Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I'll be writing a lot here at renown in the near future about story. Most people don't realize it, but story is central to most of reality (life, theology, etc...). Story (in the technical literary sense) is way BIGGER than most people realize. This is one reason why Braveheart is my fav movie & the fav movie of every red-blooded male (and other epic stories like it). Anyway, in the next month or so I plan on writing in detail about this phenomenon that dominates all of reality... story.

I was reminded that I haven't written about this because I am rereading Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. I Read it about 3 years ago when i was sick one week. I just read it as a "fun" book to have some entertainment while I was sick, but now I'm reading it again more intentionally to take stuff away. For those of you who don't know, the reason this reminded me to write about story is that Donald Miller, like me is a big proponent of STORY. (Miller is the best-selling author of several books & is from the Imago Dei Community where the very funny & teddy bear-like, Rick McKinley is pastor.)

So, I recently listened to a talk by him at Mars Hill (the G-Rap version with Rob Bell) & it was PIMP! So, although I don't have time to share all my thoughts on Story (YET!), I'll share my takeaways from his talk.

- side note thought that made me chuckle = the Bible is the only story we read that we say needs to mean something else. Like, David's 5 stones were JUST stones; they don't stand for anything. "The story is powerful enough." We don't look for some 'hidden' point in most stories, so why do we do this with the Bible?? If God doesn't say what this 'hidden' point is why should we?

- Miller challenged us to think of MY story. Would I even like my character?

- What even is YOUR story? Trying to work a lot and save up for a new car?!?? Imagine a movie about that!!! [what a horrible story]
- If my character/story dies what dreams would die with me? What ceases to happen? How would the world be any different? [If it wouldn't then then your story is probably crappy.]

- [I love this] = "God is trying to write a good story with my life so He says "Hey Don, peeps are dying in Africa... what are you going to do with your story?" - "I'm gonna buy a Volvo." and God's gotta be like "No, no, no... highlight, delete." That's just not a good story.

So, before I write a lot about story (in the technical literary sense) I just want to say: man, have a freakin' sweet story! if you're like "i'm gonna buy a Volvo!" then that story straight up sucks! Are you sitting there in front of your computer telling me that that's what you want your story to be? The American Dream? No adventure, no conflict, no risk, nothing bigger than yourself? That's probably the worst story I've ever heard. Honestly, you would stop watching the movie and throw the book away with a story like that.

a couple Qs I ask myself to see I'm living a good story...
- is God's fame being spread because of my story?
- are people in need being helped in my story?
- would my story be worth reading?
- will I look back in 10 years and wish I could rewrite it?

<I think tomorrow I'll share some cool stuff from the book...>

Sunday, April 27, 2008

the kingdom in Charlotte

I'm so excited about what God is doing in Charlotte to advance His kingdom. I'm stoked to be a part of that story. It's really cool to be a part of a church that "gets it"... we know it's not about Ridge, but about Jesus & what He's doing in this city through tons of churches. (You can read here & here where I've written about other churches we've been involved with to see the kingdom advance.)

Crystal & I went to Watershed yesterday morning and experienced again that God is moving in Charlotte through a lot of different churches. It was really cool to worship with these guys and know that we're on the same team. Plus I love their sign that's displayed to the left... which way to Watershed??? (their logo could make it confusing.) Matt O'neil, one of the lead guys, was really cool & welcoming to us + we hooked up some free Panera pastries. Watershed meets at the Actor's Theater in downtown Charlotte. If you live downtown you should check it out one Sunday.

They're also doing some really cool stuff in their community through their Justice Initiatives & we heard from their other lead guy, Scott, all the way from Malawi. They're looking at partnering with a few villages there to make a difference. This church has a cool heart.

They're in the middle of a series called The Art of Living based on Matthew 5-7 which features some a killer (& wicked long) talk by Jesus. If you make it to Watershed you'll be blessed by this series. I know the broken & poor in Charlotte & around the world will be blessed by this community of faith seeking to live out Jesus' gospel.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

the greatest movie of all time (hands down - whatever that means)

Here we go, you've all been waiting for #1. The rest of the top 10 has all been revealed and now it's time for... the greatest movie... of all time... (drumroll)...

#1 BRAVEHEART (1995 Academy Award for Best Picture) - No doubt that this is the greatest movie ever made!!! First of all, every time I watch it I want to become Scottish (even though I'm American and a little bit Irish) & go fight in the Scottish army. I'm like "sign me up!" This is definitely the most inspiring movie I've ever seen. It's also the 1st movie I saw as a kid that didn't play out like a storybook at every turn... good guys die. I loved the fact that it was unpredictable like this. But still an unbelievable GREAT story. And of course, who didn't want to be William Wallace... or at least wear the cool face paint and have the pimp accent.

YOUR turn now. what do you think are the greatest movies of all time?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

top 10 (# 2)

Read the intro to the top 10 list & honorable mentions here & #s 6-10 here.

now, for the top 5...

#5 Crash (2005 Academy Award for Best Picture) - Whoa! This movie is brilliant. I'm shocked at how many people haven't seen it. Maybe a dozen random character are all linked by events in L.A. (ridiculously star studded cast too). The story is awesome. Also, I love that this movie subtely (& not so subtely) attacks something that I am passionately against - racism and racial prejudice. This movie straight up preaches in an excellent way & I love it. Watch it!

#4 Bad Boys 2 (2003) - The greatest action comedy ever. I mean, just imagine Will Smith & Martin Lawrence for like 2 1/2 hours of straight up hysterical laughter packed with crazy cadillac flippin', bullet flyin' action. It's 10 times better & funnier than the 1st one. If you can't laugh at this movie... you just don't laugh.

#3 Forrest Gump (1994 Academy Award for Best Picture + 5 others including best actor for Tom Hanks) - This movie just straight up makes you laugh. This bad boy is a classic. One of the funniest ever. I'll be shocked if you haven't seen it. This performance by Tom Hanks has to be the best acting job ever! He is amazing in this film (similar to his stellar acting performance in The Terminal). "Somethin' bit me!" "Cap'n Dan said we didn't have to worry about money no more and I said 'well, that's good. Just one less thing.'" "Forrest, have you found Jesus yet? - I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for Him."

#2 Ocean's 11 (2001) - yep, my 2nd favorite movie EVER. This movie is awesome. The first time I saw it I was like 17 and really wanted to be one of Danny Ocean's 11. These guys are straight up genius. I love it. It's fun, funny, but also very smart. These guys (especially Brad Pitt & George Clooney) are ridiculously smooth. Silky smooth... these guys are the epitome of PIMP, in case you were wondering. I think I would have done it too. If these guys showed up at my house tomorrow and asked me to join them, it would take every ounce of will power & God's grace to keep me from joining up with them. (I'm halfway joking) Way better than Ocean's 12 & 13 put together.

**And now, the greatest movie of all time... drumroll...

(check it out tomorrow back here on renown)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

top 10 list

The list is finally here! (click here for the setup blog & my honorable mentions). Today is 6-10.
after years of much deliberation...

10 Gladiator (2000 Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe) - This is my 2nd favorite "Epic" of all time. This great movie is packed full of action, tugs at your heart, and enthralls you for over 2 and a half hours. Great story too of the warrior Maximus (Crowe) who was chosen to become the next emporer of the Roman Empire only to be betrayed and enslaved, and then become a Gladiator.

9 Armageddon (1998) - this movie is ridiculously funny! Chicks like it because it's got that whole love story part and there are definitely some tear-jerking moments in this awesome story; but make no mistake - this movie is a lot of fun & funny and that's why it made my top 10. (An all-star cast of Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Owen Wilson, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton, etc... doesn't hurt)

8 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - lost the Academy Award for Best Picture to Forrest Gump that year, but is consistently showing up in lists of the greatest movies of all time. This movie is brilliant and I love it. Not a lot of action and not a lot of humor, just a brilliant story of hope that I can watch any day of the week.

7 Top Gun (1986) - This was my favorite movie from the time I first saw it at like 6 years old... I LOVED this movie as a kid (and still do). I sang every song and I definitely wanted to be Ice Man and Maverick. The clip below was always my favorite scene from the movie...

6 - Die Hard 1-4 (1988-2007) - It's impossible for me to separate these 4, so I include them here on my list as one tetralogy. In my opinion, these are the greatest "tough guy" action movies EVER! John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a straight up PIMP! He's the only "tough guy" I ever wanted to be as a kid (and still want to be him). Halfway through every movie he's always been shot twice, bleeding all over, missing his shoes, wearing half a shirt, etc... he's just a scrapper and I love it. He does things his way not worrying about "protocol" (very similar to Jack Bauer in this respect from the greatest TV show ever - 24). He's so sarcastic too which I love and has always brought a smile to my face. If I had to narrow it down I guess the 1st & 4th ones are my favorites - those are Bruce Willis' 2 favs as well. (the 1st clip below is a trailer for the first 3 Die Hards, and the second clip is the trailer from the most recent 4th - Live Free or Die Hard) Yipee Ki Yay!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

movie week at renown

this week on renown I am going to reveal the "official" (according to Patrick) top 10 greatest movies of all time. I would love to hear your thoughts! Weigh in with which movies you think should have been left off my list and definitely tell me which movies would make your top 10 list! Maybe Crystal and I will rent one for date night on Friday. In fact, it would be great to find a few top 10 lists of yours in the comments section this week! We'll see how the lists compare to mine as I share 6-10 tomorrow & 1-5 after that. But for now, here are a few that almost made the cut.

Honorable Mention:

1 Identity (2003) - This is an amazing thriller that barely got edged off my top 10 list to #11 basically. 10 "strangers" randomly get stranded at a hotel on a stormy night and I can't say anymore because it will spoil it if you haven't seen it. The ending is amazing and will leave your jaw hanging open, your head shaking, and your mouth repeating "no way!?!?!?" for weeks. you won't believe it; it will blow your mind. Check out the trailer below.

2 Rain Man (1988 Best Picture) - This is one of those movies that I could watch any day, any time. You don't have to be in the mood for it, just watch it & you'll be laughing in no time. Dustin Hoffman plays what I think is the role of his life in this movie (and he won an Oscar for best actor)! surely you've all seen this right? surely everyone in America has... ("of course I'm an excellent driver")

3 Se7en (1995) - This movie starts pretty slow but the intensity builds throughout and you almost can't handle the last 10 minutes because it's too intense. The title comes from the criminal in the movie who is on a trek to murder 7 people who are committing the 7 deadly sins... then writing that sin somewhere at the scene. Brad Pitt & Morgan Freeman try to stop him before he murders all 7. The showdown at the end is unbelievable!

4 Napolean Dynamite (2004) - had to throw this one in because I've literally seen it at least 100 times. still makes me laugh because it is SO stupid. I know you either love it or hate it, but here's 2 tips for you if you're about to watch it for the 1st time: 1) watch it with at least 3-4 friends, 2) don't look for a plot or a stoyline because there isn't one! Just enjoy the ridiculously stupid humor. (and keep in mind the budget for this film was only $400K) - "do the chickens have large talons?"

5 It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - Back to the black & white stone age. You gotta watch this every Christmas season. My wife had not seen this when we were dating in high school. Watching it was a prerequisite for marriage...

Monday, April 21, 2008

a church that forgives its enemies? no...

you may remember a couple posts I wrote around Easter telling about how Ridge church joined with Kinetic church after most of their stuff was stolen & led their kid's environments, worshipped with them, etc... If you missed it, catch up by reading the posts here and here.

the love & unity in that day seemed like it was straight out of a book Jesus wrote or something... oh wait, it was. We hope that a movement like this will spread across the city - where every church will be all about making God famous and advancing His kingdom (not our own "church kingdoms"). If that wasn't enough, Kinetic's response to the thieves is really cool. check this video message their lead pastor Dave made for the guys who took their stuff.

2 different TV stations featured this story on their newscasts recently. Kinetic put up 5 billboards along I-85 here in Charlotte with some pretty funny messages to the trailer thieves. you can watch the videos of the news stories here and here.

Anyway, I just thought it was really cool to see Kinetic forgiving these guys who did them wrong. Seems like something else straight out of a book that Jesus wrote...

Friday, April 18, 2008

deadly viper: character assassins (numero dos)

To catch up read my intro of the book here & part 1 of my takeaways from the book here.
Or better yet watch this 2 minute video of Mike & Jud telling you about it.

and for the rest of the book...

Chapter 4 – The Assassin of the Headless Sprinting Chicken
- do I feel overwhelming demands? (This assassin will jack me up!)
- * "Burnout comes when my priorities are not aligned."
- If I'm going to be a leader. I must learn how to lead myself.
- "Busy is not bad, but I must be busy about the best things."
- *take one day of rest every week. Guarantee = I will be more effective with one day of rest. [Furious rest... man this is SO true. I can vouche for this from experience.]
- Identify the things that fill me up emotionally, spiritually, etc. and do those things. *** Make these things a priority!
- Great Q to constantly ask myself = “Is my pace sustainable for the long haul?"

Chapter 5 – The Assassin of Boom Chicka Wah Wah
- treat my relationships according to how they deserve to be treated. (They have a great analogy of Porsche relationships & Ford relationships.)
- Ask the hard questions to my wife = ask her to evaluate me to help me grow character (rank me 1-10 as a husband).
- Important relationships take hard work. They are needed for success.
- *Remember, any little, tiny slip up can ruin my career, effectiveness, ministry, life.
- **I will have the opportunity for sex outside my marriage. The question is not, “If?” but “When?” -> then I have to be prepared or the BCWW assassin will beat the crap out of me! -> I must be prepared for him ahead of time. Have a plan!

Chapter 6 – The Bling Bling Assassin
- Pretty cool illustration = most martial arts weapons all come from farming tools = farmers had to be ready with whatever they had!
- Big Q = “how much is enough?/ What’s it take to be happy?”
- Hold things loosely & be more generous!
- **We spend more in the United States on trash bags than half of the world spends on all goods!
- *Give the Bling Bling Assassin a good kick in the nuts by giving stuff away & being satisfied with what I have!
- National Research Study = the more we have beyond a certain point our satisfaction actually decreases!
- [if you want to put the Bling Bling Assassin in his place then go join the junky car club or check out several of the organizations on the right side of my blog such as blood:water mission, fermi project, rwanda clean water, compassion, world vision, ONE, or simply buy a pair of TOMS shoes, etc...]

Chapter 7 – The High and Mighty Assassin
- [I MUST respond humbly to peeps who call me out on Pride issues!]
- This assassin can make me overestimate my talent, etc.
- * Appropriate Humility = "knowing who I am, where I fit, and plugging in there to make a difference."
- My role must be “Lead-servant” to those who follow me!
- Great Q = what can I do to serve so we can all win more?
- How do I beat this assassin? ask peeps I trust these questions:
o how do others perceive me?
o Do I listen to others?
o Am I open to learn something from everyone?
o Will I learn from my weaknesses?
o Do I say “I'm sorry”?
o Do I admit I made a bad decision?
- The dangerous and tricky part about this guy is that I may be the last to know! Everyone else already saw it! & I’m still oblivious.
- Make a list of the people who helped me get “here” and then constantly ask them what they “see” in me that I can do and improve. (I can’t see this stuff… I need their eyes!)
*always Remember, I’ve never arrived & need to be always learning & asking peeps to point stuff out to me, etc...

OK, now fight for your integrity & go buy the book. OR if you want to listen to it on your commute then click HERE to download a FREE copy of the audio version of the book courtesy of Mike & Jud.

(P.S. - i'm headed out for date night to Olive Garden & a movie with my smokin' hot wife. That oughta give the Assassin of Boom Chicka Wah Wah a friendly kick in the teeth.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

deadly viper: character assassins (part 1)

i think Mike & Jud were sick of seeing so many leaders fall because of a lack of integrity, so they decided to write this book to try to help us all pursue integrity & character and keep from screwing up our lives.

For my intro of this book read this post.
One more word of intro though, from the deadly viper website:
"Deadly Viper is an initiative dedicated to beginning a strategic conversation on the issues of radical integrity and radical grace. Our focus is to develop leaders who will have intentional, transparent, and honest conversations about key character issues. Deadly Viper is a movement designed to help leaders finish strong and live a life with no regrets."

*Warning: these are simply my unfiltered takeaways from this book for my own personal growth. Hopefully you will benefit from them as well. (The authors should not be blamed for any wrong conclusions, misapplications, or stupid stuff i write!)

by Mike Foster & Jud Wilhite

Chapter 0 – Nunchucks, Warriors, and Master Po
- Most of these thoughts will be in my words & in bullet points (unless it's in quotes). [thoughts in brackets like these will be my orignal thoughs of course stimulated by reading this book.] but the book is SO well written & enjoyable that I want you all to have a taste of it... so here's a couple paragraphs from Chapter 0.

"The Deadly Vipers are some bad dudes who take great pleasure in what they do. They eat your kind for lunch and are skilled in the arts of annihilation, pain, and destruction. These ninja experts are working 25 hours a day, eight days a week to undo you. They don't rest. These forces of darkness are fully funded and well resourced. They possess the weapons, they’ve plotted the strategies, and they kick more tail before 7 a.m. than most of us will our entire lives.
And then there is little old us looking like schoolgirls with plaid skirts on, because we are unskilled and undisciplined in the area of character. We are weaklings with rail-skinny arms and toothpick legs. Too many of us think we can skate by on our business savvy, stellar successes, and our impressive ability to jive talk ourselves out of anything. But here's the deal; the Deadly Vipers aren't in the mood for small talk. There in the mood for spilling blood."
"Our goal with this little book is to help you be ready to face these brutal slayers. We want to turn you into warriors who are trained and ready for wherever the attacks may come from. Let's make this one truth crystal clear: the Character Assassins are on their way. For some of you, they are pressing a steely blade to your throat even now."

- “He who conquers himself is the greatest warrior." - Master Po
- I want character to naturally flow from me!
- Life = mistakes, grace, mistakes, more grace
- *[patrick's thought = all these deadly vipers doubly kill God's renown when leaders fall = 1) their effectiveness is lessened or even ended & 2) God's name is trashed.]
- Building character can't be done alone. We must train and fight together and watch each other's backs.
- We must go to battle for our friends when the deadly vipers attack! *risk my reputation for someone else. It's noble to go to the aid of a fallen leader. [who cares what they say about me]

Chapter 1 – Assassin of Character Creep
- this happens slowly, and a little bit at a time. He sneaks up on us. He is the silent assassin.
- *"The more senior my leadership, the less honest people are in my evaluation." [isn't that the truth!!]
- We can achieve "success by default", by being the last leader standing. [a high percentage simply won't be able to withstand this assassin over the long haul]
- **"Refrain from doing anything today that I would be uncomfortable reading about in the headlines tomorrow or seeing on the 11 o'clock news."

Chapter 2 – The Assassin of Zi Qi Qi Ren
* This assassin gets its name from a Chinese term meaning “self deception while deceiving others.”
- transparency and accountability are key! We must all give a few people the freedom to speak into my life. [all access!]
- *"Nobody is so smart that the counsel of others won't benefit them." [that is pimp!]
- reminder = "I won't always be rewarded for maintaining my character."

Chapter 3 – The Assassin of Amped Emotions
- am I in control of my emotions even when I'm under stress, etc.? - * "anger is a signal worth listening to."
- Identify the trigger points of my emotions & don't take myself too seriously."
- When I am on edge escape to a movie or something I enjoy.
- Be quick to forget wrongs by others (forgive!)

*OK, i've decided to split this into 2 posts. So, the rest of my takeaways will be in tomorrow's post - part 2. The final 4 assassins tomorrow & they are by far the most fun ones! The assassins of Headless Sprinting Chicken, Boom Chicka Wah Wah (guess what that one's all about), The Bling Bling Assassin, & High and Mighty Assassin.

So, make sure you check out the best half of the book on tomorrow's blog. In the meantime click here to buy the book for yourself. you won't regret it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

renown strikes back (Proverbs is Pimp)

(side note: the main title is partially borrowed from the title of the 1997 sophomore album of the greatest band of all time.)

(side note #2: no, the parenthetical title is not bad grammar. it would be "proverbs are pimp" if i were speaking of proverbs in general, or even of the Chinese variety, but since we're talking about the specific book of Proverbs it's "Proverbs is pimp".)

(side note #3: That's right, renown is back with a vengeance. I was gone from blogging for over a week in the Caribbean, but now I'm back and ready to hit it hard.)

(side note #4: it's this author's opinion that this author has used way too many side notes!)

When I was in college, a well-respected leader told us of a spiritual discipline he had practiced for a long time and it had changed his life. He read 1 chapter of Proverbs every day - # of the chapter corresponding to the day of the month. He said "after years... even a few months of this you'll be amazed at how the wisdom in this book becomes a part of you."

I had read Proverbs enough to know that it was all about wisdom and God said to "get it!"

So, I was like "I would love to be wise, I'll give it a shot." and I did. the cool thing was that I loved it and it stuck. Proverbs is like an Andy Stanley talk... practical & to the point. it's got stuff in it that will change your life today. After a few months all those passages were sticking in my head. They were becoming a part of me. They were helping me make decisions. It's stuck for about 6 years now. Still lovin' it.

It's probably my 3rd favorite book behind the Gospels (i put them together because just like the Die Hard quadruple, it's hard to pick just 1) & the Psalms. I could probably write at least 1,000 blogs about all I've learned from Proverbs over the years... it is literally an amazing book. I don't claim to be wise by any stretch of the imagination, but I must be further from being a fool than I was 6 years ago.

So, with all that background I plan to be able to blog on any random day about a buttload of stuff I learned from Proverbs on that day.

Yesterday was the 15th, so of course I read Proverbs 15 (at Starbucks). And there was SO MUCH good stuff in there, but i have to stick with just one phrase from verse 7...

"The lips of the wise spread knowledge"

now, let me say this again. I don't claim to be a wise man at all (maybe a "wise guy" or a wise something else, but that's totally different of course), but every time Proverbs mentions something that wise people do... I'm gonna go try to do it!

1 thing that Proverbs says wise people do is "get knowledge." I attempt to do that by reading books like a crazy fool (no pun intended). I always type out what I learn from the books and how they'll change how I live, think, act, do ministry, treat my wife, friends, etc... And this phrase just confirmed something that I've been wanting to do on this blog for a while - spread the knowledge I'm getting. This was actually a major reason I started this blog - to give me an outlet for all the knowledge I'm trying to stuff into my tiny brain. So, yeah, I wanna be wise & spread the knowledge I get, not just keep it to myself. I want to share it with all of you because it's benefited me & I hope it benefits you.

I've read a flippin' insane amount of books lately (last 6 months) and learned A LOT! I'm constantly telling people that they gotta read these books too! But then it seems like they'll always say, "but patrick, i just don't read as much as you." So, I'm going to try to flesh out the best stuff I learn right here at renown with the goal being for peeps to learn all the good stuff from a book in 10 minutes instead of 10 hours.

So, tomorrow will be my 1st one of these "knowledge downloads" from a book. & of course we start with a fun one (but also extremely potent & important)! It's a book by Mike Foster & Jud Wilhite called Deadly Viper: Character Assassins. It's awesome and should be read by every pastor, husband, father, and leader in the world. Jud's a pastor in Las Vegas and wrote a cool book that I have called Stripped. Mike is the man! He started the Junky Car Club that I told you all about here. If you haven't joined yet, what are you waiting for? Read this post & go join (after you sponsor a child through Compassion)! He also started XXXchurch which has some great accountability software that every guys should have on his computer for his integrity's sake (and maybe for his marriage's sake & ministry's sake). Now he's started something called Ethur that is straight up pimp & helps start other projects like the JCC & Deadly Viper (which also has it's own website & blog & tons of resources for staffs, teams, etc...)

Here's one of the coolest things about Mike (& Jud too I'm sure)...
I've been using the XXXchurch software for over a year for FREE.
At Catalyst I received their book Deadly Viper for FREE (along with 11,000 other peeps)
About a month ago I read one of his blogs and clicked a link to download the book... FREE
- hopefully you see the theme by now. Mike's all about helping people for FREE. Probably why he started a whole organization (JCC) with one of it's goals being to see kids rescued from poverty through compassion international & I can't imagine that it's turned out very lucrative for you Mike.

So, I dropped him a quick message yesterday to make sure he was cool with me putting that link to the audio version of the book here on renown for all the many (3) readers to see and get an audio copy of his book for FREE. he said "absolutely" like i figured he would. it's only about 2 hours long & is read by Mike & Jud & is really fun to listen to. NOT quite as fun as the actual book though, which reminds me more of a really cool comic book with glossy pages & lots of cool colorful pictures. So, buy the book here. OR download the audio version here.

And, make sure you come back tomorrow and check out the good stuff from the book.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

back from the islands MON!

Hey, Hey, what's up everybody!?!? "Everybody", that's like all 3 of you who read Renown. Actually, I was surprised to see how many peeps kept reading while I was gone on the cruise. But now I'm back & stoked about blogging for the next several days in a row.

Crystal and I had an awesome vacation! We went with a lot of her family to celebrate her grandparents' 50th Anniversary (CONGRATS to Norm & Dusty - that's a long flippin' time!). It just so happened that this summer is also her parents' 25th & my parents' 30th. So, just a big week of celebration. It was our 1st cruise ever & we went to San Juan (Puerto Rico), St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. We also took a catamaran over to St. John for some snorkeling. Me & Tommy (Crystal's bro) went exploring in the "jungle" of St. John and found our own coconuts & successfully cracked them open to prove that we could survive on our own if we were stranded on an island! I think Tommy's was rotten & he spit out the coconut milk... after that I decided not to try mine.

Probably the coolest part for me was the VIEW! We were constantly surrounded by the amazing ocean that God put out there for His own glory & pleasure (just happens to bring me a lot of pleasure too, which in turn shoots more glory back to Him). i LOVE being around water, especially the ocean. On the cruise, I ate all my meals with a view of the ocean, chilled by the ocean, wrote in my journal overlooking the ocean, danced by the ocean, read 3 books by the ocean, and did everything else in view of the ocean. I'm a pretty experiential/emotional person & the ocean heightens this, so it was a really cool spiritual week for me.

I was shocked by all the FOOD. I bet I gained some serious weight. Dinner every night was like a really fancy restaurant with like 3 waiters per table, 4 sets of silverware, & like 8 courses. The simplest dishes I had were Filet Mignon & Lobster... everything else I can't pronounce. Room service with breakfast in bed every morning. If I wanted a quesadilla or pizza or a reuben sandwich after midnight, I just walked 100 feet out to the deck and ate some. (I haven't weighed yet, but I'm betting I didn't lose any pounds.)

There was so much stuff to do on the ship I was blown away. Basketball, a full scale gym, tons of shopping, putt-putt, and a pretty big casino. Crystal is usually a black-jack girl, but she found a new love for Roulette & actually did pretty well with all the hours at the Roulette table. Also, there seemed to constantly be a place to jump in a conga line or just dance like a fool. These venues seemed to attract drunk people over 50 or girls under 16 - go figure.

We found some pretty cool spots and beaches in San Juan & an old, authentic San Juan restaurant recommended by a friend who used to live there. In St. Thomas we spent most of the day on the catamaran which was really fun. Our favorite was the day in St. Maarten which is where we spent our honeymoon also. We took a "water-taxi" back to our honeymoon spot. We hung out at the resort for a few hours & chilled at the beach there. That was pretty cool & brought back some cool memories.

Oh, and every night our room steward would surprise us with a different towel animal on our bed when we came back to the room. Crystal was diggin' that.

I think I read about 3 books during the week (I know, I know I'm a nerd, but I read so fast by the ocean & I love it). Plus I've got a lot of pimp takeaways I wanna share with you from those books. It was a great vacation overall & I returned home rejuvenated and I am ready to go. I feel like I have so much energy now and am just straight up pumped about what's goin' down at Ridge right now. But more on that later. Anyway, I think that's what a vacation is supposed to be... a time to get away - relax, reflect, & recharge... that's why I loved it.

Tomorrow I'm going to share some stuff I read in Proverbs today. For now, here's a pic of a beautiful sunset in St. Maarten.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

from miami to the virgin islands

I'm chillin' at a McDonald's here in Miami waiting to get on the cruise ship. Crystal's across from me reading the final book in the Harry Potter series (she's addicted, so I'm not sure what she'll do after finishing this 7th one). We've had a nice stay here in Miami - got to hang out with my good friend (and former pastor/boss/mentor) over the weekend, hung out at South Beach, and been gettin' fat on some pimp Cuban food.

We even had a good drive down here... I finished an awesome book on cd - Deadly Vipers: Character Assassins by Mike Foster. You all need to go read it right now! Mike's doing some amazing stuff too that I'll let you guys know about later. When I get back I'll blog about my takeaways from the book... although Crystal woke up when I was halfway through the book and caught me writing notes from the book while driving on I-95 and that was the end of that.

But now the time has come to board the ship for our 1st ever cruise. We're headed to San Juan, St. John, St. Thomas, & revisiting our honeymoon spot - St. Maarten. I'm looking forward to some nice relaxing chill time on the beautiful beaches. I'm also looking forward to seeing my Heels beat up on Kansas & then either UCLA or Memphis this week.

This will be my 1st Sunday away from Ridge since we launched back in September. The cool thing is that Upstreet is gonna rock because there is an amazing team of peeps who make it happen every week! You guys are the greatest!

So I might have to wait until I get back to Charlotte next Saturday night to post some pics from my trip because I doubt we'll have any internet access. So, if you don't see any new posts for about a week then turn your head slowly to the right and check out the pimp websites I've linked for your pleasure. There is a ton of good stuff there that is way better than this blog. So, check out the other blogs I have linked and make yourelf familiar with the awesome organizations currently chillin' on the right side of your computer screen.

I'm sure I'll have a lot of cool stories to post from our adventures in the islands when I get back. Crystal's trying to talk me into getting a tattoo... we'll see.

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