Friday, August 28, 2009

Interview, Schminterview

I wanted to pause in my Retreat posting to talk about my job interview yesterday before I find out the result. First of all, I was told to try and get there early, as it would probably take longer to get on base due to the welcome-home-troops stuff going on. My interview was at 10:00, so I got to the base right at about 9:00 - and was through the gate and parking by 9:05. Wha?! Oh I'm super early, but didn't want to go in THAT early, so I sat in my car and read my Bible which I conveniently (and intentionally) had brought. It was a great way to steady any nerves...but then, come to think of it, I realized I wasn't nervous!

And when I walked into the office, I was about 10 minutes early and was able to hang/chat with the HR assistant there who I've been friends with these last couple years as we work on a lot of things together. She asked if I was nervous, and I was happy to answer "No." I think that has been one of the benefits of interviewing for jobs, is that the experience has boosted my confidence, despite the rejections.

It went really well, they said they had heard a lot of good things about me, and were planning on making a decision soon, so we'll see!

Experiencing God

Title = Not related to the book or study....just a short phrase that captures what the Men's Retreat weekend was in a nutshell.

This might be a long post, so maybe print it out and read on the train...or by the pool...or in bed...or whatever. Thus far, I feel like I have been pretty much an open book as far as what is going on in my head and in my heart in relation to life, God, etc. and intend to be just as transparent and vulnerable about this very special weekend. So take it all with a grain of salt, this is my (limited) perspective and not authoritative Truth. ;)

Leading up to the weekend, the major themes playing in my life's background have been 1) Prayer - how to do it; why I don't do it as often as I know I should; faith in believing it matters, etc. 2) Calling - there might be a variety of connotations of this word, but it's the one that speaks to me the most often, and basically is related to the question: What should I be doing with my life? I've often thought of this in a vocational sense (What job am I getting paid for?), but have widened it to include all areas of my life: family, church/ministry, etc.

I knew to expect that God would do something on retreat. I tentatively hoped for "answers" or at least a little more illumination on my path. Oddly, however, as we were driving up, checking in and heading off to the campfire, I felt slightly disconnected. Like I didn't feel any anticipation of something good happening, or at least a mild ambivalence. I was a little concerned by that, so as worship began, I asked God to soften & open my heart, to start being able to engage and "get my hands dirty" in the Spirit.


I'm sorry to do this...but I'm going to have to break this up into segments...otherwise, I may never get this posted, as the entirety is a bit over-whelming. I've been up since 4:00am this morning. That's the second time this week. It was fairly productive again, in the sense that I was able to connect and build in a relationship with a friend who was up at the same time, and started working on the "Cleansing" sheet that I will describe later.

I will give the utmost effort to completing the Retreat experience rundown over the next day or so, probably in manageable, small-ish chunks like this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Who Needs Sleep?

That title is an homage by the song of the same name, by one of my favorite bands ever, BNL (Barenaked Ladies). The funny (not the ha-ha kind) thing is, is that I have a friend who had a few nights in a row of waking up in the middle of the night like this, and I wondered why and what that must have been like for him as he described it on his blog - and now I get to experience it.

I don't feel any physical affects really, other than a mild headache, but I definitely feel like I could not go to sleep right now if I tried. And this is pretty darn unusual for me, as I am a fairly heavy sleeper. Wendy often will ask if I know what happened in the night (kid-drama related, usually) and I rarely do.

Since it is so unusual, my next thought is that there must be a reason for it, right? So I ask God if there's a reason He woke me? Is there someone in urgent need of prayer right now? Is there something I should have done yesterday that you're getting me up to do now? Not sure I've heard an answer yet, but I decide to write this blog update and see what happens.

While I'm here, I can maybe start to tell you a little about what happened on retreat. I'm going to do a nut-and-bolts overview in this post, in an attempt to break up the whole retreat recap into bite-size, readable chunks. This is pretty general, so feel free to gloss over. I'll get into personal specifics in my next post.

We stayed at a place called Horn Creek. Very nice accommodations, great food, amazing rec center, etc.

The format for the retreat is this: Friday we arrive between 5-7 and get settled in. There's no dinner, but there are "heavy snacks." Then some worship, then one guy talks - usually testimony type stuff. Then rec time from 9-12. I know that sounds late for physical activity, but for 55 dudes, it's a great ice-breaker since we're meeting guys for the first time, and a great de-compressor, as it helps us all relax and have a little fun after the work week.

Saturday I start with a little walk in the woods and devotions before breakfast. Then we have a morning worship session, and then break out into our 3 "teams". There are 3 different 45-minute speakers in different places. So each team goes to one, then we rotate until we've heard all 3. Then lunch, then afternoon activity. This year it was a combination of Amazing Race-ish scavenger hunt/trivia game/using a compass type activity. It was really fun, but exhausting to basically be speed-hiking all over the grounds for a couple hours. After a freshen up time and dinner, we have evening worship, followed by what I call "open mic" time, which is an opportunity for any guy to share what's going on with him.

Then Sunday is devos, breakfast, worship, then the "God Stroll" - a semi-structured time alone with God. Lastly we have communion - which for most of us is the highlight of the weekend. The way we do it is that there are several loaves of bread and little communion cups of grape juice. The idea is to take a piece of bread and juice to a guy that you've seen grow over the weekend, or they've ministered to you somehow, or you need to confess something and ask for forgiveness, or something like that.

Usually that's it and we're done by 11-ish and get lunch on the way home, but this year they actually had lunch for us too, which was cool. I was home by 4:00 and spent the next 3 hours or so kind of non-stop talking to Wendy about it, through kid-managing, through dinner, etc.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Men's Retreat 2009

This is tough. I'm sure most of you can relate to the quandry of experiencing something so amazing, then trying to put it into words to try and share it with others. This is one of those times. It's been a little over 24 hours since getting home from the weekend, and I feel like at times I'm still reeling.

There are so many stories and epiphanies and insights and experiences that I wish I could convey what it felt like, and how they've impacted me. Alas...I waited till after 10pm tonight to start this, and I'm tired and need to go to bed.

I promise I will try to write more tomorrow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stick To The Plan

I've always kind of noticed a pattern for me, but lately I've been think about it more intentionally and analyzing what it means.

Call it "Instinct" or "Intuition" or even just "Going with your gut"...however you try to label that ambiguous phenomenon, I feel like I've always had an above-average portion allotted to me. Might be that's why I'm good at remembering how to get somewhere. Might be that's why I seem to often make lane changes at just the right time. Might be related to discernment in people's character. But it goes beyond these things.

If I'm going to the store, I usually have a list or know the items I intend to purchase. My wife will attest to the fact that I notoriously end up grabbing a couple of "unplanned" items. Then I discover that either she had already purchased it, we don't really need it, or I regret it for some reason. I should have just stuck to the plan.

On a larger scale, I've hypothesized how this applies in other, more significant areas. Like when I was living in Denver and realized that I loved Wendy. I decided that I wanted to move back to California and marry her. There were a number of roadblocks and doubts, some tears and some sweat, but I stuck with the "Plan" and look how great that turned out!

Same thing when deciding to move out here to CO - roadblocks, doubts, etc....but I stuck with the plan that I knew was good, and again we've seen God's hand of blessing on us.

Now comes the self-chastisement. If I KNOW that sticking to a plan I know is good produces good results, why don't I always "stick to the plan"? In my walk with God, I know that reading His Word and praying to him on a regular basis is a good plan. But when I come up with a plan to help me do those things, I inevitably seem to fail...I alter or dismiss the plan. I remained convinced that it's a good plan, but I guess I remain unconvinced that it's worth my time and energy?

I vent my frustration (mostly at myself - though I admit I offered a smidge to God this morning in my prayer in which I used the phrase "What's the deal?") hoping to find some answers and inspiration at the men's retreat this weekend. If the last two men's retreats are any indication, I'm expecting God to do some big stuff. Should make for some good blog fodder next week! =)