Friday, February 16, 2007

Take a hike

There are few places in the world I would rather be than Fontana Dam at Smoky Mountain National Park. That area of the park has always been a favorite of mine for its subtle beauty.

The ultimate test of falling in love for me was the great outdoors. In reality if Melissa had hated being outside, the blindness of love would've gotten me through. One long day proved she was a keeper.

I didn't know then that Melissa is prone to car sickness. I can only imagine how she must've felt after a 2 1/2 hour drive through the craziest roads I know of in the south. It's a beautiful journey from Toccoa to Fontana but it is not straight at all. It didn't seem to matter to her, she kept pressing on.

There was definitely some early tension, awkward quietness and vague questions that come with trying to get a feel for the day and how it might go. Nate and Andrea were with us and helped keep the conversation moving. Still, I have to think that Melissa and I were both pretty nervous. My taking her hiking was a big step in my mind and I think that showed.

I was head over heels for her already. After the evening at the coffee shop I was hers even with the Michael Jackson character flaw. When she readily agreed to come on a walk in the woods with me I was stoked.

Shortly after we started hiking it was pretty clear we weren't going to make the final destination. We took a detour, ended up having dinner along the trail and walking back in the dark. Watching Melissa take everything in, looking around, enjoying not only the beauty around us but the times of silence, the pace, and the great freeze dried pasta was surreal. I remember looking at her in those moments and seeing someone that was so much more than she tried to let on. She was a thinker for sure and she asked questions, good, hard, confusing, fun questions.

We came back down, readying ourselves for the smelly drive home (I hike, I sweat, I smell, it's inevitable) and paused to star gaze at the dam. I'm not sure how long we looked up; it felt like Hiro Nakamura had stopped time for us :) and gave us the chance to let down and talk. Who knows what all we talked about, that detail hasn't stuck with me. What stays with me is that we were together. There was a moment that night where it finally occurred to me that we would be walking the same path together for a long time.

She's proven time and again to be the toughest hiker I know, able to go one more step no matter what. That particular Saturday wasn't about the hiking, that day was about us, together. It was that day that I looked into her eyes and knew I could spend the rest of my life with her.

We've been climbing ever since.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Michael Jackson

A lot transpired between our first meeting and what I consider our "first" date. There is some debate over what our actual first date really was, but the evening I'm referring to here was the first time we did something together by ourselves.

We went out for coffee at the world famous coffee shop in Toccoa; world famous only becuase we live in Hong Kong now and still speak of it, thus making it world famous. We had a good time talking, getting to know each other, listening to our stories, all the normal begginings that make romance both fun and stressful.

What I remember most fondly about this experience is the drive afterward. As we were travelling, I noticed she had some tapes in the car (yeah you could still find tapes in 1999). And much to my surprise and dismay, I found a copy of a Michael Jackson tape right there in her car. That's right, Michael Jackson. I think the tape in question was 'Bad', no doubt a fan favorite but certainly not something I'd expect in the car of the object of my affections.

She looked at me with the eyes that screamed, "I've got a Michael Jackson tape in my car and if you've got a problem with that then tough!" and with much grace allowed me to mercilessly mock her for years to come.

I don't care at all about her poor taste in music, but I loved the fact that she was her own person. I loved that she didn't care whether I liked her crappy music or not, it was hers and that's that. I loved the fact that she could laugh about it.

Looking back on that evening brings an obvious sense of fulfilment to my heart. She's time and again proven to be the most amazing woman I've ever met. As we listened to Michael Jackson that night I fell in love with a girl that could laugh at herself and have fun being her. I grow more hopelessly in love with that girl every day.

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Monday, February 12, 2007


Being the week of Valentine's Day it seemed like a good time to reminisce on the events surrounding falling in love with the most wonderful woman alive.

I first saw Melissa with her friend Rachel on the campus of TFC. I'd just returned to school after taking a year off to teach in China. Nate and I were coming back from a trip to Wal Mart, a daily ritual marking the kickoff of a new semester.

As we pulled back onto campus, we saw Rachel. She was one of those girls that everyone knew (in a good way), played volleyball, and was easy to get along with. Today, she happened to be with a new face. To be fair, after a year off, everything seemed new to me. I introduced her to Nate and was promptly introduced to Melissa for the first time.

I remember thinking the obvious; she's cute. I also remember noting how nervous she looked and wondering what she must be thinking. I'd transferred in during my sophomore year and really struggled to adjust. I wondered what it was like for her, transferring into the Christian bubble from a state university.

As we caught up with Rachel, Melissa didn't say much. I wouldn't have either in a situation like that. I remember being struck by her genuine interest in what I had to say though she had no idea who I was. That didn't seem to happen much.

Those eyes, watching everything we did, taking it all in, she was able to look at me in such a way that has stayed with me. The details of that meeting might be a bit shaky but I still see her eyes and how they saw me. She didn't just look at me, she saw me. I will never forget that detail.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007


Today was unique. I got up this morning, showered, got ready for work, ate breakfast, got my stuff together and went all the way to Melissa's chair, sat back down and finished two books. Current office space challenges make it hard to get a lot of studying done at the actual office and I needed to catch up on some reading. Home worked quite nicely.

Mark Yaconelli's book Contemplative Youth Ministry is one of the more meaningful books I've read with regards to youth ministry in a long time. It was a hard read at times as I came to realize how many opportunities I've missed to simply be present with students, growing and listening with them. I'll write more on this later.

The second book of the day was a much more personal read, one that I needed to finish and one that hurts to read because of how much it reveals of personal failures. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs' Love and Respect has literally swept the world with it's practical, marriage transforming, biblically based principles. I've known how good it was but never found/made time to dive into it until now.

The basic premise is that to energize your marriage relationship, a foundation of love and respect needs to be built. Men crave the respect of their wives and wives long for the love of their husband.

The part that I have since re-read and will be learning from for the rest of my life was that which dealt with how to spell love to your wife. As only Christian authors can, he explained it with an acronym (think Sonlife): COUPLE
To spell out love to my wife, proactively demonstrating and practicing these areas is imperative:


Going through this list I am struck by two things. First, it makes sense. The more I discover about my wife, the more Dr. Eggerichs' words resonate. The second thing that comes to mind is how poorly I have spelled love to my wonderful wife. There are times when I do well but that's not enough, I must consistently do well. She deserves that and so much more.

As he finishes the book the author puts everything in perspective with a quote that literally brought a wealth of emotion to my soul:

"In the ultimate sense, your marriage has nothing to do with your spouse. It has everything to do with your relationship to Jesus Christ." (279)

One of the tangible ways I love my wife is showing her the love of the Father. One of the tangible ways I love the Father is loving my wife completely and unconditionally.

I've only been married 5 1/2 years. I look forward to a lifetime of growing together with Melissa, there is no one I'd rather grow old with. I am so grateful that God and Melissa have given me the chance to learn the depth of love by loving Melissa.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

updated wee-mike

i realized changes could me made. Here's a more accurate little me.
I can't stop... really... it's that fun... make your own... you know you want to...


Saturday, February 03, 2007


Inspired by Marko's post, here i am:
Make your own at weeworld.
Caution, it's almost as much fun as linerider.



Tonight during dinner one of our students asked me how I decide what I teach on each week. This wasn't all that crazy of a question and is, in fact, one I've heard many times before. However it's usually asked in the context of "what were you thinking?" or did you honestly think that would work?".

David's question struck me as coming straight from the heart. We'd just finished our third week in the series on listening to God, this time talking about waiting and I explained that I felt like this was where God was leading our group and that I do my best to have things planned out at least a few months in advance. I shared with him that for me it's about trusting God to guide me and direct me even if I don't understand exactly how that info is getting to me. I told him I'm not such an original thinker so I have to rely on the amazing creativity of God to lead us right where He wants us to go, together.

As I finished my little ditty, he looked at me and said thanks because the past couple of weeks were just what he wanted and needed to hear.

It's amazing how God works. I felt like tonight flopped. Everyone seemed to be focused on anything but listening to God. If anything, it was a competition to see who could be the loudest. And then, with one question, everything changed:

How do you decide what you teach us?
Thank God the answer to that is a resounding, I don't.
I'm not that smart.

Lord, thank you for speaking even when I feel like I can barely hear You. Thanks for using a broken vessel. Thank you for letting me serve students that are changing everything! Thank you for being sovereign. Thank you for letting me be even a tiny part of Your story in the lives of such amazing people.

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