Jay-Jay

I met a homeless man yesterday.

Felt a little depressed at the rock gym alone. A little something tugged at my heart and asked: “why are you ignoring me?”

I was offended and immediately retaliated: “I’m not ignoring you!”

And thats when it hit me. I’m not schizophrenic. But I do believe in God.

“What would you have me do?”

I sat there staring into space for a good 5 minutes, completely disconnected from reality until Christ got me to go for a walk. I threw my gym bag in the car and just started walking. I was rambling to myself about depression and purpose, just asking God Why? Life has been so good lately. What am I missing? What do you want? 

I reached the bike path with God still ignoring. Picture him behind a desk just nodding while I sit there fumbling over words and he just waits for me to shut up. So I do.

There’s a homeless man standing on the bike path eating a sandwich and the Holy Spirit says: “Him.”

And I Say: “No.”

And he says: “Yes.”

And I say: “I was trying to talk to you! why now? Why here?”

And he doesn’t respond. He just looks at me and nods in that random guys general direction.

I literally drop to my knees. I had begun walking away from the guy and God was like No you dont, so I dropped to my knees and just stopped for a minute.

(keep in mind this entire argument about that guy only took about 15 seconds. The holy spirit can be incredibly persuasive.)

This weird peace fell over me as I agreed to God’s plan. Naturally I was like: you better do all the talking because I am not in the mood. 

But that’s what the Holy Spirit does anyway. As I said he is incredibly persuasive.

I honestly just walked up to this guy and said: “Hey, whats up dude?”

He was not at all put off by my presence. He was pretty nice actually. We talked about all kinds of stuff. Weather, Gym Memberships. Travel. Birth Places. Hobbies. Food.

For 30 minutes I hung out with this guy. Just chatting it up like a couple of bros.

Eventually I got the clearance to leave. I told him briefly and casually about this cool new church I’ve started going to in that hip town a few miles away. He was genuinely intrigued.

Before I left I offered to pray for him.

Always the most nerve racking part for me.

The most often Hit or Miss part. The Make or Break part.

He could either accept my invitation to pray for him.

Or turn that cold shoulder and immediately shut me out.

But, Holy, Spirit.

I ask to pray for this guy and he says: “Awe, Hell yea.” And gives me the most unexpected hug.

He then stood there like a toddler pretending to be knighted by a king.

I set my hand on his shoulder and prayed for him.

At this point I began to understand the importance of my 30 minute conversation with this man. I knew what he needed. I knew what he was missing. I knew what Christ could do for him. Simple things really. Warmth and nights with no rain. Food. Shelter. Relief. Purpose. And I casually slipped in that I hope he feels welcome at my church. I’m hoping that he ends up there (or any other church for that matter) and people welcome him in and treat him like Christ would, so I threw that in my prayer.

He was incredibly receptive of the whole thing. Like, agreeing with what I said in the prayer.

I went on my way feeling so much better about everything. I sorta laughed to myself and the whole situation.

God is so good.

Sometimes you just have to listen and ask questions. Not all homeless people are scary. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to and a little bit of prayer.

10/10 would pray with him again.

Don’t pout. Walk it out.

Feeling unheard? Ask the Word.

Just a few dumb little catch phrases I just came up with that apply to this story because I can’t think of real conclusion.

But truly God is Good. Don’t ignore him today.

Here’s to the Last 4 Years

In late April of 2014 after two weeks of being unemployed, having been laid off from my temp job, I responded to a craigslist ad that simply read:

“Need help with Landscaping Business.”

That was it. No name. No other description. Just that sentence, and an email.

I was hired the next day. Started work two days after that.

When I first sent an email saying I was interested I thought, Well sure, I can mow lawns for two weeks and pull weeds while I find something new. I really wasn’t planning on sticking around longer. Needless to say it wasn’t the job I expected. One simple distinction to be made. It was not Landscape Maintenance that they needed help with. It was Installs. While maintenance was part of the job on occasion when I needed to fill in, the majority of what I did for this company was construction; in a way.

It wasn’t mowing lawns and blowing leaves, pulling weeds.

It was: rip this out, cut this up, throw that away…

…Design this water feature. Lay this pathway. Build this fence. Construct this pergola. Glue this sprinkler system. Plant this grass…

I got to drive all the equipment, sign for a lot of deliveries, and direct the crew. Virtually anything you can imagine someone might want outside their house. Poolside waterfalls? Two of those. An outdoor kitchen? Yeah.

Ponds. Retaining walls. Pavers. Rock walls. Plants. Grass. A big ol’ play ground structure for someone’s kids. Even set the stone veneers on a 5 bedroom house up in the hills on the wealthy side of town. I dug probably 4 miles of trenches by hand and set in that same amount of irrigation pipe and drains. Worked in the snow, in the rain, in 110 degree sunshine, and in 6 weeks of forest fire smoke, twice.

My boss taught me everything he could and trusted me with even more.

As a dead-beat 20 year old kid who had dropped out of college and had nothing on a resume except having been fired for drag racing a 5mph tug-cart on the airport tarmac…

I could not have asked for a better job. My boss was patient, understanding, and respectful. I got raises when I earned them and time off for holidays.

And I could go on but as life moves along, its come time for me to move on as well.

So no more digging holes for me. No more 25 degree mornings in the mud. No more 100 degree days in the smoke. No more running out of fuel in the work truck on the freeway at 7:00 pm after a 12 hour day as the sun goes down and I’m out of food, and my phone is dying.

I once left a job site out in the boonies where the bad cell service had killed my phone. I had worked a 10 hour day by myself in the pouring rain and it was getting dark. My phone died before I could text my boss about what I had got done. I drove the truck and trailer back to town, stopped at the first electronics store I could find and went in covered from head to toe in mud with my deceased phone in hand. It was like a country western movie when the ‘outsider’ walks into the bar and the piano stops playing and everyone stares. There were people signing up for cellphones in their nice city clothes and I just grab the first car charger I can find and drop it on the counter like: “I need this.”.. It was dead silent and half a dozen people just watched. I checked out without a word and left in a hurry. Plugged my phone in, to charge it in the truck, and texted my boss what had happened.. and just “ok.” he says .

I loved my time with that job but I’m moving on.

Tomorrow I start a job at a Machine Shop. I was offered a position by a man I know from church. They need help in the shipping and receiving department but he says they’ll teach me a bit of everything. They’re matching my current pay with a possible raise after 90 days. I can have dental, medical, holiday pay, and profit sharing. I get consistent hours, 5 days of the week, in all seasons. I get to work with a roof over my head while still driving big machinery. I’m really looking forward to it.

So hears to the last (almost) 4 years at Scofield Landscape..

And a new beginning at Sweed Machinery.

 

God alone can open and close doors in due time.

New Book in (slow) Progress

(I started this book like 2 months ago, and just today got back to working on it.. so don’t expect this to be done any time soon.. but let me know what you think of it so far!) 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

suitcase 3

 

With a rigid stern brow he gazed expressionless out the window hearing nothing but the sound of the train’s wheels chugging along. Roll after roll after roll, from one open field to the next and on to the next. In a rear facing seat, the man watched as each passing building and vast open land faded slowly into the distance beyond the horizon. Chug upon chug upon chug. His tired wrinkled hands, once wrought with calluses, sat one upon the other atop the aged leather suitcase resting heavily upon his lap. He wore a large black coat, faded and stretched, with nearly as much wear as his hands. Its flat pressed collar hung low beside his shoulders and its buttons, nearly loose, seemed to dangle through their loops; like a once often used tire swing in a low hanging tree. The kind of tree you see alone in a large open field. An oak tree with branches so big, no ten swings could take one down. Likewise was this man.  The hair on the man’s head though still fully present was as grey as the sky outside, dreary and cold, but with no clear signs of the sun’s near return.

“So tell me, do you remember?” The woman asked in quiet inquisition.

The woman was seated in the bench seat in front of the man. From her angle out the window she could see each destination before it arrived. Each new tree, every power-line after power-line, grew in her line of sight until they skipped past the window in less time than the slow blinking of an eye of the man sitting motionless before her. She could see up ahead to the far end of the valley where the sun made crest on the edge of a storm cloud. Large distinct rays of sunlight burned through the rain pouring down to a vast open field; like Christ himself was stepping down from his throne. The atmosphere around the light in the distance was gloomy and dark. Rain came and went with each passing minute and the window to her left would have sparkled had it gone anywhere near the radiant light now turning the far mountains to flame.

She was a patient woman. Like a mother whose children had all grown up or a songbird waiting for spring. After asking her question she received no response. Not even an acknowledgment of her words. It was as though she was not there. Or perhaps it was He who was not.

Gently reaching forward, she rested a finger on his suitcase. With no movement of his head, his attention out the window, the man slid both hands down to the edge of his only possession and pulled it in closer to his chest. Pulling her hand politely away she placed it back in her lap. The man locked eyes with emptiness through the glass. An animal stuck in a cage, abused, confused, and left with no food.

“Can you show me what’s in the suitcase?” She asked. She was trying not to sound prying. She was polite and calm, merely curious. “I would love for you to show me what you keep in your suitcase.”

The older man kept his belonging closed tight in his arms and anxiously peered out the window. His focus remained afar off as though he had not even heard her speak. Like a man eavesdropping on another man’s conversation, he posed inconspicuous. He pretended he could not hear her. Perhaps if he did not acknowledge her, she would simply walk away. Maybe his cold shoulder would send her shivering to another part of the train. For a moment they sat in silence. She gave him a moment of comfort in solitude and the two of them pondered what might be resting beyond the horizon. There was no one near them on the train and with neither one of them talking aloud they could each hear the rain begin to fall from above. The drops fell long and hard before splashing down the walls over the glass outside. It warped their vision at an angle in the wind as the fog turned to tears all around them. The ground sweeping by, beneath their shared line of sight, was the only living proof either one of them had, to prove time had been passing them by.

“Can you tell me your name?” She asked him like it was her first and only question. No reaction.

The woman wore a light blue dress. It was almost green under certain light. It changed colors when it moved like the ocean tide beneath heavy sunlight and a clear blue sky. A bright teal color with scattered white polka dots, cascading snow down her figure from the wavy blonde clouds in the sky. The dress swirled around her legs as she rose to her feet. The man momentarily glanced at the waterfall from her waist to her ankles as she stepped from her seat to his, to sit down beside him. Running her hands down the backs of her legs she straightened the cloth and settled in to the deep cushion of the seat behind her. With her fingertips she pulled taught the dress around her knees crossed one leg upon the other. In very apparent anxiety the man shifted his weight away from the stranger and inched his way closer to the window.  He was a dead leaf stuck in a tall chain link fence, just out of reach from the ground but nowhere near close enough to easily grasp. Hanging stiff in the cold held hostage from the wind, with nowhere to go and no branch to hold.

“I don’t want to be a bother, but I would be delighted if you could show me what you have in your case. Please.”

There was more innocence in her voice than there was silence in the room. She  rested her hand on his knee, a simple gesture that seemed to ease the pain. He was not a man strongly suited for social interaction, but the women’s dainty hands brought a calm he could not remember. Like a hand fed wild animal, the man stared down at the fingers on his knee and tried to weigh in on his surroundings. As though appeasing this woman may cost him his life, or at least the comfort of his travels.

Rain water rippled along the window beside the man, casting shadows over his suitcase like a spider web in the wind. With no response the man laid his suitcase flat upon his knees and slowly ran his large old hands over its surface, brushing off the dust that was not there. The man’s hands trembled as he reached them slowly for the two latches spread symmetrically along the edge of the suitcase. Neither hand could remain steady enough to undo one latch on its own, and even combined both hands strained to undo each latch one at a time. He would have never allowed her to help. Deep in his soul he still longed to be a younger man. No rusty old latch could ever be less bearable than the pain this man had previously been through, whether he remembered that pain or not. Click after click the suitcase was open and its contents nearly free but the man paused before lifting the lid. His eyes wandered from one corner of the case to the other as though he did not know what to expect of its insides.  He gazed on through it like a child standing firm outside a classroom door on their first day of school unsure of which room to enter. The man sat motionless for but a moment.

The patient woman sat compassionately beside him only wishing she could help his aging hands with the latches. When he made no further effort to open it entirely, she merely let him rest. She let him ponder. Beyond this boxes leather, laid at rest the man’s life, long behind him. The train had already traveled quite a distance, but she knew it had a good distance left so the woman found no need to rush this man in rediscovering what sat in the box before him.

With thumbs pressed tight to the worn black circles beside each latch of the case, the lid to the brown leather case slowly lifted.

 

 

To be continued…

Contentment is Learned

Life is as good as you make it.

But those who have it better than us fake it.

Because, good is a matter of perspective.

My life and yours are not respective.

Life is a series of decisions.

But most of us have different visions.

Because choices change by the seasons,

My life and yours are for different reasons.

So don’t get your hopes up, but keep contentment ready.

So when someone cuts your ropes up, your mast can hang in steady.

We’re all just lost at sea, where some of us float better than the rest.

But learning to swim is free, so kick your feet and paddle your best.

Snow Camping!

Cassie and I have been talking about going camping for a while now, but Its been cold, and rainy, and we’ve been busy… But last night with a free weekend ahead of us we decided after sundown to jump in my Subaru and go spend the night outside. It was actually so great!

My parents own 40 acres of nothing only 40 minutes from home, outside Shady Cove (a small redneck town where nothing happens). Through a decade of birthdays and Christmas days I’ve accumulated a good amount of minimalist camping gear that goes mostly unused. Until last night.

I didn’t make a video, because it was cold, and we were out there for less than 12 hours, but it was a great night.

We pitched our tent between my car and a big oak tree, and made a fire within eyesight of the pond that lines one corner of the property. Laying in our zero-degree sleeping bag that night it began to snow and we could hear geese in the distance around the pond, while the fire bounced flickering light off one side of the tent beneath that hundred year old oak tree.

In the morning we woke to an inch of snow and I remade the fire while Cass made coffee and oatmeal. We went for a short walk down to the pond before packing everything up to head home.

It was great to just get outside for a night, sit next to a fire in the forest, and cuddle warm under a blanket of snow.

 

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Late Winter

All season long its been nothing but rain.

Some warmer sunny days blended in with sporadic rainfall.

Until this week.

 

Ironically we went to Bend.. It was raining their too.

Sunday when we left they got Snow..

That snow came all the way home with us.

It’s been snowing every night this week so the ground was prime.

February 22nd.. We got 3 inches downtown.

Kitchen Shelves

So, a little DIY project 🙂

Our kitchen stove has no countertop on either side. Ever since my wife and I moved in we’ve been wanting to fill the area. Its really difficult cooking when you have nowhere to set dishes or ingredients or anything beside the stove. The kitchen isn’t that big to begin with, it’s even smaller when only one side has counter space.

If you watched my last Vlog you know I had my little brother-in-laws over to help pull nails and disassemble pallets (Thanks again guys!), so I had some new (actually really old) lumber and nails to use. When I got off work early today I had time to build my Wife this addition to our kitchen. Photos below.

🙂

 

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I already had some wood Glue and Spray Paint, and as I said the nails and lumber were free! Cooking just became a lot easier. Or at least that much more convenient.