thirty five

Twenty years ago I chose to memorize John Masefield’s Sea Fever for an assignment in school. I’m fairly confident my choice was based on how easy I perceived the poem would be, rather than any desire to be near the sea. I can picture myself reciting each line to my patient teacher, but otherwise it hadn’t made much of an impression on me.

2016 was rough, but I was able to leave a part of my past in the past forever, finally. My debt. Specifically my student loans. I finally became debt free last year and it is an amazing feeling. Payday is a celebration now instead of a painful reminder of past obligations which were carelessly signed for. I learned a lot from debt, and I am glad to move on to a new teacher.

To celebrate my financial freedom, and my Dad’s retirement, our family went on a vacation to New Zealand. Honestly it felt like going home. A lot has changed during the six years since my last visit, but what hasn’t changed is the way and pace of life. I can’t really explain it, so I won’t try; you’ll just have to experience it yourself. ☺

Now that we’re back, my family can’t stop talking about NZ to everyone who will listen, much like I did (and still do). They get it now; what I was so excited about, and why I’m still trying to find my way back.

Texas has been a good home to me, but it isn’t home. It’s just one of many, not the first; just the place I’ve lived the longest, which is hardly the best criteria for establishing one’s home. It’s much too flat here, and much too dry here. I was born between the mountains and the sea.

I saw a poem hanging on the wall of our beachfront apartment in Ahipara, NZ. The name and the author weren’t familiar to me, but the first line was all I needed to jog my memory. Twenty years later and I finally understand.

 

 


Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

thirty four

I am very much out of the habit of writing. Ideas swarm around my head but they rarely escape in any coherent pattern, only making sense within the walls of my own mind. I intended to write more last year, but it didn’t happen. This is my annual birthday post, which guarantees at least one post this year 🙂

This year, my word to chew on is courage. As with each word and each year, only God knows what this will mean for me in 2016, but by the end of each year I am always able to look back and see how fitting it was. Last year was wait which definitely proved to be an exercise in faith. Courage, I foresee, will be as well.

Courage isn’t something I generally think of until I’m aware that I’m lacking it. My heart is weak, my spirit is down, I’ve lost my nerve, I’m losing faith, I’m losing hope. This is my daily life. Am I going down the right path? Am I pursuing the right interests? Or am I just wasting my time? I become overwhelmed by the future—what I can’t see, what I don’t know, what I haven’t received yet. I quickly become discouraged which doesn’t lead to good things. I start to dwell on these things too long. In an effort to get going again—to see progress on my dreams, goals, life—temptations, or ‘quick fixes’ become more appealing. Before long, sin is born and the promises of God become distant and blurry.

Jesus knows. He knows we are prone to losing heart. He knows we do not possess the strength to do what we are called to do on our own. He knows, and he doesn’t condemn us, He encourages us.

He also prays for us.

“‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’”
— Luke 22:31

I’ve got a lot of thoughts swimming around my head, and I hope to write them down soon. Feel free to hold me accountable 🙂

State of Things

I started a new job in July of 2015 moving from Houston back to my home town of Killeen. Essentially I went from being ‘a’ Web Developer at the University of Houston to being ‘the’ Web Developer at Texas A&M–Central Texas. While it is a much smaller university, my responsibilities have grown both in depth and breadth so it has been a great challenge for me, which I am enjoying.

I’ve also had  a few opportunities to preach at my church last year, the audio can be found here if you’re interested.

Wait for the Lord (Psalm 62)

Through the Sea (Psalm 77)

Other than that, I’ve still got a few really, really big things I’m praying and waiting for God on. Big, scary, life-changing hopes and dreams that only He could bring about. Hopefully I will be able to share more this year 🙂

 

The One About the Ring

Part I

A few weeks before I bought my ticket to New Zealand, I made a trip up to NorthPark Center to have my laptop checked out at the Apple store. It was an odd feeling walking out of the Apple store with fewer Apple products than when I arrived. As I walked out my eyes were glued to the brand new iPad; I nearly caved–in to the temptation to buy one on the spot.

As I made my way through the mall, heading back to my car, I saw another store full of expensive things that I had no business looking at (this is not very hard to do at NorthPark). “Won’t hurt to look” is what I told myself as I walked into the very intentionally lit store.

We hadn’t talked specifically about marriage, but it was heavily implied by the two of us as we each painted a picture of a future that included the other. That, and the fact that I would not be visiting, but moving to New Zealand were enough for me to decide that I should start looking for a ring.

I figured Tiffany’s was just as good a place as any to start, given that I was already here. I just wanted to see what makes them so different, or as special as they would have me believe. I was prepared for the worst as I didn’t really fit in, but was met with an inviting look and a smile from a saleswoman. I wanted to reply that I was “just looking” but what came out of my mouth was a summary of my little love story which must have motivated her because despite my minute budget (that I was sure to clearly mention up front) she spent the next 15 minutes calling around to different stores until she found it. Classic, simple, elegant; perfect, except it was in California and I hadn’t actually seen it.

It was my most memorable trip to NorthPark ever. I walked out overjoyed with nothing more than a receipt.

Part II

For fifteen days I kept it a secret. There wasn’t anything special about May 22; I hadn’t chosen that day because of any special significance. Infact, I didn’t choose that day. When I woke up that morning I had no intentions of proposing—I couldn’t anyway because I hadn’t worked up the courage to ask her father for his blessing. It just so happened that he and I would be cooking breakfast for the family the following day and had to pick a few things up from the store. The car ride made bringing up the topic a little less awkward, denying him the opportunity to stare me to death. We spent the rest of that morning talking (for whatever reason, we had the house to ourselves) and ended with prayer; I had his blessing.

It was a relief to have that out of the way, and I started to think about when a good time would be. Maybe the following week once we’re both up in Auckland? Maybe in a month or so when we’re back in Tauranga?

It happened to be a beautiful and unusually warm day, so much so that we decided to get in a good walk as I was assured there wouldn’t be so many nice days as we headed into winter. I’m not even sure why I did, but I put the ring in my pocket before we headed out. While I used the word “walk”, the proper term is “hike”. Up a mountain. Okay, not a mountain, but an extinct volcano. Mount Maunganui stands 761 feet above the sea and the beach and the shops of the similarly named town at its base. At the top we did the usual touristy things, gazing at the beautiful views and snapping a dozen or so pictures. As we walked to the more secluded side of the summit, I uttered a phrase that would make our casual climb up the Mount a day to never be forgotten.

“So, I talked to your father this morning…”

I didn’t even have to finish my sentence; she knew exactly what he and I discussed and what was coming next. A rush of emotions flooded her face—confusion, a smile, tears building up. My pulse is racing and I know that I’m saying something but for the life of me I can’t recall the words; I’m kneeling and produce a ring from my pocket. I take her hand—then I take the proper hand—and some how manage to steady my hands enough to slip the ring on her finger. A perfect fit.

This is my favorite part: the ring had not been resized. There wasn’t anyway for me to find out her size when I bought it so I just left it as is assuming we’d have to have it sized after the fact. It didn’t even occur to me when I had placed the ring on her finger that it fit perfectly.


Now, you probably know that I’m not married and that I’ve never been married. I’m sharing this story because for a long time I didn’t think I’d get to share it; I didn’t think I was allowed to share it since it doesn’t end with “and we lived happily ever after”. Not all stories do. I love this and other stories from my engagement because it reminds me that God really does care about the little things in my life. That I can enjoy these memories for what they were—they were good moments in my life, independent of the final outcome. It reminds me also to live my life this way—one moment at a time, one day at a time.