Saturday, February 13, 2010

Don't worry. I'm a professional.

Over this past week I have been stopped dead in my tracks by three sermons that were preached, by three different people, on the same text. The text was all about fishing (which if you know me, keeps me interested). The scripture was showing us how Jesus sent Simon Peter back out in the boat and he caught more fish than his boat could even hold. Ok. That's stinkin awesome. Can I get a praise the Lord? But obviously that's not the part that God wrecked my life with. I know God can bless us with a "huge catch". My problem is I feel like it is my job to set God up to bless me with catching the mother load of all fish. I always lay my plans out and say God sanctify these plans.. bless these plans.. because obviously I know what I'm doing with my life. I'm a professional at living my life. Just like Simon Peter was a professional fisherman... He knew a whole lot more about fishing than some carpenter/preacher ever dream of knowing. In this passage Simon Peter felt the call from Jesus and listened. He said you know what no matter how tired/hungry/ticked-off I am... I am going to drop my pride. I am going to stray away from my regular/comfortable fishing spots and do what this crazy preacher tells me to do. We all know the story... He catches the mother fish load. But wait a second it's more than that. Jesus say's I am going to change what you are fishing for and the way you do it. He say's I will make you fishers of men... under one stipulation. Drop your nets. Drop everything you have ever known. Drop everything you were raised to do. Drop your career and your steady income. And follow me. What? Are you crazy? Jesus did you see what you did tonight? We were great together. We caught so many fish. We could be a great team. We can be rich. Let's go into business together. No Simon Peter left it all, and followed him. After that decision he was consumed with purpose and passion. He knew that he was living for something. He knew that what he was doing was bigger than keeping the family business going. What he got to do by letting go of his plans, was help make such a change in the world that we still remember him 2000 years later. I think it's about time to stop asking God to sanctify my plans... and to sanctify me.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

God's Love

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how lucky I am to have quite a few certain people in my life. So often you get to thinking how you wish you could tell everyone throughout your life what a difference they've made. That's just something sweet that I think anyone would enjoy hearing, "You've made a difference in my life." Even more than that though, I've been thinking about the enormous difference and great change the Lord has made in my life. I really wanted to share it on here too, in hopes that someone would read it and know what I'm talking about and just share this happiness and maybe share their story. Or in hopes of maybe opening someone's eyes to His love. And Travis, if you're reading this, sorry I did an entry without ya bud. ;)

I also want to say to you though, Travis, that I can't thank God enough for bringing you into my life. I've got some good guy friends, but you're somethin else man. My sweetheart, Melissa, will always be my best friend. But that's a different kind of love and best friend. I want you to know, and your parents if they read this, that you are, and I pray always will be, that other best friend that a guy needs. A "bud" to talk with about absolutely everything and anything. And I'm sure you know what that main thing is I very much enjoy talking with you about. God's love for us. You've said it perfectly many times, it's just real. I hope your parents can always see and really realize what a great man they've raised. I can't thank your sister enough either for introducing us. Thanks Ky! I mean, "The Ruth" haha

And James, Jordan, and Wes, if you guys by chance read this, please know how much I love you guys too. I love spending time with all of you. You're just an absolutely great group of fellas to be around. Thank you so much for that.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about how beautiful God has made life for me now. Of course there are still struggles and troubles and things that I stress about. But never have I realized, so greatly, how amazing it is to have God to turn to about these things. How incredible it is to know, to always know, that He's there to take those things off of my shoulders. Whenever I ask. What a truly amazing God. I love how much Travis puts that out there when we get to talking about Him. And it's true. There are and always will be so many times when we think we can handle a situation by ourselves. Good or bad. But that's not what God wants. He's there to love us and to be there for us, ALWAYS. I know He never says, looking down on us, "Oh, you've got this one." I wish I could just show millions of people that. That He's there for you. I know that I don't always let that sink into my head and I just pray every time I'm not down or stressing that something will be there right away to remind me to just pray and know He's there when I am upset.

He sent me such a beautiful angel to share my life with when He brought Melissa into it. That was the beginning of this huge turn around for me. Trust me when I say, I was NOT a christian before I met her. I drank, I smoked, I cursed like a sailor. And don't get me wrong, a lot of my friends still do these things :) and they are such beautiful and incredible people... friends. But I knew I didn't need to be doing those things. And it's looking back on this now that I realize God was taking part and control plenty before Melissa came along. It wasn't her that got me to quit drinking, but by chance, I quit just before meeting her. That's not lucky timing, that was the big man upstairs setting things up. Same with smoking. Cursing I had to work on. It had literally become part of the way I talked. But I did it. For Melissa. I mean, yeah, some words slip every now and then when I'm on my own. But I realize it right away.

And these are just tiny things. I could literally write on and on about all the perfect timed things He's done in Melissa's and my life. But I did want to write about one of the biggest things He's done that I thank Him for the most. And that was God, through Melissa, shining just a little bit of His light on me. Just enough to show my heart that He is still there. And that He always was.

Melissa and I met to play music together early January 2008. She's a very talented cellist. She plays that cello so beautifully and gracefully. For the longest time I wanted to play with the accompaniment of a cello. I told a friend this and he said, "Oh! You've got to meet a friend of mine. She's so great on the cello!" So we invited her out to a show I was playing that night so I could meet her and she could hear my sound and see if she'd be interested. She was, but without even thinking about it, we parted ways and never exchanged contacts. Of course. haha But that's just it, I wasn't ready for such a beautiful person in my life yet. And God knew that.

Christmas time came along and I had a Christmas show at this great coffee company/shop called Moon Monkey. I played that night with a ridiculously talented friend, Lindsey Czechowicz. Not even a week later there was another coffee shop Christmas show on Olivet's campus. Dec. 12th 2007 at Common Grounds. Whitney Allison, another very talented friend, was singing. And accompanying her, of course, was Melissa. I didn't realize right away that we had met before. When they were done, I went up to her and told her what a great job she did and how sweet she sounded. She looked up at me and said, "I think we've met." And right away I remembered. So I asked, "Well then, would you still be interested in getting something going with music?" And there it was, the start of my life all over again. She gave me her number and email and I wrote her immediately about when we could start practicing. She told me that break was coming up and she'd be heading home for the holidays but we could start as soon as she got back. And we did. We practiced and got to know each other a couple times a week. And more and more she could see that I wasn't a christian and that we were becoming pretty close friends. And that I, indeed, needed God's love. She prayed often for God to soften my heart towards him. And sure enough He was doing that. One night, Melissa prayed for God to just give her a tiny crack in the door of an opportunity to talk about God's love with me. Or just to shine a little light on me. And sure enough, that next evening we had practice, and wouldn't ya know it, I totally, randomly brought up religion. She smiled her gorgeous smile and just for a couple minutes we talked about it.

May came along and two of my best and favorite friends/musicians were getting married. Matt and Dana Yeager. Matt wrote her a song. "The Engagement Song" One of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. Especially by a friend. One night, he asked me if I would sing at his wedding. It was an honor, him even asking me. "Of course bro. You know I would absolutely love to.", I said all choked up. His plan was to teach me "The Engagement Song" and for me to play it at the wedding. So with things going smooth with me and Melissa playing I thought the song would sound incredible with her on the cello. So we wrote a cello part. All of this happened, obviously, before May. And the month and a half leading up to May, Melissa and I practiced the song very often. And it was during one of these practices that religion was brought up. That night, after that practice, I wrote her a good long email about how nice that evening was. How it was really nice to talk a bit more than practice for once. She wrote back agreeing and at the bottom of that message she wrote a simple p.s. that read, "Let me know if you ever want someone to go to church with." So May 17th 2008, Saturday, the night of Matt and Dana's wedding I walked Melissa to her car from the reception and told her before she left, that I would take her up on church in the morning. I've been going to church every Sunday ever since. And absolutely loving it.

It didn't hit me right away of course. I didn't just start going to church again and with the snap of a holy finger become a christian. It took some getting used to just being there. Especially in such a big church that was packed every Sunday. It was pretty overwhelming. But goodness I'll never forget probably a couple months or so into it. I was finally starting to actually sing out loud, and laugh at the pastor's jokes, and talk and meet with others, and just really enjoy myself. It was during a song that it hit me like a brick wall. It was God's love that hit me. And him telling me and making me feel his presence. Making me fully feel that he was there, and there to stay. That He was always there waiting, so lovingly and patiently for me to come back to him. I started weeping and got so weak in the knees and said over and over softly with my eyes closed tight, "I'm here for you now, Lord. I'm here and listening and ready to follow." And I still am, and I will always be ready to drop my nets and follow Him. I pray so often that He uses the musical gift He gave me to spread His love and His beautiful word. I pray that I was somehow able to to whoever may be reading this. And whoever that may be, please know that I love you. And I thank you for reading this.

God bless and be well.

~Lupe Carroll

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Settlers of Catan

Well, before I actually go ranting on about one of the most amazing games ever made on the face of this earth Trav and I just want to shout out to our fellow blogger and inspiration for our blog, Kylee "The Ruth" Dawson. Also, we just want to shout out to all our fellow bloggers around the world. We hope you dig what we're all about. Boom!

So, about Settlers. It's taken our life by storm. And that's fine, because it is the perfect storm as far as I'm concerned. And we do not want this storm to ever... and I mean EVER, calm down. In fact, we hope it some how turns into a ginormous tornado and sucks the world up. Oh yeah, a big ol' expansion pack tornado. And seriously, if you've ever played the game, don't act like you're not feeling this.

Funny how one thing leads to another. The other night, we began playing Settlers around 10pm. It was a Thursday night and our hombre, James, had just rolled in from hangin with the lady at about 11:30. He sees us finishing up a game and obviously wanted in on another round. So DUH, we kicked that next game off. Now, before I go on, I need to throw out there that the coming weekend I, Lupe, had a wedding to sing at. The rehearsal was the next day, Friday. And the wedding itself was Saturday. I needed sleep, and I really needed to listen to and learn the couple of songs for the wedding. Okay, now back to our story. So James got comfy as Travis reset the board and then we were off to Catan town. This magical game had us in it's grasp for a good hour and a half. Which a good game will usually do. After that game it was probably close to 1am and naturally James and I started getting in the wrap-the-night-up mode. The lights were shut off. I had my coat and shoes on. James was dressed for bed, but Travis, on the other hand, had some different plans. He used his good ol' famous phrase, "Come on guys, you only live once. And it's really not even that late. This is what college life is all about." And in record time, he had that freaking addicting drug of a game board set up. It was glorious. And you can't say no to gloriousness with it's beaming rays of holy light blinding you with love, comfort, and pure unadulterated addiction. So there we were back in Catan. To stay.

At about 2:30am I was dead set on leaving to get rest and learn those songs for the wedding. But no, Travis wasn't havin it. He made pot, after pot, after steaming pot of coffee. And seriously, before this night I DID NOT like black coffee. When I would make a cup of coffee I'd make it look like chai tea. But guess what I'm in love with now? What's that you guessed? Black coffee? Good job. We must have drank 6 or 7 cups each. I mean, our hearts were straight up beating as weird as a Carter Beauford drum solo. So again, in his convincing voice, Travis threw out there, "Dude, I'll seriously buy those 2 songs right now on itunes and put them on repeat so you can learn them while we're playing." So for some reason I thought, "Yeah, that's a good idea" And there we were again, settling in for another wondrous game.

After playing that "last" game we were completely and totally delirious. So delirious that we actually, without even thinking about it, started another game. We decided that since the sun would be coming up soon, we would actually call it quits after this one. Only on the game of course. Because after that we were heading on out to Cracker Barrel. And we didn't just make that a normal trip either. James started shouting in the parking lot at 6am (when Cracker Barrel opens, if you didn't know), (with strong southern drawl)"Hey you guys, lets pretend we've been drivin' on the road all night from somewhere real far down south!" I shouted, "Georgia!" And so there we were, some hillbillies from somewhere down in Georgia with no idea as to where we were going. The funny part of this situation was that we all had on an article of clothing that said otherwise. Travis was wearing an ONU shirt (college that's in the same town we were in), James had on a shirt and headband/ear warmers with Ohio State written all over them, and I had a Tern of the Wheel Bike Shop shirt on (another spot here in town) But still, for some reason we thought it best to stick with our Georgia story. We ate as much of our breakfast as we could.

We split in the parking lot, finally ending this unforgettable journey. We hugged and hopped on our horses and road away. I got home, passed out on the couch at 7am exactly, then set my alarm for 11am to hopefully somehow get 4 hours of sleep. Of course that didn't happen. Trav left straight from breakfast for work. And James luckily had nothing going on til 2:30. But no matter what we had going on that day or how much sleep we did or didn't get or how easy we managed to take it, we felt hungover and a half from the gallons of caffeine and the obnoxious laughing. None the less, it was such a beautiful night that we spent in the glorious land of Catan.

Good times.

God bless. Be well.

~Lupe and Trav

p.s. Thank you again, Kylee. This is gonna be fun. ;)