Monday, November 17, 2014

Grace

I have been pretty busy rapping these days and struggled getting to my blog. I thought I'd share my blog for this week along with starbucks gift cards to will and nick. Have a good night cause... "You know I'm all about dat Grace, bout dat Grace, no Devil!"

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Threat to The Enemy

"Be a threat to the enemy." Those words rang through my head as I sat behind my steering wheel this last week. I asked a very wise man and an extremely successful business man one question over a cup of coffee: "What would be one piece of advice you would give to a young guy trying to break into the business world and be successful?" It was the generic question you always asked in a meeting with someone way more qualified than yourself. I had gotten good at asking this question too. I always twisted it in a way that made the recipient of the question always feel very distinguished. And because of that I always received answers that demonstrated what they thought had made them successful. Things like: "Don't ever wrong someone in this town, it's too small," and, "Always work harder than your competitors," "Never take no as an answer," and one of my favorites, "Don't get married until your 35 or 40, anytime before then proves you aren't working hard enough." All of these were fun and good answers, but more importantly it gave those men a moment to feel like they could make an impact.

But this man was different. He took a long deep breath, twirled his small silver spoon around in his steaming coffee mug and slipped away into deep thought. The older gentleman had trouble keeping his squinty eyes open, as you could tell he was slipping off into a deep daydream of something of the past. After an awkwardly long pause, one that made me feel very uncomfortable for asking a question I was unsure would cause such a stir, he set his spoon down, picked up his mug from the tiny round handle on the side and took a sip. Still holding it in his hand he said, "You know Case, if I had an opportunity to talk to myself at your age, I would tell that young man one thing. No matter what the circumstances were, always stay a threat to the enemy."

I was suddenly at a loss for words. For months I had sat in this same seat, asking the same question, paying the same tab, and going on about my same business. Never really caring about what the answer would entail, just knowing I was supposed to ask it. But this time, it was different. It was genuine, and had so much thought behind the answer. An answer that was more than just words, but a sum of an incredible story.

After I could get my thoughts together all I could utter back was "Thank-you." Time was up and it was time to pay the bill and leave. As I got into my truck those words kept ringing through my head. Then a quote came to my mind:

Be the kind of man that when your feet hit the floor each morning, the devil says, "Oh crap. He's up."

I believe this is our calling. To never get comfortable. Never become complacent. But to always be a threat to our enemy. So today, what will you do to be a threat?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Count Your Blessings

"Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done."

So go the lyrics to the old Church of Christ hymn. These songs have rang through my ears all day today. I imagine these lyrics have been in my head for many reasons.

Growing up, all my prayers were out of gratitude. "Thank you for the moon. Thank you for my parents and brother. Thanks for my house and my teachers. And always, thank you for this food."

So naturally when I would sing this song, I would try to literally sit in the pew and count all the many blessings I had been given. Little did I know at such a young age, I was doing something very practical, that today people go to counseling to learn this tactic.

After a few rough weeks of work and just life in general, the good lord has really been on my heart to count my blessings and see what He has done. Through counting my blessings, and getting nowhere close to counting all of them, life just seems to turn around. You see life through a new pair of lenses.

Through the week, singing an old hymn took me back to those days of sitting in church with my parents. It took my mind and my heart into sing-song, remembering another one of my favorite childhood songs.

"My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's NOTHING my God can not do! The mountains are his, and the valleys are his, and the trees are his handiwork too! My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's NOTHING my God can not do!"

It was always fun to sing this song because as we yelled strong and mighty at the top of our lungs, I preceded to flex on the whole church! But how true is this song? How true are all the lyrics we sing? There is NOTHING my God cannot do!

There is story after story I could tell you, even some occurring this week, of examples proving how strong and mighty God is. And countless testaments displaying that there is NOTHING that He cannot do!

So, next time you are in a building singing fellowship with your brothers and sisters, really think about the words you are singing. They are never just words, but more so praises and cries of help.

As for now, I'm am off to celebrate the birthday of one of the biggest blessings in my life. My beautiful girlfriend! Like I said... There is NOTHING my God cannot do! HAHA

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Unwritten Story

"Well umm... This league is umm... very unforgiving and I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to still be able to play."

As the small town, blue collared, too short to play white boy stood on the podium, he did everything he could to fight back the tears he so badly wanted to release. It was all he had imagined and more. It was what he practiced and dreamed about in the backyard of a small town, on the line of Callahan and Taylor county, called Tuscola. 

You see, all people ever see is the man on Sunday. They see him in that moment and evaluate him on that day. They don't take into consideration years and years of dreams and work that built up to that exact moment. No one understood, when that kid ran on the field in the second half trailing the the Titans, what was running on the field with him. 

What was under those pads was a lost state championship in high school. A lost heisman not only his junior year but also his senior year. An injury on the first series of the biggest game in college football, the national championship. An injury that wouldn't allow him to finish a dream. An injury that would knock him into a third round draft pick and land him with the Cleveland Browns. There, he would realize the turmoil of an organization trying to build a new identity, only to become another one of the guinea pigs they call quarterbacks in Cleveland. He preceded to bite the bullet, take it like a champ, accept the blame and punishment, and go back to work. He packed his bags up and moved across the country to San Francisco, where he decided playing for Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers was more important than the 1.5 million dollars he was supposed to make that year. So, he decided to take a cut to league minimum and stay a part of a team that played for a championship. Never getting his opportunity, free agency came his way and believed a man named Jay Gruden. Believed him when he said he wanted him and needed him. Believed him when he told the kid we will keep three qb's no matter what. And also believed him when he said "I believe in you. You're a pro. Go win this game."

I'm talking about a kid named Colt McCoy. 

With so much failure in his life, he trotted on the field with confidence and poise that transformed through the rest of his team. Making audibles and throwing touchdowns, the Redskins came back and won the game. Though he was the winningest quarterback in College Football history for a time, I believe that game might be at the top of his list. 

As Colt stepped on the podium to address several cameras that would portray who Colt really is to the entire world, he let them do exactly that:

"The good Lord... I think, just takes care of me, and umm... I'm just thankful I'm here."

Maybe he sparked a team to new heights this year, or maybe he didn't. Maybe he starts the rest of the season, or then again, maybe he doesn't. But what we do learn, is that we all have the opportunity to fight and we all have the opportunity to control how things effect us. So, next time you are watching a guy live out his dreams on Saturday or Sunday, stop and appreciate for a quick moment the story behind the kid. Because that story has a lot of chapters, and we are just getting started!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Far More

10:30 PM - Normal night activities of brushing my teeth, taking Gunner out to use the restroom one final time, locking up the doors and heading to bed to get a good nights rest for work tomorrow. I'm exhausted... Haven't been able to sleep to well this week. You see, Austin Stone has been doing a series called Far More. This series is stemming from the scripture Ephesians 3:20:

"Now to Him who is able to do far more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

The challenge throughout this series was to get everyone to take a step further in the different areas of their mission. That may be financially, prayer life, worship habits, or serving.

Serve: to perform duties or services for another person or organization.

1:00 AM - Still awake. I can't stop thinking about Peru. The faces of the little boys and girls who received clean water for the first time in their life. The thankfulness in their smiles and the gratitude in their eyes. Even though we were speaking in completely different tongues, we had a common bond. What that bond was... I wish I could tell you. But I brought it back to the States with me, and I can't get over it. I dream about them. I pray for them. I yearn to go back and see them. 


3:00 AM- Is the current time. I gave up on counting sheep and decided to blog for the first time since July of 2013. I have been challenged by my cousin Will and our good friend and brother Nick Brandt to blog once a week for a whole year. That would be 52 blogs! (Actually just 50 for me, I joined the party a little late).

I'm excited about getting back into the blogging world. I spent countless hours on the back porch of La Chosa in TamboGrande, Peru, blogging about the work the Lord was doing in our lives. It is fun to go back and read all those posts and look at pictures of the fun times we had over there.

We were so caught up in helping others, serving others, and most importantly loving others, that we lost the joy of this world and found joy in the journey of this world.

You may not understand what I mean by that, but if you read most of my blogs they all contain this underlying theme of living for something greater than yourself. I've tried to live for many things... School, girls, football and work, and none of these satisfy what our heart truly yearns for. We were wired that way. And the only thing to fill that void is to live in the way Christ lived... Loving everyone he came in contact with.

So my question is this, how do we serve in a world that is unfamiliar to that concept? How do we serve in our communities, work force, and families? It shouldn't take flying all the way to Peru to love people and serve people. Here, right where we have been planted for the meantime, let's find a way to do FAR MORE.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wonders of the World

Que tal my fellow bloggers? How is life treating y'all today? Here in Cusco, Peru, life couldn't get any better! We wrapped up our work over here with one week of vacationing to Machu Picchu (one of the seven wonders of the world). It has been a blast and everything I imagined! I want to share that experience with you, but first I want to talk about what a success we have had during our time here due to a majority of you who have supported and donated to our project, making our dream into a reality!


 Our goal, for the ones who haven't read the past blogs was to install 50 water purification filters in the small community of Malingas, where there is no running water just a man made canal that runs on the edge of the town. Luckily we were donated enough money to get an order in earlier in the summer and by the time another group of 4 would arrive to Peru on the 9th of July, they would bring the filters and we could go to work building and installing. And that... is just what we did!


We built 50 water filters over a period of about 5 days and installed all of them in families homes. It was a restless effort, but also extremely rewarding. That is why I want to share it with y'all because it could not have been possible without YOU! Sitting in these people's home and having a glass of clean water with them will be moments I will never forget, FOREVER!


The kids were so incredibly appreciative too! They knew exactly what this meant for their health and they were well aware of the positive affects it will have on them. Will, Alex, and I, grew incredibly close with one family. The mom's name was Mary and she had FIVE KIDS! haha. But they were our original pilot family and got this whole project started. Mary went to EVERY home with us throughout that week and helped us install and explain to them in her perfect Spanish, how good this filter actually was! I will never forget having to leave those kids for the last time... Such an emotional moment for all of us, and there was not a dry eye in our car as we pulled out of Malingas for the last time!


I believe that was the most ministering I have ever done in my life, and the name Jesus Christo came out of my mouth maybe once or twice. But it didn't have to. These people knew and understood that this was for something greater than our own pride. They knew what we college students had given up to come help their life out... I just believe we are called to minister more than preaching the gospel! Now don't get me wrong I think that is SOOO necessary. But how do we preach?


Words honestly have little significance for me! That is just being brutally honest. You can tell me a lot of things and I will take your word for it, but will put little investment in it. I have been cheated and lied to many times in my life and also in my career of football! So until I see words put into action, that is when I believe and invest! I believe that is how evangelism should be as well! My cousin Will, who is on this trip with me, said something incredibly powerful the other night when we were talking, he quoted a Saint and said,

"Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words!"


I think that is about the most accurate definition of evangelism and sharing the gospel that there is. I get so frustrated sometimes when people miss that! Thankfully that is exactly what we talked about on the plane ride here and a promise that we made each other! We were going to invest our time, money, and love in these people, and through those things we will let His light shine!


So yes, our dream was made a reality! And today as you're reading this, there are atleast 50 families, full of multi-generation homes, that are drinking clean water! On top of those families, we also installed FIVE filters in the local school. So HUNDREDS of kids are benefitting from your donations as well! I love it! Gets me fired up just writing to y'all about it! But that wrapped up our time out in that community and we finished up our time in Northern Peru hanging out with our host family, the Davidsons, for a few days before catching a flight to Cusco.


Before I go further, I know this isn't twitter, but I have to give a shout out to John Mark Davidson, his wife Tara, and their four kids: Kellyn, Parker, Kase, and Mack. This family is the real deal! I, along with the two others, have grown incredibly close to them and as hard as it was to leave those families in Malingas, this family was just as hard. They went above and beyond to make our time in Peru well worth it and an experience that would be unforgettable! That is exactly what they did! So someday we will sit around a table, play a game of Settlers of Catan, and drink plenty of coffee, but until then your family will be in our prayers and always looked up to for what y'all are doing and what y'all represent! We truly do love y'all!


So fast forward through a nights stay in Lima, a few scary flights, and lots of restless nights, and we are here in Cusco, Peru. Cusco is pretty much the hub city for tourists going to Machu Picchu. It is an incredible little city built all inside of a valley! Every time I take a picture it just doesn't do this place justice!


We caught a bus up to Aguascalientes and stayed the night there before waking up at 4 am to start our trek up Machu Picchu. We wanted to get up early enough to see the sunrise, but because of a little storm the night before and a little cooler weather than usual, the sun never showed its face till late that afternoon. We did climb to the top of the mountain that usually would look down over all the ruins, but we were inside all the clouds and couldn't see anything! But after a hike down the mountain we came out of the clouds and saw one of the most gorgeous sites I have ever seen!


Most people hire a guide to walk them through all the ruins and explain to them what was what, and this was used for that, and all that boring stuff. But because we are cheap and not your typical scholar college students, we decided we would walk them and make our own stories up for what meant what, and who was sacrificed here, and who lived in this hut.... Needless to say it was a lot of fun (also tagged along in groups until we got kicked out trying to catch as much info as we could ha). But after going about 12 hours without eating and doing plenty of hiking and walking, we got our last pics and headed back to the city.


It was incredible to see this "lost city of the Incans", and try to imagine a day in their shoes. For not having the tools we have today, this people had to have been very intellectual and hard workers to get this place to look the way they did! I could only praise the Lord, once again, for his creation! For his handiwork of all the mountains surrounding this place. For the waterfalls in the distance, and the animals that roamed the ruins. It was definitely eye opening experience that I think everyone should get to see once time in their life. I have met a few people on this trip that were openly atheists, and asked me why I believe what I believe. Sometimes I just want to say, "Open your eyes!! Look around you!" I just know God has put things in this world to capture our attention and revert that right back to him! So next time you come across something beautiful, something magnificent that stops you dead in your tracks, instead of taking a picture, posting it on your instagram and praying for a lot of likes, thank The Father for putting you exactly where you are and giving you the ability the SEE!



That's a quick recap of our last week! We have a few more days here in Cusco before flying back to the states! I have had a blast, but I am sooo ready to get back! I can't wait to see my momma! ha! But there are so many others! I have realized on this trip how much some people mean to me. How I take so many relationships for granted, and that I don't always allow myself to tell people how much they mean to me! I am also extremely excited about this upcoming football season! My passion for the game is at an all time high right now, and I can't wait to be back with all my teammates and coaches! What is awesome about my school and my team is that we truly are a family! I play ball with my brothers, and there isn't much that can separate that brotherhood! I look forward to getting back and seeing my boy Bennie, and knocking a few more workouts out before we get amped up! Overall, this trip has been everything I needed! I did not take this trip for my own good! I felt called to help the less fortunate, just as I believe we all are! Do I think you have to go to South America to do that? No. I think if you look down your street in your neighborhood in Austin, Tx, you can find someone less fortunate! But through coming down here to Peru and trying to help these people out, I truly believe I was the one that was helped out. These families showed me so much about life, and opened my eyes to a whole new level of happiness and joy!


I hope when it is all said and done, that I gave to these families at least half of what they gave me! I no longer play ball for just Texas, my family name, and my Savior, but I now play for several families in Northern Peru! Not because they are football's biggest fans, but because they are MY biggest fans! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Are you really living?

I am starting to think this whole blogging thing might not be for me! ha! I am convinced I have ADD and probably ADHD as well. I just can't make myself sit down and gather my thoughts, much less try to write them down and be grammatically correct. Since the last time we talked, time has seemed to fly and I know these next couple weeks are gonna go by even faster! So that is another excuse for why I haven't gotten on here to blog, I just don't want to waste any time! But I got a free morning, a cup of coffee, and some fun stories to share with ya. So pull up a chair, grab a cup yourself, and lets share some coffee together and tell stories.


I am a pretty spur the moment type of guy. I don't really like making plans, because I very rarely am able to uphold them. Ask my parents, ex-girlfriends, or really anybody for that matter. But if I have a tank of gas and spare time, you can bet I'm up for anything! So with that being said (And I am aware this is somewhat of a bad thing for me to be this way), we decided to pack up and go to the mountains with a family here in Piura. We decided one night late that we would tag along, and the next morning we headed out for a two day trip. Lemme tell ya, this was with out a doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have never seen God's creation and handy work like I did this last weekend.


 We got there mid-afternoon and decided to take a short hike to a waterfall and grab some pics! We saw a sweet camping ground right on the edge of the waterfall and had an awesome view of the beginning of the sunset.


We headed back to the cabin before it got dark made a campfire and just got to sit around and hear this families story. Awesome people that had everything every American could dream of having. Lived in Chicago, had three boys and great jobs. Rob and Luchy decided to sell just about everything, rent out their house, and move with their three boys to Peru. Luchy is originally from Peru and still has some family here. So they wanted to come experience this culture, put their kids in school here, and actually live life! Something about campfires, big bright stars over my head, and an awesome group of people, really inspired me that night.


 Alex, Will and I, decided we wanted to take a full day hike in the morning up to a high mountain top. So we found two little guys (an 11 and 13 year old) that weren't in school because it was Saturday, and planned to leave after breakfast in the morning. We started, and let me just say, it wasn't just a hike, I would call it more of a trek... straight up hill! It took us a few hours longer than we thought, but we made it to the top and it was the most rewarding experience I've ever had. Our view was incredible. Our praise songs were even more powerful. And our love for each other got even stronger than it already was. I am loving these two people that are on this trip with me! But anyways, we were able to sit on top of the mountain for quite some time and just take pictures, as you will see, some a little bit funnier than others...


After we had caught our breath and got our legs back under us we decided to head back so we would make it in time for a late lunch. As I was saying, it was pretty steep coming up so we had to go pretty much straight back down with wobbly legs. Alex had a close call:


 On the other side of that grass is a straight drop off basically. It looks like she is laughing but I think it was a halfway cry as well. Scared us all, so after her fall we slowed down a bit and took our time. But we did make it back down. We were awaited with an incredible lunch, one I've never really cooked the way they did. Well, I'll just let you decide for yourself:


 Yeah that is two full fish!

We loaded up that afternoon and headed back home and just reminisced all night on the activities we have been able to experience so far.


 That is basically the funnest thing we have done since the last time we talked. I did get very homesick on the 4th. We decided to blast the Star Spangled Banner and order pizza. Then we pulled up youtube videos of fireworks, so we somewhat got our July 4th fix the best we could.

But for what is going on in my spiritual life right now... I know, I know, just go get another cup of coffee and we will try to wrap this up.

The first afternoon on our trip to the mountains, I climbed up to a rock a little ways up and just spent about an hour just looking over the valley and talking with my God. I have really been struggling lately with how comfortable my life was back home. I always had all my needs met, and honestly never had to worry about a thing. I NEVER took risks. I always somewhat knew what the outcome was gonna be before I ever took that chance, and I just felt like I wasn't actually LIVING.


 One of my favorite movies is Braveheart, and I love what William Wallace says:

"Every man dies, not every man truly lives!"

That's just how I have been feeling lately. Am I really living? What's holding me back from going all out? What's holding me back from being kind to everyone? And loving everyone? I know I am alive, but am I living? I truly believe that we are called to be risk takers. I don't think this life was called to be boring. I don't think we were supposed to plant ourselves in one spot and be there forever in the same ruts our parents, grandparents, and their parents were in. I think we were called to be trailblazers. I think Jesus, this Man that we are trying to resemble was the ultimate risk taker. I think his ultimate commandment to his apostles before he left was to be risk takers. They all knew it wasn't gonna be easy, but it was promised to them that it would be worth it.

So with that, I wanna go to the most dangerous parts of this world. I wanna skydive! I wanna jump off waterfalls! I wanna scuba dive in deep dangerous waters! I just want to live! Our time on this Earth is said to be just a glimpse of time compared to eternity. We aren't promised tomorrow, nor tonight! After Jesus left his parents as a boy, was he ever still? Did he plant himself in one spot and not leave? Did he put himself in a safe zone where he knew nothing would affect him or his family? From what I am reading, I see that he did completely opposite. Every time he performed a miracle he moved on to the next city. And instead of staying where he was safe, he stared death right in it's eyes and marched right to it head first! Now that, my friend, is a risk taker!


You see, I talked about physical activities and things I can do that I know are either awesome experiences or could be detrimental. And those are definitely things I want to do now, but I think that is what we as humans first think of when you hear the word risky. What if being a risk taker was saying a little prayer. A little prayer with few words, but saying it whole heartedly and with complete submission? Because I promise you, God answers prayers. And He hears every single one of them. Scripture promises us that! So my prayer today is this:

Father, thank you for this day! Thank you for filling my lungs with air to breath throughout this day and experience your creation and see you in everything today! Lord I need you, though I deny that with my actions constantly, please don't give up on me! Dad, I have faith in you, and I believe in you and through you, but please drown my doubts out. I ask that because you are powerful, almighty, divine, and omnipresent! You placed the mountains and filled the oceans with water. You are more than our mind can grasp, so much more that we limit your mercy, your grace, and your strength. But today father, please forgive me for my human limits I place upon you! I am called to be like you Jesus, I strive daily, and fail. I don't just fail, but I fail hard! So I pray this morning that you take the steering wheel away from me! You take control of my life and do with it what you please! I will do anything Lord! Anything! Place my feet where you want them and I will run! Make me a risk taker! Make me a risk taker because that is what you are! You have already won this battle, so let us find peace in that! We love you and we praise you! Thank you for hearing this prayer, and already answering it! Amen!

So until next time folks, I will continue to try and make memories and have stories to share over a cup of coffee, but now it's your turn! Go LIVE! Create stories! But most importantly take risks!