually ended his parables with a statement like: "He who has ears, let him hear." One of my pastors at The Well, Matt, once spoke about how complex our relationship with God is. When you think about it, along with everything else in the universe it really is mind-bogglingly complex and unfathomable…yet, if we truly know God, our relationship with Him can really be quite simple. When we don't trust God, then that is often when we end up in those weed-choking predicaments of life. Partly, I guess, it's because we choose not to listen. Even though we have ears. I have had ears my entire life, at least as far as I know. I've seen the baby pictures. Whether it was excess ear wax or the foreign language that was spoken, there were many times in my life when I chose not to listen. I allowed the weeds to grow up in my life and choke me out. I was down for the count, and oxygen deprived, and failed to recover, until Jesus did some major landscaping in my life. I think when most of us get choked, like full throttle choked, it's because of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what's going to happen…to us. Fear is like lack of faith. Somewhere else Jesus asks us if, by worrying, we can add a single hour to our lives. I believe Jesus knew what he was talking about. Today, at The Well, Matt defined worry as failure to…be here. That is not really a complex statement at all. But, to me, it's quite profound. When we live in the past or when we begin to contemplate the future with little knowledge of how things will actually turn out, we stop trusting in God's sovereign plan. I don't necessarily subscribe to my Muslim friends' "in'sahalla" answer to every one of life's challenges. They often live quite fatalistically and resort to inaction when faced with a problem. What I mean is, in reality there are consequences for every one of our actions or inactions. That is a law of physics I learned in high school. I got a "B" in that class. We have to live life in the here and now and make decisions and be proactive while simultaneously Do you know what epinephrine is? If I had scored higher than a "B" in chemistry class I could probably tell you what the chemical compound breakdown consisted of, but I didn't so I won't. Epinephrine is really the same thing as adrenaline. One reason we worry so much, Matt suggests, is that we never observe "Shabbat", the day of rest that the old testament of the Bible talks about. I learned recently that God doesn't require us to observe the Sabbath for HIM, but rather he wants us to observe the Sabbath for US. Do you know we need a day of rest, because during a typical week we tend to be so shot up and high on epinephrine that we can't rest. Americans can be so production driven, and every time we start producing or thinking about producing our adrenaline starts flowing. And that sure causes a heck of a lot of worry. Apparently almost anything we "do" will instigate the flow of epinephrine through our bodies. This could simply be driving our cars, working through a project at the office, being involved in an argument, receiving a smile from a pretty woman, or even logging on to your computer to check emails or read someone's blog! And once epinephrine is releases, it might take hours to dissipate. All of that just to say that we need to rest. If we take one day of the week and do almost nothing, or at least change our routine, I think we will notice a huge difference. Can you imagine a day when you don't drive anywhere, don't check any email, or even watch TV? It would probably take some getting used to. You might go through epinephrine withdrawal. But it would drastically change your life. We need to stop worrying so much. The wise writer, Solomon, in Ecclesiastes realized this. He boiled it down to there being a season for every thing, so quit getting so stressed out about what happened or what might happen. So, what is choking you? Live for the future by choosing to be well and weed-free today. trusting in God's will.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Donald Miller writes in his book Searching for God Knows What,
29 June 2008
Now it is Sunday. I enjoyed our eclectic worship gathering at the Well this morning. We focused on worshiping God through fellowship, and specifically in sharing meals…Matt showed us though scripture how often God related to people through feasting and breaking bread, as they used to say. These events bring us together and they help us remember. In the old days people were given specific commands to remember by celebrating through big dinners like the feast of tens, the feast of unleavened bread, etc. Jesus frequently met with people over a meal, and of course is pretty well known for his last supper. We really do connect with people a lot more deeply when we are sharing a meal. Ya know? Right now, I want to share a cup of coffee with someone, and since I'm at the Blue Stem (AGAIN!), I guess I'm sharing coffee with a lot of people. I'm not really talking to many of them though, except Beth the barrista, who was also at the Well this morning, and my friend Siul, who drove here with me.
I looked at my journal notes from last week, and I wrote this status update (now expired):
"…having been given much, still wanting to do something more exciting with this life, but not necessarily with a uniform and body armor, for I'm reluctant to be blown to smithereens…"
I think I'm still in that place. But, as I, look beyond the frustrations, I realize it has been a really good week of examining and seeing truth in the day to day, and moving forward. We often don't see our role or purpose when we are staring at the floor, on looking where our feet take us along the journey, I think. But when we get outside of ourselves, take a look at the aerial view, we can see the progress a little clearer. I reconnected with a really old friend this week (she's not really old, and neither am I), and we discussed some of the deepest, most painful things that have affected our lives. It is eerily uncanny how much these tragedies we have both experienced in life parallel. And God has begun to move mountains before and through our lives.
I don't make it a habit to study Greek like some of my crazy friends, but I always find it fascinating to see who significant the choice of words, can, through translation, affect the intended outcome of a statement. For example, in Greek, I think, there are several words that describe hearing or understanding. The word "Ous", is like detecting a faint whisper. But "Akuom" is like really understanding what that whisper is conveying. I really like that. You Greek scholars can correct me if you want. Do you ever feel like, when you are trying to make a decision, or are confused about something, you suddenly begin to detect a faint whisper? Usually you won't hear that whisper at all, until you quiet yourself and stop all the stressing, complaining, and fear. I think that tugging on our hearts and that whisper is the Holy Spirit telling us, "its going to be alright". Sometimes all we need to hear is "I Love You" faintly whispered in our ear. The warm breath of those three words whispered by a lover, can be more comforting than anything else in this world. And yet, when we reach Akuom, and begin to really discern what that sweet whisper is saying we KNOW that it will be alright.
Here is an apology that someone important once wrote to me. I rediscovered it this afternoon while leafing through my old Bible. It was written on a crumpled piece of paper obscurely hidden in the back leaf of the cover. As I read through the note, I was tearfully taken aback at the reality of the fact that it should have been me apologizing to her. In her letter, she said that she learned that if she wanted something she should seek it by honest means, rather than through lies and deceit. Lies just catch up with you, she wrote. But more importantly, she goes on, lying destroys relationship and trust. There is such simple truth in that statement; Truth that we often learn through so much incredible pain sometimes. In concluding her apology, she quotes the band, Pillar: "If I could, I'd take back all the lies and all of those times I hurt you. I don't know if I'll ever know exactly how much I hurt you; and knowing that hurts me everyday."
If I could, I would take back all the lies.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
This is how I felt last night…driving through that very same storm in
After another 45 minutes, my fellow safetyseekers and I decided to head West before something else blew in. Except for one fuel stop, I kept the pedal to the medal all the way to the Colorado Border, where, at about 0230 AM, with drooping eyes, and a post adrenaline attack crash, finally found a truck stop. I managed to brush my teeth before falling into a dead sleep in the reclined passenger seat of my faithful Subaru. I woke up about four hours later with a mild case of frost-bite beginning to grow on my toes.
I arrived in the Springs about an hour or so later, and reacquainted myself with that sprawling little city nestled in the foothills of
Monday, June 9, 2008
Many events and feelings have occurred since I last wrote. I have been quite lazy in keeping up with my writing. And now I don’t remember much…it’s all jumbled together.
Tornados, firing many powerful weapons, experiencing the heat and discomfort of wearing body armor for hours at a time, knowing that perhaps, one day it will save my life; all the while still wondering what my role is in all this madness of countering an evil insurgency.
Losing contact with my daughters even more, missing them until it hurts, and then fighting the desire to miss them so it doesn’t hurt so much; realizing tonight that they now have a baby sister as Kelli has given birth to some other man’s daughter: the ultimate betrayal, with which I have no basis to judge or hold grudge.
Traveling though Kansas to visit my dear friend who wallows behind bars for 9 more months, yet remains at peace with where God has him at the moment.
Forgetting to cancel reservations at an extremely expensive Hilton Hotel in
Searching for God knows what.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I sit in the corner by a window. In my peripheral vision I count a hundred legs passing by on the sidewalk outside, their owner's identities and features concealed by the half-closed blinds that also shelter me from the setting sun's last burning rays of this warm Saturday evening in late May. Sitting there I ponder the valleys and summits of my life, presently feeling abandoned, perhaps having lost my grip and anchor on the climb, but knowing I can only continue to ascend this mountain, even without my belay. Jazz music disturbs the still, quiet air in Radina's Roastery. The normally packed and lively coffee house is quite empty, most likely because of the
Though I haven't had an intimately emotional relationship with a woman in over two years, this band of gold that is engraved on my left hand keeps my heart focused on what is most important, and not distracted by the bombardment of opportunities that seek to fruitlessly occupy that missing void in my life. I don't feel bombarded right now. But I do desire friendship. That is part of my humanity that sometimes bubbles up to the surface of who I am, I guess. I feel like I'm living in a foreign land these days, a prairieland of faces and voices I do not recognize or understand. The day to day life I am becoming accustomed to in my new environment is full of the lost and profane. As much as I want to connect with my co-workers and the people I live with, as much as I want to share the truth and peace and hope and joy with them, I am constricted. I thank God for some of the opportunities I have had, and I am thankful for a new brother I have recently met, but its certainly not the same as the brotherhood and sisterhood of friends I recently left in Europe, and the wonderful families who took me in during my pilgrimage across this continent in recent months.
Since I won't connect with anyone at Radina's tonight, I take my last sip of now cold Cappuccino, wish the Barrista good night, and exit onto the now dark sidewalk. The vampires have emerged, and I'm not one of them. Scores of students, and the occasional Soldier or Sailor, move up and down the streets of Aggieville in clusters, some already intoxicated, through alcohol, or perhaps the spirit of friendship or desire, but most heading for the countless themed bars and hangouts that pump gyrating or rocking music into the night.
Later as I drive back to base I pass by fraternity and sorority houses, overflowing onto the lawns with young people, drinks in hand, laughing, and enjoying the warm Spring night. Their final exams have ended, many have graduated, and all have turned a new chapter in their lives. What will they be doing in a year? Some will be back in school. Some will be employed. Some will take pride in wearing the uniform I now wear. I can't help but wonder, though, are they wasting their lives, like I did for so much of mine?