The Guardrail Saga Part 3: The End is Nigh

Saturday, December 17, 2011
(Be sure you are read up on Part 1 and Part 2.)

Day 6: Tuesday, December 13th. Got a call from my insurance agent saying that he went by after lunch and was able to inspect the damage. This is great news because I have to have my car back by Friday as I have a job on Saturday, and the quicker the insurance guy looks at it the quicker it will get done!

Day 7: Wednesday, December 14th. Drove the rental to work. Didn't hear anything about my car.

Day 8: Thursday, December 15th. Got a call just before noon that my car was ready! Yea! He said that it was on the way to the carwash and once it got back I could pick it up, anytime before they closed at 5:30 pm.

So I showed up at their doors just before 2:30, ready to pick up my car, but after a quick shuffle of papers and a confused look from the receptionist, The Manager from Monday came by and said that there was a problem. He took me in the back and showed me how a part that they ordered wouldn't fit right, that they had to order another part and that once it got delivered (any moment now) all they had to do was rivet it on and it would be ready to go. So apparently my mechanic called me a bit preemptively.

*Sigh* This makes the THIRD time that a wrong part has come up, but I don't blame them for this. With the computer systems that they use these days I can't think how this was one person messing up. See, when looking for a part they type the VIN of the vehicle into their computer and it is the computer that tells them what parts to order. The Mechanic would later say "I don't know what was going on, the parts we needed were completely different than what our program said we needed," and I believe them.

So I waited for the rest of the day for them to give me a call, but they never did. At 4:45 I called them but was told that my mechanic was busy and he would call me back. He called me back at 5:15 and said "The part just came in but it won't be ready to go today." Oh well, why do I care? They are paying for my rental so as long as I get it back before my job on Saturday I am happy.

Day 9: Friday, December 16th. Didn't hear from them all day. (What a surprise.) I finally call them at 2:30 pm and they say "It is ready to be picked up." Yea again!

With hesitant optimism I drive over and sure enough there is Jackie, all shined up and ready to go! And wouldn't you believe it, but after 9 days for an estimated "3.7 hours" worth of work, I drove Jackie off the lot! It felt great!

(click to see full size)

So, to sum it up, here is what they did wrong:
1) Promised me same day or next day service when they shouldn't have.
2) Kept ordering the wrong parts (how much of this was their fault is up for argument, but it was still one of the main problems).
3) Couldn't seem to call me in a reasonable amount of time (and once called me too early).

However, there are many things that they got right, most of which I haven't spoken of in these blog posts:
1) They were always kind and curious to me. Everyone from the receptionists to my mechanic to the manager always had a smile on their face and were in good spirits.
2) When I first dropped of Jackie I asked them if they did state inspections (December is my inspection month). The receptionist said no, but someone quickly said "But we can get that taken care of for you, I can have someone drive it down the road to get it inspected." Sure enough by the time I saw Jackie on Monday during my conversation with the manager Jackie had a new inspection sticker. I had to pay for the inspection (of course), but that is really great service when they offer to go out of their way to do something that won't make them any money.
3) I received my car back freshly washed. And I don't mean a $3 drive through! The inside was vacuumed and my tires were shined. Now THAT is service!
4) And don't forget that the manager made it right by paying for a rental for four days.

So as I look back, sure they did some things wrong that led me to a lot of anger, but at the same time they offered me great service and tried to make things right for me. Personally I probably wouldn't bring my vehicle back to them (and not only because I am planning on moving out of the area), but I can see why people recommend them. To put it another way: They wouldn't be in business more than 24 hours if this was their average customer experience.

So to you, Caliber Collision Repair of Denton: I am still upset at the ordeal I had to go through, but I forgive you, and I wish you the best of luck!


The Guardrail Saga, Part 2

Monday, December 12, 2011
(If you haven't read Part 1 of The Guardrail Saga you can read it here: Oh Deer, I hit a... Guardrail?. You shouldn't read Part 2 unless you have read Part 1 seeing as Part 2 won't make any sense unless you have read Part 1. Duh!)

Day 4: Sunday, December 11th. My roommate Tom's family was in town and it just so happened that they were leaving their car at our house (some long story that I only half understand), so Tom let me drive his car to church. (And what an amazing day at church it was! We had our annual Christmas Pageant program that night and it was awesome!)

For a minute during the day I felt bad about calling my mechanic a "nitwit" in my last blog post, but then I remembered why I was driving someone else's car and I felt better.

Day 5: Monday, December 12th. At 10 AM my mechanic finally got around to calling me, but seeing as Monday is my sabbath (day off) I was still sleeping, so he left a message. When I got up (the time of which is not important) I listened to the message which went something like "Oh, sorry for not calling, I had a family issue come up. Oh, and we found more damage inside, so it will be another $550 to fix it correctly."

First of all, I don't buy that he didn't call because of a family issue. I am not saying I don't believe that he had an issue, I just don't buy that the reason he didn't call was because of it. If, say, he had found out about the problem in the morning on Friday, why did he not call at all for the rest of the day? Remember that according to his coworkers he was out making a delivery at 5:15 PM, so he would have had to wait all day to make the phone call and then have something come up at the last minute. Another option was that he waited until late in the day to fix my car, but why would he if it was only going to take a few hours like the estimate said it would? AND even if he did have something sudden come up, couldn't he tell a coworker "Hey, can you call this guy for me? I have a family issue I need to attend to and I don't want him to not have his vehicle over the weekend." Problem solved. But no, he simply didn't call, and that made the problem so much worse!

Anywho, because they found extra damage I now had even more decisions to make. Should I spend an extra $550 to fix my car (now at $1200+)? Should I now get insurance involved? Should I even leave my car with these guys, or should I demand it back and take it somewhere else?

I wanted to know how much filing an insurance claim would add to my premium, so I called Geico and the nice lady said "there is no way for me to tell, it would be up to the underwriters. However you are supposed to tell us about any incidents anyway..." So I told her about what happened and she took notes.

Then, thanks to the advice of several family members, I decided that I needed to talk with the manager at Caliber Collision Repair, so I gave him a preemptive call before I left to see him. The conversation started out something like this:

Me: I have an issue with a repair that I want to talk with you about.
Him: What vehicle is it?
Me: Jeep Liberty.
Him: Silver?
Me: Yes.
Him: Didn't we find additional damage on that one?

This surprised me. It told me that my mechanic wasn't working in a void, that even his manager knew what was going on, and that impressed me.

Anywho, I hinted that my frustration was with not getting a phone call and that I would meet with him in 20 minutes.

I had a friend pick me up and drive me over. I was expecting to meet with the manager in his office where I would tell him about how mad I was, give him a sob story about having to borrow cars, and demand that it be fully fixed for free and that they owe me $1000 for my emotional distress... or something like that. (See, I am really a nice guy, and my niceness has a way of hiding the anger inside of me, so I was actually trying to work myself into getting mad.) But instead of leading me to his office the manager took me right out to see Jackie (my Jeep Liberty who looked kinda sad with her front bumper missing). But before he talked about my car he apologized for my mechanic not calling me because the two of them were out trying to make a delivery, had bad directions, and ran out of gas.

Now, I honestly have no direct evidence of what actually happened Friday afternoon so I don't want to call either man a liar, however the two stories do somewhat contradict each other. I mean, if they were on a delivery and ran out of gas, then why couldn't my mechanic just say so in his phone message to me? Or, once they knew they were running late, why couldn't my mechanic call a coworker and have the coworker call me?

Anywho, I digress. The manager then went on to say that the mechanic never should have promised me a quick turn around because the entire shop is very booked right now, and have been booked for six months. He said that the mechanic was wrong, and he would talk to him about it.

He then went on to show me the "damage" to the inside structure of my bumper. It wasn't much damage, but there was damage there (I regret not taking a photo of it). On the subject of how important it was to fix it the manager said "If you are in another crash there is a 50/50 chance of it not working like it should." (Which makes sense, either it will or it won't work like it should.) One always wants the bumper to work as it should, because its primary function is to collapse in an impact, absorbing energy as it goes.

To make a long story short (too late), we decided that I would just leave Jackie with them and we would use my insurance to pay for all of it to get fixed. He said he wanted to make it right for me, and I told him that what is worst for me is that I don't have a vehicle to drive. (Remember that on Thursday I was told that it would be ready "Same day, next day max", and here we are five days later and my car is still in pieces.) He then offered to pay for a rental car until my vehicle was ready to go, and I took him up on that offer. Seeing as insurance was now paying everything off, there really wasn't a way he could lower the price on something, so I saw this as the best way that he could make it right.

So, after my conversation with him, I am content with the outcome. I am still not happy about their poor communication skills, but he did take a step to make it right, and seeing as he has to pay for the rental every day that my car isn't fixed, I hope that gives him an incentive to get it done faster. On the money side: It ends up being cheaper for me going through insurance (my deductible is $500), and the manager said that insurance agencies don't usually worry about claims less than $1000 (the claim being what they pay after the deductible). This claim should be less than that, so I am optimistic (but not counting on) my premium not going up.

Anywho, there is your update. My car will be fully fixed and until then I am driving a paid-for rental. I will let you know if anything else changes!

UPDATE: You can read the next (and hopefully final) chapter here.


Oh Deer, I hit a... Guardrail?

Saturday, December 10, 2011
A few weeks ago at Thanksgiving a guardrail jumped out in front of my car! How rude!!!

Granted, it had just started raining... and I was taking a turn a bit too fast... and I was trying to beat a yellow light...... but I stand firm in that it was the guardrail's fault!

OK, fine, it was my fault.

While making a left hand turn onto a feeder road in Austin I lost control of my car and hit the guardrail that was on the left side of the road. (Coincidentally enough it hit in the exact same place on the car where just two years ago I hit a deer.) I ended up facing the wrong way on the one-way feeder road in the striped no-man's-land. Thankfully no other cars were involved. Here are some true-life crime scene photos, click to see full size.

As you can see in the photos there was minimal damage to both my car and the guardrail. The bumper is broken, a few of the brackets that hold the grill on are broken, and the right turn signal was burnt out. Oh, and my license plate came off, and not three days later a Small Town Texas cop pulled me over for not having a front license place.

Anywho, minimal damage was sustained for my sin of trying to beat the yellow light and I figured I might as well go ahead and get it fixed. I take pride in my vehicle; It is paid off (I OWN IT BABY!) so I always want it looking clean, sharp, and all together not broken. So last week I took it to two local shops to get an estimate to get it fixed. The "Mom and Pop" shop (name withheld) quoted me $675, and the local chain Caliber Collision Repair quoted me $625.

Now you can debate if it is worth spending more than $600 to fix a bumper (most of the quoted cost is for two parts which totaled $450 in each quote), but I decided that I would take the hit (call it a Stupid Tax) and get it fixed.

Day 1: Thursday, December 8th. I took my car in and dropped it off at 8:30 AM (which is LONG before the time I usually wake up). My mechanic said that there was a problem with my quote, that one of the parts would be $50 more than he quoted me. I flat out told him that I chose them because they were $50 cheaper than another estimate, but there wasn't much I could do at that point. So I dropped off my car and I had a coworker pick me up and take me to church so I could work all day.

Fast forward a few hours. I knew Caliber closes at 5:30 PM, so when I still hadn't heard from them by 5:00 I started calling them. On my first call I was told that the guy in charge of my car would call me back. By 5:40 I was still waiting, so I called again, but because the office was closed I got sent to the chain's central office. The nice lady there said that she would try calling the local shop's back line, and I finally got in touch with my mechanic.

He said that they received the wrong part (I am not sure whose fault that was) and that the correct part just came in so it wouldn't be ready that day and he would call me in the morning when it was ready. Not a huge problem, I had someone take me home.

Day 2: Friday, December 9th. I didn't have anything specific planned all day long, so I wasn't too worried about not having a car. But as it was getting late into the day I still hadn't heard from my mechanic, so around 5:15 I once again start calling him. The first call wasn't answered, on the second call the receptionist said "He is out making a delivery, let me get you someone who might be able to help." She sends me over to another mechanic that says the same thing, "I think he is out, let me get him on the radio. [hold music while he gets him on the radio] Yes, he is out on a delivery, he will call you when he gets back." So I waited.

And I waited.

But I never got a call back.

Day 3: Saturday, December 10th. Had to work at the church (Christmas Pageant rehearsal) so I had someone pick me up. I was thinking I would call Caliber during the day, but the guy picking me up said something and it jogged my memory: Caliber Collision Repair is closed on weekends!

After the Pageant rehearsal I had my friend drive me by the shop. I had hoped that Jackie (my Jeep) would be sitting out front and, because I had an extra set of keys, I could just drive it away (fixed or not fixed). But sadly I didn't see it, it must have been around back behind barbed wire.

So let's get this straight: I come in for a super simple repair job, one that which your quote says will only take 3.7 hours to fix, and all of a sudden my car is taken away from me for no less than FOUR DAYS? I don't know how my mechanic guy gets to work, but I am a freelance videographer! I have to drive places! I have things to do and places to go, and you have taken my vehicle from me because you refused to return my phone calls?!?!?

Now I will say: I know there are many people out there that don't have the luxury of having a vehicle, and there are people that lose their vehicles or the use of their vehicle for various reasons. This rant really isn't about me not having a car, it is about some nitwit who didn't want to call me back so now I have to bum a ride off of friends! To put it another way: He took something of mine and, because of bad customer service, won't give it back when he promised (twice) he would.

Oh, and he is sure darned lucky that I didn't have a freelance job this weekend or I would have been up a creek without my Jeep!

So if you can't tell, I am pretty livid at Caliber Collision Repair right now. Like I said, it really isn't putting me out much outside of having to ask for a few favors, but we live in an era where people commute to work, and to take away someone's transportation for FOUR DAYS so that you can work on it 3.7 hours is inexcusable.

Keep checking back as I will update this post as the story continues. I will be giving them a mouthful on Monday, we will see if they return my calls at that point.

UPDATE: Instead of continuing the story here I decided to split it into another post. You can now read about it here: The Guardrail Saga, Part 2.

UPDATE UPDATE: You can read the next (and hopefully final) chapter here.


A Call from the Forbidden Fruit

Friday, December 09, 2011
As many of you know I am looking for a full time job in Austin. (If you don't know about it you can read this post.) I have been perusing Craigslist for media related job ads and have sent out my application many times in the last few weeks. (Don't knock Craigslist, three of the seven jobs listed on my resume came from Craigslist!)

I have also used networking to my advantage. For example a good friend of mine was recently looking for a job. After he found a job he was called by a company asking if he still needed work, and he replied "No, but I have a good friend that does!" This led me to my first phone interview. The job looks like it would be up my alley, but they aren't currently hiring, so it is a waiting game on them.

I have also sent out my application to other random companies that I wouldn't mind working for, and this led me to my second call back. Apple Inc. called me today and we had a brief discussion about my background and my strengths/weaknesses. He then said that they do have an opening for a full time job! Hooray! I then asked him at what store the opening was at and he said it would be in the Dallas area. *sigh* I explained to him that I am trying to move from Dallas to Austin to be with family, and he said he only covers the Dallas area and that he would have to talk to the guy over the Austin area.

So over all I am pleased with how things are going. I haven't been getting a lot of call backs, but I also realize that it is still early. When I was working at my last full time job we were hiring some new people and it took several weeks to get all of the applications in, evaluate the applications, and get around to the call backs. So while my phone isn't ringing off the hook, I am seeing more opportunities than I had feared there would be, I am just waiting a bit to see how many call backs I get.

If you are in Austin or know of anyone in Austin that my know someone in Austin that may hire someone (especially media related) in the next five years, give me a holler and I will send you my resume!

Thanks for the prayers! I know that soon I will be amazingly blessed to be close to family!


Mood Swings

Thursday, November 10, 2011
Lately (in the past few months) I have noticed that I have been suffering from mood swings. I can go from happy to depressed in the matter of minutes (although often it isn't that sudden/noticible).

As a specific example: Yesterday (Tuesday) I was doing great all day long. Then, halfway through Bible study (just before our break) something hit me and I was suddenly sullen and not wanting to talk to anyone.

It happened again today: I was having a great day, then as I was heading out of church I started running around in circles with some kids. Now, 5+ hours later, I still feel slightly light headed, and I haven't been in a good mood since. When I was a kid and ran around in circles I would get dizzy but I would get over it in a few minutes. It seems strange to me that this would have such a long-term affect on me.

Is this normal? Am I just getting old (I did hit the big two-seven just a few days ago)? Or are these signs of something wrong?

Having these mood swings often makes it hard to get work done. When I am in a good mood I can get a lot accomplished, but when my mood goes south (which sometimes happens suddenly, sometimes gradually) it is extremely hard to get work done. My brain simply fights any possible cognitive thinking.

Please pray with me that these mood swings would stop wrecking my life, that depression would stay away, and that my work would come easier to me.


Austin or Bust!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011
When I sit down to write long blog posts like this one I have typically gone over what I am going to say long before I sit down to actually write it. For example, in my blog post "It is Finished" in which I came out publicly about my pornography addiction, I had written the post in my head no less than six times before I actually sat down to type it out.

This time is different. Not because I haven't thought about what I am going to say, but because there is SO MUCH to say! In fact I have spent many many hours thinking over the past week, and the more I think the more I realize there is more to think about!

That is all to say this: This post will not be as organized as usual, and I am quite sure I won't get to everything tonight. My last blog post promised that I would share more, and there are many blog posts that I intended to sit down and write over the past weeks (I have two sitting half written on my desktop), but lack of energy from working my many jobs kept me from fulfilling this promise. Well maybe this will break that log jam.

To put it another way: I am quite sure there are things going on that I won't cover in this blog post, don't worry, I hope to blog these soon!

OK, wow, all of that and I haven't even started yet! Whew! Time to get on to the real reason for this post!

I have decided to make a huge change in my life. This will be the largest change I have ever made in my life, even larger than moving off to college.

I am moving to Austin.

For those that don't know me as well: In 2003 I graduated from high school and moved to Denton, TX (north of Dallas / Fort Worth) to attend the University of North Texas. Four and a half years later I graduated from said university with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film. (I like to tell people I got a BA in RTVF from UNT.)

To keep the story short (too late!), I began volunteering at Argyle United Methodist Church (AUMC) soon after I moved to Denton, and that position steadily grew over the years. Now I work part time for the church making a five figure salary (which sounds like a lot more than it is!).

But things aren't all daisies and roses. I have to work (typically) 60 hours a week at many part time jobs (including my own small business) just to make rent. And ever since my brother moved out of the area over two years ago, my closest family is now a 3 hour and 41 minute drive away (according to Google Maps).

I am in a rut! I am lonely, I work too much, and I am stressed to the gills! If I am to be honest with you right now, I would say: these past few years have broken me. I am broken emotionally, I am broken physically, I am broken spiritually... I long from the deepest part of my soul to once again find peace in my life, and I pray that this move will be the catalyst for that.

Don't get me wrong; God has been doing some amazing things in my life, and I often have moments of happiness and great joy, but these moments are islands in a sea of frustration and stress, and I don't see why I should sit around and leave it like this when I can at least attempt a change.

*sigh* Well, I have hit my emotional stopping point, so that is all for tonight. As I said, I have dozens of different thoughts I want to share, about how this will affect my job at my church, how deeply these pains hurt me, how much family means to me, how little "me" time I have, and how my friends have kept me sane for this long. But those will have to come another day.

For now, please be praying for me. I really didn't get into my "plan", IE: what my plan is for moving to Austin, but the primary part of the plan is to find a full time (or good paying part time) job in or near Austin. Please be praying that God would guide me to the job He wants me to have, the job that would best glorify His Kingdom. Please pray that I would have peace in the next few months, as I know it will get worse before it gets better. Please be praying that God would help me to get everything done in the next few months, as my schedule is packed.

Please be praying that God would continue to bless me as he has so abundantly blessed me in my past!


PS: This blog post is over, but the conversation has just started! I am a HUGE fan of having conversations! So if you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment on this blog post below, message me on Facebook and/or Twitter, or just call me on my cell phone! In these days of bleak loneliness, conversations are a beacon of light for me!

You Don't Know Me: how Facebook and Twitter changed Social Media

Saturday, July 16, 2011
Many years ago (April of '05 to be exact) I started this blog that you are reading right now. I started it for the purpose of sharing links and photos with friends and family (so I could stop emailing them every time I came across a funny webpage), but over time it grew into my personal outlet for what we now call "social media". Just as Facebook and Twitter are all about updating everyone at the same time about something, so too my blog became, a place where all of my friends and family could go so that everyone could know the latest goings-ons of my life.

And, of course, funny webpages.

But over time I slowly stopped posting on my blog as I started posting more and more on Facebook and, later, Twitter. In fact, in the last 22 months I have only posted 11 posts on my blog, an average of one blog post every 60 days! Compare that to calendar year 2008 when I posted 160 times, an average of one post every 2.3 days.

However, what I post on Facebook/Twitter and what I used to post on my blog are not the same thing. On Facebook and Twitter you are limited in how many characters you can post (420 and 140, respectively). And while Facebook is great for having conversations in comments, I never post any deep or long winded posts, mostly because I can't fit many deep theological discussion into 420 characters. (And, yes, Facebook has Notes, but I never got into using those.)

And this is a problem. Nobody knows me. Sure, they think they know me, but all I ever post on Facebook/Twitter are one-liners. How can you know someone from one-liners?

For example, I have not kept it a secret that I am working on writing an iPhone application, but who knows how the project is going? Am I making good progress, or have I hit a stumbling block? How far along in the app making process am I, and what resources am I using? These are all things that, in the olden days of my blog, I would have typed out, but now nobody knows. (Note: I have made it a point to NOT post the title or even the general concept of my app, so don't feel bad if you don't know about that.)

Another great example: last year I become increasingly frustrated at my full time job. I wasn't frustrated at the company or anyone that was working there, I was frustrated at things like driving an hour each way three to four days a week, and working until 4 AM then having an hour drive home. And these problems didn't pop up over night, I had been getting increasingly frustrated for a year or more.

But apparently I had been keeping these problems to myself (or at least not posting about them on Facebook), because one day I posted on Facebook "Today I gave my two week notice at my full time job." and I got a surprised call from my dad. He not only didn't know that I was quitting, he didn't know how unhappy I was. And to make matters worse, to this day I have never posted a detailed explanation of WHY I was quitting. Unless you have asked me personally, you would have no about the problems I was having at the time.

In retrospect this probably wouldn't have happened if I were updating my blog regularly, because either a) I would have over time posted about how unhappy I was, or b) I would have written up a long 3000 word explanation of why I was quitting and I would have had it time stamped to post within an hour of me actually giving my two week notice, so everyone would know at the same time not only that I was quitting, but also a through explanation of why.

As these examples attest: Facebook and Twitter have changed the way people know me. And I am not saying that it is all bad, because the social interaction on Facebook and Twitter is so much greater than was ever possible on my blog. But people don't know ME, they don't know what is going on in my life, they only know the superficial one-liners of my life. And I am not saying that people that followed my blog when I posted regularly knew everything there was to know about me, I am saying they had a deeper understanding of what was really going on in my life.

I will admit: The idea that Facebook and Twitter are superficial is not a new idea in the world. I am sure people have written dissertations about how Facebook and Twitter have changed social media and people's interactions, but for me it never really sank in until now how MUCH it has changed how people know me.

So I am going to make a marked attempt to post on my blog more. I am not going to go out of my way to post, and I am not going to feel guilty if I don't post, but I want people to get to know a deeper me than the Facebook/Twitter version of me.

So add this blog to your bookmark list and/or your RSS reader, because you will be seeing more posts here in the near future.


Count Your Blessings

Sunday, June 19, 2011
"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." We all know the words to the old nursery rhyme, but do we really know it?

Sometimes I play a little thought game and ask myself "What is the worst possible thing that could happen to my life?", IE: what event(s) would most alter the course of my life? (Not to be confused with "What is the worst thing that could happen IN my life?", for which the answer is easy: the loss of a family member or close friend.)

Well the answer would probably be me losing a job and/or losing all of my stuff. Let's say I lost my job(s) and my house burned down. That would be devastating to me because everything that I have worked for and everything that I own would be gone almost instantly.

What would I do next?

Well I have renter's insurance, so that would cover my stuff, but it wouldn't cover where I would sleep that night (or the next month for that matter). Insurance is only be the first step on the road to recovery.

So I would turn to family. Between my sister, my mom, my dad, my grandmother, and two sets of aunts/uncles/cousins, I have no doubt that SOMEONE could find an empty bed or couch for me to sleep on until I get my feet back under me. (My brother, who just moved to the Frozen Tundra of Canada, sadly doesn't count as it would be too far to travel just to sleep on a couch.)

But what if they weren't able to help? Later this week my entire family is going on a cruise. What would happen if I lost my job, my house burned down, and the cruise ship sank and I was the only one left?

Well then I would call my church and they would help. I am absolutely positive of ten people who would INSTANTLY open their homes for me if needed, and that is only counting fellow staff members! I know of another ten or more people in the congregation that wouldn't hesitate to do the same!

But what if I lost my job, my house burned down, the cruise ship sank, and armageddon happened and no one in my church was left alive?

Well at that point I am screwed! (Actually it is more more like I took that game one step too far.)

But really, I have played out the above thought game several times in my head and there is not a single way (outside of armageddon) where I would end up homeless. No matter how hard I try to mess with my life (in a theoretical sense) I end up surrounded by family and/or friends that care deeply for me. I attribute this to the amazing love that God has surrounded me with and the many blessings he pours out on my life.

(Am I saying that the homeless are not loved or blessed by God? In no way! God loves and blesses everyone in different ways, the above is just one way I am able to personify what God has done in my life. As an example, today at church a guy walked in off of the street and needed some help. Our church was able to help him and in doing so we were a blessing in his life and we showed God's love to him.)

How has God shown his love for you in your life?

My grandfather (Ray Kelling) was an amazing man, and it breaks my heart that he died before I really got to know him (or even before I knew what it would be like to miss someone that amazing). He struggled with cancer for many, many years until it finally took his life. One of the few relics I have left as a memory of him is a recording of him singing (with my grandmother accompanying on organ) "Count Your Many Blessings". (You can download the file by right clicking and choosing "Save As": Link.) The old hymn states:

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done!

Today, may you count your many blessings, and see that God loves you and cares for you. May you know without a doubt that God created the entire universe but loves YOU so much that he sent his only son to die on the cross so that you would know his love for you.


PS: For an example on how to count your blessings amidst strife, click on back to an older post of mine titled "Oh Dear, I hit a Deer! The lesson I learned from hitting a 6 point buck.

PPS: I apologize that this post is not more organized than it is. I would like it to flow better but due to the many things going on right now I don't have the brain power to organize it any better. I hope that the unflowieness of it didn't hinder the point I was trying to make.

The Cave

Saturday, March 19, 2011
Where am I?
[I am in my youth.]
I am in a shadow; the darkness of the cave.
[I have been here before.]
I am lost in the cave with no way out, no hope of survival.
[I know the cave well, I have been here many times.]
I am going to die in the cave.
[I despise the cave.]
Yet up there is the light, the answer to the darkness!
[So close, yet...]
I run towards the light down a well trodden path.
[I know this path.]
The path promises to deliver me from the darkness to the light.
[I have traveled it many times, I know every twist and turn.]
I run, I flee, I climb, I crawl...
[Again, again, again, again.] slip and I will land back in the cave.
[The retched cave.]
Slowly the darkness fades, the light overcomes!
[I remember the feeling of its warm rays.]
I am saved! I am free! I am home!


So time and time again, why do I keep waking in the cave?
The many trips towards the light, was it all in vein or simply a dream?

Where am I?

~Matthew Kelling


Tuesday, February 01, 2011
2 AM. Large winter storm blowing in. It is raining and it will surely be snowing soon.

So I do what any wanna-be-photo-geek does: I decide to set my iPhone in the window to take a time lapse video of our front lawn as the storm blows in. So I go to our front window, pull up the blinds (which is made difficult by the fact that they are broken) and I use an extension cord to plug in my iPhone so the battery won't die.

As I am lining up the shot about to hit the shutter I notice someone walking down the road. I thought "That's odd, it is below freezing outside and raining, who is walking around in this weather?" As I watch she turns up our driveway and starts to walk across our lawn.

Our doorbell rings.

I answer it and the woman says that her mom has kicked her out of the house, could she use my phone. "Of course" is my answer! She calls her boyfriend to come pick her up.

My roommate and I invite her to come inside and stay warm. She turns us down at first (I don't blame her for not coming into a stranger's house in the middle of the night) but she soon allows herself inside to wait.

We get to talking. She said that she saw me in the window and decided to come to our door to ask for help, and I explained to her what I was doing in the window. She opens up and says that her parents didn't like her boyfriend (the man she wanted to marry) so they said "You can leave him or leave the house." She choose to leave the house.

I then gather up the courage to say "I don't know where you come from or what you believe, but I am a Christian and I believe in prayer. Do you mind if I pray for you?" She said that she too was a Christian and would appreciate some prayer.

So in our living room at 2:15 in the morning with a winter storm brewing outside I was praying with my roommate and a stranger, someone who was at that instant homeless and clearly broken by the events that had just taken place.

Her boyfriend finally got there and she ran through the rain to his truck. I realize that if I hadn't been standing in the window at that moment she would still probably be out in the cold. I fully believe that God put me there at that exact moment to be a light in her deep darkness.

I will probably never see Heather again, but she will be in my prayers tonight and for a long time to come. May she will be in your prayers too.