Loving Christ First

My girlfriend, Dana, was over with her daughter this weekend. It was the first time I saw Dana since we started dating, and the second time I saw her in person since knowing her for the past three or four years. She stayed with us for the weekend.

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Saturday night we played games, especially Zombicide, with a bunch of my friends. We started late and went until it was early. I mean, 12:30am is really early morning. The following day we planned on going to church, but with it being so late we decided we would see what happened.

I customarily set my alarm for 5:30am. This time I let it die so I could sleep until I woke up. Which was 7am. I talked with a friend for a while, showered, and soon Dana was awake.

Both of us wanted nothing more than to hang out for the extra hour. We wanted to gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes. Maybe make out. Play with her daughter. However, with my new family over, I knew one thing which had paramount importance: Christ.

We got ready and spent the hour at church, and then some. We got there early, we left late. She was able to meet some of my church friends and my pastor who I was really close to. Her daughter acted very well in church. But it felt right being there with them.

I’m always told put Christ first, then your spouse, then your kids. I never fully understood what it meant to put Christ first. I didn’t get the sacrifices which showed I put Christ first. Then this moment happened, and I understood, at least at some level. I also understood why it was important.

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Guatemala Day 4

I’m exhausted. But that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve learned so much about leadership in the past two day. We got to see a cemetary! It was beautiful but turned back early as there was a family there and wasn’t sure if they were visiting or caretakers.

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Saw the house we put up last year, and it was gorgeous. They added a garden, side room, and terrace.

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Saw the school. They’re currently upgrading.

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And taught pin the tail on the donkey and overall hijinx.

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Proverbs 16

Wow…so I was just looking up one line, but I like broader context. As I read through the entire chapter, I thought, gee golly, that one line isn’t the full story. This chapter is. Taken from the ESV.

Plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs his spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Better is a little with righteousness,
then great revenues with injustice.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
An oracle is on the lips of a king,
his mouth does not sin in judgement.
A just balance and scales are the Lord’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
In the light of a King’s face there life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor,
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and and health to the body.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but it’s end is the way of death.
A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.
A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.

It doesn’t all apply. What I was looking for was, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” However, like half the chapter is right on with what I needed. Not so much the things on kings, but all the advice on just keep going on the straight and narrow, stay from the bad paths, and it will work out as intended.

The waters weren’t perfect, but I muddied them. I thought, maybe there’s something of worth in this lake, and I reached down and shook it up. And there are stones in the lake, stones from one side to the other. Now, as I try to walk across the lake, I can’t see them. I don’t know where to step. I thought I knew. But life was in stasis. Now it’s not. While I enjoy change, I appreciate it more when I know all the variables. All I know now is that I have no idea what half the variables are.

So I will pray, I will throw myself at the Lord, and I will hope for the best. And if I slip and fall, I will pray that I get out in one piece, or in whatever shape I will need for what step comes next. I hate change when it feels like you’ve jumped off a building.

Retreat, Then Advance

Was at a retreat all weekend. My NaNo has suffered. As of today I need to write 1800 words a day. That will go up more tomorrow. I can deal with it.

My bitterness has been boiling over into rage towards others. The fury has been so bad the past month that it’s actually mostly blocked my usual number one vice of lust. When I can control it my anger, that’s one thing. When I need to shut the world out or risk punching a wall while in a professional setting, this is another thing.

The past month (or three) has seen me wanting to throw up basically all the time. I was going to try out the doctor soon. It could be stress, ulcers (stress), eating habits (which have actually been very good lately), gluten, or a number of other things.

With all this stress and anger, despite being a future leader of our church’s men’s group, I’ve been anything but close to God. I go through the motions, I make the statements, but I fall right back into old habits. Even when I thought I was giving up an old habit (lust), I was just trading it for a habit I had less experience and much less control over (Hulk smash!). According to Marcus Aurelius, rage is the better one as it is an outside vice, where as lust is an internal vice. I call bs on him, however. Both are quite internal with external triggers.

I went to a retreat over the weekend to both mend this relationship (but honestly didn’t expect much), and to help further the men’s group in the future (I know what team I want to play for, even if I haven’t been doing real well in try outs). I can’t even say what we did on this retreat, as the river rule is what happens across the river stays across the river. This is based on a river north of San Antonio. Now, being from Wisconsin, I am technically always north of the river, but I’m going to obey the spirit instead of the word.

There were bits and pieces over the weekend which hit me like a forearm shiver to the diaphragm. It was great. It was beautiful. I even found someone who actually listened to me and we were on the same page. Nothing like saying, “I think I need to get closer to God and lay off women. I’m not ready, it’s not going well, and I need to improve who I am first.” To which I get, “One day you’ll meet the right one,” and “Ever think it’s because you’re focusing on doing stuff for you?” I was giving you a status update of where I’m at, not asking for text book responses. I was actually pretty confident of my position. And I am again.

It wasn’t until I was home, walking towards my apartment, in the hallway at nearly 11 pm when something struck me. I wanted to cry. I wanted to just kneel there and weep. I waited until I got my mail and got into my apartment. After over a year, I feel God.

The retreat has been amazing. I think I might be back on the right path. I have an accountability partner who actually listens to me and has excellent insight. I want to show God’s love without restraint. I want to help people. I believe I’m back. I pray I’m back. I pray whatever your struggles are, the burden is lightened, as well.

Blessings on your night!

Guatemala: Train Musem

This happened Sunday, but I want more pictures before moving forward.

We went to a train museum. Our idea of a museum and theirs is a little different.

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I’m pretty sure their train museum would be our train graveyard.

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I’m not sure if this is an office or they set it up as it used to be.

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Really wanted to ride this.

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What happened was the trains moved coal and other valuable metals. It was also a quick way to get supplies around the country.

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So they were all set on trains. Until the semi. When the semi appeared, it provided a quick way to travel around the country with vast quantities of items, without being so restricted. This killed the train system.

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