Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Community of Heroes

[Note: Scroll down to see the YouTube video and lyrics of Avril Lavigne's "Keep Holding On" with scenes from the movie Eragon.]

This is Shawn. He's my pal. Be good to him.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how great it felt to take the time to shop around town for Christmas items that would really make a friend feel thought of. Well, my Christmas package traversed approximately 6,617 miles on a heading 285.5 degrees West by north then 234.0 degrees Southwest by west to a location 34 degrees 05' North latitude and 118 degrees 22' West longitude, arriving at Colonia in the Federated States of Micronesia on an island called Yap, just a few days after Christmas.

I happened to be chatting with Shawn online when the package got there. See him in the photo fabulously modeling and displaying the items. Once everyone saw the gourmet flavored coffee I sent, he hilariously reported , "i think everyone in the room just had an orgasm from the coffee".

Shawn is a Peace Corps volunteer there and teaches over 150 juniors at Yap High School (I call them the junior yapsters). He just arrived there this past fall and he'll be there for 2 years - that's until 2008! It's a challenge for him - teaching the kids, being in a different land, missing his family and friends, not participating in the holiday traditions in the ways that he's used to, longing for tangible and affirming fellowship - but he does his best and he's simplying trying to help. That's what makes him one of my heroes.

Don't worry, the pedestal isn't too high. He's a normal guy just like you and me. But that's the thing about heroes - they are just regular people who believe they can contribute to changing this world . . . .

It seems so lofty - for me to claim or cling to a vision of making a difference, some kind of difference. Who are we to be in the company of the icons of history - Martin Luther King Jr, Susan B. Anthony, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Jesus Himself. The history books are filled with people who affected such massive and significant change. Did they know? Did they realize at the time that they were about to contribute to an unstoppable wide scale movement that would lead to the reformation of our culture and society?

Perhaps the scope of such ramifications were kept manageable by containing such vision and passion into a precise purpose - equality, freedom.

When injustice is revealed and the cries and calls to God are made, the true heroes respond. They are the ones who stand in the gap willing to subject themselves to the persecution of the majority so that aid can be given to the outcasts, the oppressed, the helpless and the misunderstood. It is this kind of sacrifice that grants them the respect of history.

But it's a lonely place. The role of the visionary is to help others see what is not presently and physically in front of them. It is to offer hope and assurance that what could be will indeed be. And it's to rally the community to own such a vision so that they become the very heroes that they are crying out for.

Take off the glasses, Clark. You are superman.

I had been so discouraged lately - the past few months or so. I'd had enough of life to deal with and it seemed too big a task to attempt to change my world. But the spark of vision remains.

None of us can change the world alone. We need each other. We are a community of heroes simply trying to help in what ever way that we can. We battle the elements. We battle our insecurities. We battle the persecutors. We battle the very conditions that we are trying to change. And we get weary. But at our core lies our passion and vision. And that drives us forward to keep holding on, to keep pressing on, to keep moving on.

I am honored to be in the company of such heroes - Justin Lee, Peterson Toscano, Shawn, Justin Rudd, Becky 0, Ron Belgau, GCB, Journeyman, Angel, Abigail Garner, my buddy, Bryan, Christine, Jay, the countless at GCN, and so many many more! These are all people simply trying to help, people casting vision, people creating conversation, or people trying to figure themselves out - struggling to see the hero in the mirror.

There are times when we feel like no one gets us. Sometimes we don't even get ourselves. There are times when we are longing for home or even still searching for where home is. There are times when we are desperately wondering if any of this is worth it . . . is any of this making any kind of difference?

We are not alone. We understand each other. We encourage each other. We hold on to each other.

The following song is for us. If you happen to be on some island out there in the Pacific Ocean with the slowest internet connection on the planet, take the time to let the song load so that you can enjoy it with us!

"Keep Holding On" by Avril Lavigne from the movie Eragon.

You're not alone
Together we stand
I'll be by your side, you know I'll take your hand
When it gets cold
And it feels like the end
There's no place to go
You know I won't give in
No I won't give in

Keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through
Just stay strong
'Cause you know I'm here for you, I'm here for you
There's nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There's no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through

So far away
I wish you were here
Before it's too late, this could all disappear
Before the doors close
And it comes to an end
With you by my side I will fight and defend
I'll fight and defend
Yeah, yeah

Keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through
Just stay strong
'Cause you know I'm here for you, I'm here for you
There's nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There's no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through

Hear me when I say, when I say I believe
Nothing's gonna change, nothing's gonna change destiny
Whatever's meant to be will work out perfectly
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

La da da da
La da da da
La da da da da da da da da

Keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through
Just stay strong
'Cause you know I'm here for you, I'm here for you
There's nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There's no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through

Keep holding on
Keep holding on

There's nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There's no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through

Monday, December 25, 2006

Our Gift to the Infant King

Midnight is approaching and it'll officially be Christmas - for me that is. Gosh, when I chat and IM and PM and email with people from different parts of the world, it seems like i'm the last to experience the holidays - me being in Southern California and all. But that's okay!

So I figured I'd take a sec to write a quick Christmas post to extend my greetings and best wishes to you all. By now, I hope you know that I love and appreciate those of you who have journeyed with me this past year. And i'm equally excited and thankful to many of you who have come along within the year or even just recently. We all have such similar stories!

This season is about His story. Jesus - the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior - born into this world to reveal God Himself. Sometimes, we can forget about how significant His story is during this season because often times Christmas is simply a time of family, friends, decorations, gifts, traditions, crowds, shopping, lines and traffic. It's the hustle and bustle of trying to "make Christmas happen" that can cause us to lose focus on Him and His story. When the magi from the East approached the manger, they brought gifts to Him. So why is it that during our Christmas season, we give gifts to everyone else but Him?

Let's remember that Christmas isn't an event that happens. I doubt even that December 25th is actually and literally His birthday anyway. But that doesn't really matter, does it? Christmas is an annual reminder for each of us to consider a new beginning. It is through His birth, that we have new birth - a new life of purpose that acknowledges and reveres God. And so, it isn't merely an event for us, but rather a beginning of a new life that expresses a continuous lifestyle of faith and worship of the King.

When the season's trees and trimmings and traditions are done and over with, let's remember that Christmas hasn't ended. We continue to celebrate daily by living out our discipleship of Him who was born in us. Let's make sure there's room for Him INN us. Laying down our lives before the infant King, committing our loyalty to Him daily, and following after His Way - that is our Christmas gift to Him.

Merry Christmas, my friends!

(hehe, i put that cheesy part INN, just for Shawn!)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Shut Up and Listen

I feel like I've been such an ass to the Lord.

If you've read my other posts regarding my paradigm of Church and discipleship, you can gather that I'm less about the routines of faith and more about the relationship of faith. Well, honestly, I've been ignoring that relationship.

Despite the fact that I haven't given Him the time of day (as if He would need such a thing from me), He's been absolutely faithful to me - especially during the past month and a half when I really did need Him. He's the one that shot the beam of light penetrating through the dark clouds - revealing that the Calvary is on it's way, His help and assistance. He has heard and responded to my cries and prayers. He has come with comfort and joy and friends.

I'll be going to a church service again this Sunday, first time since right after my birthday. No, I really don't feel guilty about not going. And that's not the reason why I'm going. Nor am I going because it's the day before Christmas. I'm going because in my relationship with Him, I'm acknowledging that I haven't been keeping that relationship mutual . . . .

Gosh it takes me forever, practically, to realize that much of the frustrations that I have with people here on Earth can have a parallel with my relationship with Christ. Pretty much every time, I'm the one doing to Him the things that others frustrate me with. I ignore Him and I take Him for granted. And I really do know how He must feel because I hate it when I feel that from people that I love.

Over the past month and a half, I've been in a funk (which I'm out of) and my insecurities had me feeling undervalued at work, at home and with some friends. So if I can apply that to my relationship with God I realize that I've been undervaluing Him. That means I haven't been worshipping Him. Back in the youth group days, I used to teach that worship is "worth-ship" - communicating and living out the reality of God's value and worth to us. And I've been short changing Him.

I really do love Him. And I talk about Him. I pray to Him. I've encouraged others in His name. But i haven't been listening to Him. I haven't been receiving my encouragement directly from His throne. I've been looking in His direction, but I've been looking at things near His throne and around His throne, but not at Him - not in His eyes. And since I haven't been looking and listening to Him and was instead looking at others, He persistently sent His encouragement through them. It's crazy to think about that....even when I am too distracted to look at Him, He is so relentless in communicating His love to me that He will reveal it through the very things I'm looking at - even if it's not Him.

GCN has been an incredible encouragement to me lately. I've made my needs and requests known and they are so awesome to pray for me. And i've even prayed to Him for others. I really appreciate this cyber community. If you are looking for gay Christians in the world, and you've stumbled upon Two World Collision via Google (i know there have been many), I encourage you to go to GayChristian.Net and register as a member. There is such incredible support there!

But even still, for me, I realize that I can and should look to my Christ personally. It's not that I "should" because I have to. I "should" because I desire to nurture that oh so valuable relationship that I have with Him. In my earthly relationships, I strongly value a sense of mutuality. And yet, that's the very thing that I don't give to my own heavenly relationship with my personal Savior.

I'm gonna check out for a bit here, i need a moment ----------------

I'm sorry Lord for being distracted by the good and bad things of this world and neglecting to look in awe of You. When I went atop Signal Hill and overlooked the city of Long Beach a few weeks ago, this place that You have sent me and called me and planted me, I remember hearing Your voice and missing it. It was so gentle and, for the moment, I sensed peace in the storm of my own thoughts and insecurities. And yet, when i'm with You, I am completely secure because You've proven every single time that You accept me as I am. All my insecurities come from a place of me worrying that people won't accept me. But You have never rejected me and You never will. How can You love me so much? I don't understand. I reject myself alot of times. I project that onto how I perceive others and I assume that they reject me too. Yet, you persistently accept me. How and why? On at least three occasions, I should have died yet You spared my life. Why? I could have been with You and rested in Your arms and I could have been able to worship You undistracted. I miss You so much! As i imagine You miss me talking with You, instead of me talking at You or talking into the wind in Your direction. You know the things that have burdened me. I feel like my past mistakes and regrets anchor me. Will they ever go away? This time of year is always so hard for me. Lord, cover my regrets. I'm so sorry for what I have done before. How can You still use me? How can You still trust me? With anything having to do with Your Kingdom? Lord, Your peace overwhelms me. And I worship You. I really do value you. You are worth more to me than anything on this Earth that You created. You are worth more to me than anything that You have given to me - my friends, my relationships, my family, my job, my accomplishments, my dreams, my community, my things. I feel like You've rebuilt the things that I destroyed. I don't deserve what I have now because of what I took for granted before and screwed up. And yet, these things I have now, are gifts from You. Thank You. What can I do but to appreciate them and bless them the way that You have blessed me. Continue to use me for Your glory and praise and purposes!

----------------------------------checking back in.


He really has been so good to me. And as Paul said, the things I know I ought to do, I don't do, and the things I ought not do, those things I keep doing. I know I ought to worship Him more. I know I ought to listen to Him more. I know I ought to listen to Him more.

I think i'll take a page out of Peterson's approach to prayer and just shut up and listen.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Good Morning Sunshine!

[Note: Scroll down to see Fisher's "Beautiful Life" video on YouTube followed by the lyrics.]

I woke up this morning and I could tell that I was starting to come out of this funk i've been in. The fog is lifting!

Did any one thing happen to get me over the hump? I don't think so. I don't think there was some kind of magic formula or anything like that. I think it was a combination of having both local and distant friends to support and encourage me, pray for me, being able to vent, debrief, and process thoughts, and choosing to move on.

It's like that feeling when you know that you are about to lift a heavy weight so you prepare yourself for it by taking a firm stance with feet planted, hands on the weight with a tight grip, and a few deep breaths before the grunt and burst of energy to do what needs to be done. That's the mode i'm in when I say I'm choosing to move on. It's not that challenges and obstacles have been removed, but rather that I'm choosing to press through them, around them, under them, over them - whatever it takes - because I would rather be somewhere else than in that funk.

Sometimes, it takes a choice to go where the sunshine is . . . .

When the fog rolls in, I can see how it's easy for me to focus my eyes on what happens to be in front of me - even when it's the negative. I can focus in on one particular friend that has let me down and i'll find myself overlooking, even taking for granted, the precious friends that actually are trying to reach out to support me. I can focus in on the delay of not getting the financial compensation I've requested at work while forgetting to be thankful for having a job in the first place. I can focus in on how inadequate I feel in trying to change the world and I overlook the fact that I've already changed it - in some way. It's easy for my insecurities to take over and dominate my thoughts and I'll get to a point to where it paralyzes me.

To say that i'm not happy isn't a complete statement. There are things that i'm not happy about but there are so many other things that I am happy about. And so maybe events and circumstances don't need to define my emotional state. Perhaps, I can be happy in the midst of enduring unhappy things.

I wonder if that makes sense?

Maybe being happy isn't even the goal. I think the goal is to be honest with how I feel. There are times when I need to complete my mourning and my grieving. There are times when I need to fully celebrate friends and successes and blessings. There are times when I need to take a few emotional risks. Maybe being open enough with my community to share about what i'm processing doesn't have to mean that i'm a basketcase. Perhaps it's okay to let go of an illusion of a good friendship when a more accurate picture of it is revealed.

I think i'm finding alot of sunshine in acceptance. I'm learning more and more to accept myself. I'm learning to accept circumstances for what they are - both exciting and disappointing. I'm learning to accept the fact that friends are who they are - some are constant, some are fair-weather, some are seasonal, some are mutual, some are takers, some are givers, some are more whole and some are still figuring themselves out.

I've been asking alot of questions in a GCN forum thread regarding the expectations that we have towards our friends. I'm realizing that people view friendship in very different ways and they approach them very differently. I've been disappointed in the past and now i'm seeing that it could have alot to do with clashing paradigms regarding friendship. Add in the complication of my own insecurities plus my own needs and things can get pretty messy.

I try to be the kind of friend to others that I want others to be for me. That's an expectation rooted in my own personal values and needs. But what if others don't share that same value or need? They will never reciprocate the kind of friendship that I'm wanting and so i'm bound to be disappointed. On the flip side, I do think that there is a degree of healthy expectation that we can have of our friends - something rooted in common sense, compassion, and genuine care. If i'm having a bad day, I think it's fair to expect a good friend to make a gesture of concern . . . "Hey, how are you doing? What can I do to help?"

Regardless, I'm learning to accept things for what they are - people for who they are. Sometimes, it's a terrible wake up call to see that the value of our friendship is unequally perceived. Sometimes, it's a wonderful revelation to see that we mutually value our friendship. I'm choosing to move on by accepting the fact that not all my friendships are equally ideal.

I don't know how healthy that is but for now it's what I need to move forward out of the funk and hole of disappointment and insecurity. The bottom line is that there is too much in this world (circumstances and relationships) that I cannot control. But in the fog, I can choose what to focus on. If I squint, I think I can see a ray of light!

One of my favorite songs for the past couple of years has been Fisher's "Beautiful Life". You may recognize it from a Toyota commercial. Check it out:

"Beautiful Life" by Fisher

Hey child up and go
-Big world is out there waiting for us to
live in every day

Outside you will find
there is love all around you
-Takes you, makes you wanna' say

That it's a beautiful life
and it's a beautiful world
and it's a beautiful time
to be here, to be here, to be here

The sky's blue
-just us two
Side by side we'll see the world
that surrounds us
-Hey, seize the day

Each road - every mile's a photograph in motion
to astound us, carry us away

into a beautiful life
'Cause it's a beautiful world
and it's a beautiful time
to be here, to be here

Leave all your cares behind you
The sun is rising
Turn around -it's right in front of you
and it's a beautiful life
and it's a beautiful time
to be here, to be here, to be here

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Recovering From Bad Days and Seasons

[Note: Scroll down to see Daniel Powter's video for "Bad Day" on YouTube and the lyrics.]

Damn it. Sigh. I'm sorry, it's just that . . . I just need a break. I'm waiting for something to break. I've been feeling pretty crappy for the past several weeks now, with a few patches of fun and smiles here and there. What's going on?

I just need a good long hug.

Among the emotional rollercoaster, there's also the work drama. There will be elections for new Board members in February so that means everyone's got an agenda. No one can be trusted, really. The office manager/accounting person just resigned yesterday and so no one trusts that the budget and ledger is accurate. People are out to "get" each other. Plus, i've got my own agenda . . . .

I woke up at 5AM (today) yesterday, early Tuesday, and got to work by 6AM to get a report done. It was needed for the Board of Director's meeting. Also discussed at the Board meeting was the reclassification of my job. I mentioned a few days ago that I'm not being paid consistent to the work I've been producing. I'm doing the work of a job five categories above my current classification which is a huge salary difference.

I've been and still feel undervalued there but at the same time, I feel compelled to do well - at what ever I do! I believe that God calls us to a standard of excellence in the work place and so that very different paradigm and approach has led to fruitful results, compliments from superiors, and the favor of my boss'. I don't think it's unfair to ask them to pay me accordingly. In fact, i'm not asking for a raise, per se, just that they would reclassify me to the more appropriate position (which has a higher salary scale).

With all the craziness and politics that's going on in the office right now, the Board tabled the discussion about my reclassification until next month. I don't mean to be a brat and all - but hell, that puts me off and it means another month of working for less than I'm giving. I know, i know, I can see a spiritual lesson coming out of this. Virtue and righteousness aside (but by no means devaluing them), on the whole i'm feeling pretty taken for granted - not just at work but at home, in life, in relationships.

I'm weary and i'm starting to shut down.

I guess I feel like i'm running out of gas - going on fumes and I just need to be ministered to, encouraged, hugged. On the surface, it kinda sounds selfish but it just feels like I give and I give and I give and I really don't mind giving - it's just that I long for it to be mutual and reciprocal. Isn't that fair?

I've acknowledged before and still do appreciate special people to me who have been supporting me lately. This post is not referring to them! I love you soooo much! (I'm just venting now.)

So anyway, i'm waiting for something to break. Is it just a season? Am I doing something wrong? Am I being wronged? Perhaps, it's all three. Either way, I can see that i'm starting to get a little bitter and I'm finding that I've got less strength to give out. I don't like being in this place.

But alas, the journey continues. After work today, I was bummed so I felt pretty anti-social. I avoided the gym (again) and went home, ate more than I should have (comfort food), and fell asleep early. I woke up at 2:30AM and here I am an hour later. I've got work in the morning - and *sigh* it's only Wednesday.

I finally have a reason to post this old favorite song "Bad Day" from Daniel Powter. I think I discovered him through Yahoo's Lauchcast videos a while back before it hit mainstream popularity. I saw it when they featured him as a new artist to watch and I loved him and the video immediately! Guess, they were right because the world caught wind of him soon enough.

He came out to LA a few month's ago to do a live radio performance for STAR 98.7 FM and for the first time performed a new song of his called "Love You Lately" (see the video at his site here). I got it on iTunes and i'm loving it as one of my new fav's! In fact, i'm listening to it now. So anyway, when he was on that show here in LA, he also did "Bad Day" and he explained that when he wrote the song, it wasn't just talking about having a bad day at the office. Rather, he said that it talks about how we have bad seasons in our lives when we hit low low times, even rock bottom. That's one of the reasons why I was attracted to the song back when I discovered it because I am all too familiar with low times and rock bottom.

Gosh, as bad of a day today (yesterday) was, it's amazing to see how God lifted me out of bad seasons - there was the suicide, not to mention 2001, and also one year ago, plus the days here or there along the journey of this past year and a half. The thing is - God always orchestrated these extremely difficult times to lead to amazing blessings. I've learned that closed doors always lead to opened doors because we are always traveling - always journeying towards Him.

He truly has been and is my Rock!

Bed time. It's 4:18AM and I've gotta get up for work in 3 hours at 7:00AM.

Here's to the bad days and bad seasons that God carries us through:

"Bad Day" by Daniel Powter

Where is the moment we needed the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue skies fade to grey
They tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carryin' on

You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces everytime
And I don't need no carryin' on

Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Well you need a blue sky holiday
The point is they laugh at what you say
And I don't need no carryin' on

You had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day

(Oh.. Holiday..)

Sometimes the system goes on the blink
And the whole thing turns out wrong
You might not make it back and you know
That you could be well oh that strong
And I'm not wrong

So where is the passion when you need it the most
Oh you and I
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost

Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
You've seen what you like
And how does it feel for one more time
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Had a bad day
Had a bad day
Had a bad day
Had a bad day
Had a bad day

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nice Guys Score Points

So a friend of mine said to me the other day, "You know, sometimes it helps to not always be the nice guy. You don't always have to be nice." He went on further saying, "Sometimes, you get points by being mean because it shows you don't really need him. And that will make him want you more."

No. That's dumb.

If a guy doesn't like me because I am nice, then what does that say about him? Concurrently, if a guy does like me because I am mean, then what does THAT say about him? And what does it say about me that I would be someone I'm not just to play the game and the charade of trying to get a guy to like me?

Sounds manipulative to me.

Besides . . . I am a nice guy. Why shouldn't that be a strength of mine instead of a weakness? It doesn't make sense to me to be (or pretend to be) a jerk just to attract a jerk. I don't even like jerks - regardless of how cute or hot they look on the outside. A jerk and a meanie is just so . . . . unattractive. So i'm not going to play that game.

That said - the other night (Sunday) I discovered that being nice has its rewards . . . .

If you've kept up over the past two weeks or so, you know that I haven't exactly been having the happiest of times. It's been a rollercoaster and sometimes it can suck being in a mood - especially, a lonely one. The really refreshing thing that I experienced Sunday evening was shifting my focus off of me and on to a friend. I spent the evening shopping for a variety of things for a Christmas package. I won't divulge now which items I drove all around town for but I will say that it made me feel so good to actually consider carefully the things that he would like, the things that he would appreciate, and the things that he would just get a kick out of. It was absolutely fun because my heart was in it. I had no other motive or mission except to try to get him to smile and feel thought of. And I expect nothing from him in return! that what having the Christmas spirit feels like? It's been so long!

So maybe this is me just being nice. Maybe it's me being thoughtful. Maybe it's me being caring. Whatever! As long as it's me. Why in the world would I want to intentionally be or act mean (or act anything) just for the ulterior motive of getting him to like me? I choose to be content being the person I am - just a regular nice guy who may unintentionally offend someone (I can take responsibility if I do) but just wants to make someone smile or laugh or feel a tad bit better about themselves and this world.

Here's the thing. I don't want my friends or my potential romantic interests to bring the worst out of me. I want my guy to be the kind of person that brings the best out of me. He's the kind of guy that makes me want to be a better person. Nicer, even.

That's what scores points with me.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Week and a Half's Worth of Anxiety

I know it's been almost a week since my last post. I've had a pretty rough week emotionally and I wasn't quite at a place to where I was ready to articulate all that's been in my head. And there surely has been alot on my mind!

Thanks to my good friend Shawn in Micronesia on an island called Yap (- he's a Peace Corps Volunteer and we met through GCN), I've been able to think through and process alot of it in a recent chat. I've also appreciated many of our chats this past week - they've been refreshing and fun!

Thanks also to a fellow Journeyman from "A Westward Journey" who wrote a recent post on his blog that I completely related with. What turned out to be a comment to his post evolved to be a mini-blog post of my own, unpacking my own feelings of this past week. Sorry Journeyman, hope you don't mind the temporary hi-jacking! Click that link to read his post and my comment.

Huge thanks to my friends and prayer warriors over at GCN. There's a prayer & support forum there and people around the world have been gracious and kind to keep me in their prayers.

I'm not so sure if i'm ready to unpack all of what has been on my mind lately here in today's blog post, but i'll sum a few of the things up in a nutshell . . . .

I'm approaching my job about reclassifying my job position to one that will match the kind and quality of work i've been doing (and that they've been asking of me). I'm not sure what will happen. I'm just feeling pretty undervalued and taken advantage of.

I've been wrestling with alot of emotions connected to the awkwardness of seeing people from the old house church (refer to "Death of a Church and Life in the Hot Zone"). A friend of mine was having a birthday dinner get together and many from that church was going to be there. I freaked with much anxiety so I flaked and didn't go.

I've also been grieving (still) the reality that I'm no longer working with that first non-profit that I co-founded (refer to "For the Kingdom and For the Baby"). It's extremely hard to see them move on and do well without me. I'm glad they are doing well. It's just that I was there in the beginning and helped catalyze the initial vision for the organization. I know that it was the right thing for me to do, especially since God eventually led me to developing the vision for Catalyst, but there's a part of me that longs to be a part of a team again.

Speaking of Catalyst, i've been really excited about some things that i'm wanting to do with the organization. But to sum up my insecurities - how can I even attempt to change the world when I can't even change me? I'm certainly no perfect example for anything so who am I to try to speak into our culture and try to catalyze a movement of change? Sigh. I can't do this alone nor do I want to do it alone. As Ori Brafman and Rod A Beckstrom refer to in their recent and awesome book "The Starfish and the Spider", this catalyst needs a champion! This has been a heavy one for me lately.

As you can probably imagine, i've been wrestling with loneliness quite a bit. The whole being single thing is really getting to me. I appreciate the friends around me who are coupled and I am sincerely happy for them, but it's hard to be "three" when I know they want to be "two" so that they can eventually be "one". So it's easier to just not be around and I'll just make myself scarce.

Remember that guy that i mentioned in the last post - the one that I wasn't exactly sure what i felt about him? I wasn't sure if I liked him or even if I specifically didn't like him. I was just trying to gauge it when I saw him last night and I discovered something pretty significant - it's a HUGE turn off to see that he has eyes on someone else. I've mentioned it before but mutuality is important to me. And i'm so tired of liking a guy that likes someone else. So i'll nip it in the bud before it starts and i'll just decide - nah, i'm not into this guy. I'm obviously not on his radar. If I am, then he's going to have to show some interest.

For once, i'd like to be on someone's radar and be pursued. Can I say that? Is it okay to say that I want to be chased? In a safe sense, of course, but isn't it fair to want someone to actually show interest in me by demonstrating interest in me? I'm not only talking about a romantic context but also in friendship. How about a mutual sense of interest? I've noticed that I'm often the guy who asks questions to go deeper. I'd just appreciate someone wanting to know about me. Believe me, i don't want to do all the talking, so there'd be a fair exchange of conversation. But have you ever had a conversation where you were the only one asking questions to try to keep the conversation going and the other person was only answering the questions and not offering much more than what you asked? Argh!

Okay, got that off my chest. (LOL, Joon, did you say that I was handling this better than I think?)

Oh yeah, one other thing that bummed me out this week. Have you ever noticed in some of those pictures of me in the filmloop that I'm wearing a white bracelet alot? It's from the ONE campaign and a good friend of my named Brian gave it to me when I met him almost a year ago. I've worn it every day since then. Earlier this week, it snapped. Yeah, that drove my OCD up the wall! What can I say? I'm a creature of habit!

So that's what's been contributing to the knots in my back, shoulder and neck. I can use a good massage! I've spent some time this week at the coffee shop just reading. I also spent some time at a high place that overlooks the city. It's a beautiful view and I like to go there to think and pray.

A couple things on a positive note:

I did my fourth Toastmasters speech this morning and got the ribbon for Best Speaker again. Woo hoo! I was quite shocked actually because I wasn't particularly pleased with my delivery and the other speaker was so much better than I was (in my opinion). But the award is decided by a vote from the audience and I got it. I've learned to graciously accept the compliments while at the same time recognizing that there are things that I know i'll be working on so that I can feel good about the delivery of my next speech.

By the way, I just saw Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" last night. It was AWESOME! I loved it and i'm planning on seeing it again too, perhaps this afternoon before a party tonight.

The other thing is that I finally purchased my plane tickets for the GCN Conference at the beginning of January. It'll be held in Seattle, WA and i'm looking forward to connecting with many of the people there.

So that's it. A week and a half's worth of anxiety. Thank you to my friends who have been supporting me, encouraging me, and praying for me!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Off The Radar

It's weird to think about how we'll protect ourselves sometimes. Our life, our heart, our body, our mind, our self-respect - sometimes, it's so much easier to be in denial. It's like an emotional condom. It serves as a barrier from things that can cause both life and death.

I'd like to think i'm pretty self-aware. Especially since starting this blog, I've been in the practice of articulating where I'm at in my thought process or debriefing about events and decisions that i've made along the way. I want to be honest with myself on this journey.

This past week, i've been reflecting on my singleness. No, i don't want to stay single. Why am I still? I've been chewing on reasons that my imagination have manufactured and I can say that they are not all true. I can also acknowledge that, in some ways, I know why I'm still single. There's alot i'm trying to figure out regarding this area of my life.

So there's this guy . . . .

. . . . And the truth is that I don't know how I feel about him. I don't know if I like him. I don't know if I dislike him. But i find myself thinking about him ever since i met him. And at the time, I told myself that I wasn't going to go there. No - I'm not going to get all hot for the guy. I'm not going to fixate over him. I'm not going to pursue him. I'm not even going to hope that he'll pursue me. He is off the radar - my radar.


I don't know. Maybe i'm assuming he won't like me and i'm trying to protect my heart from being crushed from rejection. Maybe i'm just judging him by assuming he's a certain way based on what I observe from the outside. He's not my type. Or i'm not his type.

Do I like him? Do I hate him? Is he one of those guys that just makes me sick of gay culture? Is he someone that has substance and would find him refreshing and inspiring if I just gave him a chance? Is there something there?

I don't know how I feel about him. I keep thinking about him but I also find myself actually resisting the idea of him. All this in the context of not wanting to be single. Sure, maybe i'm just sabotaging myself. But something is different about him. Or maybe, there's something different about me.

I don't think he's completely off my radar.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Picnic Fun at the Park

In the spirit of my rollercoaster posts lately of ups and downs, I had a wonderful day yesterday! On Saturday, a few friends and I got together for a picnic at the park.

It was an incredibly beautiful day too. The sky was blue, the clouds were puffy, the sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, the grass was green, and the park wasn't too crowded with folks for the Thanksgiving weekend.

The park has three sand volleyball courts surrounded by an astroturf track. We played two on two volleyball for quite a while and I could tell I got a good workout because I broke a good sweat! I must say, my serve is improving! Hehe - with these guns, i gave them a few to dive and dig for! =)

All of these friends are gay, and I've gotta say that it was really refreshing to be so "out". Not that it was something that I had to try to do - just that, even in public, with my friends I could just be me. And so i felt absolutely comfortable to relax and enjoy the day and enjoy the friends. I don't remember the last time that I laughed so much. No really, we all laughed alot. And that felt so good!

After spending the whole afternoon together, it got dark and so we all decided to go to my place to clean up, hang out, chat, joke around alot more, and play Scrabble. Jayson, the linguist of the group (actually, he is a linguist - he's in a Masters program now), won the game. No surprise. The rest of us were happy enough getting 7-15 point words while Jayson was pulling out these 22-25 point words. This guy!

Anyway, I had a great time with the buds!

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Day After Gratitude

I hate having to write a downer post during the Holidays - especially this one that's supposed to be so full of gratitude. It's just that I hate the rollercoaster. I love it. But I hate it.

Steve and Warren commented two posts ago about how they noticed how blessed I am by my circle of friends. I agree. I am extremely blessed to have such wonderful and diverse friends. I've also been excited about recently coming in contact with three separate friends from my past - all in different parts of the world - and we've re-established contact via email, myspace, or text message all in the past three weeks. Something's happening because I can sense God shifting things and placing people in my life. I even came out to my two nieces via myspace.

I'm so thankful for the friends that I do have, but at the same time, I'm still so lonely because I do want a companion. But in me being so hard up for being with someone, i'll find that i'll take my friends for granted. Sigh. It's just that, I want an intimacy that wouldn't necessarily be healthy or appropriate with my circle of friends. Friends are friends. But, if i'm honest, I do want more. And it's hard when I see friends around me beginning that process of dating someone and then starting to fall for that person. I'm happy for them, sure, but I long for that. I want to fall for someone. I want to have that special feeling that's reserved for a certain person. I want to know that someone reserves that special feeling for me.

Yesterday, I went to spend the day with my family and enjoyed seeing them. Last Christmas, I told my family that I found reconciliation with my faith and sexuality and I asked them how they'd feel if I brought someone home for the holidays. They were all supportive. I still haven't done that yet. I would have wanted to bring someone home for them to meet - someone I cared for. I drove back home alone. Again.

There's still so much of me that i'm trying to figure out. For starters, why am I still single?

LOL, damn it. There are days when i both love and hate the journey.

Where am i going again?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm sure there are a ton of 'What I'm Thankful For' posts circling the blogosphere right now. I don't quite have the time just now to write a long one. By now, after my recent Birthday Week connections, you know that I'm thankful for my friends. But do you know how much I appreciate you? Thank you so much for reading my blog! No really, it means alot to me.

My buddy and I were talking last night about how MySpace can get pretty narcissistic. Hehe, remember how I trash talked MySpace last week by saying I sold out and put up a profile? Yeah, i've been on every day since then. I'm not addicted to it though. It's just a new thing, that's all. By the way, I think I just outed myself to my niece and another friend of mine, by adding them as a 'Friend'. That's okay. Anyway, I agree that both MySpace and Blogs can take a form of narcissism. But even underneath that - without placing judgement over it - deep down, like me, people just want to be known.

Being in the closet for the majority of my life has been an incredibly lonely experience - as you can gather if you've been reading my story. I've said numerous times that it had always felt like no one really knew me or that I felt like I could never be authentic enough out of fear of being rejected. But at the end of the day, all I want is to be real - to be actually me.

And so, that's why I appreciate you so much - the Two World Collision reader - because YOU make my world less lonely. I've tried to be vulnerable and even perhaps disclosed a bit too much about my personal life on this blog - just for the sake of being known. So that you can know me a bit more in the hopes that you would find something in me that you can connect and relate with.

So thank you for journeying with me. There's still a long road ahead but it'll be fun!

Happy Turkey/Tofurkey Day

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Shutting Off The Hormones

I'll admit that I've got flaws. Sometimes, it's a bit more uncomfortable when I notice a flaw in someone else only to realize that I do the same thing from one degree or another.

It hurts when someone I know judges another person that I know based solely on a photograph. "Dude, your friend is totally hot!" or "He probably goes out all the time." or "He looks like the type of guy that will just kiss anyone." or even "He only dates hot guys, huh?"

How am I supposed to respond? The thing that bugs me about all of this is that the judging friend knows nothing about the other friend and yet all of these assumptions are made and are, at the very least, verbalized about him or her being shallow. Well hell, do I seem like the kind of guy that keeps close friendships with shallow people? I enjoy substance in friendships and in relationships so when someone else starts making judgements about these other friends of mine - well, i naturally feel and get pretty defensive.

You can't accurately determine a three-dimensional personality simply by looking at a two-dimensional photograph!

As pissed off as I can get when someone talks about my friends inappropriately, alas I must admit that I have done the very same thing . . . .

The trap of personal profiles on sites like MySpace or Friendster or or or or or or even at my beloved GayChristian.Net - the trap is the tendency to judge a person on limited information. I'll admit that I've done that. I make decisions about whether or not to read their profile based on their photo or whether or not to send them a message based on what they've written in their profile. There are times when I've crushed over a guy based on his picture or the way he articulated about himself in his profile or the things he's said in a couple of posts.

These are all two-dimensional experiences of a person and I've gotta remember that there is more substance to a person than what he portrays to me online. At some point, we can only really get to know what a person is actually like by actually talking with them. And even then, we are only beginning that process of getting to know them.

I guess right now I'm realizing that I don't want to be the shallow guy who worships a guy simply because he's hot. Frankly, a hot guy loses his hotness when he opens his mouth to reveal an ugly personality. I don't want to play the game of getting infatuated by fantasy and illusion. What's he really like? He's worth getting to know, not because he's cute (or not) but because he's an individual with a personality. If i'm honestly seeking to get to know someone in a potentially romantic context, someone who has substance and quality, then I want to discover that personality in as authentic a way as possible.

I want to go deeper. And sometimes, i've gotta shut off the hormones to do that.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

MySpace Sell Out

I know, I know. I just sold out. I created a MySpace profile. What can I say? I was bored! I still think MySpace is the ugliest thing on the Internet (and i'm still shocked that it got so popular) so I kept mine pretty simple. On the other hand, I was reading on someone's blog somewhere today (sorry, i don't remember which one) that MySpace is no longer "in" or "cool". I laughed. I never thought it was in the first place.

So, now that I've finished trashing MySpace (no offense to anyone - heck, i'll probably get addicted to it and i'll be on it every day!), feel free to check me out at:

Hey, if you're on it, add me as a friend! I need them . . . . =)

Fun With Fire Fighters

This one made me and my buddy laugh so much it made me cry! It's absolutely hilarious! Thanks to Jimmy for featuring this one of Ross.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Birthday Week Pics

Whew! What a week of connecting with friends and celebrating my birthday with them. Be sure to read through this past week's posts to get a glimpse into the kind of friends I hang out with. They are a diverse and quirky bunch, aren't they? They are all very special to me and they help make this journey less lonely.

I just posted a ton of new birthday pics from this past week to the FilmLoop to the right. Be sure to click on the "Watch the Show" link (located underneath the player's controls) to see the slide show of all the fun! =)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lunch with Peterson Toscano

Today, I drove out to Palm Springs (about 100 miles inland from Long Beach) to connect with Peterson Toscano. I've mentioned him before in this previous post. He was there for the weekend doing his show "Doin' Time in the Homo Nomo Halfway House" for the Love Breaks Out conference. He's from Hartford, Connecticut and so seeing as how he was in the region - we thought it'd be fun to try to reconnect.

He took me to a vegan restaurant that he discovered there and I thought it was pretty good. The chocolate tofu was tasty as well!

We spent time catching up on the past few months . . . .

. . . . we talked about projects that each of us have and will be working on in each of our ministries/organizations. I sincerely respect Peterson's creativity in the way he unpacks an issue and creates discussion about it. It is clear that God's hand and heart rests on him. =)

Something interesting that I learned from Peterson is the concept of silence in prayer. Of course, I've heard of being silent while praying but he tells me that as a Quaker prayer is done in silence. I can see how refreshing that can be - "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10). I asked him today if the silent prayer is more like just thinking the prayer rather than speaking it verbally or if it's more like clearing the mind and not saying anything. He said that there are instances where it could be both but most of the time it's clearing the mind and trusting that God already knows everything that we would like to say or ask Him. So it's more about listening and receiving from Him. The analogy Peterson used was that it's like when Jesus was entering Jerusalem and people were waving the palm branches but when He passed in front of them, the people bowed and laid their branches down on the ground in his path. He said it was kinda like that - being silent is like stopping everything (even in thought) to bow before the King. Whoa! That's huge! I'd definitely like to incorporate that into my lifestyle. Now that's a wonderful birthday gift! =)

After our vegan lunch, we proceeded to the Botanical Gardens there in Palm Springs to see the showcase of desert plant life. There were lots of alien looking cactus creature thingies. Interesting. It'll be fun to reconnect with him again in the future.

On my way back home to Long Beach, I stopped by Riverside to visit my mom for a couple of hours. She had surgery this past Friday and I wanted to check in on her. She had her gall bladder removed (and while they were in there, they took out her appendix too). I suppose she's fine. She's got some pain and discomfort but the recovery time should be about a month. I'm hoping she'll feel well enough to join the family at my brother's for Thanksgiving. Would you please keep her in your prayers? Thanks!

Birthday Beach Fun & South African Dinner

Yesterday (Sunday) after church services, a handful of friends from GCN and Open Door Ministries got together for my birthday at Belmont Shore in Long Beach for lunch and volleyball. Fun times!

This would be the first time that Luke (visiting from the UK) had ever seen the Pacific Ocean so some of us went down by the water so that he can take it all in. Right now, he says it's freezing cold in the UK and so there were several moments when I caught Luke looking around to appreciate the sunny California weather with the blue skies, puffy clouds, and slight breeze. I'm so glad he's having a good time here. =)

We all played volleyball for awhile. This was another first for Luke since he had never played before so it was fun watching him learn how to bump/hit/set/serve/just-even-try-to-touch the ball. Hilarious! He said he was having fun though. He wasn't the only one contending with a disobedient volleyball that would never go where it was supposed to go. It wasn't competitive but we all had a blast just the same.

We all shared lunch then had some birthday cupcakes. Yummers! It was just a fun Sunday afternoon hanging out with friends. Good times.

After our day at the beach, Mike, Michael, Luke and I returned to my place to clean up, then we went out to dinner at Mike's favorite South African bar & grill in Shoreline Village in downtown Long Beach. I forget what it's called. It was good food though.

I think the fun part about Sunday (all day), in fact even the past several days, was just seeing many of my friends connect. In many instances, it definitely was not all about me. They were just opportunities for friends to have fun and get to know each other more or even possibly meet new friends. What better birthday gift than to see friends enjoying each other! =)

Hosting Luke and Michael

This weekend, I had the honor and privilege of hosting Luke (right) and Michael (left) in my home. They are two friends from GCN. Michael came to Long Beach Saturday afternoon from Santa Barbara and Luke came here from the UK.

They were both here for the GCN gathering Saturday night for my birthday and so they both spent the night at my apartment.

In the morning, before going to Sunday service the three of us went for breakfast to one of my favorite coffee/sandwich places called Royal Cup here in Long Beach - just around the corner from my apartment. They have the best breakfast bagels . . . .

During Luke's stay here in Long Beach, I got to know him more. He is truly an awesome guy! Being the Brit that he is, he is an absolute gentleman. And he is hilarious too! We had some good laughs.

I've gotta say this too - he knows this (but doesn't think so) - but I think British accents are sooooo hot! No really, it's way hot. Purr . . . . The funny thing is, he says the same thing about "American" accents. We had lots of fun talk about each of our different Brit/American phrases. The best is hearing him say, "I can't eat tomatoes" with his "American" accent. Cracks me up!

Luke was able to do some shopping and he gave me an awesome birthday gift. Seen in the photo, he gave me a recipe cookbook by a famous English chef called the "Naked Chef" who cooks Italian food. That's terrific because my buddy cooks and he can make good use out of it here in the apartment.

I find Luke to be an intelligent, kind and courteous guy. It felt like we both were immediately comfortable with each other and our conversation was refreshing. Luke is also a visionary, like me, and so since visionaries tend to find a common connection, Luke and I seemed to hit it off well! I'm honored to call him a new friend. He extended an invitation for me to visit him in the UK and I just may take him up on the offer some time next year. Wouldn't that be fun?!

He'll be flying out to the Bay area on Monday to see family and do some site seeing. He'll come back to Long Beach mid week and we'll hang out a bit more (along with others in SoCal) for a few more days. He's loving the California weather and isn't looking forward to returning to the cold of the UK right now.

As for Michael, we met almost a year ago. Last year, the Southern California GCN'ers got together for our first Christmas party. Many of us were meeting each other for the first time. It turned out to be super fun and as that night progressed and people left, four of us seemed to bond really well and stayed til 3 AM talking and getting to know each other. Michael and I were one of those four.

Since then over this past year, we've kept in touch. We typically have long phone conversations talking about what's going on in our lives or about gay Christian issues and questions. We've both been on this journey and it's been helpful for us to process things together. I've gone up to Santa Barbara to visit him a couple times. He's come down to Long Beach many times to visit.

I suppose Michael can best be characterized as . . . . quirky. Definitely! He's got the most hilarious sense of humor - totally random but the funniest comments about things. He's got an infamous rally clap where he'll clap in a series of 8 exactly - or to whatever tune is going on in his head. He'll also applaud after hearing a funny joke - that one cracks me up the most! He's a programmer so he's very analytical in the way he thinks and speaks. You can often "see" his wheels turning as he begins to set up his verbal statements.

He also makes movies. He and his friends will often take months at a time to produce a movie and it's often funny and well done. I've seen two of his recent movies and they are awesome. The first was a funny info-mercial. The second and most recent was a hilarious parody involving Michelle Kwan getting cheated out of the gold medal in a chess tournament. It was done well and it's so funny - i think Michelle would be proud! Actually, I've got an appearance in the movie. Another friend of mine (one of the four I mentioned from the Christmas party) and I went up to Santa Barbara for a visit and Michael gave us some lines to act out. After a couple of hours of shooting, we are now movie stars! He just finished showing the movie to several test audiences and he'll have an official Southern California movie premiere at the next Christmas party. Fun times!

Anyway, Michael and I have grown to be good friends and I appreciate his friendship.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Birthday Gathering With GCN

Last night (Saturday), my friends from GCN gathered together for a combination event for celebrating my birthday and also for welcoming Luke visiting from the UK. Southern California GCN'ers will often get together to welcome guests from other parts of the country or from other countries.

We met for dinner at my favorite pizza place in Belmont Shore at Long Beach. It's a place called Domenico's (on 2nd Street) and they have some of the best pizza's - not to mention some pretty hot looking waiters (servers).

Purrr . . . .

Okay, where was I? Sorry. Anyway, after dinner we decided to hang out at my apartment. It was so much fun because everyone got to mingle and get to know each other more. We also did a whole birthday cake thing too! Plus we also gave a special warm welcome for Luke - who you'll be reading more about over the course of this weekend because I hosted him at my place for a couple days so that he wouldn't have to get a hotel. He's a super kewl guy too!

If you haven't discovered GCN yet, it's an online community called Gay Christian Network. I first started connecting with them a year ago. They are a global group of about 4,000 registered members. The awesome thing about GCN is that it provides virtual community for so many people who live in highly conservative areas that aren't so welcoming towards GLBT people and so there is no tangible community for those to connect with. It provides a place online for people to connect, relate with, share stories and dialogue. In our region of Southern California, as is the case in other regions, we try to have gatherings so that GCN'ers can have the opportunity to meet others in real life.

GCN is an incredible support network and they have truly been a gift for this journey!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Birthday Lunch With Toastmasters

For the past several months, I've been a part of a Toastmasters club here in Long Beach. It's an incredible international organization that helps people develop their public speaking skills both personally and professionally. Since I juggle quite a bit in my schedule (as you can imagine), I try to make it to a Saturday meeting a couple times per month - as much as I can.

Just this past Tuesday, I was able to utilize much of what I learned from Toastmasters while at work when . . . .

. . . . I was asked to speak in front of the Board of Directors in regards to a $10,000 software package. They approved the expenditure. (I'm hoping they remember that when it comes time to bargain for a contract!)

Anyway, I think that Toastmasters is an invaluable organization to be a part of. I like this particular local club because they are very encouraging to everyone at every level of public speaking experience and comfort. Another reason why I like this club is because it's extremely diverse. The members and guests who are part of the club represent a wide range of demographics - gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, straight, black, white, asian, hispanic, native, single, married, partnered, parents, young adults, middle aged, and our valued senior members. It's a wonderful and interesting mix of people and coupled with the wide range of experience - we all have so much to learn from each other!

I delivered my 3rd of 10 organized formal speeches today working towards what's called a "Competent Communicator" or what used to be called a "Certified Toastmaster". It's a wonderful distinction that is acknowledged by many employers internationally. I think the speech went well and I got some great feedback. =)

After the club meeting, a few of us went out to lunch for Mexican food. For my birthday week this week, I want to honor my friends and new friends at Toastmasters who have been a blessing, a gift, and an asset for me personally and professionally.

Birthday Night Out With Buds

Last night (Friday), my buds Dario, Ryan, and Jayson took me out for a birthday night out in Orange County. We went to a nice seafood restaurant at Newport Beach for appetizers and drinks (and joking around) then went out dancing til the wee hours of the morning.

I had a blast!

I love these guys because they always help me to loosen up, relax, and just have fun. A lot of times, we'll hang out on a Friday or Saturday night to dance or to hang out at someone's house or watch a movie or go to a party or do whatever comes up . . . .

Dario is the heart of our little bunch. He's the one that encourages one of us when we're down. He's the one that hears us out when one of us needs to vent. He's the one that helps put things in perspective. He's the one who always has the hugest smile and the hugest hugs! He's also the most secure and confident of our group. I learn so much from him!

Ryan is my kid brother. We argue all the time! We have one of those love-hate friendships that I wouldn't trade for anything in this world. There are times when I just want to strangle the guy - then there are other times I want to smack a big wet one on him (as a friend, of course - don't get all excited now Ryan). I think it's because he and I actually have more in common than we realize. I think we deal with alot of the same kind of baggage and so sometimes it's not so hot seeing something of ourselves in the other. But Ryan helps me to see myself more clearly. Ryan is also the jokester of our little bunch. He always makes us laugh - either at himself, ourselves, or other people around us. He's hilarious!

Jayson is my day-to-day-hey-what-are-you-doing friend. He's the guy I'll call just to see what happened during the day or he'll call me late at night just to see if i'm awake. He's the guy i'll hang out with during the week and we'll just go for a walk or we'll hang out at the coffee shop or we'll go to a mid-week movie or we'll try out a new restaurant for dinner or we'll just talk on the phone about whatever comes to mind. He's the dancer in the group. He'll be the one on the dance floor taking up the most space because he'll be cuttin' it up all over the place.

I love these guys and they are a gift to me.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Birthday Fun at Knott's Berry Farm

This afternoon, my friend Mike took me to Knott's Berry Farm for my birthday. That's an amusement park here in Southern California. We only went for a couple of hours and we only got to go on three rollercoaster thrill rides but I had an absolute blast because there was plenty of time for us to talk and get to know each other more.

Mike is a new friend of mine - we met for the first time several months ago at a GCN gathering and we've only recently been able to start hanging out together. He's an awesome guy to get to know because he's a genuine guy with kind heart. He loves God and is passionate about things that matter to him in this world.

I had a wonderful time hanging out with Mike during my birthday week and the new friendship is a blessing and a gift. =)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Birthday Blues

[Note: Scroll down to watch the video for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day on YouTube and to read the lyrics.]

Sigh. I've had better days. It was great meeting up with friends over the past couple of days, and i'll be connecting over the next three or four days with other friends - but today, my actual birthday, was pretty uncelebratory. I did receive birthday wishes from friends and some family but I didn't actually do anything today. Specifically, it was pretty boring.

In the interest of trying to stay positive, the most refreshing time today was an hour long conversation that I had this morning with a friend's friend of whom I had never met before today. So the funnest birthday event today was meeting a stranger (which hopefully we'll talk again and be friends - super cool guy!). I was only supposed to drop something off for my buddy but once I got there, me and the friend just started chatting. That was fun.

Anyway, tonight I ended up walking home (for an hour) because I felt disconnected with the people I had been with. They would have hung around each other whether I was there or not. It wasn't a birthday. I felt like Jesus on Christmas Day. So in the interest of staying real about how I'm feeling (despite the downer mood) - well, the song below pretty much says it all.

Scroll down to read the lyrics . . . .

"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's home to me and I walk alone

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Where the city sleeps
and I'm the only one and I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk a...

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone

Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Aaah-ah,
Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah

I'm walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line
Of the edge and where I walk alone

Read between the lines
What's fucked up and everything's alright
Check my vital signs
To know I'm still alive and I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk a...

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone

Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Aaah-ah
Ah-ah, Ah-ah

I walk alone
I walk a...

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one and I walk a...

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Birthday Dinner With Buddy

Tonight, I spent the evening having a birthday dinner with my buddy. He took me to a nice local restaurant piano bar near where we live and the atmosphere and ambiance was superb! The lighting was nice, the songs being played on the piano in the background was nice, the table setting with our glasses of wine were nice, the conversation was nice. It was a great place to be to catch up on the past few days and also to talk about life and things.

We've been room mates for the past six months and we've been friends for about a year and a half now. This is definitely a friendship that I cherish because my buddy was one of the early catalysts for me being on this journey of mine. He's the one I refer to in my story (Sankofa Part 3) when I talk about how I first began to question whether or not I owned my beliefs about the gay issue . . . .

Our friendship with each other has always been characterized as catalytic. We affect each other. We grow from each other. We stretch each other. We challenge each other. We inspire each other. He's in my inner circle. He's the friend I'd call in an emergency. He's the friend who's bedside i'd be at when he's got an emergency. He's got all of these quirky idiosyncrasies that I love (- like how he squints his eyes and slips out the tip of his tongue when he laughs or like how he lightly scratches that area between his upper lip and his nose with the tip of his finger when ever he's making a point about life in the mid West or (my favorite) like when he's fluttered, he let's out a short mini-burst of 'ahhh' mixed with a smile and wave of both his hands).

He's a good friend to have. He's my buddy. And we've had challenging times in our friendship but we both communicated through it. We've both been vulnerable with each other. We've both been asses to each other. We've both accepted each other for who we are - as we are. We've developed a trust with each other - there are things I've shared with him that few people on this planet know about.

In fact, tonight during our conversation he said something to me that completely challenged and inspired me. I was floored because he was right about the observation he made about me and the possible reason why I do (something in particular) the way I do. I love our friendship because we can both speak truth into each other. And it's typically received well.

I honor and value his friendship and he is truly a gift from God.

Shout Out To Lynwood High GSA

Earlier this afternoon, I was honored to have been invited to share my story with Lynwood High's Gay Straight Alliance - their student club supporting those like us on a journey. I had a blast hanging out with them! Hopefully, some of them found something I shared useful. I could tell that they've got incredible hearts and they can do so much. I just tried to empower them on their own journey - that they can choose what this journey of theirs looks like.

Goodness - who am I, though, to have anyone listen to anything I've got to say? Lord knows that I've got so much more to learn about myself, the community, the world, Him. I mess up a ton. I'm just trying to journey through life - figuring it out as I go and learning from others also on the journey. I've got no answers. Just questions. And as I've said before, the questions drive the journey.

I thank God for this birthday opportunity to share my heart with a great group of fellow journey-ers.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Birthday Lounging With Hank and Debbie

Tonight I lounged around at one of my favorite local coffee shop hang outs with my good friends Hank and Debbie. As I celebrate my birthday week by connecting with friends, I honor their friendship to me and I appreciate the gift that they are to me from God.

These two are particularly special to me because they were one of my first gay Christian friends that I made when I first began my journey . . . .

In the Summer of last year, I started this process of exploring the "other" side and I allowed myself to meet people who had apparently reconciled their faith and sexuality. I started this blog in July 2005 and soon I visited my first inclusive church called "The Tab". The next day, I visited one of their small groups in someone's home. As I began to meet more and more people from this church, I began to see genuine people loving and worshipping God. And oh, they happened to be gay or lesbian. That screwed up my paradigm! A significant moment happened early on in this journey when I went to a bonfire with the small group and I witnessed them pray for the welfare of the city. I began to realize that they loved God, loved each other, and they loved the city - just like so many of my straight Christian friends. Eventually, I came to the milestone moment of realizing that I could not deny that these indeed are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Since I accepted the fact that they are part of the Church, even as gay or lesbian, then that opened up a whole other can of worms - because if they are Christians, then what does that mean about my (and the mainstream Church's) assumptions about them not being a part of the Church? And so, God propelled me further on my journey.

Hank and Debbie were a part of that early process. They are some of the ones I am thinking of when I say in my story that I saw gay Christians genuinely worshipping the Lord and I know that they are my brothers and sisters.

So in the past year, God has developed the friendship between the three of us in incredible ways. We have a type of refreshing quality in our conversations and we've all grown so much both personally and as friends. We began to talk a lot about organic principles and the Church paradigm type stuff that I talk about on this blog. As I founded and established Catalyst, Hank and Debbie were the ones that I brainstormed with. They were the ones that helped me out logistically with the events. They were the ones that believed in me and the vision that I saw and together we've adopted this catalytic lifestyle of trying to connect with and affect the world around us. We have a vision for catalyzing our city and changing our culture over the next 30 years.

And it's so awesome to not be alone in this.

I value Hank and Debbie because they are on this journey with me. We call ourselves a tribe - a tribe of faith (something that I'll be unpacking in future posts). A tribe is different from simply having other Christian friends. A tribe is a group of disciples whose relationships with each other is characterized by three things: Divine Truth, Nurturing Relationships, and Apostolic Mission. The DNA. Yes, i'll be unpacking this more in future posts but for now i'll say that I appreciate this tribe. And for my birthday, I honor them and I thank God for the gift they are to me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Birthday Walk With Marque

Today I had a birthday walk with my new friend Marque. I say "new" because we've been friends for a couple months now. I think it was around September when I did that workshop at a conference - that was about the time we discovered that we connected well. He's an incredibly refreshing guy to talk with because he's honest and he's real and I love talking with him because neither of us have to put up any kind of charade about ourselves. We can just be who we are - and that's simply acceptable. Comfortable, even.

This is a friendship along my journey that i've wanted to be intentional about developing because he's such a great guy to have as part of one's social support network - as a friend. Today we went on a "birthday walk" - but really it just marked the first of our routinely Monday evening walks along the beach and parts of Long Beach. We both have talked about being more active so we decided to start walking together. It'll give us a context to continue growing in our friendship and it'll also keep us accountable to getting our exercise in. I'm so much better at keeping appointments and so if I know he's counting on me showing up, then I will. But if I didn't have that meeting set, then i'd likely and typically flake on myself thinking, "oh i'm tired. i'll just exercise tomorrow" - which i've done and said to myself plenty of times.

So this was a good connection. I call it a "birthday walk" because we're both journeying together. All of these birthday connections that i'm hoping to have this week isn't about celebrating "me" per se - rather, it's about celebrating the relationships that God has given to me.

So Marque is a gift and I thank God for him. =)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My First Birthday Wish

"We're doing that not-look-away thing again you like so much."

I mentioned in last night's post that I'm hoping to connect with many pockets of friends over the course of this coming birthday week. The point is that I've been able to walk this journey of mine over this past year and a half because of awesome friends. I think a support system of loved ones makes all the difference on whether or not my boat capsizes during the storm or if I stay afloat through it. It's been an awesome year of being intentional about developing these friendships.

As another year begins, there's another kind of connection that I'm hoping for - one that I have not yet been blessed to have. Perhaps, it's because I first needed to learn to float without bringing in the wrong kind of baggage into the kind of connection i'm wanting. I've never been in a relationship before. I'm hoping that I'm ready for one now so that by next year's birthday celebration, I can reflect back to appreciate the connection.

I've barely discovered the new show Brothers and Sisters on ABC. In fact, I haven't even watched a full episode yet. I think they are six or seven episodes in since it's premiere. But I saw the scene (below) of Kevin and Scotty and I know that I absolutely need to check it out tonight. Judging from merely this scene alone, it's the best depiction of a gay couple on network TV that I've seen and it's also the sweetest representation of what I'm hoping for one day.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Birthday Week Is Approaching!

So my birthday is coming up on Thursday, Nov. 9th and I've been considering what kind of celebration and festivities to have. Gosh, the Lord has done so much in this past year! Remember the fun of last year's birthday blog party?

I've got various pockets of friends - some are connected and some aren't. At first, I considered having one party and inviting everyone. Then I reconsidered and decided to try to connect with each group of friends to celebrate throughout the week. So what I think i'll do is try to take a photo each night and share it here as part of my birthday week.

First, I wanted to share with you briefly about my pre-birthday week connections with friends. Last night, I hosted a game night for some of my GCN friends in the area. I had a blast! We began the evening just having some awesome and natural conversation for quite a while, then we decided to play a fun game called Tribond. When everyone left, my friend (the one stretched out on the couch in the photo) visiting from San Diego (but recently moved here from Rochester, NY) crashed at my place because he was spending the weekend connecting with other GCN'ers in the LA area. So when everyone left, we continued chatting until about 2am, went to bed, then chatted more in the morning. It was so much fun connecting with him and getting to know him more. And he's one of the kewlest guys I know!

So back to my birthday week coming up . . . . It'll probably be busy at work since i'm only working for two and a half days. I'll work Monday and Tuesday (remember to vote on 11/7!) then I'm taking a half day off on Wednesday so that I can hang out with the teens at a high school. I'm honored to have been invited to come and share my story with a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance - student club) at one particular high school after school. Should be an awesome time! I took Thursday off of work because it's my bday and the office is closed on Friday because Saturday is Veterans Day. So it looks like i'll have a four and a half day weekend (maybe five if i come in after lunch on monday so that I can take a friend to the airport)! Hopefully, I'll be able to connect with most of my friends and share the love and festivities with all of you - my online friends! =)

What do I want for my birthday? Among many other things . . .

. . . I want YOU to give someone a FREE HUG!