One year ago on August 25th my mom passed away. It was a day that was bittersweet. We were thankful that her body and soul now had the rest she deserved, but sad to no longer have her with us. She had suffered bitterly since she discovered that she had cancer, and literally hung onto a small thread of life for her last couple of weeks on earth. I remember praying that God would just give her relief, because it was the most horribly painful position I'd ever seen anyone be in. I never talk about that, and probably never will again on this blog.

I've missed my mom in the past year a great deal. I think I may have taken her for granted all these years, because only when she is no longer with us do I realize what a great woman she was for our family. She was the glue that tied us all together. In a family of all boys, that would naturally be the case. She was also the most spiritually strong in our family. Daily she would pray for us individually, bringing before God whatever struggles we were each undergoing. She was also the model of true Christainity - always trying to do what was right, and never one to deny that she had made a mistake.

In listing these things its funny what I remember most. It isn't that she was terribly funny (although boy could she get carried away!), or extremely creative, or even overly brilliant. It is those fruits of the spirits that she so readily portrayed that I remember. Which is probably why God wants us to develop them so much, because they are what truly matter most. We might be remembered for being an enjoyable person to be around, but more importantly it seems we'll be remembered by the quality of our life in our relationships to others.

Yeah, I miss my mom. But it is a strange kind of longing I have for her. I miss her in those times of need that only a mother can provide comfort. Confusion over why people are behaving in such a way, life becoming overwhelming, and simply when you need a pep talk to keep on going. And its in the future that I will miss her too. She will not be there when I get married one day, and the wonderful girl I marry will not get to know her either. Never will she see her grandchildren, nor see me graduate from grad school, or move into my first house.

But life goes on. It must. And just like we live for Jesus because of the great sacrifice he gave us, so also my family lives for my mother because of all her daily sacrifices she never failed to give us.

So thanks mom. I love you and miss you.


Giving God a Helping Hand

So I said I was going to write an article on what I thought of What a Girl Wants, but I've been told that I must read the final installment in the series before I rave and rant about the grave injustice done to poor computer engineer Seth. Let me finish the final book, and then you can all peer into the male perspective of a book that makes the Baby Sitters Club look like "Leave it to Beaver" of the girly genre. (For the record, I have no idea whether you italicize, place quotes, or underline a T.V. series. Don't ask me why, but referencing "Law and Order" was not sufficient as a primary source for moral justice in philosophy class.)

The last couple of days I've learned many important things, or rather relearned them. Last night's lesson at church, coupled with tonight's Bible study reminded me that God is in control. For a type A personality, this is very hard to remember. I am constantly trying to lay out the fleece for God to see if He likes my plan. How rarely He does I've discovered! For some reason I foolishly think that I can come up with these great plans, manipulate this given situation, or place myself in this arena, and then pray to God and tell Him to get to work. I'm well aware that "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16, NIV) and thus I fully expect my prayers to be answered in the way I deem appropriate. Shoot, I can move mountains if I have faith as a mustard seed, and I think I'm at least at the pumpkin seed level by this point.

But asking God to be who He i s not, and trying to bend His will to my own is not what He is after. Now I am one that continually struggles with the issue of God's will vs. free will, and I still don't have a solid answer on that but what I do know is that God is the potter, and I am the clay. And much like the pot in Jeremiah, I sometimes get bent out of shape. Thankfully God molds me back to something useful. Perhaps its time I let God do the work. I've got a bedtime to meet anyways, and He's got an extra eight hours on me (not to mention at least 10,000 years more experience*).

*Just trying to give a nod to all those young-earth people out there! :)


A Mushy Kind of Post

"I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones."
~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Trusting Oscar for pearls of wisdom, or at least his charcters in Dorian Gray, is a risky endeavor to embark upon. I recently finished Dorian Gray, and while I found Oscar's wit far exceeded my own, I did not agree with much the guy had to say. However, this quote is one that I've heard many times and I've thought about it quite a lot recently.

When I was in the social-service organization Outreach, an evangelistic/ministry type group at Oklahoma Christian, I became skilled at meeting new people and making new friends. Inclusion was one of the greatest aspects of Outreach and was a place that all types of people felt welcome. Several mission trips, and a few excursions overseas, further developed the ability to meet and love new people and I quickly found that I really enjoyed getting to know others. There is always so much to learn from new people, and they always seem so more incredibly interesting than myself anyways.

However, this past month I've had the opportunity to spend time with some of my "old friends." My friend Melissa, who is probably my longest lifetime friend, came in and we spent several days catching up and reminiscing. Then I spent quality time with some of my best guy friends - Peter and Travis - on a road trip, and I also had the chance of seeing a close friend, Alayna, from Arizona this morning. Add on top of that a very heartfelt note from my friend Ann in Brazil, and I am left feeling very content and blessed by my friendships.

So I don't quite agree with Sir Wilde. Yes, I love learning all about my new friends. I get a sense of wonder when hearing all about their adventures, hopes, dreams, and more for the first time. But there is great joy in knowing that you have friends you can count on, who will love you regardless of how quirky you are even if you happen to get grumpy at around 10 o'clock, and who will make you feel relatively normal when you confess your neurotic thoughts.

Sorry for waxing nostalgic in this post, but I felt this quote pushed me to speak on what a great blessing friendship is. Now I bid you adieu, I have a friend in from California this afternoon to hang out with!


This Just In

I promise, I am working on a real post! I've already got a couple ideas in mind including a thought Oscar Wilde led me too and my thoughts on the book popular amongst girls in my church called "What a Girl Wants." However, today as I prepare these thoughts I wanted to give you some quick third-person blurbs of randomness.


After a bitter separation that has lasted over three years, Travis and Blake have recently reconciled their differences to come together once again for a collection of Christmas favorites. Many of you were taken by storm when Volume I came out, and Volume II promises to do what many sequels can't - top their initial release. If you are interested in this rare blend of Christmas flair, send your mailing address to blakewell@gmail.com or post here on this entry and we will get a copy out to you hopefully by November 1st. (For the record, we never broke up - we just took a fourteen year vacation.)


Facing insurmountable odds, and overcoming a lengthy surgery recovery, Blakewell has announced that he will break 1:30 in the Dallas marathon. "I am tired of laboriously trotting along doing 8-minute miles day in and out. It's time to shake it up." stated Blakewell in a recent conversation in his head at Heifer Park. While this may not seem spectacular to those of you who remember his former self, this marks his pledge to rejoin the running world and leave the jogging penguin's in the dust.*


After a recent, moving experience up in the South Dakota area, Blakewell has decided to trade in his khakis for a pair of leathers and form Heaven's Angels. Ok, so maybe there is already a group called Bikers for Jesus out there, but all the same this man is ready to evangelize on a hog. "Sojourners can wait (referring to his life-long dream of being 65, having an RV, and traveling the country helping others). Nothing against Mr. Honda, but its time I break out my leather-bound NIV and reach out to the modern-day proverbial chariot." - noted Blakewell upon return from his life-altering road trip.

*See Runner's World for penguin reference.


For Fear of Omission

Sandwiched between trips, I felt I should write a quick blog. I just returned from San Diego where I attended the ESRI User Conference, also known as geek central. After careful thought I believe I agree with my dear friend Melissa in that this conference qualified more as a geek event than a nerd event. Geeks are often a bit eccentric in their interests, and lack the social prowess to have restraint in their enthusiasm. That certainly was the case here, and yes, I will admit that I raised the roof, threw out the Arsenio Hall, and went to a map viewing. How can you restrain yourself when you can do 3D spatial modeling?

Next up is Mt. Rushmore. Or at least that is the plan as of 1:50 today. Our plan has gone all the way from Montana to Chicago, with even Texas in between. So let’s hope the car points north when we head out tonight.

Well it is hard to resurrect a rather dry post, but sometimes what can you do? I’m sure between the four of us boys we will have plenty of in-depth conversations from the foundations of the universe to girls, so out of all that I’m sure I’ll have something more fascinating when I get back.

Farewell and good luck!