Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Musical Adventure

I'm not sure at what point I stopped writing here, but it wasn't fully intentional. Much has been happening in the past month, and honestly I haven't really thought of anything particularly special to write.

But, in the interest of consistency, I wanted to take some time and put down a few thoughts. This one may not have much of a theme, but hopefully will kick things off again.

When we first moved to Austin in 2009, I had been playing music pretty consistently in Oklahoma. My band, "The Huntsmen," was playing cover songs at a few gigs here and there. At the time, I also loved just sitting out on a street corner singing. There was a confidence there, that seemed to disappear after leaving Oklahoma.

Austin, being the live music capital of the world (their words), intimidated me musically. In Oklahoma, my harmonica/singing/guitar simultaneously was a treat for some, as it wasn't as common. In Austin, everyone sings and plays guitar, and many add in the harmonica for good measure. Or, this is what I had as my perception.

So, I attempted one time to sit downtown on a corner playing, and it went decently enough, but didn't quite have that feel that doing it in Oklahoma had. From that point, it became more of a hassle to motivate and stretch myself to do that.

I wrote a lot in Austin. Some of my newer songs (many not recored) were written in Austin. I did most things at home, and didn't venture out musically. There is a coffee shop next door to the plasma center where we used to work that hosts an open mic night every Thursday, and I didn't once try to make it out and play.

Fast forward to this past week.

With Juliet still in Mexico this month, and feeling like there was nothing to do, I ventured out in Round Rock (north of Austin where we reside now) to a bar that listed an open mic night that evening. I didn't know what to expect, but something kept pushing me to just be confident again, and play. I arrived way too early, but spoke with the musicians of the house band, and they said once their set was over, they would begin the open mic portion. They insisted; however, that they back the acts. I usually do acoustic/singing/harmonica, and haven't had a band behind me since the Huntsmen, so this was an interesting curve.

As I listened to the group, I became aware that their musical style was similar to a lot of the more upbeat cover songs I used to do, so I mentally adjusted my playlist and got ready to perform. I told them what key we would be in, and tossed a few familiar song names at them, and we began. And, it went quite well.

Afterwards, I met a man named RJ, who goes from bar to bar in Round Rock listening to live music. He began to educate me on the best places to listen/play music in the Round Rock/North Austin area. A professional bar hopper, he had some good insight.

So, per his advice, I got off work the next Monday (on a work night) and rushed over to another local joint to sign up for their open mic. The first person I saw walking in was RJ, which made me laugh, but was also somewhat comforting, as he had enjoyed my set that Thursday before. I signed up and ended up playing sometime around 9pm (though I arrived closer to 7:45pm). This locale had quite a few talented musicians, and was basically booked solid for the open mic list. It filled up fast, and each musician got 3 songs to make sure we didn't go over the 10pm stop time.

Inspired by another round of applause for my performance, and some great compliments, I realized this is what I need to be doing when I am able. I don't know that I'll ever be a fully fledged gigging musician, but I'm remembering now that I do have some measure of talent, and can typically entertain a crowd. The rush on stage is much more exciting than sitting at home burning through a selection of Redbox movies (I used all my free codes anyway).

Last night (Wednesday) I tested another venue out for open mic. This was probably the oddity of the bunch, but as the night wore on, I realized I actually liked it.

I signed up way too early here, having been wary of waiting too long due to the long list at Monday night's venue. Due to early signup, I was asked to kick things off (which I did not particularly want to do). The MC for the night said take about 20 minutes (which was also unexpected). I had planned for 3-4 songs, and ended up needing about 5-6 when it was said and done.

On top of that, the crowd was literally (in the correct, unexaggerated sense) just the other musicians waiting to play. There were no patrons at the time I went on stage, just the open mic musicians, one bartender and the MC. It was a slow looking night. (I suppose my use of "literally" up there isn't quite correct as the bartender is not a musician-forgive me my grammatical stretch).

Before I got up, and older gentleman, "Overdue Bill," had approached me and was talking about all of the open mic venues he frequented. Bill is 88 years young, and his wife of 66 "tours" with him as he goes around Texas and other areas playing songs from his songbook. The songbook was thick and heavy as he has collected probably all of the older tunes out there into his repertoire.

My set went fine, despite a malfunctioning cord, and a PA in need of some care. I experimented more with the crowd and song choice as it was only the other musicians watching. Bill got up after me, put his chair on the stage, music stand and giant binder. As he began to strum, I got chills.

Bill was not particularly great at guitar or singing (which he admitted prior to playing), but this same type of love for singing reminded me of Mema (my mom's mom who has passed). Bill, made me think back to her days running her Gospel Singing Barn, when anyone who wanted to sing for the LORD could get up on stage and go. Even Mema didn't have the greatest voice in the world, but she had a passion for people and for singing. Bill reminded me of this. When his final song choice was "Old Rugged Cross," I felt great peace come over me. Bill later said that his two songs that earn him the biggest tips are "Old Rugged Cross," and "How Great Thou Art," despite the crowd being a bar crowd. That makes me wonder if deep down we all feel a connection to God brought about by those beautiful tunes. Or, perhaps people were humoring him.

I heard the MC talking about how he always tries to limit Bill because his style doesn't mesh as well with the others, which honestly frustrated me a bit. To compensate, I went up to Bill's wife and started telling her how much I was enjoying his playing, and how it reminded me of my grandma singing years ago. She was a nice lady, and told a few good stories about how Bill began to be the 88 year old open mic performer (she had talent but stage fright- bill wasn't afraid of stage despite not having a great talent - his words- I thought he was great).

I started talking to some of the other acts as they finished, and realized that even in this venue with nearly no one to watch, there was a nice camaraderie among the musicians. I met Phillip from Houston and Mark who had come from Boulder, CO and was just visiting open mics around town for something to do.

I came home refreshed, but exhausted (I Had worked my normal 10 hour work day prior to this). Today, as I reflect back, I'm anxious to get out and try more open mic venues. My music on reverberation website has put me at #11 locally in the singer-songwriter category (though according to online sources, this doesn't mean much). Locally, is also "Round Rock" in this case, which does not have quite as much competition as the Austin market. Still, it's nice to see that by posting a few songs, and shows, my rank moves up as more people listen and like it.

Today, I plan to frequent at least 1, if not 2 open mic in town to keep the flow going. I figure I can just become the open mic regular eventually, and build a fan base from that. I'd love a solo acoustic gig at some point at a bar or restaurant. At home, I continue playing with my songs, and using my iPad to record backing instrumentation to fill them out. The newest one, "Julie," was finished this time last week.

For more of my musical ventures visit me over at or

For booking around Austin/Round Rock, email at

I like this opportunity to get out there and just have some fun performing again. My muscle memory and skills didn't leave me completely (Though I forgot a lot of my cover songs and will need to relearn them).

Hopefully, Ill have some more writing inspiration as I experience more than just sitting at home (Though I plan to do that from time-to-time still as well). Stay tuned, and thanks for reading/listening.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Obligatory New Year's Blog

I've noticed many people are posting that 2014 was a rough year for them. Honestly, this was one of the better, or at least more consistently favorable years for us. 

Actually, until 12/17/2014, a day that will live in infamy (when our precious Puggy went missing), it was going quite well.

After Puggy's disappearance, my mom lost all her hearing in one ear, and a good bit of it in the other. To my knowledge it still has not returned.

My heart is still heavy going into 2015 because of those two things. I desperately wish Puggy would come waltzing up to the door here in Mexico, or that someone would call to deliver him back before the clock strikes midnight. I wish as well as everyone rings in the new year, my mom's hearing would come ringing back to her.

As I write this, I just received a text from our pastor friend:

"I declare and release God's manifested presence, power  and goodness over your life and loved one's in 2015.  Start this year by taking time tonight to dedicate yourself to God in prayer and worship. Thank Him for your 2014 blessings  and by faith declare all the Promises of God over your life.  You are loved! Supernatural blessings.  Pastor Matt"

This lifts my spirits a bit. One thing we must always remember, in good times and bad, is to be thankful. 

Looking back at this year, there is much for which to be thankful.

Juliet and I took steps to allow her to begin working with the ministry in Mexico. We downsized and moved to the RV, and in the midst discovered we can survive on my income. This frees up Juliet to do what she loves, and makes me happy that it's possible.

She may come back to the states a bit this year to work somewhere she enjoys while we hit our debt hard, but the goal will be a potentially life changing move to work towards both using our gifts with the Manos Juntas ministry in Mexico.

I am thankful to have had family in Austin, and that despite their move back to Oklahoma, more family has now moved to Austin. Can never get enough family!

Even in the loss of my mom's hearing (hopefully temporarily) and Puggy's disappearance, I still must thank God for His provision.

Even if Puggy does not come back, or my mom continues to have partial hearing, we must always give God thanks. 

Our purpose in this life, no matter how often we try to hide it with less fruitful endeavors, is to give God the glory. We were created for fellowship with him, and our following of Christ is a large step back towards the intended relationship.

To paraphrase, we are aliens in this world. We see but a glimpse of God's good intentions for us in this life. It must be our joy to be thankful in good times and bad, to grieve, but not as those without hope.

It is often overused, but Jeremiah is correct when he writes,

"I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper not to harm, to give you hope..." (Jeremiah 29:11)

The context of that verse was a time of tribulation much worse than anything we are currently experiencing. And yet, God speaks comfort to us through his prophet.

I've been less Spiritually involved this year (due in part to initially being unable to attend church consistently due to work), and I do want to get my focus back in 2015.

Not due to a misplaced negotiating tactic with God in which I focus on Him more and He then blesses us more. God will bless whom he blesses and put through trial those he loves that they may grow stronger in their walk.

For now, we must be thankful for the 6 wonderful years we had with Puggy. My mom, despite what I imagine is a huge feeling not to, must give thanks even in the midst of her hearing loss. For in all things, there is a purpose. 

We may not know why Puggy remains missing, or why my mom can't hear, but as we enter 2015, I pray we will remain joyful and thankful for all the things these past years with which God has blessed us.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Hello all,

I am hoping some who read this may have connections in Rio Bravo, MX or surrounding area who can pass the world along.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 around 9pm, Puggy (Our pug) went missing near the building for Manos Juntas Mexico, in a neighborhood in the Northwest part of Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, MX.

We have searched the neighborhood for 2 days now, and think that someone must have taken him inside. Pugs are a valuable dog here, and taking one to keep, or sell, could be a strong possibility.

Some people had seen him running free that first night with another dog, but after searching far and wide, we think he would've turned up by now if he was still loose. More likely, someone has him in their house- hiding him.

We are offering a reward, in dollars, final amount TBD depending on whether Puggy is returned safely and without harm.

If anyone in Rio Bravo area has information, I will list the numbers to call- or location to meet us to deliver Puggy.

For anyone who knows our family, he is a baby to us, our first dog together as a married couple. Juliet and I are heartbroken, and only wish for Puggy to be brought back safely.

We won't ask questions, or turn people in for taking him. We simply want to have him back before Christmas, so our family can be reunited for the holidays.

Thank you in advance for anyone who helps lead us to our Pug. See the info below for how to reach us, or bring the pug to us.

If you have any information, call or email at the contact info below:

In US- or 9186161693 for Chris

In Mexico- (in Rio Bravo area code) 933-0640, 933-0268 OR Mexico cell phone- 044-899-2160416

Please only call if you know where we can find Puggy, or have information on his whereabouts

Check the craigslist links for Lost and Found posting:

In English:
In Spanish:

Help fund Puggy's return with announcements, reward money and general funding for his search.
Bring Puggy Home Campaign

Please help us find our precious pug!

Friday, November 7, 2014

All they will call you will be, Deportee

I helped with a team of doctors/dentists/optometrists from Asbury UMC today at "Senda de Vida" in Reynosa. "Senda de Vida" is a ministry which helps those who have been deported from the US, some after living there with family for many years, get back on their feet and communicate with family members still in the states. The teams today did general checkups, dental work and checked eyes. It was a very rewarding experience. 

I had a chance to speak with one gentleman "William" who had lived in Oklahoma for many years with his 5 daughters, and was now separated and back in Mexico after being deported. He is probably 80-85 years old (too old to take care of himself), and cried each time he mentioned his daughters. One of them works at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa.
This is the human aspect of deportation and border patrol we often forget, and I think it takes meeting some of these people first hand, and hearing their stories, to get a full understanding of where we as Christians should stand on border issues. Yes, they were living here illegally, but many with family or working steady jobs. Others were being taken care of by their family, as they were too old to be living alone. Now, they have nowhere to go, and Senda de Vida helps get them back on their feet on the Mexican side. A noble work, but one that can only do so much.
Deported immigrants line up for medical services from the Asbury UMC medical team out of Tulsa, OK
Often, US Border patrol drops illegal immigrants off thousands of miles from where they first crossed, with no means of communication with family or survival. It's a common practice that I can only assume is some form of sick punishment our US side came up with to further demean the people. If we must deport can we not at least send them back to their hometowns? They're more likely to cross again if they are given no other alternatives by being sent thousands of miles away, than if they at least get to be back in Mexico with family. 
Immigration reform should have a goal, first and foremost, of reuniting families, and preventing the break up of existing families, regardless of mistakes that may have been made. Many of these are Christian people, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who we are sending away, and condemning. Jesus said, "come unto me you are are weary and heavy laden..." (Mt. 11:28). I think we should remember that when our brethren from the border sacrifice everything for a small chance at a better life, and we promptly kick them back south of the river and call them criminals. 
I know many disagree, and many agree. Honestly, tired of debating it back and forth, so just think about the human side of things. Throw out the politics, and the arguments about safe/not safe. In the end, these are just people with families trying to make better lives for themselves. If it were any one of us, wouldn't we pray too for a little compassion and care from our brethren, especially those who call themselves Christian? I think we would.

A Whataburger just visible in the distance, looking stateside from Reynosa, close, yet so far

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Swon" Song

Today marked the release of the debut album from "The Swon Brothers," who rose to fame after a successful run on the hit show, "The Voice." Though they were runners up on the show, they have taken that opportunity, and made something great of it.

I don't want this to be an excuse to play the "I know Colton and Zach," card, but I do want to share some of my experience around the brothers, and try to put into words the great emotion I feel having seen them make it this far.

First, let me just say to you guys, well done! You have absolutely been blessed with a great opportunity, and you are using your skills and your faith to realize God's call on your life as musicians. And, I do believe it is a calling.

I went to high school with Zach and Colton, though Zach was a year ahead and Colton a year or two behind. I won't say we hung out frequently by any means, but I do have a few fond memories of these guys, and the impact they made on all whom they came across.

Throughout high school most of our interactions were battling as bands in the talent shows. I began performing around my Sophomore year, but was certainly not at the talent level of these guys. As such, I had a sort of envy/admiration from afar.

My senior year, though, I had a chance to really sit down with Colton and get to know him a little better. It wasn't much, but we had a jazz band class together (which was more of a "jam band" class). I remember one day sitting in one of the band rooms with our acoustic guitars just strumming and hanging out. Whether or not he knows it, Colton has a way to make you feel like you are the most important person in the room without even saying a word. I can't remember what we discussed or what songs we played, but I haven't forgotten that moment when I finally got a glimpse at Colton's personality. It took away any friendly competition, and turned it into true admiration of talent.

There was one time before Colton and I sat together in Jazz band during my sophomore year that stands out to me as well. My band (if it could have been called that) had somehow booked a gig at our Spanish teacher's restaurant. It was my first real gig, and though our talent wasn't quite there, my brother, friend and I were very excited to play. I remember setting everything up and nearly being ready to play when Colton and Zach walked in with some friends.

I should clarify that this restaurant was not an easy find, it was out in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. What they did next has always been a cherished memory as well, though at the time I doubt I realized it would be.

Despite them already knowing we weren't the most skilled guys out there, they sat and supported us through our set, applauding when applicable, and legitimately watching us. I have a video of that night, and I know we didn't sound too good. The Swon Brothers have been talented since the crib, so to us having them watch was a big deal. It meant a lot that they stuck around. I think they played gigs there sometimes as well (maybe even later that night), but what stands out is their willingness to show support to a group that was clearly not on their level.

It's that kind of caring, and respect for those around them that really shines through. I could talk all day about how great this album is, and how each song is equally uplifting and inspiring. How "This side of Heaven," brought a tear to my eye, and how "Pray for you" makes me feel a surge of happiness at the sheer honesty of it all. Or, how I can't seem to stop singing, "Later on," and how "Same Old Highway," is very relatable as I drive to and from Mexico so often in this season of my life. But, I think there is more to Colton and Zach than the musical skill. They have an uncanny ability to make everyone around them feel special and relevant. They interact with their fans, they genuinely enjoy what they do and it shows.

I really can't think of two better guys to have received this great opportunity. Since high school, I've matured spiritually and mentally, and realize now that this is definitely more than just a career for them. It is a calling. It's hard to explain what emotional response I'm experiencing listening to this album. I have immense pride for their accomplishment, and I feel uplifted each time their perfect harmonies line up at just the right moments. There is something special about their music.

Colton and Zach, I just want you to know, this isn't a unique situation I write about. There are countless people you have touched, and who probably have a thousand other stories of your generosity of spirit and kindness. It didn't occur to me completely in high school, but looking back, you two are genuinely talented, level-headed, kind people. I can see that now with the insight of a few more years under my belt.

I want to let you know I'm proud of you. Your hometown of Muskogee is proud of you. Your friends and family are proud of you. I am overjoyed at your success, and I don't know if the high school version of me would have been able to see that through all the teenage emotions. I know now you are destined for this success. You've prepared your whole lives for this moment. Don't lose sight of your roots. Don't lose sight of Christ and your faith. To those who much is given, much is required, so don't let the road or fame get to you negatively. Stay positive and keep doing what you do best, God will take care of the rest.

Remember to bring glory to God in all you do, and let your lyrics and music speak to people's hearts. I can tell you with this album they already have. May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine up on you and your music. You are an inspiration. Today I'm going to keep listening to the album, but tonight, I'm gonna pray for you. God bless you brothers!

If you haven't already, head over to iTunes and show these guys some support by getting their album. It's a good $10 investment, and they deserve it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

God's Will: To seek or to wait?

Are we meant to seek out God's will? Or does it tend to actively find us?

These are thoughts running through my head. In many cases in my own life, it seems to be the latter. I'll be going along and then some opportunity will come along that pushes me onward in my faith journey. An example of this would be last September when Matt asked me to help kick off Amen Austin church leading worship. 

Or do we seek out God's will as in the case of Juliet? We made a plan (with prayer) and determined we would downsize our life style enough for her to pursue God's plan for her working in Mexico.

In the case of both, we were actively growing in our faith walk and/or helping others. Juliet is really just getting things kicked off down there even 3 months later, but she finally enjoys something that she is doing.

In my own case, I grew more from September-April leading worship at a church than I could've anticipated. In another example of God's will finding me, I was thrust into position of "leader" for the mission trip to Acuña, MX back in March.

So, you might say we both found God's will, or let's say "direction" in different ways, and at different times.

But, my question now becomes, how do I remain in God's will once it appears that I am in it? An odd sounding question for sure, but my question nonetheless.

See, as we began planning to follow God's call to downsize so Juliet could answer the call in Mexico, I was thrust into circumstances at work beyond my control which made it not possible to attend church at all, let alone lead worship. So, as we began the search for God's will in Juliet's life, he seems to have sidelined me to cheer her on in my own walk.

And, though I like thinking of it like that (her cheerleader as it were), it's hard not to wonder why God could not also still be using me in the same capacity as before.

Are there seasons of doing God's will , and seasons of cheering for others? Or did the lack of church and regular worship put me in a distracted funk where I dedicate more focus to TV and video games than my previous theological pursuits?

I tend to thrive on church. And while these days that is somewhat taboo even among Christians (who worship Jesus, not the institution), I think their is validity in a personal relationship with Christ, which also retains an element of the community of believers that is His church. 

One thing I miss most about the past year is fellowship with other believers. It's not that I can't pick up my Bible or pray alone, but I learned this past year that the support of others doing the same thing with you can be quite uplifting.

I think that while I tend to be a loner in terms of socializing, the one area where that is not the case is within the body of believers. I seem to thrive on mutual support and encouragement. Does that mean I'm still insecure in my faith? Maybe a little.

I have yet to understand what it is to live fully for God. I have moments, even months sometimes where that is my primary focus. Other months, however I seem to be in good shape if I just manage my daily Bible reading (and I'm a month behind on that now). I know Christians still have day jobs. But could the pull to daily be focused on kingdom building be God pushing me to some kind of ministry? That's my only guess. Because as fulfilling as working a decent day job can be, I feel like is rather be working directly for God, building and preaching His kingdom.

But, I am a lowly sinner. How can one be called to something when as soon as the winds of change blow, they get sidetracked and unfocused? What is the purpose in my work schedule changing in such a way that for at least 3 months I've been without corporate worship? 

Back to the first question, Are we meant to seek out God's will? Or does it tend to actively find us? Could it be that because in all my past experiences God has dropped things in my lap, that when he lets me loose on my own to seek Him, I am unable? Does a child who has everything provided for then grow up knowing instinctively how to fend for himself, or is there a seeking element there? A learning process. Is it possible that while God loves to get the ball rolling (so to speak) with opportunity, we are meant to continually seek the growth and maintenance of said opportunity? Instead of sitting around waiting for God to throw the next bone, are we (in prayer) supposed to step out and seek His will as well? It would certainly be in keeping with His character. Growth through change (and sometimes trial) will teach us to stand firm with God when the winds of change, distraction or sin blow out way.

So, then, if the answer to the question appears to be a little of both, does it shift one way or another more in us individually? Am I given opportunity so that God can teach me that it is there and that I should seek His will daily whether or not he sets it out for me? And for someone like Juliet (hypothetically) is she already such a good seeker of God's will that the possibility for random blessing and opportunity is not needed? Or could it be that being a seeker and doer of God's will, she could always use a good dose of reliance and trust on Him as well. A reminder that while it is wise to seek God's will, we do nothing without trust in Him. Oddly, the seeker may be seeking the very thing that for the receiver God would simply place there to get the ball rolling.

So, for example, if God drops an opportunity to serve leading worship, or even missions, and I take it, and cherish the idea of it, but tend to be blown about by winds of change and distraction, God must place me in new situations where I need to be more active than passive. Does this mean that this past year I was being passive in the roles in whih I was placed?

Honestly, looking back, it is possible. It seemed to be God's will and became comfortable in it. But, could I have put more effort into the music? Could I have engaged more people to sign up for mission trips? Did my naturally tendency for procrastination simply manifest itself in God activities instead of Chris activities? Perhaps, though I confess I did put time and effort into both, maybe I did not put enough in to show I was a ready and willing servant. 

Now, laying here about to go to work tomorrow at a good job, but not a God job, I have to wonder of my current season is a product of my own doing? Like the benched player who did not put in enough effort to get on the field, I'm happy for the other players (Juliet) and support the "team" wholeheartedly in a victory, but being on the bench by one's own doing can sometimes still be painful. 

Is that what is going on? I'm not too sure. In September, one year after having the great opportunities to grow and lead, I sit at a crossroads. What if my distraction and laziness puts me back on the bench for another 6 months? I certainly haven't proved I can run with the ball being on the bench since April. Or, will God perhaps grant me, in His mercy, the chance to try again? To really, fully come into His ministry. Am I called to do so? Or am I meant to at least have days free to worship and commune with other believers while holding a regular day job?

I'm sure I could be fine either way. And if any of the events since April which caused me to not be able to go to church whatsoever were my own doing then I am sorry. If, however, they were a time to learn even the small kernel of truth this writing has brought to my mind- that we must actively seek God in every opportunity in which we find ourselves-, or to bring me back to remembrance of just how much I need God and fellowship with Him, then it will have been time well spent. 

But, please God let me get back in the "game" eventually. I'm thankful for Juliet and her chance to serve you, and I do not want my own ambitions for your will to take away from her ministry, but I too am ready to serve again. Where will you lead me? Am I to wait on you in trust, or would you have me seek out your will around me? Will it be a mix of both? Whatever the way, Your will be done! Amen

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Start of a New Chapter

Well it's been awhile since I've had anything to write. Honestly the past few months have been a blur of planning and the fruition of those plans.

Back in April (as I think I posted on a previous post) Juliet and I decided to buy an RV, downsize our lifestyle, and give her a chance to work for her dad in Mexico helping with Manos Juntas and the mission teams.

Up until June when we left the apartment, it was weird knowing that we had gone through with the RV purchase and had it stored and waiting. Throughout mid-May to this point things have been happening quite rapidly.

On an extremely positive note, Juliet's parents both got tourist visas and can now visit the states when they want. They came up for a visit the week we were moving out of the apartment to help out, and to see Austin for the first time. It had been I think 20 + years since her dad had been in the states, and close to the same for her mom. The fun of getting to take them on a "tour" of sorts like I had done 7 years ago with Juliet was a great experience all over again. We ate at a few select restaurants and saw some sights.

From the time Juliet went to Mexico to start helping out around May 16th, I had really only visited her twice prior to their June 9th visit. It had already become a situation where she really was in Mexico more than here. This was the plan so I had (and have) no issue with this. It's weird to sit back and remember though realizing she was gone a couple weeks when we hadn't been really apart since prior to being married in 2007. Most of our time has been spent together.

When they left after the June visit, my dad (in a pleasant turn of events) made a visit to see me (and her parents before they left), and also help some with the RV move. Though we spent most of the time moving the furniture to storage and installing a new fridge on the RV, the time felt very special to me. It has been awhile since just my dad and I have done any activity together the two of us. It was strenuous work, but I knew by time he was offering to patch up a part of the roof as well that he enjoyed the time as well, despite the hard work.

We managed to catch the last few innings of a baseball game to unwind, and I spent the night at his hotel room for one last glimpse of civilization before the final commitment of the RV living. By this time it was livable and ready to go.

Once he left, I had a normal 4 day work week in which I initially as dreading being alone again. One solid week of close family had warmed me back to the idea of the togetherness, and being on my own again seemed unappealing. My mom and Joe ended up moving back to Oklahoma that week; however, and in a nice surprise she stayed at the RV with me a couple nights while their RV was transported.

This represented really the last remnant of family nearby for what I knew would be a week or so at a time. It was a change that we had chosen, but that seemed all the more real the first night that I slept in the RV bed alone as Juliet lay in Mexico surround by her family. My family and come for a final visit in a way before heading back to Oklahoma.

That week went by well enough, and during this whole period of Juliet being gone, I had made a few trips to Mexico to visit and see her. There were probably only two full weeks that I've been totally by myself here.

This past week, Juliet and I just got back from our 10 day anniversary vacation, and again the time spent immersed in family only made the upcoming days afterwards alone feel that much more quiet. I actually like being alone, and I typically can get a lot more done in terms of "Chris projects," that I always seem to have in endless supply. But, there are moments when I still miss company.

What occurs to me in the midst of all of this is that though our plan is playing out exactly as expected, when I think of what's on the horizon, for the first time in awhile I'm clueless. I have been working on Sundays since May and haven't been to church since Easter, which bums me out after having been active leading worship in one church on Saturdays and enjoying being in the congregation at our home church on Sundays. I was immersed in church life and now that I don't have it. I do miss it.

I'm praying my 4x10 shift which is great for visiting Mexico will somehow move to a Sun-Tues off schedule instead of its current Mon-Wed off.

This lack of fellowship which I had become so accustomed to only weighs on me in the quiet hours. I stay fairly occupied usually with TV and video games and the day-to-day of work. It's weird that when I am in town on one of my 3 days weekends if I really think about it, I don't think I speak more than two or three words out loud the whole time. Even running errands I rarely have to speak. I get to work on Thursday having been mostly alone with my thoughts for 3 days, and the first "Thank you for calling," is always raspy and if I had gone without speaking for much longer than 3 days. I joke about that actually because it is weird to me, but in a way, something different about which to think.
Going forward, Juliet and her dad will begin speaking to churches in the states to help the ministry in Mexico, and this means they will be up here more often than at present time. I've left the puppies with her in Mexico the last couple of weeks because we found out crossing them at the border is easier than expected, and I felt like she would like their company. Turns out I miss them more than I thought I would too. But when they're here, the extra work of walking them seems frustrating.

The point of this post, other than playing a bit of catch up with those who may still read it, is to simply state that I feel again somewhat stuck and unsure of what is next, but ultimately positive.

Juliet is confident God has plans in store for us, but I want to know that our RV plan was exactly where we needed things to go. People keep complimenting me on the "sacrifice" I am making to let Juliet fulfill her dream of working with the mission teams, but in reality, I don't feel like it's a sacrifice. I've been trying to find a way for her to do that again since the day we got married. She knows it's her calling, and the fact we can finally allow her to do that is a blessing to me, no matter how much we miss each other. Actually the absence makes our time together that much more special now. It's like dating again in a way because each moment together is more precious, as the time apart brings the longing that comes from early love. We were probably getting complacent in the relationship to a degree anyway, and this has added a renewed energy and spark.

I still don't know why I was given the opportunity to lead worship and pursue theological matters so fully, only to have the proverbial rug pulled from me when the work schedule changed on me, but I suppose the time will come to figure that out. Perhaps, as I had wanted for so long, this is Juliet's time to fulfill her calling. I have had so many opportunities to do so up to this point, it's time to let her have some time as well.

Honestly, at work I am performing better than ever being back on days and a consistent schedule, so I suppose in that respect things are going well.

And, we both love the RV. Well, I love it and Juliet said she likes it and is comfortable in it too. It's maximum usage of space without excess. It's comfortable living without waste, and that aspect of it is appealing. It feels like a preparation of sorts for future circumstances that might require being out of comfort zones. Maybe mission work, who knows?

In any case, that is the "news" and probably why I hadn't taken the time to post much lately. My theological interest in terms of study and growth may have waned a bit due to the lack of being around church as much, which always boosted my interest. God knows when the time will come to renew my energies on that front. For now, as before, I pray His will be done in both our lives as we begin this new, unfamiliar, but ultimately promising chapter of our marriage. And perhaps it's no coincidence that in the 7th year the major changes have come. The number "7" has played a big role since being married on 7/7/07. It's a year of change and growth, and I think we'll come out on the other side better for it.

Pray for us both as we seek God's will in all of this, and pray for our finances as we transition into a period of downsizing both on bills, but also on income. We are truly living within our means, and I would love the opportunity for the part of the plan to start setting money aside to come to fruition, but this transitional period is showing us that sometimes "just enough," is enough. A good lesson, and one I think we are happy to embrace at present time.

I will try to post more often as in previous months as I am led. Hopefully this keeps my main readers satisfied for present time.