Kristen & Dave, Chapter 1 – An Intro

I love telling stories. I especially love telling true stories about love and such… but I’m not sure how to begin this one. I’m not sure how much backstory my readers will tolerate… but I’ll try to keep it entertaining. Some people say their fiction is personal; all stories are personal. Some say their stories are “based on a true story.” Every story is, at least the good ones. This one is true. And personal.

Jumonville, Summer 2010
Training had started. Life was breathless. I’d moved out of my apartment in Greensburg and taken the long exciting ride down south to Uniontown and driven up Jumonville road for the third time in my life and moved into Ree Enlow’s house about a week earlier. I’d shared a room with James Moran, one of my closest friends from before I had ever once visited Jumonville. Ree loved on us like we were the last people in the world she could love. For the second time in my life, I felt like I was breathing fresh mountain air after breathing deisel exhaust all my life. (The first time was Alaska with my Uncle John and Aunt Linda.) The lies about my value were fighting with everything they had, and for the first time since the breakup, the lies were facing violent opposition.

I eventually grew to love everyone on staff that summer… but this story is about something different then brotherly and sisterly love. In fact, the first time I told Kristen “I love you” was probably less than a few weeks after I met her. (I said the words “I love you” to everyone at Jumonville often.) Kristen asked me not to because those were words she only wanted to hear from her husband. I worried about that, prayed about it… and opted to explain that way I meant it wasn’t a romantic way and keep saying it.

I think the first time I knew there was something special about her was when I was facilitating the zip line multi-level. She didn’t seem scared; she just said “I love You, Jesus!” and slid off the platform. It made me pause and wonder. I knew then that her relationship with God was real. Her Jesus was a friend, not someone she believed in like some kids believe in Santa Claus.

One time, too, after we went prayer-walking, she came back especially crushed. (The whole story is here.) There was a woman Nate had seen in the spirit who had been raped, and Kristen had prayed for her. In that moment and in many others, I saw grace in her. I could tell that she got grace.

And then there were the Bible studies. I went along to them and was a brat. I mean, I tried to honestly answer the questions people asked, but there were legitimately times when I just hijacked the conversation and took it down a rabbit trail for no good reason. It was a biblical rabbit-trail, but a rabbit-trail nonetheless. But as the summer progressed, our conversations got deeper. We ended up talking about God for as much as an hour after everyone else left. I spoke passionately about how God loves us all the time no matter what, and when we don’t feel His love it’s because we’ve put up defenses against Him. I preached. And I left that night with a smile on my face because I had spent an hour alone with a girl and (1) there was nothing romantic going on, and (2) no one would suspect that there was! We were brother-and-sister.

I spent the whole summer telling myself lies like that. Continue reading “Kristen & Dave, Chapter 1 – An Intro”

Fear Not

It’s been a while since I last blogged about fear. Quite a while.

The place was packed. I’d never seen this many people at Union Church, even close to Christmas. There were extra seats and everything, and even the extra seats were being filled – every single one. A few minutes after I arrived, they said to give the people around you a hug. The lady to my left had said “Good morning” instead of “He is risen indeed,” so I figured she was just a Christmas-and-Easter Christian and simply shook her hand. Then I went back to sending text messages to all my friends and a few acquaintances that said, “They could kill Him, but they COULDN’T KEEP HIM DEAD! HE IS RISEN!” After a few rounds of this, the nice lady beside me tried to shut my phone, smiled warmly, and said, “Stop texting! You’re in church!” (She really was smiling warmly, and wasn’t being old and mean). I flipped down to the message I was sending and showed it to her, grinning larger than was necessary. She smiled and left me alone after that. I slowed down the texting to sync with slower parts of the service… but wow. It was mostly worship songs after that, and it became increasingly difficult to send out text messages with my hands in the air. I accidentally bumped into the upraised arm of the nice lady to my left while I had my hands raised and eyes closed. Guess I’d made a bit of a happy mistake. She loved Jesus, too, or so it seemed.

I actually wasn’t planning on being at Union Church this morning, but because of the Dining Commons, Wendy’s, and Burger King all being closed, I ended up in a long line at McDonalds and heading toward being a half hour late for the church I’d intended to attend. That meant that, because this was one of those multiple-services-that-all-have-to-be-short churches, I’d miss the worship. I didn’t want to do that, not on Resurrection Sunday.

On the way to the other church, I saw a sign for N 200 E, where I’d have to turn to go to Union Church. I have no idea how these things work, but I just had a feeling or decided (I never figured out exactly which) to go to Union Church today. Maybe it’s just because they started at ten and it was now 9:57, but who knows? I slowed down fast and made the right turn to go to Union Church.

They sang a lot of songs. The service was about freedom. They performed the “Set Me Free!” skit, then the pastor came up and said that the theme for the morning was freedom – freedom from whatever it was was holding you, and then listed off a bunch of things that can hold us humans captive. He preached for a while, then gave an invitation.

They were giving out broken chain links to take home, as a reminder of spiritual broken chains, to everyone who went forward. As usual, I assumed that the invitation was not for me, but for somebody else, and that I would cheer them on. I didn’t have anything I needed set free from. God had already…  …Crap. The whole process of going from”I’m-okay” to “okay-maybe-I’m-no-okay” took about five seconds. I had a chain I needed freedom from. It was called Fear. Continue reading “Fear Not”


Joseph Garlington once told the story of an Asian woman looking for a house. Everywhere the realtor took her, she would look around and say, “Nice house. No statue.” The realtor, thinking she was a devout catholic, took her to houses with statues of the Virgin Mary, statues of St. Joseph, and every other statue he could think of. Still, everywhere they went, she would go inside, look around, and simply comment, “Nice house, no statue.”

Finally, back at his office, the realtor looked at the lady in frustration and asked, “Ma’am, everywhere we’ve gone, you’ve said “Nice house, no statue. Just what IS a statue?”

She picked up the phone on his desk, held it to her ear, and said “‘Stat you?”

Oh, the places I’ve been these past four weeks looking for church. The first week, a church called “Good Shepherd” (aka “The Well”) visited Huntington University and did church here. The next week, I did church with The Well again. It was nice, but it felt like something was missing.

Continue reading “Statue?”

Thief in the Night – I’m supposed to be here.

Oh my word.

I was just doing a google search to see if anyone had made a music video for Rich Mullins’ song called “Thief in the Night” when I made a discovery that let me know that God is in what I’m doing here.

See, how this whole thing started was like this: I had just listened to that song on my netbook up at Jumonville. I walked into Ree’s office and asked if she’d heard it and she asked if I meant the movie. I remembered the movie. “Thief in the Night” is one of the worst “Christian” movies of all time, and that’s saying something.

That conversation got me thinking about about how I’d wanted to make GOOD Christian movies for such a long time but never tried. Later that day while building a tent, I asked God if I could do that.

Through a ridiculous, almost laughable series of events, I ended up as a Freshman student at Huntington University with a Film Production major. But mentioning that title to Ree, and remembering the movie, was really what got me started thinking about this and kinda got those thoughts rolling. And then today I was doing a google search to see if anyone had made a music video for that song.

Turns out that’s not even the right name. It’s called “Steal At Any Price.”


Now that’s irony. And it’s just like God to do something like that.

You’ve gotta be kidding me (or) I don’t WANT to survive, Otto! I wanna LIVE!!

This is ridiculous. I really… yeah. This is just crazy.

The past 3 days have been a crazy blur of activity, inactivity, activity, and insanity. And I still don’t know quite what’s going on. I guess I’ll start with Monday.

Monday, August 17, 2009
I called the place I was gonna rent an apartment from. The apartment I was looking at last Wednesday had been rented already. Crap. But I drove out to that apartment community anyway, to look at a different one they would have available by THIS Wednesday. It was quite ok. I filled out the application, paid a $15 fee, and left.

On my way toward home, I stopped at FedEx Ground, where I’ve worked before. Everyone seemed happy to see me again. I filled out the application, and it was just a matter of getting a DOT physical taken again, and FedEx having my references checked. The job was as good as mine.

Continue reading “You’ve gotta be kidding me (or) I don’t WANT to survive, Otto! I wanna LIVE!!”

Goodbye, Ordinary (or) Finding Home

Hey guys!

Thank you SO much for your prayers! I’ve got a line on the first floor of this house in Greensburg that they’ll let me rent for three months, and I can move in this weekend!

I keep thinking I need to get this out, so here goes:

I feel like I’m waving goodbye to the ordinary life, the life I thought I’d have. My life schedule used to be something like

Grow up
Save money
Buy a house
Get married
Raise kids
Uh… live happily ever after.

But my list got trashed. Continue reading “Goodbye, Ordinary (or) Finding Home”

Huge Prayer Request

Most facebook notes are about 25 things about me. Most are outdated. Most are posted because I wasn’t doing anything else and I had to make it seem like something was happening. Just bein’ honest. This one, however, is a little different. It’s a little crazy. In fact, it’s absurd. But it’s happening. And I really need your prayers.

So here’s the scoop: The Saturday after Christmas was a bright, sunny, warm day. Scotty, Aaron and me drove down to a place called Camp Jumonville to walk around, relax, and forget that we have day jobs. It was a pretty awesome day. We just pretty much hiked and chilled. My perfect day.

And then it got a little out-of-hand. Scotty told me they’re always looking for people to work there. I leaned out the window and asked God, “Could I? Could I really work here?” Continue reading “Huge Prayer Request”