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2004-03-03 - 10:19 a.m.
Josh, they got me. I saw a commercial last night for _Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind_ and wondered if I'd been had. I confess. I had. Been had.

2004-02-29 - 11:29 a.m.
Okay this is scary.

2004-02-20 - 2:55 a.m.
The dude abides.

2004-02-20 - 2:23 a.m.
I was impressed by this article:

2004-02-19 - 12:12 a.m.
This site has become more about posting snippets from my life than baring my soul to the world. However, I will say that I am very excited to be getting married. I am a blessed man. People constantly talk about the hard work of being married. I'm excited to be entering this line of work.

2004-02-19 - 12:10 a.m.
Yesterday while I was trying to find a parking space so I could buy a mocha at the Peet's Coffee in Beverly Hills, I saw Sidney Portier walking toward his black Mercedes. I made eye contact with him and he mouthed the word "hello" to me.

2004-02-16 - 1:25 p.m.
Why do people believe this fraud?

2004-02-16 - 12:49 p.m.
Read Sojourners' serious unpacking of the theology and politics behind Left Behind at::

2004-02-16 - 12:16 p.m.
4 more to go!

create your own visited states map

or write about it on the open travel guide

2004-02-06 - 2:48 p.m.
If you're bored, visit It's sponsored by Barber Shop 2.

2004-02-04 - 1:40 a.m.
A few of you reading this know my ex-roommate and dear friend, Justin. Justin told me at one point that he had a goal of being within one, two or three degrees of separation from everyone in the world. He said that he wanted to meet as many people in the world as possible. I had an idea a few minutes ago. I could start a website where I had a list of people that I have met or communicated with in some way. A person could be listed even if I had an e-mail exchange of some sort with them. Novel idea, huh? I mean, if Karyn Bosnak can get random surfers to donate money and pay off her $20,000 debt (see:, then surely I can convince people to send me an e-mail with their name and city and state. Of course, I suppose the legitimacy of names would have to be checked somehow. Maybe they would have to prove that they are an actual person. Any ideas?

2004-02-04 - 1:25 a.m.
For your amusement, I am posting an e-mail that I sent to Kristen in Dallas. I thought you would all enjoy.


Thena (my fiancee) and I were walking across the USC campus today. She graduated from USC in May and lives about a half a mile away from the campus. She ran into someone she knew when she was still a student. Near the end of their conversation, they started talking about a girl named Lauren. I thought absolutely nothing of this until Thena's friend said that Lauren's e-mail address was [email protected]. Immediately I remembered; I visited her blog after you sent me the e-mail suggesting that we try to connect. I didn't see an e-mail address listed on the blog, so I left a comment and left it at that. I never heard anything from her so I forgot about the whole thing. Get this: Thena and I almost went to a party at her place a couple months ago (of course, I would have not known who she was unless her e-mail address or blog came up in conversation at the party) before she left for England. In fact, if her friend had not mentioned her e-mail address today, I would have been none the wiser. It's amazing how interconnected we are. I don't know if God has a specific purpose for this run in today, but I see no reason why he wouldn't have a purpose. Anyway, I thought you'd enjoy the story.


2004-01-30 - 1:28 p.m.
Please take a few moments to praise "the Lord-ah!" with me:

I just spoke with the supervisor who hired me for the afterschool program in Beverly Hills. My background check went through (and only took a week; my soon-to-be supervisor was prepared for it to take up to 3 weeks). So God sped that part of the process up. I should be going in for orientation next week and working by the end of the week.

Secondly, last night I picked up my new-to-me car. God has worked it out so that I didn't have to put down an initial payment and I have two years to pay it off. I have done absolutely nothing (except pray, which I know is not nothing) about my car situation; so it is very clear that God has arranged it.

I'm not sure exactly what is going on in my spiritual life. I have been unemployed for two months, and I feel like God has asked me to do nothing. (Well, regardless to whether he asked me or whether I said "yes," that is what has happened.) When I say that I've done nothing, I don't mean to say that I've sat on my ass the whole time; in fact, I suspect that God has been doing quite a bit inside of me. The last three days I have begun doing the Catholic Office of Liturgy. It hasn't revolutionized my life, but I feel that I needed some sort of order that came from outside of myself. I enjoy being intuitive and feel like God has used an organic order to keep me moving in the direction in which he desires. ("Organic," by the way, does not make a lot of sense to structured people, I've found. When I've used that word with certain people, they've looked at me as though I were a heretic.) Still, I know that just as wild as God's Spirit is, he is also a God of order. It's funny, though, as much as I love being impulsive and living in the moment, when it comes to reading the bible, not being on some sort of plan feels like too much freedom. Maybe I'm just not mature enough yet to take hold of that freedom. I still have much to grow in faith. When I open the bible and search after my own passage, I am much more prone to second guess myself than if I am reading what I am *supposed to be* reading.

I feel kind of disconnected from my friends across the country. This last summer, I felt very much like my journey was interwoven with the journeys of many other people. I don't feel that as much right now. Please, when you get a chance (be that today, a week from now, or a month from now) drop me a line. Give me your impressions of my journey and where you see me going. Tell me how my journey is related to your journey. Tell me how I can give to you, even though I'm thousands of miles away.


2004-01-30 - 1:06 p.m.
It's time for some stream of consciousness.

There is a Little Caesar's Pizza a few blocks from my apartment. In recent weeks, a young, stocky Latino guy has been employed to stand at the intersection in front of Little Caesar's with a sign advertising a large pizza for five dollars. Instead of merely standing, however, he wore a pair of headphones and danced to what seemed to be a salsa rhythm emanating from his headphones. He moved the sign in rhythm, as though it were a shaker. In all the times I've driven by, I've never seen him stop to take a break.

And then, two days ago I drove by and saw a shy, lanky boy standing as still as a statue at said intersection. He looked depressed, as though someone had just run over his mother. My heart sunk. Where was my salsa dancer? I definitely felt no compulsion to eat Little Caesars pizza. I only felt sad for the plight of young men who must sell their bodies so that people will buy more pizza.

But today when I drove through the intersection, my man was back. And the shy, lanky boy was also there on the diagonal side of the intersection with sign in hand. Still, he stood unmoving. Perhaps Mr. Caesar had brought back our perambulatory pizza peddler to teach his understudy a few lessons. At any rate, everything in the world seemed right for a few, fleeting seconds.

2004-01-27 - 4:22 p.m.
This is not a final draft, by any means, but here are some more words:

Perhaps I shouldn�t place the blame

On the head of just one man.

Heaven knows the seed of shame

In the heart of every man.

So won't you please vote Jesus in �04.

2004-01-27 - 4:04 p.m.
Here are some more words:

He stole a sword from God

And just like Pharoah�s rod,

He wields it where he will

Because the only path to peace

Is the road to victory.

2004-01-27 - 3:49 p.m.
Here are some words to a song I started to write yesterday. I go back and forth in my heart as far as what I think is the believer's place in politics. I don't like choosing sides (and labeling them "the Christian view"), but I do think that we have a responsibility to be aware of and stand up against evil and as a witness to the Word of God.

I'm sorry to say

The president today

Is not Jesus Christ.

No, he won't suffice;

He's no bread of life.

2004-01-23 - 6:01 p.m.
Things do not always go as I want them to. Things do not always go as I want them to. Things do not always go as I want them to.

I am still learning this lesson. The thing that gets me is that a large part of the reason that I still live with this unconscious feeling of entitlement to "my way" is that God has been so faithful in his protection and providence. He has provided for me so many times, forgiven me so many times that when he doesn't, I am shaken. Why isn't he doing things how I want him to do them?

What has brought about these thoughts? Well, once again, I am near having zilch in my bank account and frustrated that it is taking so long to get started at the afterschool program in Beverly Hills. But when did God promise that he would take care of me in a particular way? Or in a particular time frame? Jesus only promised that the Father would take care of us each day. I feel like I have taken sips from this freedom from time to time; today I find myself frustrated. I must keep the hope alive.

When I first started blogging and reading other people's blogs, I was excited by the possibility of blogs connecting people and about how people could share their lives with one another. However, it is just as easy to hide behind seemingly introspective words that don't tell the whole story as in any other form of communication. I have noticed how I can lie to myself even in my own journaling.

I want to be the person I think I should be. The perfect fiancee, the perfect disciple. The truth is: I am a ragamuffin. I am reading Brennan Manning's _A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred_ and I am brought back to the most important realization of all human history: Jesus is the center. It sounds so simple to say or type this. And it is simple to say or type it. What does it mean, "Jesus is the center"? Do I get to just go along with my life as I had before I uttered the words in my heart, "Jesus is the center"? No. And yet the fact remains: absolutely nothing I do on my own ever makes me worthy of the love of God. The only thing we can ever do to please God is to receive his love and to believe he is who he says he is. Of course, if we truly believe in our heart, transformation and new actions will follow. There is an inescapable circle here. Real and lasting change in my life will never occur outside of the sheer grace of God. Nothing will change until I internalize "Jesus is the center" in my heart.

Jesus is the center. Jesus lives in my heart. These words can remain pious slogans and propaganda or the Creator of all things can breathe life into them and they become nothing short of the source of all radical and wild life in the universe.

No theological tome or biblical commentary will ever contain the power that lies in the simple belief that Jesus is the center.

2004-01-22 - 8:41 a.m.
Mom, why won't you get me a Hilary Duff credit card?!

2004-01-22 - 12:13 a.m.
I bought a pint of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food ice cream tonight. I was reminded of my birthday last year when Josh and Aimee shaped what had to be 3 or 4 pints of Phish Food into the shape of a fish. Josh and Aimee, your friendships are irreplaceable.

2004-01-10 - 4:53 p.m.
I have cut and paste this essay from

where are the prophets? By Shane Claiborne

Somehow we got in. An "anonymous" person gave us the secret passes[1]. And so we strolled right into the main arena of the Republican National Convention, just as George W. Bush was about to give his big acceptance speech. Sweet Providence. We were dropped off at the front door by our own private golf cart. The friendly, enthusiastic GOP volunteers escorted us in (we need not fear their surveillance too much!). So there I was in my young Republican suit and tie attire (complete with a little gold elephant pin). But underneath I was ready. We were able to get very close, about 20 yards from the stage. After his introduction, as soon as the thundering applause faded into the eager silence.

I rose to my feet, tore off my disguise to reveal a shirt, which read: "Woe to those who deprive the poor of their rights" (Isaiah 10). At the top of my lungs I quoted the Scripture. People panicked. In their distress the conventioneers tried to drown me out by interrupting George's first words with applause. The ovation died down. And the words of Jesus blared forth: "Blessed are the poor... but woe to you who are rich" (Luke 5). Again they clapped. Then Romans 8 (Creation is groaning for liberation!). Security people ran frantically. I was soon pounced by the secret service, and removed. The secret service locked me in a closet so "we could talk". I heard them say, "Maybe we can charge him with protesting... if so, we can hold him for several days." So they came back in, 'Are you a protestor?" I thought for a second (a very brief second). "No Sir," I said boldly, "I am not a protestor... I am a prophet." I was held in custody a bit longer, and then released, with no charges.

The world is desperately in need of prophets. The church needs prophets. Protestors are everywhere. But prophets are hard to come by. Protestors act out of a loving anger. Prophets act out of an angry love. Protestors are still on the fringes like appendages, revolving around the system. But the prophets and poets lead us into a new world, rather than simply yelling at the old one.

I remember hearing on the news before the convention: "Hundreds of professional protestors are coming to town... Stay tuned to hear how Philadelphia is getting ready." Professional protestors! While I laughed hysterically at the thought of people trying to make a living at this stuff ("what does your daddy do?")... I was reminded by how nicely protestors fit into the system. The Republicans feel powerful, by the mere fact that so many people have recognized them and their domination. No one cares what the protestors are protesting, just that there are protests are enough. People watch it on TV and know that they are not 'one of those', and teach their kids the comfort of slavery rather than the slavery of comfort. Or the sympathetic liberals applaud their valiant courage as if someone made a touchdown.

So we decided not to protest the convention. We decided to dance -- to pray, to worship, to shine. Each day we met to breathe, in the midst of the chaos. These times of unity and reflection were not so much a protesting action as much as a prophetic boogie -- not an attempt to persuade the Republicans with our logic but to woo them with our love. For we long for them to be free of their guns and riches. Imagine the chains which hold George W. Bush captive --murder after murder, death warrant after death warrant. The protestors want the prisoners to be free. So do the prophets, but the prophets realize that Gov. Bush is also a prisoner. We did not waste our energy protesting the system. We spent our time calling forth a new way of life, joining the groaning of the poor masses.

And if the Empire's media cannot make the "protestors" out to be violent terrorists and thereby justify their disposal, incarceration, or murder, then the system will try to seduce them into violence by meeting the protestors with clubs and tanks and tear gas, hoping they will panic into violence. But they can beat us with their weapons. They have more guns and bullets. But what about love? How can they "beat" us at love? They are completely disarmed by love.

What is the prophets do not succumb too the system's violent weapons and remain people of peace, what them? Perhaps then the system will try to hail them as the true patriots, fighting for a better America... staying true to the Declaration of Independence that when a government becomes destructive, it is "the right of the people to alter or to abolish it". They are just good Americans. NO.

We are not patriotic protestors. We do not belong to this world. We belong to the poor. We belong to the refugees. We belong to the children of Iraq. We belong to the kids in the sweatshops. We belong to those in the dumps and tent cities. We are not protestors. We are the people of the new world.

Empires destroy. Why do we protest as if we expect something else of an empire? They may be able to stop us from tearing down the old world... but they cannot stop is from creating a new one. For we have been born again. At the Convention I met prophets who no longer tried to save the Titanic, nor even tried to get people into lifeboats... They were yelling: "Get out before you drown, Jump -- and we�ll walk. Jump. The Promised Land is here, right before out eyes."

2004-01-09 - 3:29 p.m.
I checked out _Man in Black_, an autobiography penned by Johnny Cash in 1975, yesterday at the Los Angeles Public Library. The day before I ordered _The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash_ from a bookstore. I suppose that I'm another person jumping on the Johnny Cash bandwagon and confess that I know nothing more about him than a bare outline of his life (although I did buy a Johnny Cash's greatest hits album three years ago). Nevertheless, I am drawn to him and how he seemed to make so many mistakes and yet be so open about them in his music and writings. I secretly want to be Johnny Cash, although I probably could never be such a badass. I'll have to post some more thoughts about the man in black after I've read the books.

2004-01-07 - 11:23 a.m.
I had a great Christmas with Thena and her family. 'Twas nice to get away from Los Angeles for awhile. On Christmas eve (well, at about 2 in the morning) I proposed to Thena. We are looking at a wedding in late April or May somewhere in Northern California, maybe in the Redwoods. The changes that this means are a little scary, but I'm more excited than anything else to embark on this part of the journey.

I hope everyone's new year is going well.

2003-12-20 - 8:41 p.m.
Well, I played with Thena at Genghis Cohen last night. There weren't as many people there as I hoped would be, but there are also other things I can do next time to try to get some more people to come out. I feel good about my playing and my singing. Thena's background vocals made some of my songs sound fuller. I hope mine did, too, when I sung backup for her.

Genghis Cohen has two parts; one side is a Chinese restaurant, and the other has a stage and rows of pews. They have a good sound system, and Terry the sound guy really took his job seriously.

2003-12-19 - 9:19 a.m.
Thank you to all those people praying for me. I went to interview for a position in an afterschool program in Beverly Hills a couple of weeks ago. Initially I felt that God was in the midst of it because I found out about the position from a guy who came in to Guitar Center. He actually was an acquaintance of another employee who worked in Accessories and had told him about the job. I have also applied at other places in the last few weeks, but have not received any responses from any of them. (Of course, as soon as I start working at the afterschool program, I'm sure I'll be flooded by calls.)

The last few weeks have been up and down as far as my trust in God goes. Sometimes I have wondered if I am doing enough to find a job; at other times I have been able to rest in Jesus' promise that he will take care of us on a daily basis. Once again I thank you for your prayers and I thank God for his faithfulness. I spoke with the person who interviewed me and he told me that as soon as my background check goes through at the Department of Justice, I will formally be offered the job. However, I will probably not be able to start until the middle of January so I still ask that you pray that God would take care of my expenses for the beginning of January.

I will be going with Thena to Sacramento for Christmas and will get to meet her family. I'm looking forward to getting to know them and spending some time out of Los Angeles. We'll spend a couple of days in San Francisco, too, which I've only driven through so I'll enjoy exploring there, as well.

Tonight I have my first gig in L.A. I would appreciate your prayers that God would use me and that his spirit would be present. And that I would relax and enjoy the whole thing. I have no idea how many people are going to be there--that's really the only thing I'm concerned about.

2003-12-18 - 9:48 a.m.
I just read Nathan's blog about Chuck Colson's article and Brian McLaren's response. And then I read a review at of McLaren's book _A New Kind of Christian_. The reviewer was not impressed with it. I haven't read the book so I really can't make a judgment on the review, but I did notice that the reviewer is the author of a book named _Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England_. It reminds me that as humans we have a tendency to gravitate toward and latch onto pet philosophies and defend them as if they are the absolute truth. I have no idea about the reviewer's actual attachment to Puritanism, but I would guess that if he's written a book about Puritanism than he has more than a passing interest in the subject. However, how can you chose one place or time period in the church and hold this up as the most right? (Again, I have no idea if the reviewer actually does this; but I know from my own experience how tempting it is to simplify in such a way.) I just wonder if the modern/post-modern argument is as nearly as important as anyone thinks it is. Did the widow who gave two mites argue over such things? I like dialog, I like discussion; I just wonder how much of the discussion is about defending your own way of seeing things rather than actually pursuing truth.

2003-12-17 - 12:50 p.m.
I haven't written much about Thena because I wasn't sure how she would feel about me sharing her on a blog with the rest of the world. However, she has given me complete freedom to do so, so I will.

Last week I was with Thena as she recorded a four song demo with a guy named Phil Blackman who engineered Pras' Ghetto Superstar album. I was amazed by how well Thena was able to hit each vocal take right off the bat. Even Phil said that Thena was easy to work with because vocalists usually are very difficult to work with; it takes a long time to get a good track (or enough good parts from all of the takes--since with ProTools you can cut and paste now). They were recording in a practice room on a G4 and yet the sound quality of the finished product rivaled anything you might hear on a CD. I was grateful to be able to share that experience with Thena and to be able to support her. That's one good thing about not having a job right now. (Although I still would appreciate your prayers!)

I love Thena dearly. At the beginning of our relationship, I heard God telling me that it was okay for me to open up my heart to her--which was a blessing considering the confusion and turmoil I've felt in past attempts at relationships. I know that she is the one. She has been a joy in my life and I hope that everyone who reads this has the opportunity to meet her one day. She has a heavenly voice and is a beautiful woman, but it's her heart, above all, that I've fallen in love with.

2003-12-05 - 12:27 p.m.
I drove up to Ventura (a town about two hours north of L.A.) with Thena yesterday. It was nice to get out of the city and bum around a small town for awhile. A town that has a Main St. and rows of business up and down the street.

I'd appreciate your prayers that I would find a job. I've been borrowing a car and the person I've been borrowing it from is coming back early. I'd really appreciate your prayers.

I hope everyone is doing well.

2003-12-02 - 1:23 p.m.
Finally some spare time to write. I never know where to start when I haven't written in awhile. I can definitely think of a few things that need to be said. God is amazing. It's amazing how he takes care of us regardless of where we are--whether we're joyful or sorrowful, seeing with clarity or confused, courageous or fearful, clean or dirty. First of all, I got a call yesterday from my new insurance company and was told that I had a refund check from my old insurance company. In the past I would have been tempted to say it was just coincidence or to say, "Well, I had the refund check coming to me anyway. It wasn't necessarily God." But the girl at the insurance company said that she had been trying to get a hold of me. I'm not sure for how long, but it's quite possible that if I got the check a month ago I might not have been wise in spending it. I wasn't sure how I was going to be pay for all of my expenses for the beginning of December and so the check definitely came at the right time.

Secondly, I gave my two-week's notice to Guitar Center a week ago. Today I was pulled in by the manager and given my last check and told that I didn't have to work this week, even though I'm getting paid for 40 hours this week. I just feel God continuing to urge me to trust him.

One of my biggest struggles is against fear. It's especially frustrating because I have peace about the safety of my soul, and in my mind I know that nothing can separate me from the love of God. But the fear in me is deep-seated and seems to cling to some of the deepest places in me. It's weird because people have told me that I have a gentle spirit--and I do have a passion for expressing the gentleness of God; but sometimes I cannot become still. Sometimes I am even attacked by evil thoughts against God and even though I know in my heart that I do not desire these thoughts and that they do not come from me they still seem like they are my thoughts. It boggles my mind that God has enabled me to do some very bold things in my life and in other ways I am still very much a coward. Faith is all that I have and sometimes that doesn't even seem enough. I guess I'm supposed to walk through the struggle trusting that God will keep me safe and whole.

Something else that needs to be mentioned. When I was in the car accident a couple of months ago I was on my way to work. Before I went to work I stopped at Starbuck's to get some coffee. I was in shock from the accident and felt like my world might be crumbling around me. While I was waiting for my coffee I noticed Bob Marley singing from the speakers, "Now don't you worry; cuz every little thing, it's gonna be allright." Thanks, Jesus.

2003-11-21 - 4:50 p.m.
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

--Matthew 6:34

2003-11-18 - 12:48 p.m.
I'm listening to Stevie Ray doing 'Little Wing' to get my dose of Texas today.

2003-11-18 - 12:12 p.m.
I don't have anything in particular to write about today, but I haven't written in awhile so I thought I would attempt to send some sort of message out.

I'm in this strange place: I don't like my job; my car's registration is about to be up and it would cost at the very least $1000 to get it up to smog standards; my current roommate does not have a job, and I'm not sure whether I'm going to be in this location next month. I'm in this strange place because I don't really feel overwhelmed by anxiety about how it's all going to be taken care of, but at the same time I can't say I like still being in this transitional place. I wish things were a little more settled.

So I think in my last post I mentioned that I have a show lined up in December. I would love to find a way for all those people who have supported me to be a part of this event somehow. If anyone has any creative ideas, please let me know. I've mentioned this idea before, but I'm intrigued by building a career in which it is not the artist that is given center stage, but where community is given center stage; one where the listener is as much at the center of the progression of the career as the musician is. Maybe that still sounds kind of vague. I think some musicians have already done something like that. Willie Nelson is kind of bigger than the person of Willie Nelson. The 4th of July picnic concert that he headlines has a life of its own that is bigger than the ego of Willie.

Maybe I'm just talking about the difference between an engaged way of living and a passive way of living. If you go see a concert by [MegaPopStar X], you are basically sitting back and passively accepting the same concert that was given the previous night in Little Rock. You have to do nothing, but sit back and be aroused. Some artists strive to engage the audience; they realize that a concert--a career--is a two-way thing. The first band that came to mind was Sigur Ros. When I saw them in Houston, there was one song where there is a 30 second space of silence. There was not a single clap or word spoken during this half minute. The crowd was engaged and participating in that silence just as fully as the band was.

So I don't really have a point or know what I am saying: but what would happen if this monumental music was created by the Spirit and all the egos fell away. What if it were as desparate as our every living breath and not about the contracts and promo pictures? Am I a lunatic dreamer?

2003-11-07 - 10:16 a.m.
To my friend: I do remember and I will continue to remember.

Okay, so I just lost all the text that I was about to post because I accidentally clicked on the back arrow.

So this is going to be a much shorter post than it would have been, but here is the gist: I've moved into Hollywood and I'm only about 10 minutes from work (as opposed to an hour when I was living in San Gabriel). I didn't have access to the internet this past month, but I do now so I hope to post on a regular basis.

I miss everyone, but you are not forgotten.

I have met a girl named Thena who is an amazing songwriter, besides being a very cool person. That description is just the tip of the iceberg. Thena scheduled a show for me in December at a place called Genghis Cohen, which I guess is where a lot of acoustic songwriters play in town.

I promise my next post will be longer and more in-depth; I just didn't have the patience to retype everything I had just typed.

E-mail me!



2003-10-09 - 5:20 p.m.
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

Thanks for this verse, Josh.

This week I have seen a lot of the worry and fear that still exists in me. Each step along the way this summer God has provided for me, I wish I didn't still have trouble trusting him. Some of what is going on is that God is changing stuff in me that needs to be changed. But I think part of the fear is the enemy attacking me, too. I appreciate your prayers.

Thanks for being part of my journey.

2003-10-08 - 12:19 p.m.
Stacy, thanks for your kindly reaching out. I do want to communicate; I want to be a part of the party. I don't have consistent internet access, but I know that everyone has been praying for me and I'm grateful for that.

I've been feeling a bit like I'm a stranger in a strange land. And it's not because I haven't meant kind and giving people here. (Thena, Jeremy and Dan are the names of people who have welcomed me in to their community.) Becoming part of a community takes work.

I've had a tough couple of days. I've felt my spirit attacked and have really struggled with fear. I was in a fender bender on Tuesday and my brain apparently stopped working because I didn't think to get the info on the person I hit--although I did give him mine. It's amazing the amount of shame I felt for messing up. I felt really scared about the fact that I didn't change my insurance over to California insurance quickly enough. And, of course, my imagination ran wild with scenes of the other driver sueing me for hospital bills and the fear that I would have to pay for damages because my insurance company might not pay because I've been out here for more than thirty days....I would greatly, greatly appreciate your prayers that the other driver is okay, doesn't sue, and that my insurance company pays for any damages to his car. And I guess most importantly, I would ask you to pray that God would allow me to completely abandon myself to him. That I would enter his rest. I heard him telling me on the same day of the accident that it's not my responsibility, that all of my debt is not my burden--that he will take care of it.

Psalm 34 has been my life line this week:

4 I sought the LORD , and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

9 Fear the LORD , you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.

I so want to utterly depend on him, but I seem to constantly battle with fear. I so badly want to be a fearless warrior and it cuts right to the heart when I seem to wilt with the slightest trouble. I guess I have to keep learning that it is his strength which makes me courageous. Maybe I had this recent battle in my spirit because I had determined the week before to stick out this adventure until it was clear where God is taking me. I had decided to not run back to comfort. I miss you all and sorry I'm behind on e-mails. Know that I think of and pray for you.

2003-09-22 - 12:53 a.m.
A thought that has crossed my mind in the past week, but that I haven't wanted to share because I didn't know why I had it: Reading the blogs of those people in Austin or those people moving to Austin has made me wonder if I should move there; but not "should" in the way of "Is that what I'm supposed to do?" or "Is that what God wants me to do?", but in the sense of "That sounds like a cool idea. Am I going to do that?" I didn't share it because I wasn't sure whether it was just a passing idea or whether there was anything substantial to it.

The reason that I share it now (even though the reason I had the thought is no more clear) is that I deeply need to share my journey with the people that I love. I know there are limitations to blogs, e-mails and even phone calls; I know nothing can replace day-in-day out, face-to-face interaction; I know that if I am in L.A. for any length of time that I need to become involved with a community here. But those of you who have been with me this summer--in whichever way it has been--you are all a part of my journey. I need to stop hiding from people. I suppose it's easier to share all of this thousands of miles away, but, hey, it's a start.

So, in the midst of these thoughts about moving to Austin, I meet up with this guy named Chad who has a band named Paloma. His songs are really well-constructed, are catchy, and have heart. He's looking for a lead guitarist and is interested in me. It's a little daunting because the last guitarist who played with him is really good. Something in me tells me that if I practiced hard and got someone to help me out, then I could learn the parts. The band has already recorded an album, and Chad doesn't want to waste any more time on egos or irresponsility.

It's late. I'm not even going to address any more of my thoughts on the possibility. So I come to another fork in the road.

2003-09-20 - 1:31 a.m.
Our existence is laced with such beauty; why do we so easily become blind to it? I do not ask this question as a sentimental Pollyanna. Nor do I ignore the suffering of our existence in asking it.

Recently I have been experiencing fits of nostalgia for friends and places in Texas. Here is the etymology of "nostalgia" lifted straight from Meriam-Webster:

New Latin, from Greek nostos return home + New Latin -algia; akin to Greek neisthai to return, Old English genesan to survive, Sanskrit nasate he approaches

Nostalgia can have a negative connotation to it. It can be seen as(and sometimes is) a living in the past or some mythical time that never existed in order to avoid the present. But there is something deeper here. When I am nostalgic about Houston, it is about things that are, in fact, good: Sundays at Diedrich, walking through downtown late at night, eating with friends at Brazil. When we are close to these things they tend to lose their luster. We may recognize and experience their safety at the cost of their freshness. Is there a way to experience these treasured haunts without coming to take them for granted? We must daily fight against boredom. It is insidious, especially in a society where we are told that we are entitled to comfort.

Let's return to the deeper matter. In any given situation, nostalgia is always just around the corner. You could spend your youth trying to break into the movies, end up winning an academy award 20 years later admist wealth and accolades, and then find yourself saying, "Remember when we were poor and had nothing except one another? I'd give anything to go back to those days."

I think I will always desire something that I can never have. Yet something in me tells me, "Go deeper." I just can't throw out this nostalgia without digging deeper, exploring the caverns of my longing in hope that I will find what I am really looking for. I yearn to return home though I don't know exactly where that home is. I desire to learn from my nostalgia, to be nostalgic for the present. What is beautiful around me? Who is beautiful around me? If we ask these questions and they stir something in our heart, then surely it is not the blind groping of a Polyanna fruitlessly searching for fake beauty in an endlessly cruel world? In this life, suffering walks hand-in-hand with beauty.

Wherever you are, don't give up. To those of you in sweatshops, to those of you trapped in cubicles: don't give up. To those of you walking in circles and gnashing your teeth: don't give up. To those of you for whom life has lost all flavor, do not give up. If you feel like you don't know what God's voice sounds like or what God's face looks like, do not give up. We are in this together. Thousands of miles apart. We are walking home. Do not give up.

2003-09-19 - 1:22 a.m.
This past week I have been in "What am I doing here?" mode. It's like the troubles that I'd gone through in August and at the beginning of this month gave a certain focus to my life. Every day I would wake up and try to move a little bit closer to getting my car fixed or getting ahold of my last HISD paycheck or trying to navigate through the L.A. Metro system and still get to work on time.

But today I've been doing some reflecting and recording. Here are some random revelations:

1) I don't need to be in Los Angeles to pursue a music career.

2) Regardless of how long I stay in L.A., I know in my heart that it was necessary for me to come here.

3) It took leaving all of my friends to realize how much they are a part of my life and how much they have given me.

4) It also took leaving my friends to realize that in any relationship I always hold back something of myself. Even when I'm trying as hard as I know how to open up and share myself, I protect the innermost part of my heart. I know that people who know me closely (or as closely as possible) understand this about me and have loved me with much grace anyway.

5) Life is a pilgrimage. To think that you've ever reached your final destination in this lifetime is mistaken. I think that you can fulfill your calling, I think that you can be exactly where you need to be; but until we go Home, we'll have no true place to rest our head.

6) I will make my next major life decision with confidence. I think I may have placed to much emphasis on trying to do "what I'm supposed to do" or to do "what God wants me to." Don't get me wrong, I want to obey God. But I think I may be jumping a few steps of maturity in my life to talk like that. I could be wrong, but I think I need to learn how to trust God first, before anything else. But I guess you have to take some sort of leap of faith in order to learn how to trust.

7) The grass on the other side of the fence is not greener. I apparently am someone who needs to travel 5,000 miles to learn this.

8) God has answered my prayer and given me adventure.

2003-09-14 - 11:48 a.m.
Thank God for his faithfulness. And thank everyone who has been praying for me--especially for my car. I had been anticipating a $300, $500 or $800 dollar bill when I took my car in to a mechanic. Yesterday, a friend of one of the guys that I'm staying with used his Triple A membership to have my car towed to a mechanic. Even that was a blessing because the car wouldn't push start when we tried. The mechanic looked at the car, tightened the alternator belt, checked and charged the battery and then said everything looked good. And then the car started. All in all, he charged me only $25! God has really humbled me and showed me how dependent I am on other people in this experience. I have to say, though, it did feel nice to be able to drive my car around yesterday.

Today I should be moving out of the place that I have been staying at for the last 3 weeks into an apartment where I'll probably be for a month or so. I believe that I am supposed to be living closer to Hollywood so I hope to be able to move in with this other guy (Mike) who wants to move in Hollywood, as well.

When I spoke with Anita a couple weeks ago and told her all the things I had to deal with and how I had little time to write music or play live, she suggested that maybe God was giving me a time of rest before taking me to the next step. I think I need that. I need to recharge. Riding public transportation was really a drag because it took 2 hours to get to Guitar Center: 40 minutes to walk to the train station; an hour on the Red Line and Gold Line trains; and then a 30 minute bus trip down Sunset Blvd. It's hard to ignore the homeless people living on Sunset when I felt homeless and dependent on others, too. I talked with this one guy who was from South Africa. I didn't undestand everything he told me, but he seemed to be a musician who somehow must have lost everything. Such a stark contrast from the luxury cars that cruise down Sunset on Saturday night.

Here's a fun story. Friday, this guy walks into the Accesories department at Guitar Center and asks for a couple of pedals and starts piling up Monster cables (the most expensive instrument cables) like they're nothing. A lot of people who shop there are in bands, but you don't know whether they're in garage bands or a well-known band. He said that he usually works with the AR (Artist Relations) department and gets a discount so I really hooked him up. His total was about $395, but I rang him up for $325. He pulls out his credit card to pay and I see that his name is Waylon Jennings. He was the son of the elder Jennings and has a band called Shooter Jennings. He was playing that night at the Viper Room and said he'd get me in for free if I came down. In order to get in free, I had to say the password: Do you know where I can get some pot? That night was a gift because I haven't been able to afford to see any live music since I've been out here. Shooter Jennings plays country music which again reminded me of Texas. I wish people in Houston invested more in their musicians. There's a rich legacy of musicians and songwriters that have come from that area.

I hope everyone is well. Thanks again for your prayers. Don't stop! :)

2003-09-11 - 9:45 p.m.
Tonight is the most homesick I've been since I've left Houston. I miss my friends, I miss how stately Alabama cuts through the heart of Montrose, I miss my family, I miss the unfinished Midtown and the view of downtown from W. Gray. I miss good Mexican food. I don't know what I'm doing. I've never been in a place like this in my life. Even when I was teaching and I constantly felt like I didn't know what I was doing, it was still framed in some vague design that I comprehended. At first it was: Okay, I'll be a teacher. I'll teach for the rest of my life. That will give me something meaningful to do; it will pay for a nice car, maybe even a house some day. And then, even after I knew that I probably wasn't going to teach for the rest of my life: Well, this is what I'll do for another year, when I'll *really* pursue what I'm passionate about. And now that I'm supposedly pursuing my passion, I haven't the foggiest idea what's going on. This might have something to do with the fact that my car hasn't worked for the last week and a half. I have had little time to write, much less play the guitar, because most of my spare time is spent getting to and from work. But somehow not having a car is part of the story. I have been angry at God, I've been frustrated: I don't understand it. I'm not asking for a lot of money, I'm not asking for a career on a platter, I'm not even asking for connections. But why take my car? Do I really have that much more to learn about how dependent I am on you that you have to take my car?

A friend of mine that I've met since I started hanging out at Mosaic, Mike, helped me change the alternator. I bought a new starter, too, but I think I'm going to wait and take it to a mechanic before I try putting in the starter. If I find out that the starter's bad, then I'll just have the mechanic put the new one in. But if it's something else, I can take the starter back. Please, please pray that this is not an expensive repair or that I'm able to find someone who would look at my car for free. [Oh, I can't believe that I forgot to mention this, but I got my check yesterday! That part of the ordeal is over with anyway.] But I really hope that I don't have to fork over a huge chunk of change for the repair. I need to use that money to pay people back, to pay some bills and to pay for one month's rent at the place that I'm going to be staying for the next month or so. Please not only pray that the repair wouldn't be that expensive, but also that I believe God will provide for me.

I need to make myself write every day. I'm sure I have a few good entries about life at Guitar Center.

2003-09-04 - 1:05 p.m.
I don't really want to write another blasted word about my bloody check, but it seems that the saga is finally about to come to a close. (For real this time, I hope.) I have overnighted the appropriate documents to the appropriate authorities and (cross your fingers) should hopefully receive the check via overnight delivery on Saturday.

I feel like I've wasted way too much time, energy and prayer trying to get this stupid thing straightened out. I'm not sure why God has allowed it to take so long. I don't feel like I have learned some wonderful lesson. Maybe his continuous call to me to trust him is beginning to wear on me a little. I definitely can't devote any thought to the whole scenario because it doesn't make any sense to me. I did everything that was in my power to do and the delays and miscommunications continued to come.

O.K., I'm moving on. I recently sent an e-mail to a really cool guy named Dwight who, among other things, pastors a community ( in Seattle. I met him while traveling through the Northwest last summer; he put me up for a couple of nights and introduced me to his friends. Anyway, in my e-mail I said something in passing about pilgrimage and mentioned the fact that I had met people from all over the world in Austin this past March. In his reply, he asked me if I had ever met Andrew Jones. Have I met Andrew Jones? Ha! I've sipped a latte while sitting across from Andrew Jones. I have been called Peter Frampton by Andrew Jones. How many people can say that?

Please pray for me. And let me know how I can pray for you.

The actress Gina Gershon came into Guitar Center the other night looking for a guitar for her new movie.

2003-09-04 - 12:00 a.m.
New suns born in cosmic dust.

Raisins formed in rain-streaked rust.

Satin slippers and patterned pillows,

Dodos dangling from weary willows.

These are a few of my favorite things.

2003-09-02 - 9:07 p.m.
I guess most of the posts here are about me (It is a diary, after all.) But two posts ago, I seem to have tripped over myself only to fall into myself.

2003-09-02 - 9:02 p.m.
Boy, that last entry was about me and only about me. Please e-mail another topic to write about the next time I post.

2003-09-02 - 8:19 p.m.
Today was frustrating. I have been going round and round with HISD trying to get my stupid last paycheck sent out to me. Today I spent much of my day waiting to receive an e-mail from someone in Payroll that had the form attached to it that would allow them to release the check to me. I thought I made it clear to the person on the phone that I was no longer in Houston, but in California. When I received the form, it had a field labeled "Notary Public in and for the State of Texas." Now I'm pretty sure from the tone of desperation in my voice, she could surmise that I don't have piles of cash lying around. In fact, the only way that I could afford a plane trip to Houston to get that form notarized in Harris County would be if I had the funds contained in that last check. Hmmm. Today I was angry and frustrated. There have been other times like today when I've been in that low place. Yet God has given me a lot grace, as well. I wish I could have been more peaceful today. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that I have tried so hard every step of the way (with this paycheck fiasco) to follow directions and to do everything as I've been told. It's hard to be at peace with the fact that there's absolutely nothing you can do. It's not even so much that I feel I need a certain amount of money in my bank account. I just want to be able pay what I owe and not overextend myself on other people's hospitality.

I wish I could have been in England this summer. I like being a pilgrim. I like meeting new people and sharing with them. I don't feel completely alone and I have been taken care of by the new friends I have met. But more and more, being alone is not a fantastic selling point for being a pilgrim. There's no question: the solitude I've experienced definitely has allowed for conversations with God that I may never have had if it were not for the fact that I was struggling through this period without old friends to prop me up. Or if I were drowning in the distractions that rise from every side in a comfortable life, I may have easily avoided the sadness and fear that have blurted out of nowhere when I've been alone with God. I wonder if the sorrow I've experienced will ever leave me in this life. Let's face it, take one look around you at all the misguided people walking around in circles: it's hard to not look away. I'm a very hopeful person. When I write music, I often call out in hope and look toward a future where evil's grasp has been completely lifted from mankind. When I think about the fact that I may never be extremely well known or that it may take years before I am able to travel making music, I turn my gaze to heaven where I know that I will be writing songs in which the very sound of planets spinning through space will be the chords, volcanoes erupting on as-of-yet undiscovered planets--the percussion, while lyrics born in the ecstasy of the realization that our minds and hearts can go anywhere they desire and still please God--these fresh words sung by voices that ring throughout eternity. And then I wake up and I'm back on the street again. Walking by fathers that laugh at the stupidity of their own children, mothers who lumber under the burden of getting married before they learned who they were, fourth graders telling their classmates to f*ck off because they think it's normal. Redemption, are you truly just around the corner?

2003-08-23 - 11:03 p.m.
God provides. Thank you to all who have helped me out. Even during the leanest of times this summer, God has given me more than I need. I pray that I do not sell God short in those moments of anxiety and instead praise him for what he has done and what he will do.

2003-08-23 - 11:12 a.m.
I've noticed that my writing here has gotten rather sloppy. As Josh pointed out to me, I came dangerously close to quoting a Creed lyric in my last post. Not good. I showed up for what I thought would be my first day on the job at Guitar Center this morning to find out that my paperwork hasn't been completely processed. So I begin on Wednesday. In some ways this may be a good thing. I'll have a few days to try to get my car to a mechanic. Please pray that I don't have to have the car towed and that the mechanic's bill is not horrific. I'm still waiting on an affidavit from HISD that gives them permission to resend out my last paycheck. This is very frustrating, but God continues to provide. I seriously wondered yesterday if I was going to have to roam the streets of Hollywood last night. I called up a guy named Neil from Mosaic, and he offered to let me stay at his place for awhile. I had to take a couple of trains and a bus to get to Guitar Center this morning, but I did get there. But I am NOT complaining. Neil fed me some spaghetti last night and said that he hoped it was okay as he was giving to me. I didn't care if was a bowl of rocks. I had a place to stay and a way to get to work. It's strange, for the past two years I worked in a school in a Hispanic neighborhood. Although I began with noble aspirations to help "disadvantaged kids", I never truly became part of that community. And today I was sitting on a bus mostly occupied by Latinos. And I am in the exact same position as them. Now I'm not pretending to have instantly become a part of that community, but it definitely opened my eyes a little to what it's like to be dependent on a public transportation system. I was actually about 10 minutes late getting to Guitar Center. Fortunately I didn't have to work today. But what if I did?

Yesterday, I was reading from _The Way of a Pilgrim_, a text written by a Russian pilgrim trying to make his way to Jerusalem. One of the main parts of being a pilgrim, if not the most important aspect, is that of meeting other people along the way. Sharing stories, things that you have seen and that God has taught you. These are almost as important, I think, as actually reaching your destination. Pilgrims meeting other pilgrims. Whether via highways, backroads or the internet, pilgrims still sojourn.

If I ever have a label, I think I'm going to call it Jazz Hands Records. And if I ever play with a band, I like the sound of Ted Beam and the New Folk Machine. Copywright. Trademark. Rights Reserved.

People out here are especially cautious and don't like sharing musical/entertainment ideas with other people for fear of having them stolen. I think I'm going to go down to the Writer's Guild when I have the money and register my songs. But I don't want to become paranoid, either. Hopefully, I'll be able to record a demo in the not-too-distant future, as well.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers.

2003-08-22 - 12:16 p.m.
O.K. I've got about 20 minutes before my time at the library computer is up, so I'm going to have to blaze through this thing. God, the excitement/heartache is too much...Okay, so I got a job on Wednesday at Guitar Center. And yesterday my car decides to start acting funny--stalling and not accelerating; it's definitely not roadworthy. Someone doesn't want me here. Please pray that my eyes would stay focused on Jesus and not be consumed by these trials. I woke up at 5 this morning (that had to be God) and was able to catch a ride with one of the people I'm living with before she went to the gym. I thought I was going to have to take a taxi, so that in itself was a blessing. I met a guy at Mosaic (see Monday's entry), and he's offered to pick me up after work today and take me to work tomorrow if I'm scheduled. I don't know what I'm going to do about the car or how I'll get to work, but God's taken care of me so far so I trust that he will make a way for me the other days. If I had more time, I'd write more about what's been going on deeper inside of me. "Humbling" probably would suffice as the word. For the first time, I feel totally dependent on God and others. I almost don't feel worthy for this adventure, as scary as it has been at times. With so many people that sleepwalk through life, I don't know if I'll ever know in this life why God has decided to show his mercy and provision to me. But "Why" is always the wrong question, anyway. I'm not sure a question is in order. Hopefully, with his grace, open arms of trust. Please pray for me. God is listening.

2003-08-21 - 3:46 p.m.
I wanted to let my Houston friends know that I miss them. Josh, Aimee, Roy, Erika, Diana; I loves ya.

2003-08-21 - 11:18 a.m.
Gott ist gut. With or without a job. Yesterday, I was hired on to the accessories department at the Guitar Center in Hollywood. Being obedient doesn't always seem clear to me. I had a possibility to work at an Urban Outfitters, but I knew that they were looking for mostly night shifts. I just kept thinking, "Why would I come all this way to make music and try my best to make decisions, in faith, that would allow me to do that only to take a job that never allowed me to play music at night?" I don't know what I would have done if I still didn't have a job come next Monday. Maybe I would have gotten scared and taken it. Regardless, I'm definitely being stretched in ways I never have been before. I'm sure I'll make mistakes, but I really hope that I don't act in fear when the answer is clear in front of me. Again, thank you for your prayers. I know that they have given me hope. God is actually giving me peace about my living situation. I almost feel like I've been given a choice: You can live in fear or you can choose to believe. Sometimes, though, I feel like I'm slacking when I make the choice to believe. But I keep going back to that verse in Matthew where Jesus tells us to only pray for what we need today and not to be worried about tomorrow. It sounds so easy. Of course, I think he also says in that same verse that today has enough troubles of its own. So I guess it's not that our problems and challenges disappear; Jesus just reminds us to take them one day at a time.

2003-08-19 - 2:51 p.m.
Uh, I can't believe I spelled Houston "Houstin." Wow. And another sentence should read "who of us doesn't do things" NOT "who of us don't do things." I'm slipping. Maybe I'm entering an early stage of dimensia.

2003-08-19 - 2:35 p.m.
I'm taking a day of rest today. When I thought about setting aside today to do that, part of me thought it might be foolish to rest when I have no job or no place to live. But God has been showing me that my strength is going to accomplish nothing. I read the first couple of chapters of Samuel today, and one of things that Hannah prays is something to the effect of "It is you who make the rich, rich and the poor, poor." I am poor. Financially and spiritually. And who knows how long God wants me to be poor. Forever? But whether I'm rich or poor, that is no indication of whether God loves me or is pleased with me. God doesn't hate welfare mothers. He may not be pleased with some of their actions, but who of us don't do things that God isn't pleased with? Another thing that I heard [and it's hard for me to say this publicly, because I have an inferiority complex or some sort of barrier when it comes to recognizing God's voice] but I really believe he told me this morning to play my music as Ted Beam, instead of Baby Giant. I don't think there's anything bad about using a stage name and I think I'm going to miss it, but I heard God saying that he is the only one who gives me my identity. And so even though I'm going to miss all the possibilities of creating an entertaining character (think of all the marketing!), I have to take this leap of faith and believe that it was God speaking to me. Something awesome that I have experienced in this move is seeing how I am part of a larger body, even when I'm physically alone. Reading about Brad's move has encouraged me and reminded me that I'm not the only one on this journey. Having people offer to help me out financially has reminded me that I can't do anything on my own that's going to last in the Kingdom. On Sunday night I went to a church called Mosaic. Everyone I met there was kind to me and offered to help with whatever they could. This reminded me that we are all part of the same body. These people have the same spirit as believers in Houstin, Austin, Sheffield, Praha, and yes--even Dallas. I appreciate your prayers; I know they are giving me heart and helping me turn my attention to God instead of all the negative possibilities of my situation.

2003-08-18 - 3:21 p.m.
The adventure continues. I got to work today and found out that I was not hired at the coffee shop. If you remember my original post on the job, I mentioned that I was hired for a trial week. I didn't realize that they had also hired another guy. The owner said that the other guy was a better fit. At least I made a few extra dollars to help me with gas until I can find another job. I'm about to talk with a manager at Urban Outfitters. I think they're still hiring. I appreciate your prayers. Please pray that God keeps my eyes on him and my heart protected from being depressed. I'll check in later.

2003-08-18 - 10:52 a.m.
A couple of things that God has done for me that I've forgotten to post about: For the first part of my trip (when I was still driving the 92 Civic) I wished several times along the way that I had a sunroof. I took my summer trip last summer in a 2001 Civic that had a sunroof which I enjoyed using during the day. Of course, when it came time to pray about finding a car to get me to California that didn't even cross my mind. But a week or so ago I realized that God not only gave me a car, but he also gave me a car with a sunroof. Not only more than what I asked for, but also giving me a desire of my heart that I didn't even think to include in my prayers.

Another thing: When I was driving by the tea house that I got a job at, I just happened to catch it in the corner of my eye. So I pulled over to investigate. I walked in to ask if they were hiring and the owner and another employee behind the counter started to sniggle (I couldn't decide whether "snicker" or "giggle" was more appropriate). I later found out that they were sniggling because the owner was drawing up a sign that said they were hiring as I walked in and inquired about employment.

I think there was one other incident that I wanted to write about, but I can't remember it so I'll have to come back.

2003-08-14 - 4:29 p.m.
I feel like I'm on a roller coaster ride. I went to check my bank account balance and my heart sunk when I saw that I only had $75 in the bank. I was expecting to see my most recent paycheck in the account, but after calling HISD Payroll I found out that the last paycheck is mailed to the employee...and I also found out that my address on file is "1300 Castle Ct.": two residences ago. So the check should be returned by the post office to HISD, at which point HISD will supposedly send out a new check to where I'm staying now. My fear is that the check will get lost in the mail and it will be weeks before I actually receive the check. So, another fear to try to lay to rest. I noticed that I used the phrase "my heart sunk" when I talked about looking at my balance. It's amazing that after God has done so much too provide for me on this journey, my heart is still frail and doubting. I kind of wish I could just snap my fingers and find myself with a heart perfectly accepting of every given moment. All I can think to do (besides praying, of course) is try to be honest as honest as possible (maybe that's what praying is, anyways). I'm so close to my own situation that I don't think I see it very well in the larger perspective of things. I hope that if I'm turthful about my doubts and fears, that Jesus will lift them up off my shoulders and replace them with peace. Perhaps it's not as easy as it sounds. Or is it?

2003-08-12 - 12:20 p.m.
God provides. After a week of filling out applications, I have been hired by a place in Culver City called Tea Forest, a coffee and tea bar. There is a weeklong trial period, but unless I royally mess up it should be a full-time gig. The hours are great: the morning shift is 7 to 2 and the evening shift is 1 to 7. So it would allow me to play music in the evening. Thank you to everyone who is/has been praying for me. It's weird; I almost feel like I've expected too much from God and that his taking care of me is too good to be true. I'm tempted to believe that there's some huge trial or obstacle right around the corner, but I have no real reason to think like that. Jesus tells us to pray for what we need each day and that he will provide. I know he's not a liar, so I'm going to try my best to believe that he is taking care of me and that he's looking out for me. When I look back at the last 6 weeks, it is so apparent that God has taken care of me. It is ridiculous to worry that I'm not going to have what I need--especially after all he's given to me--but I guess that's just the frailty of my flesh and heart that is prone to wander. Still I choose to believe, even if my flesh wants to grab on to everything around me to somehow signify that my situation is permanent, to somehow guarantee on its own that I'll be able to afford food and a place to stay. Anyways, your prayers have been indispensible, and I again ask that you would pray that God would lead me to a good room or apartment, and maybe a roommate, too, if that would be a good thing. Thanks for walking this journey with me. Let me know how I can walk with you. Since this posting seems to have turned into a sermonette, allow me, brethren, to end with a verse: Set your hope fully on the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (Chapter ?, Verse? I know it's in there somewhere.)

2003-08-09 - 5:20 p.m.
Wow, the last time I posted here was over 5 weeks ago. I have to be honest, I have begun to feel a little anxious about my future in California. The housing market here seems daunting and most of what I've seen in the employment section of the classifieds looks like crap. I ask for clarity and a sense that I am truly walking this part of my journey side by side with God. I don't think I've ever felt like my future was so out of my control. Even this early on, I feel like I'm willing to take any job and live in any available place. On the other hand, I wonder if that's selling God short for what he can, or even wants to do. It's crazy; in southern California it seems like you're either rich or you're not rich. I don't see a lot of middle ground. In Montrose, it's not a stretch to find an efficiency for $550. Here, that would be an absolute steal. I appreciate your prayers and ask for an openness and vulnerability to whatever God wants to do.

2003-06-25 - 11:04 a.m.
For the next three weeks or so I am going to be posting at As the web address implies it is a guestbook, so feel free to leave a message. Hope to read you there.

2003-06-13 - 8:54 p.m.
Wow. It's been 16 days since I've posted here. I wonder if people have stopped checking for new entries. I have been at my dad's house for the last two weeks. I guess I could blame my lack of posts on my dad's dial up connection, but that wouldn't be the truth. I've been weary to share all that's going on in my family because part of me is concerned that it would take on a circus-like, exhibitionist flavor. In short, my brother is struggling with mental illness and I'm struggling with how to deal with it. I have had moments where I have been extremely angry at him and his obsessive-compulsiveness, hypochondria (sp?) and drug usage. I have felt furious at his helplessness, his powerlessness. My way of dealing with things often is to just "bite the bullet" and make it through at all costs. It doesn't matter whether I become cold or hard or distant, I have to survive. I think I'm mostly angry at my brother because I see my own powerlessness and weakness in him and I don't want to accept that. How do we fight in this life without coming to think that it is our battle to win? Isn't struggle and suffering unavoidable? Doesn't Jesus say directly that we will suffer? How do you accept your suffering without resigning to apathy or bitternesss?

2003-05-28 - 6:56 a.m.
Erika is leaving for Prague today. I pray that she has a safe flight and that she gets a taste of the adventure ahead.

2003-05-27 - 1:00 p.m.

Which Willy Wonka character are you?
made by

2003-05-27 - 12:53 p.m.
If you are reading this right now, please help me praise God. I just spoke with my mom and she said that she and my dad are going to reconcile and get counseling. I don't always see or appreciate his faithfulness like I want to, so please also pray that I would know in the depths of my heart that this is him responding very personally to me and that I would not take it for granted.

2003-05-21 - 11:35 a.m.
P.S. I need to stop reading the news.

2003-05-21 - 11:27 a.m.
Please forgive me. I'm not in a very good mood right now and I know I began the day with a sour entry. But I feel compelled to stay in this place for a while longer.

Here's the first paragraph from an article in the New York Times:

BAGHDAD, May 20 � Iraqi citizens will be required to turn over automatic weapons and heavy weapons under a proclamation that allied authorities plan to issue this week, allied officials said today.

We have a republican administration. Don't most republicans side with the NRA? Isn't the NRA against gun control? But it's okay to go into another country and strip their citizens of their guns? WHY ARE WE SO #$^@#$ ARROGANT?

Okay, I know this all means nothing. The way of man is foolishness. God grant me peace. Amen.

2003-05-21 - 6:25 a.m.
It's hard not to be jaded when the following two headlines are side by side at "Terror Threat Level 'High'" and "Using Fat to Make Younger-Looking Hands." God knows we all fear wrinkled hands.

2003-05-19 - 11:29 a.m.
It's 11:30. I've got ten more minutes before my ancillary period is up and I have to pick up my kids from P.E. I've had quite a few ideas swirling through my head lately. I haven't done a very good job of capturing them on paper or blog.

2003-05-14 - 12:59 a.m.
Some days are diamonds,

Some days are rocks,

Some doors are open,

Some roads are blocked...

You've got a heart so big

It could crush this town.

And I can't hold out forever;

Even walls fall down.

--"Walls," Tom Petty

2003-05-13 - 4:02 p.m.
Here's a hIgh-Q for Erika:

Any hair that does

Not belong to the Father

Is no hair of mine.

2003-05-13 - 12:49 p.m.
I would love to hear anyone's comments on my post regarding the Word of God (05.08, 12:37) if anyone feels so inclined.

2003-05-12 - 11:13 a.m.
I've been sick since Friday night and I still have something going on inside me.

I can't wait until I have something happy to post about. This year has been pretty tough. As I get ready to leave Franklin Elementary, I have to hope that God has used me in some way to touch students and the other teachers around me. If he has, it's not immediately evident.

I'm glad to be able to read about a baby being born, people getting married, people passing college courses, people flying across oceans. It gives me hope that God does want us to experience the fulfillment of the desires of our heart.

2003-05-11 - 9:50 a.m.
I think my British friends may enjoy the dailyNOOSE link today.

I deeply regret any actions which may have been construed as offensive by Nathan. I have experienced great remorse over my actions and am saddened by the news that I have been uninvited from Nathan's birthday celebration. I don't know what else I can say.

2003-05-09 - 11:07 a.m.
I wonder what country we're going to fix next.

2003-05-08 - 3:42 p.m.
I just wanted to give credit where credit was due. I'm sure that some of my ideas about Jesus being the expression of God were probably taken from or inspired by E. Stanley Jones' book _The Word Became Flesh_ which I read about a year ago.

2003-05-08 - 3:30 p.m.
Oh, I left out some important details in my account of what happened after the movie last night. Like how I discovered that my mutant name is "Blackout" and I have the power to completely erase traumatic events from my memory as well as other people's memory. Erika is "Rescuor" and was the one who took me to pick up my car. I also failed to mention that I felt like a male prostitute standing at the corner of Weslayan and Richmond while I waited for Erika to pick me up.

2003-05-08 - 12:37 p.m.
We celebrated Roy's birthday last night by dining at 100% Taquito. Then we watched X2 at Edward�s Cinema. I thought I'd save 2 bucks by parking at the shopping strip across from the theatre. Sure, there's a "No Parking or Your Vehicle Will be Towed" sign in front of every other parking space, but I've parked there before without getting towed so I didn�t think it would be a problem. Poor, foolish soul. Josh said that's a lesson you only need to learn once. I agree. I started thinking about how I often try to live as though I am above the law. If I get in a mess, God will just bail me out. I honestly don�t know if that is faith or arrogance. I was raised in a church where God�s law was something that you were beat over the head with�and I don�t think the people in my church really understood what the heart of God�s law is. I perceive so many Christians to live with this mentality of �If I just do everything I�m supposed to I�ll be blessed and won�t suffer too much before I die." The whole Prayer of Jabez thing. I just don�t understand why people want to reduce God to a formula or a particular set of words. One thing I�m trying to work through right now is understanding why people call the Bible the Word of God. Yes, I believe the Bible is an infallible expression of God--infallible, in that it is inspired by God (although, I think our interpretation is often fallible or incomplete). The Bible says that the Word was God and was with God when all was created. Then the Word took on flesh and came to live on earth with humans. The Word is a person. The Word is Jesus. Jesus is called the Word because he is an expression of God, just as a word is an audible or written expression of what someone is thinking or feeling. Jesus was the human expression of who God is. God wanted to share his life with others so he created the universe through Jesus. Jesus, although God, is also a Word spoken by God. Now, I understand how the Bible is in a sense an extension of Jesus because it contains words spoken by Jesus and other words written by the Holy Spirit to more fully explain what Jesus' existence on earth was "saying" to us. But if you somehow separate the words in the Bible from the cosmic person of Jesus, do the words not become dead? Just like the Pharisees separated the law of Moses from the God of Abraham. I struggle with the idea that we are somehow supposed to cling to a sentence in the Bible when we are devoid from all feeling or devotion to God. For example: I want to choose not to lust not because the Bible tells me not to, but because I want to follow a God who loves me (even though the Bible is the vehicle by which I learn how to follow God). Am I splitting hairs? In my mind, I don�t think so. I get the feeling that some people see the Bible as God and I just can�t swallow that. One day even words will pass away. Now, I realize right now we�re babies and we won�t be completely mature until we are glorified in Christ, and I realize that we need words, we need guidelines. But if we reduce God to words, we steal mystery from God.

So why did I not get towed the first time I parked in the plaza across the street from the movie theatre? Am I above the law? No, last night proved that I am not above the law. Does that mean that I am defined or limited by the letter of the law? No, it doesn�t mean that either. It means that I parked in a place that I shouldn�t have and I probably think too much about this sort of thing. The Law of God is not words on a pretty plaque that you can buy at a Christian gift shop, although if that�s how you connect to God then more power to you. One of the exciting realizations I�ve had while deciding to move to California is that even if I�ve completely misheard or ignored God�s voice, I am not outside his reach. I am not beyond hope.

2003-05-08 - 1:12 p.m.
FYI: is not currently registered.

2003-05-07 - 11:28 a.m.
Last night we celebrated Aimee's birthday by donning near-country garb and circling the wagons at Houston's for dinner. Then we blew up the dance floor at Wild West. I gave out early, half-sleeping in a leather armchair in a back room at the country dancing place. I didn't realize that they play Christina Aguilera and KC and the Sunshine Band at kicker bars. School nights are cruel parents, and I snuck out of the house without permission last night. If that makes any sense. Aimee said that she had fun so I guess that's all that matters.

2003-05-06 - 3:52 p.m.
See your name in lights!

2003-05-06 - 3:47 p.m.
All right, you quiz freaks. I'm friggin' Red Butler.

Which Rainbow Brite kid are you? By Growing.

2003-05-05 - 4:25 p.m.
I noticed that Brad's entry yesterday is about spiritual abuse. I'd like to weigh in on the subject when I have a few (hundred) minutes to spare.

2003-05-04 - 1:13 p.m.
"Fear nothing in the things you're about to suffer--but stay on guard! Fear nothing! The Devil is about to throw you in jail for a time of testing--ten days. It won't last forever.

"Don't quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you.

"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. Christ-conquerors are safe from Devil-death."

(from Chapter 2 of Revelation, The Message)

2003-05-02 - 9:11 p.m.

It's that time of year again. Love bugs are pissing all us celibate folk off by shoving their unique brand of sex in our faces. Such conspicuous concupiscence! Get a hotel room.

2003-05-02 - 7:15 p.m.
My car wouldn't start when I tried to leave school today. Josh and Roy came and helped me get it started again. Thanks, guys. *Cue Dionne Warwick singing "That's What Friends are For". Then zoom in on her lighting up a big fatty. Cut.*

2003-05-02 - 4:23 p.m.
I don't think anyone else has come closer to describing who I believe God is than Thomas Schmidt in _A Scandalous Beauty_:

My grandmother did not teach me to pray, nor did she know anything about theology. She prayed, though--out loud, in German, in a singsong voice, sitting in a chair in the living room with a Bible on her lap. I was supposed to be in bed, fast asleep, but I peeked once. Mostly I just lay there and listen.

There was one phrase I heard over and over, like a title over every paragraph of prayer: O lieber Heiland. She spoke those words with passion, sometimes drawing the O out like a cry of pain. I had no idea what it meant. A "high land"--heaven, maybe? And I had no clue what a "leeber" was. But there was one other word I would always listen for in her prayer, and it was to me like a magic spell, offering peace and opening the gate to dreamland. It was my name. After so many lieber Heilands and a great number of other unintelligible words, eventually I would hear that one word: Tommy. Then I could sleep.

Now I can pray. This isn't about goodness, although she was good. It isn't about truth, although she clung to the true. It is about beauty. It is about a love that touched my imagination.

This books isn't about morality: I have nothing to preach to anyone. This book isn't about truth: I have nothing to prove to anyone. This book is about artistry, the imagination, the beauty of a particular event: the death of Jesus. That event has implications for theology and morality, but other people and other books explore those implications. The essays here all touch upon the death of Jesus, and they are organized canonically (that is, they follow the order of the New Testament writings), but they do not build an argument. Rather, they explore different avenues in the same neighborhood. It is a neighborhood Christians rarely visit, where pictures and metaphors touch the imagination, where God expresses his *style*. Most of us are more familiar, and maybe more comfortable, with preachers and professors, and we'd like God to be like that. Heaven forbid that God should turn out to be an *artist*.

But there it is. The ratio of poetry to pure doctrine in the Bible is at least fifty to one, and most of the rest--including the life and teachings of Jesus--consists of stories and parables. Why isn't it all spelled out for us more clearly? At times it seems as if God is in another room, the voice is muffled or the language is foreign, and we aren't quite sure if we can hear our own name being spoken. Artists can be so exasperating. They can also touch us, invite us, entice us into discovering for ourselves what no amount of preaching or explaining could.

If my own discoveries, my own choices of words, can convey something of God's artistry, then I have grown closer to the image in which I was made, and my grandmother's prayers are being answered.

O lieber Heiland. O precious Savior. I never forgot those words, and eventually I acquired the knowledge to translate them. Now I want them to be the titles of paragraphs again--not only of my prayers, but of my life.

(Schmidt, Thomas. _A scandalous beauty: the artistry of God and the way of the Cross_. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2002.)

2003-04-28 - 11:25 p.m.
Does anyone have any thoughts about the believer's role in working/speaking out against the negative effects of globalization?

Here is an article about working conditions in Bangladesh:

2003-04-28 - 6:44 p.m.
Last Friday morning I hurriedly grabbed a pile of papers and books from my front seat before walking to the office and signing in. As I walked to my mailbox I realized that a cottony object was protruding from the papers cradled in my arms. It was a sock. I opened up my mailbox and there was a note from my principal saying he needed to see me. So I'm standing in the hallway in front of the mailboxes with a sock in one hand, a pile of papers in the other--and I need to see my principal. I thought about putting it in my mailbox, but knowing me I knew that I would forget to take it out before going to my room upstairs; and just my luck my principal would go to put another note in the mailbox only to find a dirty sock. So I made the smart decision: I stuffed it in my back pocket and walked into the principal's office. (I don't know why I was so worried about my principal finding a sock in my mailbox. I'm only going to be there four more weeks.)

2003-04-27 - 7:20 p.m.
I just found out that I don't get points unless the person who puts me down me as the refer-er also lists an item on the system (book, cd, &tc.).

2003-04-27 - 7:10 p.m.
There's a website,, that allows people to get rid of items (books, CDs, &tc) that they don't want and redeem points to get items they want. It works on a point system so there's no money involved (except for postage when you're sending something). If anyone is so inclined to set up an account (it's free!) please put my name as the one who referred you (my user name is Babygiant). You get points when you refer people. Thanks! Back to regular programming.

2003-04-27 - 1:13 p.m.
"Just leave me alone,"

Says the woman next to me

To her shirtless friend.

2003-04-27 - 1:03 p.m.
Thanks, Nathan.

2003-04-25 - 5:02 p.m.
This is a bio that should be added to the Baby Giant page shortly.

"Born in the late 20th century and raised by a pack of feral monkeys, Baby Giant (originally Babba Jani), was captured by a band of smugglers while fishing from his raft off the coast of Indonesia. The perfidious pirates made him sing for food, and it was in this way that he happened upon the fact that some people find his voice mildly soothing. Having sung the whole crew of blackbeards to sleep, he crept off the ship at their next stop in Madras. He quickly became the new sensation on the Indian cabaret circuit. He moved stateside 5 years ago and within a year had mastered the pop song. He still loves Indian food."

2003-04-25 - 11:02 a.m.
Galations 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Here is my translation:

There is neither American nor unamerican, conservative nor liberal, democrat nor republican, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I hope we keep working toward this as followers of Christ in North America. I think we have compromised way too much of our faith in the name of political pragmatism.

2003-04-24 - 7:45 p.m.
Stacy, as you requested, here's a haiku with the phrase "intoxicated lovers":

Grass shakes at wind's touch.

Intoxicated lovers,

they laugh together.

2003-04-24 - 7:40 p.m.
Forgive me if I seem above it all, but would somebody please shoot me if they ever see me watching one of those Michael Jackson t.v. specials?

2003-04-23 - 6:48 p.m.
I think I know, in part, why I love music so much. My mind loves to constantly ask, "Why?" and try to find meaning in everything. It yearns to understand, to analyze things until they become understandable. My heart loves to be free of all this. It loves to be carried by the wind, blown up into the farthest reaches of the sky. It is the Native American trickster who loves to trip people up, just cause (that sounds a lot like fourth graders, actually). My mind wants to know what people are thinking; my heart just wants to listen to their voice. Anyways, music is a combination of mind and heart. The mind loves the patterns, the chord progressions, the words that attempt to understand life. It loves waiting for the chorus of the song to come around again. The heart loves to hear what different instruments sound like played together, it loves the solos that improvise outside of the structure of the song, the ineffecable nature of music itself. It loves the way that there are a million different human voices. In music, the heart and mind are intoxicated lovers. (I do think this is true, but I also wanted to write "intoxicated lovers.")

2003-04-23 - 4:57 p.m.
One of the best things I've done for myself recently is buy a used copy of Tom Petty's _Into the Great Wide Open_. I bought it when I first got a cd player in high school and then somewhere along the way (probably in college), I became too cool for it and sold it. It's such a great driving record; it's making my feet itch for long stretches of highway. I don't know if Mr. Petty can actually write a bad song.

2003-04-21 - 4:31 p.m.
This is an egret.

2003-04-20 - 12:41 a.m.
Nathan said that he has seen the Anti-Ted. Personally, I think the guy might be more handsome than I. If I ever meet him, though, I'd like to share my frizz-reducing conditioner with him. And we could talk about Jesus, too, if he brings up the subject.

I failed horribly at Nathan's quiz. Does anyone know where I could get some cliff notes on the Life of Nathan? I'm particularly sketchy on the years between the ages of 13 and 15.

Here's a haiku for Nathan since he seems to be the only one who appreciates them:

Ailing Abigal

Listens to Master recite

Poems about dog bones.

2003-04-19 - 10:17 a.m.

But let me run loose and free,celebrating GOD's great work,

Every bone in my body laughing, singing, "GOD, there's no one like you!"

-Psalm 35:9&10

Were we designed to do anything else, to be anyone else? Why is our country so consumed with checking account balances and credit ratings? The most awesome skyscraper is nothing next to the beauty of an orchid. We keep building and building and never stop to delight in the creatures we are in such a hurry to pave over. CEOs and politicians are grim and proper. Our God is a laughing God. A God that guffaws with geraniums, chuckles with chihuahuas, hee-haws with hibiscus, tehees with turkeys, giggles with giraffes, howls with hyenas, convulses with carnations, whizgigs with walruses, and chortles with chimps.

2003-04-16 - 10:34 p.m.
Bumper sticker seen recently: I woke up and got dressed. What more do you want?

Currently reading: _Coyote Blue_ by Christopher Moore

2003-04-16 - 10:27 p.m.
At the beginning of _Celebration of Discipline_, Richard Foster quotes Jung: "Hurry is not *of* the devil. It *is* the devil." How many things I miss because I am moving so quickly. I think one of my biggest areas of disbelief is that I don't honestly think that I can slow down. I am by no means a Type A person; I wouldn't classify myself as an overachiever. I'm often lazy. And yet, when I'm in the midst of doing the things that are necessary (or that I believe are necessary) to keep my class moving, it *feels* impossible to slow down. But I came home from school today and did nothing. I think I did the same yesterday. No grading, no organizing. No running of copies or drawing up a quiz. Now, it's not that way every day. There are some nights when I work for a couple hours and then go to bed. But tonight I could have gone somewhere quiet and listened. I mean, if there's any gift that is worth bringing to my kids it's a peaceful presence.

"Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don't get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room." Luke 11:34-36

Are these words for real? Is it possible for me to live "wide-eyed in wonder and belief" when I see my newly divorced parents at dinner and don't know what to say to them? It's not even so much that I still want to be the peace-maker in the family, but even if I wanted to start an argument where would I begin? What's the difference between wide-eyed w