An Engaging Adventure

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This is a short narrative of how I became engaged to the most wonderful woman I know.
I bought the ring back in June with some idea that I was going to propose before years end but with little clue as to when would be “the right time.” One day I accidentally let Nicole know that I had purchased a ring… my bad. Anyway, I knew at that point that we were not ready for such a commitment so I hid it away and tried not to mention it. Then one day she found it and I’m thinking, “I can’t keep any secrets can I.” But she didn’t look at it then and I knew it was still not time. After that point I moved the ring to a different location and a new box. Guess what… She found it again! This time was on accident and she opened it up not realizing what it was. She threw the ring back into my glove box (great hiding place right?) and began to cry because she felt like she ruined the surprise. I pulled the car over, got out and hugged her, gently assuring her that she had ruined nothing. Eventually, I found a successful hiding place (that or she stopped looking) and that’s when I began plotting the event. I wanted to wait till I was ready and that I felt she was ready. That point of assurance came about 2 weeks before thanksgiving break and I began sharing with select individuals that it would be soon. I packed the ring away in my stuff as I prepared for the trip down to florence and then made no mention of it except to my parents. I think I was able to surprise her because I didn’t have a clue when I was going to propose other than that I knew it was going to be over break. There was, however, one thing that I needed to happen before I popped the question.

We had to go kayaking.

Back when we were still brand new, our first official date was kayaking at her grandparents house. I knew that I wanted to repeat this for our engagement so whenever we were going to go kayaking was when I was going to ask. It turns out that day was thanksgiving day so I brought the ring with me and hid it as best I could in the folds of my hoodie (romantic garb right?). I wanted her mom to know what was going down so when nicole was out of the room I said to her mom, “Before we come back in…” and flashed the ring box to her. Now, fortunately she had been handling onions so it was easy to cover the tears up as the onion getting to her. Then my girlfriend and I were off to what seemed to Nicole as just a relaxing afternoon on the lake.

We spent about a half hour on the water and I did my best to be just as smooth as the water and not even raise a hint of suspicion. But, I can’t hide everything. When we got back to the dock I gave Nicole a hug and she said to me, “Your heart is going really fast.”
“Why do you think that is?” I said
“I don’t know, maybe it’s because I almost fell into the water a moment ago.”
Changing the subject, I said, “We should probably head back up to the house.”

So we walked up off the dock and I was about a step behind her. And I said, “Nicole.” as she turned around, I knelt down on one knee and said, “Will you marry me?” As she turned and saw me kneeling, I heard her repeating to herself over and over, “OhmyGod, OhmyGod, OhmyGod,” and she held my face in her hands. She didn’t answer at first but I had no doubt that she would soon enough.

Now, just to give you a little bit more back story. I have taken up wood carving and become fairly good at it. Some time ago, I carved a wooden heart just small enough to fit inside an old ring box. Back to the story…

I pulled out a box, still waiting upon her answer, and said, “will you accept my heart?” and I opened the box containing the wooden heart I had carved. Just when she was about to give up hope that this was an actual proposal, I pulled out the real ring and stood up and she said yes. And I put it on her finger, all the while her sister was sneaking around behind us taking pictures.

Now, We are engaged!

The beauty of this adventure is that it is the continuation of an old adventure, one in and of itself, and the beginning of an altogether new one. I cannot wait to see what great things come.

Adam

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Manna…

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the bread from Heaven.

Mmm. That sounds delightful doesn’t it? When I read the description of this mysterious phenomenon, I got the image of vast deserts just covered with golden grahams. And not just ordinary golden grahams—but food that is both nutritious and sustaining. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?

At first I’m sure that the Hebrew people thought the same thing. I’m sure they felt like children waking up on Christmas day to a fresh layer of snow. Tasty, tasty snow. But then, what happened?

It only took a short time before they got bored with their manna. What once was new and delicious soon became boring and tiresome. They had the “refrigerator full of food but nothing to eat” mentality and begged God to give them something else, even just to taste.

They may have even sat listlessly looking out on the fields of golden grahams starving for food….any food but that food. This is something that happens to many of us still today.

Jesus said that he is the true bread from heaven. How often do we who have believed look upon this bread and think, “I know that Jesus will fill me up and my cravings for food will go away, but I just don’t want to eat that right now. I will eat anything but that.” So we do it. We take our fill of things other than the golden grahams and gorge beyond our physical capacity. But then what happens? We get sick.  We spit out what we so greedily ate up, and we find that we we’re emptier and so much hungrier than we were before.

This is a sad story, but it doesn’t have to end there. Jesus is right beside us to clean the vomit from our faces and feed us the bread of heaven. He has given us the freedom to eat the “52 piece McNugget meal” and he has the grace to clean us up afterward. Then comes the provision of the Lord where we taste and see that he is the only good sustainer. This is the good news about the Lord: that he didn’t give up on us even when we were too far in a mess to see our mess. Instead, He’s offered us bread from Heaven so that we may be fulfilled.

The next time you are listlessly sitting there with your belly growling and manna just laying around waiting to be eaten…eat the manna. It’s there for you. Listen to that sermon, read that bible chapter, spend that time in prayer.

God won’t give you a desire for something to do with Him if it’s not going to be good.

This is my story. This is what God is saying to me.

The Faithfulness of God

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Have you ever wondered, why can’t I feel God? or Where was God when…?

He was there. Quite often we forget his complete otherness, his holiness, and assume that he’s going to do what we want him to do. But quite often he tells us that this is not the case. One of the main things that he says about himself is that he is who HE is. No matter what we think he should be he remains who he really is. How wonderful! So often we look at ourselves or our friends and wish that they would just be who they are. How wonderful it is that God, despite a multitude of pressures from us, is exactly who he is! This causes God to be the one we call The Rock. Because he will always be who he will always be, we can then go to him for help or security and always he will be exactly who he is. For this reason David called God his fortress. And yet, we continue to say “why did God do ____?” or “When will God help me?”

Surely he will do the things he promises. Surely if he says, “I will give you wisdom if you ask.” He will give you wisdom! Surely if he says, “Seek me and you will find me.” He will be there when you look for him. For it is not the distance of God from us but the blindness to him that causes us to feel like we are far from him. So often we close our eyes to God and imagine that he’s not there but, faithful, he remains. Rejoice in that!

It was by his faithfulness that God rescued us from us. He never left us even though he said we would surely die for our sins. Instead he made it possible for him to take on flesh and die for us so that we wouldn’t have to. Before he sent Christ into the world he was silent for 400 years, but he was never far from us and when the time was right he showed up in such a way that none could have predicted. He chose the lowest of births to bring about the greatest of rebirths. What faithfulness! He suffered the most horrible death humans have ever managed to produce just so we wouldn’t have to suffer any death. He didn’t do this because he liked to suffer. He did it because he couldn’t bear for us to suffer. Finally, one way to look at it, he was so faithful to his relationship with us and to giving life that he returned from death just to be with us. He did these things because we could not. That is truly good news.

Now when we feel that he is far away it is often that we have turned from him rather than he from us. Trust that he is who he says he is and you will never be far from him. Trust that his promises are going to be fulfilled and you will have nothing to doubt. Remain faithful to him during hardship and he will lift you out of the mire. For our God is a faithful god and truly he is good.

There and Back Again

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I must admit I love to hike. Hiking is one of the most rewarding activities that I can think of and it gets even better when you bring along a few friends. Memorial day will certainly be memorable because I went hiking to see Grandfather Mtn with 12 Russians and my childhood friend. We chose the profile trail because it featured a lovely view of the old man in the mount as well as a shot strait up to the peak of the mountain.

Yep, that's him...

The trip to callaway peak was a moderately strenuous 3.7 mile jaunt up the side of the mountain along a rocky trail. The main features included the above view of Grandfather as well as a drink from the Shanty Spring which is so far known to be the coldest spring in the world not fed by glacial or snow melts. At a tasty 42 degrees F this spring is well worth the hike to drink from and adds a delightful recharge a mile or so from the peak.

The trail continues on up the side of the mountain and hooks up with a separate trail that leads between Callaway peak and the Swinging Bridge. We continued on to Callaway and saw one splendid view all across the valleys below. All along the way I listened to many conversations in Russian with a few english words for context. I know very little of what was said but I understand that much of the conversation topic ranged from Christian Marriage to life application of the Christian Faith. While I wasn’t listening to conversations I didn’t understand I was often off taking pictures without people knowing. It’s interesting the details you miss as you walk along the trail. I didn’t see the old man’s face until we were on our way back and his profile burst through the trees in front of us.

All said, I would certainly love to go back out to Grandfather Mountain and explore the many trails throughout the park and perhaps spend a night or 2 camping on its face.

Getting a Head

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Do you ever wonder what people mean when they say “I’m just trying to get a little ahead.”

What are they trying to get ahead of? debt collectors? neighbors? themselves?

What if “getting ahead” looked more like giving than getting? Economically speaking, when resources are shared rather than horded everybody has a net gain. Everyone becomes richer when they share what they have. Perhaps this is why the first “church” was able to grow so well. The resources of the people were given freely and were not bound to individuals in the church as they are today. Perhaps I could get a head rather than get ahead.

The House of Power

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Lately I’ve been pondering the things of God and Christ centered relationship with him. I heard a song lyric where they were saying something about the father living in them. I had to take a second to think about this idea because it sounded like possession which is not cool. In my thoughts I discovered that God isn’t interested in possession at all as a demon spirit would be. Rather, he simply wants to take up residence within us much like you would a house. The Bible tells us about the journey that God took to get to where he could live in us.

In the beginning, after God created man, God walked with us. He was beside us and spoke directly to us. Then, man sinned (aka. disobeying God) and God could no long be in the same place as man. In fact, he was too holy and man would perish by being in his presence. When God made his next major move into the world, he picked a small race of people to call his own and instructed them to make for him a temple. Within this temple he had them construct several barriers with each zone or space closer to him being more and more holy. Finally there was the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies in which God dwelt directly. This place was filled with such immense power that only the highest priest could enter and only once a year at that. Not only was he limited to once a year but he also had to undergo strict cleansing rituals beforehand and have a rope tied to him before he entered the holiest place. This rope was only there because sometimes the chief priest wasn’t cleansed properly and because of this God’s presence overtook him and he died because of the immensity of God’s own power. If the priest died in the inner sanctum then he was dragged out by the rope.

During my puzzling about God, I realized that this holy place is no longer a physical place we can go to visit but more likely it exists within us. This house of power is in our bodies. We who have been chosen are now the dwelling place of a great deity and are thus houses of power. My only question is how can I find this place within myself where I know that God exists in all his holiness. After I find it, can I enter in?

Hiking to the Pinnacle

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I should probably include photos some time on this site…

This last weekend I got some man time with a 4 hour trip up a mountain. My buddy Mike and I decided we needed a good spring workout and some outdoor time so we headed up to Table Rock St. Park and treaded on their Pinnacle Mountain Trail. This is a moderate to very difficult trail but also very beautiful and even more awesome if you go when the water is in flood stage. We went about 5 hours after a storm passed and the little streams formed by the draining mountaintop added a bunch of waterfalls to our trail and plenty of opportunity to get wet.

The trail was moderately hard for the first 2.5 miles. It also happened to be the most beautiful overall stretch of the trail. The following 1.5 miles took us up a great portion of the mountain with rather steep trails and mostly limited views. Plus, all the waterfalls were behind us so the peaceful sound of rushing water was long gone. Around 3.8 miles into the hike we broke out onto one of the many rock faces and got to see one of the most spectacular views of South Carolina. Most of the states is rather flat and gently slopes down to the ocean across the expanse from the blue ridge down to the beach. With the exception of the few river valleys the main altitude shifts occur in the upstate. We could see so many of these from the rock face! and the edge was dizzying as you looked over into the dazzling green forests coming fresh to life after a hard winter.

 

Just past this point the trail rises slightly and remains flat for about a quarter of a mile until you come to the place where the palmetto trail and the Pinnacle Mountain trail split. It’s also the point at which you begin to consider turning back. There’s still 2 tenths of a mile left and the only direction is up. I decided that I had come too far to back out so I took a slow pace up that last portion resting frequently and even crawling at a few places  (I know it sounds pitiful, give me a break, I’ve been inside all winter) but gradually I made it to the top and claimed victory over Pinnacle Mountain.

The hike down was a breeze compared to the hike up and we flew through that portion. Then we jumped into my trusty Escape and drove home to a fresh cooked meal (Thanks Nicole, Chels, and Abby) of fish, salad, shrimp pasta, hummus and pita, oranges, and chicken.

Days like make you realize how wonderful it is to have friends in your life that care about you and want to live it with you.

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