On the Road with the Mailhots, Day 1

img_2250Starting Point: Bellingham, WA
Destination: Newport, OR
Miles: 401
Drive time: 8.5 hours
Hours listened to The Lord of the Rings audiobook: 6 hours, 26 minutes

 

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Road trip selfie!

First stop: Astoria, OR

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The Astoria waterfront

Second Stop: Cannon Beach, OR

Megan’s good friend from Alaska (who moved to Tennessee) happened to be at Cannon Beach at the very same time we were driving through. We couldn’t pass up a chance to reconnect and walk on the beach.

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Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, OR


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Manzanita coast line

Third stop: Tillamook, OR

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Yummm! Carmel Butter Pecan on top, Pumpkin Cookie Batter on bottom

Final stop: Newport, OR

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Ultimate Breakfast for dinner

We arrived at our first campground–we’re staying in a yurt!–and cooked dinner by headlamp and lantern. A quick game of Settlers of Catan rounded out the night.

 

The Promise of an Old Friend

A few years ago, a dear friend moved across the country to begin attending grad school. I even road tripped across America to help him transition from one coast to another. The thing is, what was once an almost daily friendship was now punctuated with frenzied visits once a year. Sure, we would talk on the phone or via Skype, we’d play SimCity together, and text each other, but it just wasn’t the same. Thankfully, when we were together, on the same coast, it felt like no time or distance had separated us at all. We’d tell the same kinds of jokes, laugh at the same kinds of things, and talk about all the same topics. We’re able to pick up right where we left off.

Watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a lot like catching up with that friend who rolls into town every once in a while. All the same sights and sounds were there, just like I remembered them. Even the same jokes were told, though there were far more laughs at some of the new ones. Certainly the trappings and the setting were different but it felt good to be reacquainted with this galaxy far, far away.

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The Mythic Legacy of Star Wars

I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And what a relief too. After years of anticipation and apprehension, we finally witnessed J.J. Abrams’s vision of the future of a galaxy far, far away. His contribution was a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe that holds up well on its own and within the larger context of George Lucas’s saga. The prevailing theme in The Force Awakens is legacy and any discussion of this film must address what came before.

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Picturing Scripture: From Inspiration to Reality

A few months ago, I was asked to contribute to a new project at work called Picturing Scripture. The idea was to create a coffee table book out of the incredible Bible Verse of the Day art pieces our design group had been creating. To accompany each image, a short devotional would be written. The art was inspired by the Word, and in turn, inspired new words.

I was asked to contribute five pieces of writing to the project. We had a list of one hundred verses and their accompanying images to choose from. Because this project was all about inspiration—word to art, art to word—I wanted to give some behind-the-scenes insight into each of my pieces.

Psalm 8:1

When at our most vulnerable, we might look at the stars and think about how small the Earth really is. We’re just a tiny speck of dust amid billions of stars. Unrelenting, powerful forces of nature speed us along in a chaotic dance through the cosmos…


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I wrote these pieces right after seeing Interstellar and writing this blog post. The imagery evoked in this piece of art struck the same emotional chords that the film had stirred up. The complex systems that govern the physical world are unfathomable and their creation can only be attributed to a higher power. In the grand scheme of things, we’re but a tiny speck amid a sea of black. I wanted to evoke those same feelings of smallness while still ending on an encouraging note. What is more encouraging than knowing the creator of this vast and chaotic sea desired a personal relationship with his creation.

John 21:12

There’s something deeply intimate about sharing a meal together, but coming together around a table to eat is so common that we often overlook its significance…

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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this devotional seems very apt. This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I love that Jesus simply wants to share a meal with his friends upon seeing them for the first time after his resurrection. Breakfast no less. One of the things I miss most about college is the shared meals I enjoyed. No matter what time of day, I could count on finding at least two or three people to eat with. I think that’s one of the reasons why those friendships are strongest, and will last the longest.

James 3:7–8

…Yes, sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can break our hearts…

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The imagery in this piece was very striking—a razor edge to a speech bubble. I loved playing off that familiar school yard rhyme. My wife was actually the one who inspired this image of the heart, mind, and mouth all connected. I remembered a sermon she gave a few years ago and that circular connection between these three parts stuck with me ever since. I wasn’t very happy with the end of this one. After some fun wordplay and an image that drew you deeper into the idea, I felt like it ended with a whimper. If only I had a few hundred more words.

1 Peter 5:8

Every day we’re bombarded by things vying for our attention. Even our best attempts to focus on the things that matter are drowned out by the cacophony surrounding us, a roar as loud as a lion…

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Entirely by coincidence, I happened to choose the only two verses with references to lions in them. As a symbol, lions have a wealth of concepts associated with them. For this verse, the lion was a hunter, dangerous and relentless. There are no natural predators we have to worry about today so I chose to focus on the man-made dangers that prowl our society. In the end, I allude to the encouragement Peter gives just a few verses later to combat these ills.

Revelation 5:5

…The kingdom is here and the kingdom is coming! Aslan is on the move.

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The second of my two lion verses, this one takes the opposite approach to the lion as a symbol—the regal, majestic creature at the head of the animal kingdom. Too often, Revelation is portrayed as a wild, prophetic end to the biblical story. Yes, it can be weird at times, but it’s also an incredible vision of victory and celebration. I wanted to shout those feelings of victory to drown out everything else. And I couldn’t help but slip in a reference to the most famous messianic lion in literature.

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The first print run of Picturing Scripture is currently being funded on Kickstarter. See how art and word paired together can inspire your devotional life.

Vanished Into Thin Air: The Loss of Skywalker 

With the release of the final trailer yesterday, the hype machine for the newest entry into the Star Wars saga is at full power. I’ve been guarding my anticipation, making sure to keep my expectations at a healthy level. I’ve tried my hardest to avoid spoiling the movie and have steered clear of the rumor mills. The reactions to The Force Awakens have stretched from unrestrained excitement to tentative curiosity to indifference. And I think the continuum of these responses is tied to your opinion of the prequel trilogy.

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Overthinking It

I love to play shortstop. It’s the key position in the infield and it usually sees a ton of action during the game. I feel like I’m a pretty decent fielder too; I’ve got decent range to my left and a good enough throwing arm to make most of the plays that come my way. Every so often, I’ll make an error; maybe the ball will catch the heel of my mitt or I’ll misjudge a hop. In the last softball game I played in, I ended up making four errors in one inning and a total of six during the course of the game. After each error, I would start thinking more and more about how to avoid making a mistake on the next play.

I was overthinking it. I was so focused on avoiding an error that I was pushing all the fundamentals I had spent years practicing right out of my mind. The mistakes snowballed as I stubbornly tried to force myself to “slow things down”—as if being more methodical could help me react to a ball speeding towards me. The fear of failure had paralyzed me.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the number 30. I turned 29 today so that special milestone is looming on the horizon. And I’ll admit, I’ve been scared to reach cross that threshold. It’s just a change in one digit, but dammit, I’ve gotten used to seeing a ‘2’ in front of my age. If I really dig deep, I’m afraid of the change that comes with aging. I’m afraid I won’t be able to play shortstop much longer.

Leading up to today, I had been working on a 30 before 30 list; 30 things I want to accomplish or experience before I turn 30. It’s a fun idea but I think this goal was born from a desire to make sure I accomplished a laundry list of things before I wasn’t able to do them at all. As I added ideas to this list, it became clear that I was letting fear control me. I was overthinking it.

The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. It causes to you to do everything you can to maintain the status quo. Sometimes that’s okay. More often, it prevents you from moving forward, from actually growing. So when I’m looking at houses to buy or talking to Megan about starting a family, I start thinking about excuses to keep things the way they are. I like my life the way it is but that doesn’t mean it’s the best version possible, particularly when a selfish and fearful attitude ends up hurting others.

Of course things are going to change as I get older. But those changes aren’t all for the worse. Sure I might lose a step on the ball field but I’ll also get to enjoy watching my future children grow up into ballplayers themselves. I needed to put things into perspective and tell myself, “It’s going to be scary as I grow older and things change, but I’m going to push that aside and enjoy it.”

Interstellar: An Ode to Sci-Fi

I saw Interstellar a few weeks ago. I walked out of the theater stunned into silence. I said one word to my friends as we walked out to our cars. I lay awake in bed for hours. It was a visceral experience. It was the best use of the medium I’ve seen since last year’s Gravity. It certainly wasn’t the perfect movie but it did raise some interesting questions and explored some deep themes. Most of all, it was a call back to a different kind of film—an ode to science-fiction.

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