Category Archives: The Jesus Way

Da Pressed

NOTE: The following has been written and deleted at least a hundred times in various forms and continues to build.  It is real talk about where I am today that I feel needs to be shared.  One for some people close to me to understand. Two for some people to not feel alone potentially. 

Recently I was talking to new friends and telling stories of my past. Those stories led me to think of more as I laid in bed attempting to sleep that night and they overtook my thinking. Lately my thinking has a lot to do with working and careers and decisions in my past that have led me to being a 36 year old unable to find work.  Someone who can put out 30+ resumes and contact multiple staffing agencies and still have only one (failed) interview in a month.

When I was 19 I was a horrible employee.  Actually for the first few years of working I didn’t want responsibility and didn’t think of any job as a career.  But when I was 19 I was horrible.  Twice in a year I called in sick for a day of work and didn’t respond for weeks after.  Both were manual labor positions and both were not fun
(no excuse).  The first was in Fairbanks at a library on campus and I went six weeks before running into a former coworker and him telling me they needed help.  So I went back for a couple weeks until the semester was over and the project I was hired for finished.  The second was worse.  I worked for a temp agency in Atlanta and was placed at a machine shop.  The owner was a complete racist, as were the employees and in response to my lack of effort (most likely) I never was really trained.  I had a lot of little injuries, damaged multiple machines and often just ended up doing custodial work for minimum wage.  So one day I called out.

I watched TV a lot.  I made a massive batch of pancakes and ate those alone for a few days.  I moved the exercise bike into the living room so I could ride it while I watched TV.  I pulled out the sleeper sofa mattress so I could lay down while watching TV.  I went days without showering.  Using the same cup and plate for days.  I didn’t open the drapes or go outside and could only fall asleep if there was background noise so lost track of day and night.

I often say I was a bad employee for this.  But the other night as I remembered this I realized I wasn’t just a bad employee.

I was horribly depressed.

Last year, I quit three jobs…well four if you include putting Junior back into daycare to find a job.   I quit them for various reasons but none the less I made the choice to leave all of them.  The last made the biggest impact on me though because it was toxic.  I was constantly being told I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t following the rules, but then being told in code to cut corners to make my time.  EVERYONE there was depressed and beaten down.  It was not an okay place for a guy that can easily slide into that mindset.

I look back on the last year or so and have a million what ifs.  What if I didn’t get an implanted tooth but just another root canal?  What if I didn’t lose two months’ salary gambling?  What if I didn’t have to work delivering papers for a dollar an hour take home? What if our car wasn’t stolen allowing us to pay off the debt of one credit card? What if I didn’t quit a job with amazing benefits and pay but mundane work and problematic coworkers?  What if I didn’t quit a high pay hard working toxic job for another 3 months?  What if I didn’t get strep throat? What if we went to a doctor instead of the ER?  What if my counselor didn’t leave our session notes in public for an acquaintance to find and crush my trust in the one person I was willing to share all stories and feelings with?

What if I wasn’t depressed? Again? For another winter? For another year?

The answer to all is of course, WHO KNOWS?

Because the what ifs could go further back to meeting the beautiful Hannah, to moving and staying in Portland, to quitting college multiple times, to being rejected by most kids in high school, to moving to the south…and possibly even further back to the babysitter throwing and breaking my Snoopy hair brush in the bathtub (my first memory?).

All of these things have made me who I am.  And apparently today who I am is a slightly depressed 36 year old who failed to find another real job so is pulling his son from daycare again to stay at home dad with him.  Who is married to an amazing woman who has no concept of my career struggles because she loves her work and loves being able to provide for her family.  Who has time to work on his homestead and maybe get some odd jobs to pay for the luxuries he desires.

And that should be nothing to be depressed about, right?

1 Comment

Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Grieving, Junior, Marriage, Overthinking, The Jesus Way, Transparency

Trust Broken

Our car was stolen last week. From our driveway, while it was warming up and deicing.  I had a feeling it might happen but needed to have a warm car for junior as we were already running late.  So my back was turned and inside the walls of our house.  When I opened the door after less than 2 minutes it was gone.  And it still is not back.

The first night as I tried to sleep I had dreams and visions. Dreams of what if…

What if I saw the car driving away and jumped inside and yanked the wheel to prevent the guy in a black hoodie from going far.

First we slammed into the neighbor’s Corvette across the street.

The second time I dreamt the scenario we hit the fence next to our driveway and then another neighbor Maria as she brought me cookies. I am sure the cookies had more to do with me wanting to cope eat than anything else.

After waking up and trying to sleep again, I pictured running at super speed down the road and seeing it stuck in traffic.  I saw myself opening the door and telling the driver to walk away or ELSE.

In all these half dreams I was a hero…instead of the guy that left a running car in his driveway.

As I write this I am riding the bus imagining what I would do if I see it pass by.

Honestly, I would take note and try to watch it but lose it because I am on the bus.  But in my daydreams I see me jumping in the back seat since I still have a key, calling the cops and being arrested because I carjacked the wrong car.

After those failed attempts at sleep, the beautiful Hannah and junior came home from a meeting.  She came to bed and we talked about how we are unharmed, and nothing major was inside the car but still worried about why it happened…then we prayed.  After the tears and cussing and crying and screaming at God I did while she was away, we just prayed.  As I prayed I said “Lord you tell us to love our enemies so I ask that you would show me how to do that.”  It didn’t feel like my own thought but we prayed.

I realized that whoever took the car is in the midst of an addiction. Whether to money or drugs or something that takes.  Because addictions take so you take to because you are addicted. They stole a debit card too and used it first at an ATM unsuccessfully and second at Safeway. To spend a lot on groceries potentially. Or maybe it was gift cards and a lot of things to make meth. But I like to think the former.

I’m an addict too. That story will come next week or so.  So today, I realized I am lucky to not have to pursue that life. I’ve made bad choices and told lies to cover them up in the past and recently. I am scared of jail and ever getting a job again.  That is why in the midst of my worst addictive behaviors I haven’t committed similar crimes.

But some people aren’t or can’t be scared. They made a choice a long time ago they are still being judged for. They sold drugs at 16 and now at 46 still have a felony. Or they were raised in a cycle that is harder to break than keeping going. So they steal and lie and cheat but honestly I am sure they would rather not have to.

At least that is the hope I have…and need to have to keep any belief that people are good.

 

PS.  If you are in Portland, we are still looking for it hopefully abandoned on a side street.  2010 charcoal grey Toyota Matrix.  Slight dent in front drivers side.  car seat base in back seat.   Green bin of paperwork in trunk.  Please call PDX non emergency with details…503-823-3333

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Freewrite, Heathen Healers, Marriage, The Jesus Way

Ferguson

Seven years ago when I moved to Portland I became an advocate for many things. I was unemployed, living off savings, just off overseas mission work…and fairly passionate compared to today. But I kept getting one response.

As I spoke to people about sex trafficking, labor trafficking, slave-like work conditions in America and where American products and food were made…

As I spoke with church members of my then new church about segregation in the church and about global riches and how we are privileged as Americans…

As I spoke about homeless issues and its overwhelmingness in Portland…

As I spoke about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and how we don’t feel at war…

As I spoke about my causes and passions…

I kept hearing from people they didn’t have the time to care. I mean that is a little blunter but my summary.

They wanted to but needed to get food on the table. Or only had one pair of work jeans and need to look professional to keep their job. They liked church but didn’t think they had time to make it multi-cultural or go to meeting about how to change it.

They didn’t have time.

I questioned how they didn’t have time to engage intellectually with world issues like Ferguson.

 

Dr. Cornel West being arrested during a protest in Ferguson.

Dr. Cornel West being arrested during a protest in Ferguson.

Fast forward to today…well Sunday. This was the call to worship…

http://www.christenacleveland.com/2014/11/adventdarkness/

Go ahead and read it. I’ll be here.

Now that I am married to the beautiful Hannah, and she gave birth our first born junior, and we bought a house. Now that all happened I spend more time wondering how to get food on the table than where all of it came from. I only have one pair of work jeans. And our budget—our globally rich dual income American household—is stretched every month. We have a kid that takes a lot of time to care for. We have a house that takes a lot of time and planning to take care of.

And…

Sadly…

I don’t have time for Ferguson. I don’t have time to tell people that racism is still happening and that power is still manipulated. I don’t have time to research what actually happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. I don’t have the time to engage about the military equipment used against protesters being too much. Or if the protest groups are causing the police to show up in tanks because of what they are bringing.

I don’t have time to contemplate gender or income inequality. Although I believe they are issues.

I have no more emotional space. I have no more intellectual space. I have no more physical time.

I can’t follow blogs or stories because some have become too stuck in their position and I have heard it all before or… I disagree with them.

I barely have time to write this (most of it during the sermon after that call to worship).

I will be back one day. I will be back to advocating and debating and learning one day.

But until then I will fall asleep on the bus instead of reading. I will play with my son instead of writing another blog with the same thoughts as 30% of what you all read. And I will wash some more dishes to prevent ants and critters in our little home, instead of telling people to know where all their food and stuff is made. Although I care about it. I don’t have time.

But I ask, that those who do have time PLEASE advocate. Please write. Please read. And please for all that is right and holy, know and do something about what is happening in this state, country and world because I want it to be there when I am back!

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, Junior, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Transparency

I am Overrated

BookCover-2DI read a book recently that has convicted, encouraged and reminded me.

Convicted because he openly talks about the struggles he has had and how he overcame them. I have struggles…that I dwell on a lot and wonder if I should just overcome them.

Encouraged because his stories show hope and ways of resolving problems.

Reminded because he quotes and brings up a lot of points about justice I forgot, or have stopped applying.

Eugene Cho, in his first book Overrated, confesses his struggles with the current justice movement. He shares personal stories of seeing the need for justice around him, and recounts how he has been attacked for being pro-justice. Unlike a lot of other books, he gives small goals. Instead of saying you are going to change the world, he reminds us to change ourselves and go from there. Instead of trying to put shoes on everyone in the world, or give them all a well, he reminds us that solutions need to be local and applicable. Instead of trying to get others to donate $100 million to “end something”, he talks about One Day’s Wages (an organization he started) that receives 0.4% of a person’s annual income to give small grants to a lot of agencies to assist their local communities. Everyone gives a little for a lot of work to be done. Seems simple but at the same time it is a new thought.

A lot of the content in Overrated is not new but it is presented in a way that made me have new eyes for it. Many of the quotes were from books I have read in the last few years of learning about justice and the church, but it was great to be reminded of them. It was also good to hear some more of Eugene’s story. His stories of his upbringing as an immigrant in San Francisco and confessions of being rejected by Taco Bell as overqualified after they heard about his Princeton degree gave credence to his call for others to sacrifice and change their behaviors.

Perhaps these stories were edited for length but my only critique of this book would be that it was too short. A lot of points seemed clipped before completion and stories seemed rushed like some light jazz and dimming lights were signaling time was up. I would like the Overrated Director’s cut at some point because this copy was a fast read that ended too soon.

Most surprisingly, in this book about justice full of calls to be and do instead of acting, advocating and “raising awareness” about a justice issue, I was convicted most by the following quote.

“We need to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes the words ‘too busy’ are substitutes for ‘too lazy’. At least that’s true for me. What about you?” –Eugene Cho #OverratedBook

As I read this my bus pulled up to the stop and I headed into work. I logged into my computer and noticed the windows that popped up on the internet browser.   A couple work sites, then a couple email windows, a local news site, some sites that pay me a dime a day to click on things and a couple social media sites. On the blue themed one, I noticed a list of apps on the side. It was a good sized list, and as I realized I felt too busy the last couple weeks I clicked on them and noted the levels I had won. Level 242 on Farm Heroes Saga, 140 on Papa Pear Saga, Candy Crush Saga-313, Diamond Diggers Saga-56, Pepper Panic Saga-79… there was still Bubble Witch Saga, Bubble Epic, all the Angry Birds, Jewel Epic.

As a public service announcement, I must remind my fbook friends that if you click the X next to the game notification, you can turn them all off. And as a defense this was over a long period of time…at least a year.

But still, I realized I have the online life of a 15 year old loser who spends more time blowing up candy and vegetables than learning, exercising or talking to friends.

Then it hit me why I feel busy. I spend more lunch hours and alone time home reading blogs that I already agree with or playing silly games that are specially engineered to be addictive than working on getting the needed things done.

It has been 8 months since my last update to the larger community that helps me run a houseless meal each week. I have read 3 of the 12 books I have started this summer. There is a massive list in my phone of things that need to be done on the house, most of which would take 5-10 minutes.

But as Eugene Cho in Overrated says, “I didn’t want to leave my comfort for the sake of my commitments.” My comfort as of late has been turning off my brain and vegetating on line. I like to do timewasters when I should instead be managing my time.

Thanks to this book- After realizing this a couple weeks ago, I have no longer played any games, or wasted even a minute of my time. I only read books to learn in my free time. I only do chores when I get home from another stressful day of work. And I have personally called each of the 456 people that I haven’t emailed an update to apologize and let them know they are important to the ministry.

Actually, I haven’t done those things. But I have downloaded a couple music only podcasts so that I can read on the one hour bus rides to and from work. I have studied a list of quotes I took from Overrated so that I can remember that justice is important and is bigger than just me. I have been intentionally about praying for my family, finances and future while I walk during lunch. And I have started smiling back at the panhandlers and those asking for money from me on my short walks downtown. Which when you are the head of a local homeless agency is something that should come natural. I haven’t changed the world so far this year, but I have made a couple steps forward in improving myself and hopefully those around me.

I will end this post with one more quote that I think should be remembered by all attempting to do good.

“God has a long and proven history of using foolish and broken people for his glory.” –Eugene Cho #OverratedBook

AuthorPhoto-1

AuthorPhoto-1

AuthorPhoto-1

 

 

Editor’s Note: I was privileged to receive an advanced copy in exchange for a review and some publicity.  You can pre-order the book until September 1st by going to your local bookstore or going to www.areyouroverated.com 

1 Comment

Filed under Global Community, One Day's Wages, Reviews, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People, Transparency

Happenings

Engaged!

 

I haven’t written here a lot lately. One of the reasons is because most of the time when I sit down I can only write something like…

The beautiful Hannah is the greatest thing to happen to me ever.  She makes it too easy to love her and loves me more than I ever deserve. And I am constantly amazed that I can love someone as much as I love her.

And most of the time, I figure that is not what people want to hear and delete the paragraphs.  But it’s nearly Valentine’s Day and by the time this posts she will have brought Junior into the world.  So here goes that post that my head keeps writing.

The beautiful Hannah is the greatest thing to happen to me ever.

We did happen.  We traveled in the same circles of friends for at least a couple years without noticing the other.  Then one day we did and fell in love faster than I would recommend other people should.   We have spent at least some time together every day for the last 2 years which as someone who likes his space, is pretty crazy I crave being with her more than alone.   I judged girls a lot before I decided if they were “datable” yet with her deep connections happened before we could put expectations on the other.   We happened…not courted or dated.

She makes it too easy to love her and loves me more than I ever deserve.

There are so many examples of the beautiful Hannah being an amazing and kind woman I need to isolate one thing.  In the past few months, while pregnant and working too hard at her school, she has made sure to make time for me.  She has done more than her share of chores and given me time to sleep or read or relax.  While I was sick, she made me soup and let me be lazy.  Then when she was sick, she made herself soup and cleaned the house!  I don’t get the second part there but she likes to treat me like a prince.

We have only been married for a year and a half yet it seems like we have journeying through life together for at least the last ten. 

Sometime we get confused and even surprised when we realize we weren’t together when we went on a vacation three years ago or knew that person or struggled through that time.  Because we figured that we just knew each other for so many years.  It is like our hearts and lives were prepared for the other or something.

And I am constantly amazed that I can love someone as much as I love her.

For years I fought connecting on a deep level with anyone.  The word love was not something I was willing to say to anyone…  They might die, they might reject me, they might hurt me—intentionally or unintentionally, so I was quick to keep everyone at arm’s length or farther from me.  I was facaded with cinderblocks to most people and yet, I can’t keep a secret for the beautiful Hannah now.  She knew my darkest secrets within a couple months of meeting me.  She learned my struggles and asked how to help.  She heard my pains and offered to build a new life with me without those pains.  That is why the beautiful Hannah is greatest thing that ever happened to me and the love of my life.

Thanks for being my baby mama, Cintamu.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Dreams, Junior, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Transparency