Lions & Trees, You & Me

Sitting in the garden alone,

            I pray out to the Lord who sits on His throne.

I marvel at His majesty,

            and wonder why He would ever think of me.

I am just a sinful man,

            tainted by the world, with sin on my hands.

The words I pray are quiet and small;

            how could they ever matter to the Lord of All?

 

Sunday morning we all sing,

            lifting up our voices in praise to the King.

Some will raise their hands to the sky

            while others will kneel down to pray and to cry.

In unison we glorify,

            but our words are often empty and our hearts so dry.

Five hundred voices harmonize,

            and yet they do no justice to the Lord on High.

 

Angels in the heavenly clouds,

            dancing and rejoicing and shouting out loud.

It’s an overwhelming sight,

            joyful explosions of both sound and light.

Even the lions and the trees

            are leaping in worship and bowing on their knees.

But still it’s simply not enough

            to glorify a God who is so glorious.

 

Yet somehow God is more than pleased;

            He’s filled with joy at the dancing of the trees.

He’s also honored by our songs;

            even sung by sinners, He’d hear us all day long.

He is even happy with me;

            a long lost son who’s come home on his knees.

Our God is oh so glorious,

            yet He still longs to love and be loved by us.

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Box of Dreams

I used to roam the neighborhood,
When I was just a kid dreaming like everybody should.
I kept my head up in the clouds,
Always speaking soft but thinking things out loud.

You know, the years kept rolling by,
Dream after dream would get left by the wayside.
I wish it hadn’t happened that way,
I don’t know where they went but guess what I found today.

A “Box of Dreams”
Overflowing at the seams,
My “Box of Dreams”
Still shining bright like sunbeams!
That “Box of Dreams”
Is so much more than it would seem
So won’t you please
Start your very own “Box of Dreams”!

I used to run all over the town,
My heart would speed up but my thoughts would slow right down.
I kept my eyes out in front of me,
Ready to discover whatever I was meant to be.

But life got busy, you know,
I had to work to pay to live to see tomorrow.
So I started thinking a lot,
But living in the past I know I’ll miss what the future’s got.

A “Box of Dreams”
Overflowing at the seams
My “Box of Dreams”
Still shining bright like sunbeams!
That “Box of Dreams”
Is so much more than it would seem
So won’t you please
Start your very own “Box of Dreams”!

Now I keep my head up high,
I’m dreaming every day but my eyes are open wide.
My feet are firm on the ground,
Chasing all those dreams that I used to give the run around.

I like to write my thoughts out,
So whenever people read them they’ll know what I’m all about.
So, friend, if you’re ever free,
Start a list, fill a box with everything you’ve ever dreamed.

A “Box of Dreams”
Overflowing at the seams
My “Box of Dreams”
Still shining bright like sunbeams!
That “Box of Dreams”
Is so much more than it would seem
So won’t you please
Start your very own “Box of Dreams”!

Así Soñamos

Soy como las nubes que flotan arriba,
sin peso, e intocable.
Soy como las brisas que provienen del mar,
presente, pero invisible.
Vacías son las palabras que me dicen,
falsas las sonrisas.
Huecas son las almas que me enfrentan,
blancas las páginas.
Los ojos que me miran no me ven,
sino pasan a través de mi.
Las palabras se dirigen en mi dirección,
pero no me llegan a mi.

Siento que son sinceras,
que sus palabras son genuinas.
Quiero creer en sus promesas,
que su apoyo llegará en algún momento.
Les miro a los ojos y pienso,
me ven a mi también.
Les cuento mi historia y confío,
me escuchan y recordarán.
Pero miles de miradas he compartido,
y muy pocas perduran.
Miles de veces he compartido mi corazón,
y muy pocos se acuerdan.

Sé que el mundo les llama,
y que sus días deben estar llenos.
Sé que la vida es complicada,
y que hay un montón de cosas que hacer.
Sé que lo que pido puede ser difícil,
pero no pensaba que era tanto.
Sé que lo que quiero puede ser mucho,
pero no sabía que sería para tanto.
Pero después de todos mis intentos,
parece que es así.
Después de todos mis esfuerzos,
realmente es así.

Nunca me creí egoista,
de hecho me creo humilde.
Nunca me tomé por exigente,
de hecho pido súper poco.
Lo que pido en el fondo es simple,
es algo realmente básico.
Lo que busco no debe ser tan raro,
debe ser dado por hecho.
Lo que pido debe ser algo común,
pero no.
No lo es.

Cuando me miran con sus ojos,
sólo pido que me vean…
Cuando me oyen con sus oídos,
sólo pido que me escuchen…
Cuando prometen ayudarme,
sólo pido que cumplan…
Cuando me dicen palabras,
sólo pido que sean sinceras…
Y cuando les cuento mi historia,
sólo pido que la recuerden…
Así soñamos las brisas del mar,
y las nubes del cielo como yo.

Stormy Soul

Outside there’s a storm,

A rain so strong that it soaks everything..

Rooftops, clothes, skin, and even bones.

Not even our dreams escape the fury that falls from the sky.

That sky went dark, some time ago.

There remains no shining sun, no light, and no hope.

The darkness covers the earth like a heavy blanket

And it’s oppressive with its deep, dark obscurity.

Even in the depth of our souls we feel the weight of the night,

Dark and black.

The light of the day has fled,

And along with her the light we call hope.

The one who sent the storm wanted it this way,

Terrifying.

 

But beneath this rooftop there’s a living being.

And though the clothes are soaking wet

There’s a warmth that exists inside and it emanates outward.

The skin, also wet, holds inside its bones,

Likewise drenched by the heaviness of night.

But between these bones there’s a soul,

And this soul possesses all that’s required,

Not just to survive but to overcome,

To shine.

The storm, the obscurity, the rain, the night, the darkness;

They’re all overcome by the strength of our souls,

By the brilliant light that radiates in every direction,

By the faith that’s found within.

This faith, this light, and this strength are more than enough.

They pursue the night and they erase it,

Shadow by shadow each corner is rid of the darkness

And the pure light of truth is left in its place.

Not one drop of night remains where the light of day shines,

And not one drop of doubt remains in the soul that knows this light.

Though storms will come and darkness will press,

The strength, purity, hope, and truth that reside with the light will always triumph.

And this radiant, perfect light will evermore endure.

HIGH

Two months out from a big race and I decide to go for a training run. I get ready, mentally and physically, plug into my running playlist and take off. There’s a route I like that heads toward the highway and crosses over into a peaceful countryside. It’s sometimes louder, colder and windier, but to me it far outweighs being chased by dogs in the town center. So, I cross the bridge over the highway and get a glimpse of the trail ahead, beaten down on by warm rays of sunshine. It’s a welcome sight after a few days of rain kept me from heading out. I round the corner fronting the fields and run parallel to the highway, looking not towards the sporadic passing of trucks but towards the country, and towards the sky. In this moment I see the clouds part and the sun burst through in a way I haven’t seen in some time. People say not to look at the sun, but I can’t refuse. It’s as if the heavens are opening up. The warmth that’s beating on my chest and face is indescribable, and I’m filled with an overflowing peace and joy. An infectious wellspring explodes within me and I begin to rejoice as I run. I’m literally pointing to the skies and jumping, leaping and fist pumping. It’s as if I’m celebrating a goal at the World Cup; a goal that I’ve scored. That’s the kind of elation that I’m feeling. There exists this thing that people call a “running high,” a sort of euphoria experienced by distance runners when they reach this point of pure bliss and feel an extra jolt of energy. There also exists this thing that people call a “spiritual high.” This high refers to a place of spiritual satisfaction, peace, understanding and joy, often brought upon by retreat, meditation, or witnessing some miracle or conversion. And while this was likely somewhat a combination of the two, it was certainly more of the latter. I was high on running, on life, and on the Spirit. As the skies parted before me I witnessed a coming of light that I’d never seen before except in my soul. In my own heart, soul and spirit I’ve experienced bursts like this before, but this time it was different. It coincided with an explosion of light before my own eyes. The way the light refracted through the clouds amplified it in a way that made it otherworldly. I literally felt as if God was beaming down on me, lifting my spirit, warming my soul. He was cracking through the skies like a beacon, sweeping aside the darkness of this world as dust is taken by the wind. And there I was, leaping and rejoicing along the side of the highway, celebrating the grace that He pours down on us. I felt energized and relaxed at the same time. Despite the fact that I was salted with sweat, I felt cleansed. The joy that came over me was pure. The way my soul was renewed was breathtaking. And all that I felt was directly from God. As I continued running I dwelt on that moment, even as the clouds rolled back over the sun. That moment, that sunburst, that high, lingered in my soul, beneath my breast. And it still does some two days later. I’m consistently reminded and blown away by the mercy of our God, the way He renews us and cleanses us, the way He provides and cares for us. But above all, I’m flat out astounded at the way He loves us. Whether it’s apparent or not, I’ve spent days trying to formulate the words to describe this experience, and I’m still struggling to find them. Words aren’t sufficient; they fall short. And they will always fall short when we attempt to use them to describe our God, our Creator, our Savior, our Redeemer. I’m still blown away by this moment that I was gifted, but there is one thing that saddens me. The more I think about it the more I realize that God deserves that celebration, that jubilation, at all times. We should be on fire for Him, incapable of keeping His magnificence to ourselves. But it’s more often the opposite. We struggle to motivate ourselves. We lack the boldness, the gall, the strength, to step up and say something. Being loved and saved by the Creator of the universe deserves a celebration and euphoria far beyond that of a World Cup goal, or any other petty thing that we rave over. But we get things mixed up. Our priorities are wrong. We’ve got it all backwards. We give God ten percent and the world the rest. In reality, we should give God all that we’ve got. He deserves more than our lives are even worth. But instead He comes down to earth. He descends from on High, and dwells among us. Then, to top it all off, He dies in our place. We have life because He loves us to the grave. We have breath in our lungs and hope in our hearts because that grave cannot hold Him. Death cannot hold Him. He is greater. He is far greater. And now He’s exalted on High, at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and His Spirit dwells within us. In moments that are all too rare, we take notice of what this Spirit within us is saying. In moments like the one I experienced on my run, we realize that we have things backwards. So, I will continue to rejoice. I will continue to skip and jump and pound my chest and pump my fist and exalt the One who deserves all praise, the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. Rejoice. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Today It Has

A subtle mist descends upon us,

            fogging up our memories,

                        weighing on our minds.

The heavy cloud hovers above,

             surrounding our escapes,

                        but blocking out our fears.

It suspends gently, yet ominously,

            causing trepidations in our bones,

                        but instilling comfort in our souls.

The grey sky is infused with white,

            a mystical blend of stormy skies,

                        a pensive reprieve from the blue.

An eerie silence resounds,

            empty and disconcerting,

                        yet peaceful and profound.

Time has been grasped at last,

            neither advancing nor receding,

                         but rather idling, as never before.

We can’t help but to awe,

            to marvel at the stillness,

                        to rejoice in the purity of the moment.

Never has such tranquility rained,

            never has such solace descended,

                        never has such peace presented itself.

But today,

            in the sound of silence,

                        in the shape of a misty cloud…

It has.

Stepping Out: Araucanía Jones

above the hills, above the clouds

above the hills, above the clouds.

This past weekend I went along with my host father to the mountains. We went hiking and exploring on a two-day, overnight trip. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but there’s no way I could have predicted exactly what the next two days would hold. It was an adventure to remember! We headed out of town on the dirt road that led into the wilderness. It was just about wide enough for two cars, but we drove in the middle whenever possible to avoid the slant of the road. I quickly found out that the drive was the beginning of our adventure…

Have you ever been on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland? This was kind of like that. Except, instead of being fixed on a track, we were on an open road, almost fishtailing on numerous occasions. Instead of lasting three minutes, the drive took an hour. And instead of going 15 kilometers per hour we flew a solid 85 (Mom, if you’re reading this, don’t worry, I’m alive)!

Anyhow, we arrived and parked the van. We walked up into the hills looking for a trail, but there wasn’t one, so naturally we made one. I have the scars to prove it. We climbed for a while, randomly stopping to take pictures, but when we reached the peak, it was breathtaking. The sky was such a pure blue, the trees so incredibly dense, and the view was stunning. It was definitely worth the hike.

My host father, whom I have now dubbed Araucanía Jones, is an animal. He’s 60 something years old but you wouldn’t know it by watching him scale mountains. He mows down trees like nothing. He doesn’t even look at the ground to see where he’s stepping. He doesn’t need maps either; he just remembers which way he needs to go, and heads in that general direction. He told me he’s traveled up and down all of Chile, and he doesn’t like going anywhere twice. That’s why we set out to climb this peak that he had never summited before. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a way to get to the top, but I’m not sure that it’d be possible without climbing (and lumberjack) gear. After all, we were in a national park, and most of the mountains were marked on the map, but this one wasn’t. Probably a reason for that! Nonetheless, we saw some outstanding landscapes.

I also discovered some new flora and fauna that I was previously unfamiliar with. Two of these, I swear, are straight out of a Dr. Seuss book: the Araucaria tree and the Chucao bird. The Araucaria tree is covered with green spikes right when it sprouts out of the ground. It then grows incredibly tall and its wiry, squiggly branches unfold at the top. The trunk is then adorned with a green, spider-like silk that I believe is a natural product of the tree. It’s a super interesting specimen. The Chucao I never actually saw, but I heard it plenty of times. I literally almost laughed every time it sang out. It sounded so cool!

We camped over night and made some steaks, which naturally we ate with our bare hands (I mean, we are men). We then slept, both of us, on a single twin-sized mattress, in the back of the van. I didn’t sleep much… But morning came and we did some more exploring. He led me to a beautiful lake, a gorgeous waterfall, and a small lagoon that was a slice of paradise. The colors in the pond were out of a fantasy movie, so vibrant and vivid. It was such a beautiful place. I’m excited to explore some more of Chile, especially with my own personal guide, Araucanía Jones.