Monday, September 22, 2008

Fresh Air

This weekend I had the chance to get away and do a little bit of light backpacking with some BCM guys. We left Friday afternoon and drove about an hour to a place where we could get on the Appalachian Trail. We hiked up to a shelter along the trail, spent the night there, then hiked the rest of the way up to McAfee's Knob in the morning. There is a beautiful view of the mountains and valleys from up there, so we took it in for a while, then hiked back down and made it back to Blacksburg in time to shower, brush our teeth, and watch the VT/UNC football game.

The trip wore me out - I'm getting old enough where sleeping in a tent without any good camping gear isn't easy for me, and we did a good amount of hiking up the mountain. It was enough that I pretty much crashed the rest of the day Saturday. It was a very refreshing time for me despite that. I'm not a huge outdoors kind of guy - I can't remember the last time I camped prior to this - but I really enjoyed getting away from everything, having a bit of solitude, and getting to hang out with the other guys. One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to sit around the fire and talk about what God is doing in our lives and pray for each other Friday night.

Saturday morning, I woke up before most of the others, and I took the chance to be by myself for a while and reflect on the past month. I thought and prayed about what were the best and worst parts of the month, how I had seen God work, and in what ways I had failed or felt distant from God. There's something about being alone in the woods that enables those kind of meditation and prayer times to be so much more powerful than they would be in my living room.

Me sitting on the knob and looking out on the beautiful view.

Our group at the top, except Phil who was taking the picture.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Over the past two weeks at 6:33 (The BCM's weekly large group worship service - it meets at 6:33 on Tuesday nights), April and I have both had the chance to speak and share our thoughts with the group. April has done this before - she is a good speaker and knows how to share her passion and understanding of an issue with the audience. As for me, this was really the first time (outside of maybe a few short stories or testimonies) that I've ever been asked to say anything in front of a large group. We've been talking about making the most of what God has given us; April talked about making the most of our relationships and I talked about making the most of our finances.

I'm not sure what to call what I did. I shared ideas and stories from the Bible and my personal experience dealing with finances to somewhere around 100 students for about 25 minutes. Did I preach? Was it a sermon? Perhaps a homily? I feel very unqualified to use those sorts of words about anything I've done. Regardless of what I call it, it was a surprising experience for me. I'm not nervous to speak in front of a group, but I was nervous that I wouldn't have anything worthwhile to say, and I had a hard time sleeping the night before. I don't know if this is something I'm gifted at or not - I guess I would have to give it a few more tries and get some feedback from trusted people who know what they're doing. It made the worship experience of the night more vivid for me - there was a sense of desperation as I sang before getting up in front of everybody that I needed God's presence and help or everything I was doing would have been in vain.

If you're interested in hearing what I had to say, here's the website where you can download the audio. Unfortunately, April did not get recorded due to technical difficulties.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back to Church

One exciting development of the past week has been the feeling that we are starting to connect and become a part of the church we have been going to here in Blacksburg. The church (called [nlcf] - and no, I don't know what the brackets are about, but they always use them) has existed as a church on campus for students for a long time, but recently planted a "Downtown" congregation consisting mostly of grad students and older people (like us) living in the area. I went there a bit as a student, so it's neat for me to see how the church has grown and developed a new focus.

Getting connected to a new church is always difficult and awkward. I'm not really a very good social person in big groups, and I feel out of place in a room where I know nobody. We came in at a difficult time too, when the church was gearing up for the start of the semester and return of 90% of their congregation, so there was a bit of the feeling that we had somehow fallen between the cracks and nobody really noticed we were there.

Thankfully, we had two great opportunities to get connected with the congregation this week that have encouraged us. First, I signed up to try out to play drums in the band this past weekend, and we ended up having our first practice on Monday night. I haven't had the opportunity to play drums since we left Philly, so it was great to get to meet the others in the band and to play again.

Also, last night April and I went to one of the "homegroups" - which is [nlcf]'s term for small group Bible studies - for the first time. We had to leave a little early because we had to be back here for the BCM Bible study time, but it was still great to get to meet and hang out with a bunch of other people from the church. This is something that we've really missed since we were had to leave our fantastic small group in Philly, and we are really excited to get back into a group like this.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back in the South

Since we work a lot of nights and weekends now, our wonderful Director Darrell came up with the idea several years back (pre Nic & April) that we should take a half day off each week to rest and prepare for what's ahead. This afternoon just so happened to be my time off, and it was most pleasing. When I left the office this afternoon I went straight home, picked up my pup, and jumped in the car for some Chick-Fil-A. Now to most of you this might not seem so exciting, however to be back in a region where I can drive to a Chick-Fil-A that is within ten minutes of my house without any traffic is glorious.

I strolled up to the drive-thru ordered my combo #5 with a sweet tea and honey mustard and drove off with a huge smile on my face. It's times like these that make me appreciate the small things in life. I feel like over the past two weeks I've experienced every emotion under the sun. I've gotten so caught up in my emotions that I've forgotten to take a step back and appreciate the many blessings I've experienced along the way. So from now on I'm looking up and learning to appreciate everything that comes my way (or at least trying to)!