Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Cool Touch from the Throne

I begin this post with an apology for the deceptive nature of the title. Due to my current life circumstances one could assume that a "cool touch from the throne" is a comforting metaphor for the blessings that God brings when we need them most. Although I believe that God works in those ways and always appreciate His kind interactions and love poured out on me, the nature of this post is a bit more mundane and I am sorry to say, crude. With that said, I know that all of us from countries with modern plumbing can relate so I feel compelled to let you in on my journey.

Last night I had one of those great nights when whatever food I ate the proceeding day decided to sit and stir within me for a while. In fact, it was one of those nights where the food seemed to have no interest in succumbing to the whole digestion process and it preferred to sit in the pool just at the end of my throat. After plenty of trips outside of the country and many bouts with various parasites I have grown to accept these occasions and have even learned a few methods to cope. Even with the ability to cope, when my body seems set on a process of "upheaval" it never comes soon enough. What else (at least for males) can make the option of lying on a bathroom floor at all hours of the night more comforting than lying in a bed away from the bathroom? What else can cause one to tell God to "take me now and end my misery"? In these moments awaiting the whole upheaval process I find myself trying all kinds of techniques to speed the process and clear the holding tank of whatever is causing discomfort. But sometimes, the dry mouth and out of sync breathing must come in its own timing so my best efforts to speed the process are all in vain.

So I wait, I turn, I try to sleep, I feel my body grow warm, then cold, then sweat, and I just want to get this deed done. I reach over to the "porcelain throne" and press my head against its cheek seeking comfort in the coolness of its touch. Has it been cleaned recently? I hope so but at the moment that doesn't even matter. It is as Bill Cosby said, "At that moment the toilet bowl is the only one who understands". He will patiently wait for you and grant comfort in its perpetually cool sides.

Some nights when this happens, it all happens quickly and then everything is better, other times it takes several rounds before your body is finally satisfied. Then other times, like last night for me, your body is so conflicted over what to do that it simply stirs and causes discomfort until you drift off to sleep without ever purging of the offending foods. In these cases, I wake up the next morning hoping that I feel hunger so that I know that all systems are back on track. Today I was hungry so I cautiously ate some yogurt (I always eat something sweet if I think it will not stay down... it makes the whole experience much better) and I am happy to say that I seem back on track.

I stopped by the bathroom and whispered a little thanks to my faithful friend who understood my needs and offered comfort when I needed it. I hope I don't need his help again anytime soon but if I do, I know I can always count on his cool touch.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Applying For Jobs

Part of this church plant experience includes a need for me to find income outside of our young church. Because of this need, I have decided to seek employment at a large coffee chain that I seldom ever visit but that I know offers benefits for the family and therefore it is a place I would like to work.
What this means is that I have to humble myself, ask for an application and turn it in to a person 10 years younger than me in hopes that my 1 1/2 Master’s Degrees and 12 years of working with people, organizing events, managing crises, and public speaking is all enough to convince him/her that I have what it takes to make a cup of coffee.
Today as I sat in one of this organization’s thousands of stores (and not one scheduled to close) waiting to speak with a manager (who happens to be a former student of mine) I had to laugh at the whole experience. As I sat there I noticed a kid who was probably around 16 years old filling out his application and I felt a sense of competition. Would my post-graduate and pre-doctoral work stand out against his excellence during his junior year of high school? Will my years of hiring, training, and managing employees be a positive if it is set alongside his 7 months of serving as a school mascot? Does that fact that this is probably his first job make him a promising candidate with lots of potential? Could that work against an old guy who quit a well paying job to move to the Middle East and then who returned to America to begin a new church? Am I overcommitted, overqualified, or over-the-hilled?
Am I even answering these questions in a manner that they are hoping for?... “Why do you like coffee?” Should I say it is because it creates a positive emotion in me that allows me to be more focused in reading and more progressive in my studies? Should I say that it is a wonderful subject around which meaningful conversations are allowed to flow? Or like the 16 year old, should I say, “Because it tastes good with lots of sugar and milk”. I am lost over what I should do. Next question, “Where have you visited one of our stores in the past and what was your experience”. 16 year old says, “I went to one with my mom once and now I am in this one”. Should I say, “I have actually been in your stores all across the world and find that even though it is not the best coffee and you do not offer free wi-fi, I always know what I will get and the service is consistent and courteous everywhere.”
I guess I will just fill this in the best I can and in the end I know that it is probably my 4 years of working as a food server that will ultimately qualify me for this job (and the fact that I want to work the 4 AM shift). I will keep you posted as to my progress in this endeavor and know that if 16 year old gets this job and I don’t, I will be in desperate need of some counseling for my low self-esteem.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hello Old Friends

Hello old friends
There's really nothing new to say
But the old, old story bears repeating
And the plain old truth grows dearer every day
When you find something worth believing
Well, that's a joy that nothin' could take away

And so we meet again
After all these many years
Did we sow the seeds we're reaping
Now that the harvest calls us here
It seems that love blooms out of season
And much joy can blossom from many tears

So old friends you must forget what you had to forgive
And let love be stronger than the feelings
That rage and run beneath the bridge
Knowin' morning follows evening
Makes each new day come as a gift

-Rich Mullins