Does Beauty Ever Get Old?

Today was my day to rest with little to no self-imposed expectations of productivity. And so that meant guilt-free daydreaming. The thing that stood out to me most as I sought to rest in Christ was the never-ending allure of beauty. I can across a short song of someone singing acapella and I was immediately enchanted by the smooth melodies emanating from her voice. It was just a 45 second clip, but I probably played that clip about 25 to 30 times without exaggeration. And it occurred to me that her voice was even more beautiful the 30th time than the 1st time. In that moment I realized that true beauty doesn’t get old. It lasts and continues to draw attention and captivate the mind.

I think this is not entirely unlike God. God is the most supremely beautiful being or entity in known existence. Not only is his wisdom endless, but his beauty runs infinitely deep. And so it will not be possible to fully search, know, and appreciate his beauty and thus in God’s wisdom we will spend an eternity growing in our understanding of just how beautiful he is.

Peace,
Caleb

Hope for Good Fruit in the New Year

The scriptures say that just as a tree is known by its fruit, so are we. A healthy tree bears good fruit and a diseased tree bears bad fruit. And so the fruit we bear is an indication of the state of our inward being. When I bear bad fruit, there is disease in me. The question then is, how do I rid myself of this disease? What is the cure?

On the one hand the world says that we can cure ourselves. We can heal our bodies of this disease. On the other hand it fools itself into believing that we have no disease at all. We’re all good people just imperfect.

I can’t accept either of those claims. My own thoughts testify that I’m not a good person. So often I agree that a particular thing is good to do and so I intend to do it. However, just as often, I choose to do the lesser thing rather than the thing I intended to do. If I cannot keep my own rules that I agree are good, how in the world can I expect myself to live up to any standard outside of myself? Moreover, not only do I fail to do the very best things, I often do the very worst things and much more often delight in my thoughts of the most heinous of crimes even though conscience restrains these thoughts from physical manifestation.

And so I’m faced with the reality that I need help, but I cannot help myself. This realization drives me to God, to inquire of him what my problem is and what is the solution. God’s word is clear. The problem is me. It’s us; the world; mankind. Jesus taught that every tree that does not bear good fruit is thrown into the fire. God’s word also says that everyone has sinned and fall short of the glory of God and that the wages of sin is death. I am the diseased tree that bears bad fruit. And Jesus says that this tree should be thrown in the fire.

And yet by God’s grace I bear good fruit too. It seems the mystery is that God’s Spirit is at work in me. The lie is that I need to try harder to do better. But I’m no more capable of that than a diseased tree is capable of hoping for good fruit in the next year. The problem is the fabric of my being. The problem is my flesh that wars against the goodness of God. It would be foolish of me to think that I can solve my problems in the flesh, when the flesh is my very problem! And so a solution or a savior outside of myself is needed to address the problem. Not just the problem of right standing before God, but the problem of continually standing before God to walk in his ways as an ongoing way of life. Even born again believers struggle with this. We are so easily lured into attempting to keep our salvation by our own fleshly works buying into the worldly wisdom assures us that we can transform ourselves by our willpower.

But God has given me eyes to see. He’s given me a vision of a new way. The way of freedom. This is freedom from the shackles of my own selfish desires. This is freedom to obey God willingly and to see his way as the most beautiful path. This is change and transformation that starts on the inside from the outside and begins to manifest itself in our desires, thoughts, words, and actions. God’s Spirit is at work, and if I am to resolve to do anything this year, it is to pray the Lord will fill me with his Spirit to increase my sight and my thirst for him and that by beholding the glory of Jesus I might continually be made into his likeness. And I pray that by faith in his name, his power would heal my diseased flesh, and luscious fruit would pour forth from my being that are pleasing to the Lord and a blessing to others.

Peace and Happy New Year!
Caleb

Conclusion of Road Trip and Time Off Part 1

Hello again. It’s been a while, but I wanted to write the conclusion to my road trip and perhaps the conclusion to a major chapter in my life. After encountering the thunderstorm at the Grand Canyon on the evening I arrived, I awoke to beautiful sunny skies the next morning. I was able to take some stunning pictures of the canyon in daylight as well as take some pictures of me sitting and standing at the edge of a ledge.

From there I left the Grand Canyon around Noon to head back to Seattle through Utah. My goal was to make it to Salt Lake City that day, which ended up being about 9 hours away in the route that I took. It just so happens that I ran into another thunderstorm of which I put together a video:

Driving through the storm

After getting to Salt Lake City it was pretty much smooth driving back to Seattle. I stayed in Seattle for about 36 hours and then flew to Washington DC to visit a good friend that lives close by in Virginia. It was my first time in the DC area. I was able to see the major landmarks plus I got to visit the George Washington estate, Mt Vernon, which was the highlight of my trip there. George Washington never actually lived in the White House and so his private mansion in Virginia was where he lived and spent most of his time when he was not out winning battles. Though the mansion is not super large by today’s standards, his entire estate was quite expansive. In those days people were more self-sustaining and so they had stations where they (i.e. slaves) made their own tools, grew their own food, tended the animals, docked boats on the river, etc. So they needed a lot of land for all the various needs of a General and President and the many people they would host over the years.

After DC, I drove to Philly, then to Pittsburgh, Kalamazoo, MI, and then Chicago where I stayed with my aunt and sister for four days and then I flew to Minneapolis for a conference. Below is a link to all the pictures that I took on my trip both on the West and East coasts. I will post Part 2 in the next day or so to summarize my thoughts on turning 30 and what might be the close of one chapter of my life to begin the next chapter.

Road Trip Pictures

 

 

 

 

Video Clips From First Night at the Grand Canyon

First Night at the Grand Canyon

I put together some clips from my first night at the Grand Canyon. I’ll post more video over the next day. Enjoy!

LA Is Good But It’s Not Grand

Caleb overlooking the LA skyline at the observatory

At the moment, I’m chilling at the McDonald’s just outside of the Grand Canyon. I’m about to leave, but before I talk about the experience here, I will describe my stay in LA.

On Thursday I hung out with my brother and he took me around the city. We first went and grabbed a bite at El Pollo Loco, where the burrito and churros I had were pretty good. We then took a stroll through Beverly Hills where I took liberty to snap pictures of the houses that I liked. No one seemed to mind.

After Beverly Hills we went through the UCLA campus to see what it’s like to live as a Bruin. The campus is beautiful, but in my opinion not quite as nice as the University of Washington. There were some students floating around, but I don’t think the main Fall session had started yet. We also drove through South Central to see a different kind of neighborhood. South Central of course has a reputation of being a less desirable place to live. From what I hear there is a valid reason for the rep. But I was able to see Crenshaw which is a pretty famous street in South Central. We could have went through Compton or Watts during the day, but we didn’t have time. You wouldn’t want to drive through either of those places at night. And there are some areas where I as a younger black male would never want to drive through. My brother said there’s a really good mexican restaurant in the midst of an area controlled by latino gangs that really don’t get along with blacks. He’d like to eat there, but it’s just not worth the risk. “Would you like a bullet with your burrito homes?” No thanks!

After driving through South Central, we made a brief trip through the USC campus before heading to Venice Beach as things were winding down. Venice Beach was okay, but I thought the real treat was going up to the Observatory at night and viewing the large glowing expanse of LA. It was a truly spectacular view and I would highly recommend taking trip there if you’re in LA.

And that was my one day whirlwind tour of LA. But as interesting as LA was, it cannot compare to the experience of the Grand Canyon. Little did I know what awaited me on Friday evening. I will post about that experience either tonight or tomorrow morning.

The Big Sur

Caleb overlooking the Big Sur

I’m finally here in the City of Angels doing some more couch surfing at a friend of my buddy’s. The ride here was awesome. We took highway 1 around what is called the Big Sur. Some of the views on the drive were breathtaking! Highway 1 hugs the mountains/cliff along side the pacific ocean. The cliffs are really steep, so if you move over a little to far to the right while heading south, then things will go south in a hurry. You have to be very alert when driving the “Big Sur”. 5 hour energy drink did the trick for me.

Los Angeles is huge! We arrived around 7pm and went to have dinner a little after 8pm at a local Thai restaurant in North Hollywood called the Rustic Spoon, not to be confused with “Rusty” spoon as my buddy wanted to call it. It was actually very good Thai food. They had a yummy homemade spicy garlic sauce that I liberally slathered over my Chicken Pad See Ew. Great combination! After dinner our friend took us for a night drive through some different parts of LA including Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and even a quick drive through South Central! I’m looking forward to today where my brother will take me around the city to some interesting spots in LA.

Redwoods to Oakland

Caleb standing next to big tree

 

Quick update. We left Seattle around 9pm on Monday night and drove just past Eugene, OR where we slept in the car at a rest stop from about 1:30am to 7:30am. Not a great night’s sleep, I tell you. After we awoke and got some quality breakfast (read McDonald’s), we set off to see some trees. These are the famed Redwoods of Northern California. I must say, the trees were stunningly grand. They were beautiful, peaceful, and majestic. I could have spent the whole day there just hiking and taking pictures. I would like to go back sometime. I don’t even think we got to see the biggest ones.

After the Redwoods, we drove further south on our way to Oakland to spend the night, but not before we partook of the culinary experience known as the Trinidad Bay Eatery. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but my buddy Tony insisted. But my apprehension was soon turned into anticipation as we read the menu of appetizing seafood, soups, and sandwiches. The waitress was super friendly and recommended the clam chowder as well as most of the sandwiches except for the steak sandwich, which we were encouraged to stay away from. I asked about the “Market Price” crab melt ($15.99 btw), and she was kind enough to warn me that crab was not in season and that it would be sourced from vacuum sealed packages. I so appreciate that kind of honesty. It seems like everyone’s got a spin these days. My motto is “Don’t spin, especially when it comes to food.” Okay maybe that’s not really my motto, but kudos to the server lady that made the world a more honest place today.

Anyhow, several items on the menu sounded delicious but we both ended up going with the Tuna Melt with a cup of clam chowder. The sandwich was excellent and the chowder was solid as well. Definitely recommend this place if you’re hungry as you approach Trinidad Bay Eatery. Afterwards we continued driving for several more hours until we reached our destination for the day of Oakland by around 9pm. We were graciously fed pizza and provided nice comfy couches for us to sleep on. Tomorrow we plan on hugging the coast until we get to Los Angeles.

Summer 2011 Road Trip Update

My dreams of national circumnavigation have sadly come to end. I made the decision yesterday to forego a good chunk of my planned road trip around the country. I was looking forward to tackling the challenge of persevering through thousands of solo miles in my Acura Coupe. My family was not so enthusiastic. Everyone of my family members expressed significant concern about my journey alone. And after rethinking things through, I decided to listen to the advice and wisdom of my family and reduce the amount of time I’m on the road by myself.

So that said, I am still planning on leaving tonight for Los Angeles. After LA, Lord willing, I’ll be off to the Grand Canyon. I’m super excited. I will post pictures and continue to update this blog as I am able. After the Grand Canyon, I will be heading back to Seattle for a couple of days and then will fly out to Washington DC to spend a few days with a friend after which I’ll rent a car and drive to Philly, Kalamazoo, Chicago, and finally Minneapolis before I fly back home to Seattle. Though I’m a bit disappointed about not following through with my original plans, I’m also a bit relieved and feel much more at peace with the updated itinerary.

Journey in Search of Wisdom

I am a man in search of Wisdom. In these times of sensory overload and information gluttony, it’s more important, now than ever, to be able to separate the critical from the trivial, the necessary from the superfluous, the helpful from what hinders. Our time of being counted amongst the living is short, and so if we are going to make the best use of the time we’ve been given, we need to understand what really matters in life so that we know what we ought to focus on. What should we doing with this precious resource we have called time?

I believe this idea of stewarding our time will be one of the key themes that defines my generation and the next. The amount of information has increased. The amount of opportunities has increased. With social networking the amount of our contacts and acquaintances has increased. There are more channels on your TV, more blogs to read, more twitterers to follow, more restaurants to try, more reviews to read, more tools to acquire, more guru’s to listen to, and more programs promising just the change you need. But not one second has been added to anyone’s day. We are entangled in a jungle of products, services, and voices that are each crying out for our attention. Who should we listen to? At the end of the day what really matters?

This cacophonous jungle of possibilities is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Exciting because of the hope of accomplishing more good than any past generation. Terrifying, because I fear wrestling in this web of opportunity might render us immobile for lack of ever being able to be deeply committed and rooted to anything of substance. The bible describes a life that is not rooted in substance as a chasing after the wind. If we merely run after wherever the wind blows in time we’ll discover that we’ve gone nowhere and don’t have anything to show for it. But if we are rooted and established in the purposes for which we were created, then I believe we’ve begun to walk on a meaningful path. And so my hope is that this blog would be a journey on that path of wisdom.

However, this is not a blind wandering. On the contrary, I travel in light of what God has already revealed. A wise man, after a long journey in life of trying just about all that life promises will bring lasting fulfillment; excelling in work, throwing lavish parties, engaging in romantic relationships, increasing in fame and renown, and having untold riches; after seeing the pleasures of all these things he had this to say:

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

This is the soil that I desire to be rooted in, for the scripture says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The orientation in my journey begins in faith. Not blind faith, but faith in the God that created me and will judge the earth. Faith in the God that still cares about me and desires good for me. Faith in the God that has demonstrated his love for me in the gracious act of sacrificing his Son Jesus for my sake, to take away the evil in my heart, that I might now seek what truly has substance, avoiding the fate of the wind chasers of the world, and having a real hope that goes beyond the grave.