Archive by Author
26. Jun, 2011

I Just Buried My Faithful Companions

It was a somber moment as I opened the garbage can and deposited my two faithful companions. I’m usually not the kind of guy who gets attached to material possessions. But for this pair of New Balance tennis shoes, I’ve made a colossal exception.

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I wish I had video footage of the day I went shopping for them. I needed a pair of all-purpose tennis shoes to take to New Zealand with me. The goal was to pack very light and take only what was crucial. One pair of shoes would have to stand the test of all my adventures. I debated for almost an hour over which pair to buy. This was a big decision! Should I get the sweet pair of Nike’s with the white stripe on the bottom, or should I go for the more functional New Balance pair that wasn’t as attractive?

I tried them both on multiple times and had almost decided on the Nike’s. Just then, I gave in to my conservative side and chose the New Balance pair instead. And the verdict was….

These shoes went with me all the way across the Pacific Ocean. They walked around Fiji with me. They climbed mountains and waded through rivers with me in New Zealand. They went running along the beach with me in Australia. They even spent their last days doing yard work around Grandma and Grandpa’s house with me, despite having huge holes from all their faithful service. In all, they’ve lasted nearly 9 months of everyday use!

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It may sound like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but I couldn’t have made it without my shoes. I’m so glad I didn’t give in and buy the pair of Nike’s. Nothing against Nike, but that pair would have fallen apart in the first month. I chose “function over fashion” as it were, and hindsight says it was the right decision.

With great remorse, I bid them adieu. Gone, but never forgotten.

20. Jun, 2011

On a Mission to India

You should totally come!!!”

Years ago, my friend Katie Beth used that line to hook me into a spontaneous, last-minute trip to see one of our favorite bands perform live in concert. It seems she has a knack for planning outrageous trips and convincing me to join her.

This September, if the Lord allows, I’ll be joining her on a 3-week trip to India that is anything but a spontaneous, last-minute decision.

Why am I going?

Over the past several years, I’ve become more and more aware of how fortunate I am to live in the freedom and comfort of America. I feel that it’s time for me to get a small glimpse of what life is like outside of “western culture.”

“Who am I going with?”

I’ll be going with a group of like-minded young adults through an organization called Ashraya Mission.

“What is Ashraya Mission?”

Ashraya Mission is a brand new organization being founded in India by Katie Beth and her team. They are dedicated to providing children’s homes in India for at risk children. Human trafficking is a disgusting problem all over the world, and India is no exception. While there are many organizations focused on rescuing trafficked children, there are few focused on helping them start a new life and keeping them from sliding back in.

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“What am I going to do?”

I have been asked to put my photographic skills to good use to help document the operations of Ashraya Mission. Since they’re so new, they need lots of photos and video to help communicate the severity of the situation and what they’re doing to change it. As you may know, I’ve spent the last 7 months in New Zealand and Australia where I’ve been able to hone my photography skills while taking over 10,000 photos.

I will also have the chance to interact with the people of India, including orphaned children, and share the love of Jesus with them.

“How am I going to pay for the trip?”

I believe in Ashraya Mission and I believe in what our team is going to do. That’s why I’ve worked hard this Spring to earn the money to cover my trip expenses on my own.

“So why am I telling you all of this?”

Because now, more than ever, I want to share this experience with you. This is not a vacation. It’s going to be a difficult, challenging trip. I wouldn’t dream of trying to go this alone. So here’s what I ask of you, if you’re willing:

  • Pray – I believe prayer is powerful and effective. Pray for the whole Ashraya team and for me individually as well. Pray that our efforts would be blessed and would yield much fruit. If praying’s not your thing, that’s okay. Maybe you could send me a message of encouragement as I prepare for this challenge.
  • Stay in Touch – I’ve created a Facebook Group for my trip. I’ll use this group to keep you informed of our progress. If you would like to receive these updates, click here to view the Facebook Group page, and make sure to click the button in the upper right hand corner that says “Ask to Join Group”.
  • Give – As I mentioned earlier, I’ve already covered my trip expenses. However, Ashraya Mission has a real need for financial support as they begin their operations. If you would like to give a financial gift, please click here to visit the Ashraya Mission website, and click the button that says “Donate”.

This is going to be a challenging trip, but I am excited to serve with Ashraya Mission and to share God’s love with the people of India. I am so thankful for your support, and I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with you!

15. Jun, 2011

The Most Afraid I’ve Ever Been

“Have you heard about what happened in Japan?” my friend asked as he came through the front door. “There’s been a huge earthquake and tsunami wave.”

Are you kidding me? What is going on?

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It had only been a matter of days since a devastating earthquake rocked the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 180 people and causing 12 billion dollars of damage. I had just spent a week there, witnessing the devastation firsthand. Over in Australia, they were experiencing terrible flooding, and now the news from Japan. It was nearly too much to bear. And on top of all that, there were predictions of another major earthquake happening in New Zealand that next week!

My journal reflects how I was feeling:

“Right now, I’m legitimately concerned for my physical safety…”

“I feel troubled…”

It seems a little silly now, but I remember seriously thinking that I might not make it out of New Zealand. I might never walk through the garden and Grandma and Grandpa’s house again. I might not get to drink another 9 Fruits smoothie again. I might not get to hug my little sister again. But can you blame me? I felt totally helpless, like I was center stage for the unraveling of the world. Fear was waiting on my doorstep, begging me to give in.

“God, you’re in control. I trust you, even as the world seems to be in utter chaos…”

“I’m learning finally to just enjoy each precious moment…”

Somehow I made it through. Dozens in Australia didn’t, hundreds in Christchurch didn’t, and thousands in Japan didn’t. I grieve for them. But life goes on. And I do my best to enjoy each precious moment.

07. Jun, 2011

5 Invaluable Traits I’ve Learned from One of My Heroes

My grandpa is one of the few heroes in my life. I’ve admired him for as long as I can remember, since way back when I used to be the bat-boy at his softball games. He’s a soft-spoken man, a man who taught middle school math and science for 39 years….yeah, that’s a long time. I always enjoy staying with my grandparents when I come back to my hometown of Sacramento, California. This time through, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside my grandpa on his magnificent property for the past month.

Here’s a short list of traits that I’ve observed in my “Gramps.” The young people of my generation would do well to take notes and learn from one of the best people I know.

1. Handyman Skills – Gramps continues to blow my mind with his handyman skills. This grandpa can build anything, fix anything, and solve any problem. If I tried to tackle one of his projects by myself, I would have to spend hours researching online, drawing up plans, and probably making a lot of mistakes.

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2. Ingenuity – This is a necessary ingredient for any serious problem solving. Example: Gramps and Grams got rid of their truck and upgraded to a pair of fuel-efficient Toyota Prius-es. Gramps needed to haul some oversize gas cans to the gas station, so what was his solution? He turned his Prius into a “Prius-truck” and got the job done.

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3. Hard Work – In an age where so many young people(including myself) are determined to “find their passion” and “enjoy what they do,” Gramps’ work ethic truly sets him apart. Just as he did during his 39-year teaching career, he still busts his butt to keep things going around the house. He’ll crawl under any deck or don a pair of waders to get in and fix his pond. Seriously, I’ve had trouble keeping up with him, and he’s almost three times my age!

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4. Adaptation – I can confidently say that my Gramps is the coolest grandpa out there. Think I’m biased? He’s got a Kindle, a laptop, he uses Wi-Fi, he’s an active Facebook user, he text messages, and he checks his email at the dinner table! I am constantly astonished at the way he embraces new technology. But that’s not to say he’s a reckless spender. He’s a very frugal man. He still has wheel polish from the 1960′s in his garage!

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5. Enjoying Life’s Simple Pleasures – Last but most, Gramps possesses the ability to stop and enjoy the simple things in life. He can settle down from a long day of fixing things, working hard, using his brain, and checking his email, in order to enjoy a tasty slushy mixed with soda and a little pecan pie.

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Obviously, I’m pretty proud of my Grandpa, and I know there’s a lot I can learn from his example. I hope that when I reach his stage in life that my children and grandchildren will look back and admire the way I’ve lived my life.

Think about your grandparents or someone you really admire. What are one or two traits you’ve learned from observing them that the rest of us should know about?

01. Jun, 2011

Why Yosemite Was Worth the Wait

What do you when you realize you’ve spent most of your life just a short drive away from paradise…but you’ve never been before? You grab your buddies and go for a camping trip of course! That’s exactly what I did last week, and I’ve got to say, it was worth waiting for.

Jonathan, TJ and I packed up our gear into our sweet road trip vehicle – the Toyota Prius – and made for the mountains. The weather forecast for our trip was not so hot, but fortunately the weatherman blew it. We arrived in Yosemite and pitched our tent under a beautiful blue sky.

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I’m here to tell you that “the call of the wild” is a real thing. While the other guys slept in the next morning, I couldn’t resist the chance to wake up early and catch the morning light with my camera. I hopped in my getaway Prius and went for one incredible morning drive. The first thing that struck me about Yosemite is how massive the cliff faces are on either side of the valley. Seriously, I felt like an ant.

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Can you spot the Prius amongst the mammoth trees and mountains?

In sheer glee, I rattled off a string of “postcard pictures” in a mere matter of minutes. Everywhere you turn in Yosemite, there’s a postcard picture waiting to be taken.

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Apparently, we chose the perfect time to visit Yosemite. There’s been heavier-than-normal snowfall in the past couple of months. Couple that with rising summer temperatures and warm sunshine, and BAM, you get a spectacular display of waterfalls(and some great little ponds for reflections, a photographer’s delight!).

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On my morning photo drive, I happened onto what is probably the most compelling reflection scene in the whole park. Unfortunately, another photographer had staked his claim, and he wasn’t budging. I tried to wait him out for 20 minutes, but he was intent on guarding his territory. My solution? If you can’t beat’em, take a picture of’em! I think this picture captures the essence of Yosemite from a photographer’s perspective quite nicely :) .

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Back at the campsite, J and T had finally awakened from hibernation, so it was time to hit the trails. We caught the free shuttle bus to the Half Dome trail and had a little fun with my camera on the ride over.

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Does this remind anyone else of the “agents” from “The Matrix”?

Our original plan was to hike all the way to the top of Half Dome, Yosemite’s most famous landmark. In fact, I blogged about our ambitious goal several months ago when I was still in New Zealand. Sadly, due to the aforementioned snowfall, they haven’t yet opened the last part of the hike. We had to settle for climbing half way to Half Dome, but we sure made the most of it.

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Teej has the X-Men skill of wall running. He’s insane.

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On top of the world…I’ve said that before haven’t I?

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Obligatory BAMF picture.

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We solved J’s hydration issue from his last trip to Half Dome :)

We were able to spend the better part of two gorgeous days hiking around the park. Both days provided amazing views of the daunting valley below and the menacing mountain peaks above. I’m seriously bummed out about not making it to the top of Half Dome. But, that does give me a reason to come back soon. Hopefully very soon.

During the whole trip, I kept kicking myself that I grew up only 3 and half hours away and never visited this special place! In fact, I found myself questioning why I traveled to the other side of the planet to go to New Zealand, when all along Yosemite was here(and then I remembered how amazingly awesome New Zealand was, and that was pretty much the end of that).

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Anyways, the Yosemite trip was a winner. It was so great to have some bro-time with my good mates, soak in the fresh valley air, and try to comprehend the beauty-beyond-belief. The only thing that could have made it better was…a bear encounter. (Instead, our food got eaten by the local squirrel population. Yep, you read that right. If my food’s going to get ripped off, there might as well be a little adventure involved!)

Question: What is one place you’ve been wanting to go and visit but just haven’t gotten around to it?

20. May, 2011

Are You In a Condition of Contentment?

Contentmentrest or quietness of the mind in one’s present condition

It cannot be found outside of us, and isn’t tied to our circumstances.

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We cannot…

Earn our way to it
Learn our way to it
Play our way to it
Sing our way to it
Buy our way to it
Shop our way to it
Read our way to it
Plan our way to it
Organize our way to it
Travel our way to it
Explore our way to it
Climb our way to it

Contentment is a decision that starts inside of us. It starts in the secret, quiet place of our hearts. Between our Creator and us.

Then and only then can it work its way to the outermost parts of our lives.

I think we can…

Share our way to it
Give our way to it
Love our way to it

Are you content with your life right now? What can you do to change that or to remain where you are?

18. May, 2011

Learning the Hard Way that Good Health is a Gift, Not a Guarantee

HEALTH

That’s what I realized as I was sitting in the doctor’s office this afternoon. For many, this may be an obvious fact. But for me, as active 25-year-old who’s had a clean bill of health all his life, it was a frustrating wake-up call.

It takes a lot for me to go to the doctor. I’d rather eat raw Asparagus for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week than go to the doctor! But I’ve been feeling way under the weather for almost the past month now. It started out as a bad cold after Easterfest in Australia, morphed into jet lag in Los Angeles, transitioning nicely into allergies in Sacramento. It seems that all my travels are finally catching up to me. I actually spent 40 hours in bed at one point last week! Just when I thought I was going to emerge victorious, yesterday I came down with the worst sore throat I’ve ever had. It was time to throw in the towel and go see the doc.

Now, I share all of this to say: I am so thankful that God has blessed me with a normal, working body in the first place!

It’s true that since I’m not used to dealing with lingering sickness, I generally don’t cope with it very…maturely (I may have thrown a temper tantrum or two this week). All kidding aside, this latest bout with bad health has helped me to really appreciate the gift of good health. I’m learning that blessings like good health are never guaranteed in this life.

May I choose to be thankful for the gifts I am given, and cherish them as long as I have them.

What other things in our lives do we take for granted until they disappear?