Blindsided

Sometimes, even a person who is blind can get hit from their blind side. This truth was made evident to me yesterday and after a coffee and a good night’s sleep, I am still unsure what I think about the debacle that was yesterday afternoon.

I left my office and headed downtown to attend a City Council meeting where a White Cane Day proclamation was going to be read. I got off the bus and started walking across the street when suddenly heard a crunching sound, my nose exploded into a fiery pain, and blood gushed from my nose at an alarming volume. A guy had run smack into me as he was running across the street. I stumbled backward dazed and a bit confused. Sorry, the guy said as he kept running. I was left in the middle of the intersection dripping blood and slowly coming to the realization that I needed to move as the light was going to change.

I walked down to Red Robin and they wanted nothing to do with me. I asked for napkins and eventually they gave me some with a cup of water. I continued bleeding, while the Red Robin staff urged me to go to the hospital. It just so happened that an EMT was across the street. I went over and chatted with them and finally quit bleeding. With a large cup of water I cleaned myself up as best I could and refused a trip to the hospital. Looking a bit more presentable, I walked into the Red Robin, washed up again in their bathroom, ate dinner, and made it to my meeting.

Confidence is critical for a blind person to travel independently. Events will inevitably happen that can shake one’s confidence, and yet there is no option except to keep on keeping on. You can’t stay at home. There is an entire world out there to see. And while it does astound me that the guy who mowed me down did not stop and nobody else walking past offered help, in no way will this experience slow me down, although Google needs to hurry up with those self-driving cars!

Soul Searching

 

There are reasons that I do not blog much anymore. For one thing blogging is often a recycling of the same old themes packaged in different wording kind of like re-gifting an unwanted present and giving it to someone else during the holidays. Aunt Peggy will like this crappy painting, now where is last year’s wrapping paper? Blogging is also an unsafe forum for me to give my take on living life as a blind person based on what I do for a living. There is no reason to intentionally put yourself at risk for the possible person who may confuse my thoughts with those of the organization that I work for. Of course the major reason that I blog so little now days is that nothing changes. As Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” As a result it is rare that I blog much anymore, but if you are reading this please indulge me as I briefly look at the past and share my view of my immediate future.

 

Moving from Indianapolis to Spokane has been quite an adventure. I have endured many challenges, made some great friends, and had some pretty amazing adventures. After two years though I am beginning to wonder if I can be happy here long-term. Do I want to live in Spokane for the foreseeable future? How happy am I with my job? Am I making some positive impact in the world? In what direction is my life heading? These are questions that have dominated my mind over the past month.

 

Obviously these questions are challenging to answer. It is hard to turn down the deafening noise of life and just simply be silent in the moment. It is also extremely difficult to know if frustration, temporary unhappiness, or a desire to ignore one’s own issues are influencing one’s thoughts. Perhaps most important of all, it can be hard to be honest with oneself.

 

It would be easy for me to simply write a paragraph about how I am going to embark on a journey of soul searching to answer these questions and how I can’t wait to share my findings in a future post. But that would be a complete lie. Chances are I won’t blog about what I discover. Life will either just go on or I will make some kind of life change. What I can tell you is that I truly am doing some soul searching and that I plan to engage some close friends in this process to assist me in finding clarity and hopefully put myself in a better position to see what God may be saying. In the meantime, life will go on as usual and like everyone else I will engage in the quest for self discovery and probably never have a clear direction.  Life is not black or white, instead life is lived in the various shades of gray where we struggle to strike a balance between living with uncertainty and faith.

Join Me For An Adventure!

On June 14th, I will embark on a grand adventure.  Now what I call an adventure is really nothing more than a typical day for many Americans.  You see I will be playing golf.  Not just 18 holes though, 100 holes of golf to be exact.  As a person who is blind, I rarely have taken an interest in golf.  I have occasionally gone to a miniature golf course on dates and once I ventured on to a driving range.  In my eyes then, 100 holes of golf in a single day is an adventure because who knows what will happen!

 

I started doing this 100 hole golf marathon last year to support work that is going on in Haiti. I was introduced to the work going on their through my church, The Porch.  They had joined others and created an organization called Piti Piti which means little by little.  This past year Piti Piti merged with Creole, Inc. the Porch partners with folks down in Haiti in some really fantastic ways.  Work has been going on to terrace the land for the growing of crops.  Jobs are being created for people who previously had no means of finding work.  Food is being grown which allows people to have a sustainable source of food.  Opportunities are currently expanding and new crops like peanuts and getting into the coffee business are being considered.

 

While jobs and sustainable crops are transforming the countryside of Haiti, pastors are also there sharing the gospel in an authentic way, not the stereotypical way we share the gospel in America with a quick prayer and good luck to you now that you have a God who will grant you all of the wishes of your heart (sorry I had to take a shot at the prosperity gospel).  

 

What I really love about the work Creole, Inc. is doing in Haiti is that it is not a cause specific to Christians. You do not have to follow Jesus and be passionate about jobs and crops for people in need.  You can be a bible believing Christian and be excited about the gospel being shared in a land that is in need of hope.  Or, you can be like me and be fired up about the creation of jobs, sustainable food, and the sharing of the gospel.  .  Perhaps one of the best things about supporting Creole, Inc. is that 95% of the money raised goes directly to the work that is taking place in Haiti; few charities can give you that return on your investment.

 

I generally do not like to use my blog to promote causes but I am passionate about what is going on in Haiti and I would like to ask you to join me by supporting me as I play 100 holes of golf. Please take a moment to click on my page, learn in grander detail about the work going on in Haiti and consider supporting me in this golf marathon.  Together we can bring hope and opportunity to a land that is often overlooked.  Thank you for your consideration!

 

Somewhere In-Between

I am empty. I am full. Today, Easter Sunday 2014, I realized that I have been searching for something; something that I cannot describe or put my finger on. It is a gnawing feeling inside of me that makes me feel completely empty and starved.

I went to the Easter celebration at The Porch. This service is always one of the highlights of my year, but today I felt that gnawing empty feeling as I sat unintentionally alone at a table. People were laughing and chatting all around me. In the awesome and quirky way of The Porch, The Lumineers played on Pandora as people drank coffee and waited for the service to begin. The service started with a reading, a couple of songs, another reading, there were baptisms, stories of resurrection, communion, and then a big feast that included a vast array of all different kinds of food.

My feeling of emptiness persisted to gnaw at me until the baptisms. I was overwhelmed with joy, yeah I know that isn’t a very guy-like phrase to use, overwhelmed with joy, but that is what I was. During the stories of resurrection I surprised myself and stood up essentially saying the following:

I have been in Spokane for almost two years. Throughout my time here I have discovered a sense of emptiness inside of me. I am not sure how long I have felt that way. Perhaps it has been there for a long time. Maybe it came about due to me being blind, or my parents passing away unacceptably at younger ages than they should have, or perhaps it has to do with being single. It could be all of the above I don’t know. What I do know is that I have tried coping with this sense of emptiness in a variety of ways. I have tried alcohol and getting into dating relationships that were not good for me. I have realized that sometimes I find that work can suppress my true identity and that that it can be difficult for me to let down my guard and let people in.

There I thought, I have fully expressed my emptiness. But I continued talking. Over the past few months though I have discovered that God is present and maybe I am not as empty as I think I am. Jeff and Jamie invited me to leave the table that I was sitting at and join their family for this Easter celebration. Aaron came over and helped me fix my complicated home theater system. Amy and Tim drive me places. (I could have kept going and talked about visiting an art gallery, training for a half marathon etc. but there was no need) The opportunity is there for me to be full; and I am in process.

My story is not a tale of total resurrection. Instead, it was a public acknowledgement that satisfaction for me will come through following Jesus. I can fill my days with work, errands, beers with friends, sports, surfing the interwebs, whatever, but the gnawing emptiness will persist unless I allow God into those empty places inside of me and people into my life in a real way. God is there; so are my family and friends in Spokane, Seattle, Indy, Canada and elsewhere.

The church service transitioned into the time for sharing a meal. I walked through the line to get food and realized that I was not empty or full, I was somewhere in-between; and right now that is good enough for me.

Happy Easter

With accessibility challenges using WordPress and frankly being busy with work and other things, I have not blogged for a very long time. WordPress seems to have regained my respect by making subtle changes to their site which means it will not be so difficult for me to post blogs more frequently.  Since I have not blogged much lately this is really my effort to get back into the swing of things.

 

 Besides preparing to begin training for a half marathon, planning an expansion grand opening at work, and running the usual errands, there are two other things that have captured my interest.  In March we had our usual Beer and Theology gathering at The Elk.  The topic was really about how perhaps we have the wrong or at least partially incorrect view of the cross.  Essentially we discussed that us Westerners have made the cross and Jesus sacrifice a transactional thing that includes us feeling guilty and ashamed.  Eastern Orthodox churches take a different view and the cross is more about acceptance and reconciliation.  I think we in the West can be arrogant and often feel like we have Christianity all figured out.  I think it is foolish to say that we have the absolute correct view of the cross and all that the death and the resurrection of Jesus stands for.  If anything, that March discussion over beers has enhanced my view of Easter, which is already my favorite holiday.

 

The other thing that I have done recently is read a book by Cheryl Strayed called Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Her story parallels my own in some ways, but I, unlike her, have never hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  It is a great book and I encourage you to check it out.  I read the book though not just for the story itself, but for my own literary aspirations.  I hesitate to say any more about my aspirations right now, but reading that book was an important step for me.

 

Here is to my next blog being a bit more compelling! May you find joy this Easter in the hope, redemption, and reconciliation that we have through the resurrection of Jesus.  Happy Easter and go Pacers!

2014’s Big Adventure

Leavenworth Oktoberfest image

Leavenworth Oktoberfest image

It has been a long time since I have laced up my running shoes and intentionally trained for a race. Life tends to get in the way. A couple of years ago, for example, I ended up in physical therapy due to over stretching and also moved to Spokane, when I should have been training for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

This year though will be different. I am making running a half marathon a priority. While running is not my favorite thing, I love being in shape and the sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line is a truly awesome feeling. Not to mention, training requires a lot of discipline and focus; and I have been rather undisciplined since I moved to Spokane.

Right now I am slowly working myself into decent shape so that when training starts in late spring I will have a good foundation to build upon.

Living in the Inland Northwest means that there is a lot of beautiful scenery and residents here are also very passionate about beer. It only makes sense then that I run the Leavenworth Half Marathon, in beautiful Leavenworth, Washington.  Conveniently the race is part of Leavenworth’s Oktoberfest, which should make for a really fun atmosphere.

The two major keys to success for me will be to stay committed to training and improving my diet. If I can accomplish those things, I will have put myself in position to run a strong race. I also would like to thank my friend Amanda, who has graciously agreed to run with me, and I appreciate her willingness to serve as a guide. Stay tuned for updates including a new blog site!

Repentance and Advent

Beer & Theology, The Porch, at The elk

Beer & Theology, The Porch, at The Elk

It has been so cold here in Spokane that I have not really gone anywhere other than to work and to watch the Seahawks lose to the 49ers at a bar. [See, people of Washington, what happens when I cheer for one of your sports teams?] Anyway, all of this time at home has given me a lot of time to think; and that is not always a good thing!

Over the past week though, I have been considering the short text we used last week in our Beer and Theology group. Matthew 3:1-2 is where we find John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. John calls for everyone to “Repent; the kingdom of God is near. Repent means to turn away or have a change of heart. Dictionary.com says: “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent.”

I think repentance is essential for a believer, Christian, follower of Jesus, whatever wording you would like to use; but it can be tough to do. Not often can we suddenly stop sinning like flipping a switch. To change and do a 180 in one’s heart is no easy thing. Indeed, it can be overwhelming.

During our discussion we explored several different questions, but one idea of a friend who attended Beer and Theology at The Elk, stuck with me. What if we have one big repentant moment, and the rest of life was full of smaller instances of repentance as we are transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit and by following Jesus?

I had never thought of repentance like that. It does not take away the difficulty of changing one’s life, but it seems to make it more manageable.

Just a thought to share as we celebrate Advent and anticipate Christmas, the birth of our Savior and Redeemer.