Monday, August 24, 2009

Boma Tour!

During the summer, we had the privilege of staying 3 nights in Maasai homes. Follow Elise as she gives a tour of a home where we stayed...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rocky Top-Kenyan Style

Over the next few days I'll be posting a variety of pictures, thoughts, and videos from my summer in Kenya...this is the first of these posts.

Every week, it seems, I see something about Tim Tebow doing a form of mission work overseas. I think it's great, and I applaud him honoring God with his fame. He just makes one mistake...Tim teaches all these kids that ridiculous Gator backwards clap...such a shame! Now there are all these kids who have learned the wrong way to clap and will certainly be mocked if they should ever travel abroad!

To combat this internationally, I decided to teach my standard 5 class how to sing "Rocky Top." Bringing a little extra culture to the nations right? I couldn't resist.

I made this with the intention that it would be just for Chris...I'm sad that he never did...somewhere he's smiling about it...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chris is home

In case you've not already heard...

Thursday evening about 6:00 PM, Chris passed away.

I was on the road, headed from Kingsport to Knoxville in a rush. Emily had called me just before, saying to get there as soon as possible...Chris didn't have much longer.

As we reached I-40 the phone rang and I knew immediately...Sue, Chris's mom simply said "Matt, he's gone."

Losing him isn't's not easy for any of us here...especially for Emily. But I can honestly say that I'm at peace because he's not suffering.

Chris had two homes...Kingsport and Maryville, so we'll have services in both places

The first will be in at First Christian Church in Kingsport on Monday the 10th. Visitation will be from 6-7 with the service following.

In Maryville, we'll be at Madison Avenue Baptist Church on Saturday the 15th at 3:30 in the afternoon.

In my previous post, you read of God speaking to me through the song "Fix You." In the moment my phone rang with the news awaiting, we were listening to that very song in the car. I don't know how much clearer God could be...He fixed Chris.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What I never wanted to write- update on Chris

This is an update on my best friend Chris update I never wanted to write.

About a year ago, Chris began his fight with brain cancer. Encouraged by the support of his family and myriad of loving friends, and strengthened by his unwavering faith in Jesus, Chris battled with titanic courage. Despite setbacks and struggles, Chris continued to fight. Before his third operation he was confronted with the fact that the procedure could render his left side motionless. Chris didn't care. He kept on...all with a positive attitude.

Three brain operations in one year has just been too much for his body to endure. My heart breaks to write this, but the time has come. He's not responding to treatment and his body is spent. Now it's time for him to be comfortable, to rest, and to go home. The doctors estimate now that it will be a matter of days.

The news is devastating for Emily, for Gracie, his baby girl, for his family, and for the rest of us. We want him here...we don't know how to handle what comes next. And on our own, we can't.

My heart breaks for Emily and Gracie and his family...and he's always been beyond a friend to me...he's a true my heart also breaks for me.

I have no profound or insightful take on heart just hurts. So let me tell you of a moment when God spoke to me about Chris...

Back in December, Chris had his second operation, and I was afraid then that we were going to lose him. I caught a flight to Knoxville to be by his side and as my the plane was landing, God had something to say to me.

I fell asleep listening to my ipod, thus not turning it off as the plane landed. The wheels hit the runway and I awakened to the sound of "Fix You" by Coldplay playing through my headphones. My stomach then sunk with the reality of the best friend's life was on the line. As the song continued I heard:

"High up above or down below, when you're too in love to let it go"

And I thought, yea...I'm not willing to let him go...and neither is anyone else. He deserves to be here...his wife needs him, his baby girl needs him, we all need him.

It continues:
"And I will try, to fix you."

Then I kept saying to God, "Fix him...fix him!! Fix his body! I know that doctors can't, God but you can fix him! Please Lord...fix my friend."

The lyrics progressed:
"Tears stream, down your face, when you lose something you cannot replace."

I said to God "He's not replaceable...don't take him. He cannot be replaced."
And then the conclusion of the song:
"Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you."

At that point, God said to me: "Matt, I've already fixed him."

He's right. Jesus already fixed him. Chris is ok. He was fixed the day that he gave his life to Christ...he's been fixed ever since. His body was broken then and is more broken now...but so is your body and mine...we're all broken.

In the end those bodies don't matter...the Father of lights will guide him home.
God gave me that solace in December, and 8 months later as he's on the cusp of seeing that glorious remains.

I'm not used to this...I'm used to being on the other end...listening to someone share of a loss, my heart breaking for them and feeling useless and helpless-both are difficult. So in reading this, you may feel the same way. But you can help. Here's what you can do.

1. Pray for Emily, Grace, and his family.
2. Send Emily letters of love and encouragement and share stories and memories of Chris with her. To do so, write on the guestbook at his caringbridge page at:
3. In lieu of flowers, send a contribution. For information on how to do so, contact me.

To conclude, paul said it well:

Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corinthians 13:12

Monday, August 3, 2009

Car Shopping... the Glorious Injustice

I'm a car guy...have been for as long as I could be called a guy and not a boy. I come by it honestly, my dad has always had cool cars...none of them were expensive, just cool. So from childhood I always appreciated a good that stands out among the drudgery of Chevy Cavaliers, Ford Tauruses, Toyota Camrys, and Honda Civics overwhelming the road.

So now, here I am 25 years old, and need a car. My old car (a sort of cool 97 Saab 900s) bit the dust in April and I sold it in May. Understanding that I have a limited budget ($4500 max), and need something both economical and reliable, I've prepared myself to cross the line between cool car (something European/rare) and mundane. I've even accepted the idea that I could be driving an American car, which I usually find to be entirely inferior to their Japanese and European counterparts.

With those things in mind I set off today, feeling like I'd find a gem.

My optimism was soon quelled...

A local dealer had a 1997 Nissan Maxima for sale. It was loaded up, in great shape, and 100,000 miles. Mildly cool car, but still bland. Even so, bland often equals reliable so I felt good about finding something mildly cool (not to mention it had leather seats and all the bells and whistles that my Saabs have had).

I'm no dummy...I came in armed with the knowledge that the value of this car, even in it's exquisite condition is $4000. Considering that I'm a wheeler and dealer and a generally likable guy, I figured $3500.

Now for the gory details...
The salesman and I were walking to the car and the following transaction took place:

Salesman: Matt, what are you looking to spend
Me: Under 5k
Salesman: *Silence* Well, um, we should probably not even look at this car
Me: *confused* Huh?
Salesman: The price is $8700 but our Internet price is $7900
Me: What? Really? This is a $4000 car! (I was a little off...but not much)
Salesman: Yes, but it's really nice.
Me: *half confused half incredulous* I know you're not the sales manager, but why is it so much?
Salesman: Where else are you going to find a 97 Maxima with only 100,000 miles?
Me: It's 12 years old! I can find a 12 year old car with 100,000 miles anywhere
Salesman: Yea but it's really nice.
Me:'re asking almost 9 grand! Your competitor down the road has a 2000 Saab 9-3 Viggen for 9 grand.
Salesman: What's that?
Me: *shaking my head* A souped up Saab...very rare it was over $40k. (not to mention it's definitely cool)
Salesman: *blank stare*
Me:'re asking double it's value.
Salesman: But it's really nice.

I was dumbfounded. The sad thing is, some poor sap who doesn't know better will go in and pay 7 grand for that car. He'll be surprised by the clean leather, responsive engine, and various features and make a terrible financial decision.

For the next several hours, I scoured the town for the perfect ride. Unfortunately, the only cars in my price range fell into one of these categories:

Has Beens: cars that were once nice, but were maintained by either vikings or bears
Trash: cars that were never good...the day they left the factory they were as quality as a week old gas station cheeseburger
Beaters: ripped seats, no a/c, and a slipping transmission. "Honest Bill" says it was owned by his late grandmother

I feel simultaneously rich and utterly broke with my $3500

So the search continues. I'm stubborn. Really stubborn. I won't be ripped off and I still want to toe the line between responsible purchase and cool car.

I could get a Land Rover Discovery...which is about an 8 on the cool chart. But considering their terrible reliability record and ghastly 16 mpg, it's about a 1 on the responsibility chart.

I could get a Ford cool as Rick responsible as Aunt Bea

Anyway...for all of you who have fought and lost...that have succumbed to the agony of car shopping and relented to paying for rust proofing...that have driven off in a car you liked for 2 weeks...I'm gonna win one for us all.