Why Me?

Tiny QAfter leaving my full time job at the end of 2012, I quickly became aware that I did not trust God. This was a bit of a revelation to me.

Having no idea how I was going to pay my bills in life’s new context, I wasted many otherwise wonderful days by allowing myself to be crippled with worry.

Now, two years later, my life is working in such a way that I cannot fully comprehend it nor explain it. Most interesting to me is that most of my own effort to seemingly force things to happen have ended in futility.

However, I have been experiencing developments on a number of fronts both vocationally and ministerially that at first I perceived as flukes. However, their longevity and regularity has been so evident that one would prove themselves unreasonable to not consider some measure of design to them.

I just got a private message this morning from a pastor in Massachusetts whose church we stopped at simply to take in the service on the way down to Texas during the Spokes and Jokes trip almost one year ago.

We already have made arrangements for me to speak at a church engagement in the middle of May (the night after I speak at a church in NH), but now I am being invited to speak a week or so earlier than that as well at another engagement.

But I have not been pushing hard for this. I have been praying for God to bless the main areas of my regular employment, however, which are currently the following:

- Promotions Director at Grace Evangelical College & Seminary

- Subcontracted mobile device repair (iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc)

- Speaking engagements (both comedy and otherwise) through (chrisQuimby.com)

- Graphic design work through my small company, Nachotree Print & Digital Design

I’m currently busy with all three, and in ways that I cannot take much credit for. I have two speaking engagements this month, three in May (all out-of-state), and one booked for July already.

Also, I fix mobile devices with a friend of mine. We schedule times to get together to work, usually when there is no work for me to complete. However, just about every time, by the time I arrive, there is enough paid work to keep me busy almost the entire time.

So now I sit here, careful to not use this blog to set any undue attention on myself, but desiring to share what I determine to be God’s faithfulness with those that need to be reminded of its reality.

Now sure, there are a good many people who do not accept the reality of the God that pursues me. That is of little concern to me, since reality does not depend on popular vote nor mental assent. It either is or isn’t.

But as we each rest ourselves in whichever understandings we have of the origins of the world we live in and the purposes for mankind, I offer this. I, like you, am curious why I am here, how I and others in my species came to be, and whether there are any plans for my life.

As I, to what small degree I am willing and able, submit myself to the clear and bold answers to such questions provided in the Holy Bible, I develop an appetite to feast on the evidences of provision by a Creator who said He is faithful.

I have been in no way disappointed. I am learning to trust more in God. I wish to thank him for having patience with me, and for making my life so colorful and interesting.

What did I do this summer?

IMG_1760Hey, I’m Chris Quimby’s daughter, Emma. You may have been reading my blogs throughout the adventure. I know that the trip is over, but I have a blog, still! :)

In school I was asked to write a at least two page essay on what I did this summer. This was extremely easy thanks to the trip! I just wanted to share with you what I wrote about the trip. I won’t bore you with the rest of the report.

What I Did This Summer

By: Emma Quimby ♥

Looking back on this summer I would have to say that it was the best that I have ever had. It was eminently amazing and fabulously enjoyable, not to mention particularly unique . My most recent summer experience will probably prevail with the title “best” for a few more years, too. That is unless my summers keep getting better, which I can’t imagine!

The two major things that I did this summer were; 1. I went on a road trip from Maine to Texas with my family., and 2. I worked with the horses at a Christian summer camp.  I will explain the road trip to Texas first, as that would be honoring the chronological order of things.

This would be the explanation of how I ended up on a road trip to Texas. My dad had the crazy idea to ride his bicycle from Maine to Texas. Yes, all the way. And we did. Leaving at the end of April planning to return to our residence in Brooks, Maine sometime in the middle of July we set off on this crazy adventure.

Me, my mother, and my 14 year old brother were all part of  my biking Dad’s sag vehicle; driving the same roads as him, albeit at faster speeds due to the fact that we were all in our, though tightly packed, comfortable van. Now I call it “our” van, however, this van was not ours. We stole it. Just kidding. Actually, some very generous family offered us their own van to use on the multi thousand mile trip halfway across the country. Talk about generous. But that was not the only thing that was lent to us. Oh, no it wasn’t. Everybody was so incredibly generous to us. There is no way that we could have done this without all the amazing people that came to our aid. we raised, though free will donations that my Dad did for a few months prior to the trip, thousands of dollars. Thousands. The van was lent to us, the bike my dad rode was lent to us, the tent we used was borrowed, the storage unit on our van followed suit, our van GPS, Dad’s bike GPS, all of this and so much more was lent/given to us to help facilitate this amazing adventure.

During the trip we stayed in peoples homes; invoking a substantial decrease in our accommodations and food budgets. But it wasn’t good for that reason only, it ended up being the best part. To meet so many people, stay in their homes and really get to know them, and to learn about so many different subjects just by intelligent conversations was a truly ameliorating experience.

A few of the more exciting things that we did were seeing Luray Caverns in Virginia, going to a couple zoos, one in Virginia, one in Arkansas, and the Forth worth Zoo in Texas, and we got to go to a few museums. We also visited Gettysburg battlefield, and we did a couple other things that may be escaping my mind at the moment. Through this whole experience I learned an awful lot about all sorts of things.

I tend to thrive on human interaction and enjoy it immensely. This trip, obviously, involved a whole lot of that and I would say that the majority of what I learned was simply through conversations with the people who we were hosting us for the evening(s). I love to ask people questions about things that they are knowledgeable about, oftentimes being their occupations and hobbies.

 

SEPTEMBER 9, 2013: First Post-trip Spokes and Jokes Performance

logosYears ago, with little experience in comedy, I’d ponder often how I should come across on stage. Who should I pattern my act after? Should my delivery be like Steve Martin? Stephen Wright? Should my material be silly one-liners? Long stories?

Should I be a Christian comedian or a comedian who’s a Christian? Is there a difference?

After years of accumulated introspection and additional experience, I arrived at my conclusion.

I should be myself.

Sometimes we make things more complicated than they need be. This was one such example.

So, as I prepared for my first speaking engagement about the trip since returning home, I had many questions and a bit of frustration. The show was two days ago, on Saturday, September 7, 2013.

Wanting to find a unique mix of stupid humor and spiritual inspirational and challenge, I wrote two outlines that veered from my natural style of speaking. When going through them, none of them felt natural.

I finally decided that I was basically going to “wing it”. I wrote out a bunch of story ideas that I would be able to choose from, but I wanted to have freedom to follow trains of thought as they came and, as I mentioned that night, “follow the streams of consciousness that meander and wind through the pastures of my mind – which are adequately fertilized”.

It went great. I babbled and jumped from story to story, finally ending with a challenge and prayer for the attendees to give God more and pursue Him into areas where they must trust Him, and thereby grow in their relationship and understanding of His goodness.

I heard good things from those that attended. People laughed at the appropriate times, which was very encouraging, since many of the jokes were made up on the spot, attempts by me to just relax and be myself, like I would if everyone was simply chilling out in my living room while I shared what was on my heart and mind.

Many thanks to Scott and Annie Wilhite, who hosted the event at their new developing Christian education center, Logos Learning Center in Parkman, and to all of those who attended.

My next scheduled show is Saturday, September 28 at 7:00pm at Fair Haven Camps, 81 West Fair Haven Lane in Brooks, Maine. All voluntary proceeds gathered at the event go to the camp to help them close a financial gap.

I’d love to see you there.

AUGUST 30, 2013: REACHing Grace

terrysmithJust to be clear, the photo on the left is not of me.

I am actually going to write a short blog. I think.

I always set out to do that, then I spill a bunch of words from my head.

Basically, let me say this. I’m enjoying my life a lot more lately. The garden that I planted in despair is starting to bear fruit.

I’m thankful to God for the harvest.

The photo is of Terry Smith. He lobbied aggressively for me to become the marketing and recruitment director at Grace Evangelical College and Seminary and Bangor. Dr. Smith is the Dean of the small school that we are going to work together to grow.

We will work, God will take care of the growth (both in quality and quantity).

I will say this in my effort of brevity – I met with the trustees on Thursday night before they made their decision. I was able to be myself and they even prayed for me after the group interview. It was a very comfortable environment.

I loved it.

Spokes and Jokes taught me some things about myself, one of the main ones being that if I believed in what I was doing, I was capable of a great many things I didn’t before think I was.

That was refreshing.

Now I have the opportunity to throw my efforts at growing the student body of this young institution. I am very optimistic and ready to give it my all. I thank the decision-makers at the school for the opportunity.

I will not let you down.

On Tuesday, in an event that deserves a blog of its own, I shared for my fourth consecutive and last Tuesday evening at Reach in Brewer.. I had such a good time each week and loved the opportunity to do ministry with this group of 18-30 year olds. This is the kind of thing that gets me pumped.

We brought a young lady from our church who attends the University of Maine at Orono. She needs to get into fellowship with other Christians in the area up there and she met a bunch, has ride arrangements now to attend each week, and she had a wonderful time.

I drove away from dropping her off at her house that night. Heather held her hand and prayed for her and I just drove home thinking that I very easily could have wasted my night sitting around and watching some stupid waste of a television show that seemed important, but was a waste of time.

When Jesus says the harvest is ready, he ain’t playin’. So what if what we’re spending our time doing isn’t as bad as it could be. It’s also often not as good as it could be.

Lord, help me find these opportunities. They do not leave a bitter aftertaste.

I am so thankful for the blessings we enjoyed this week. My God knows my needs and provides in His way and in His timing.

Praise Jesus for his care.

OK. That was as short as I get. I would never survive on Twitter. I can’t even burp in 144 characters or less.

AUGUST 27, 2013: Regrets and Monday Morning Quarterbacking

BDNLast Friday, I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend the celebration of a friend of mine. Sam is a giant of stature and heart. I shared a lot of time working beside him while employed as a graphic designer at the Bangor Daily News.

He recently decided to accept a position with another employer and a few dozen present and past employees gathered at The Charles Inn in downtown Bangor to express our appreciation for our relationship with Sam and wish him well in his future endeavors.

One of my favorite memories of Sam is his willingness upon request to put me on the back of his 6’10″ frame and carry me around the graphics department. In my eleven years at the newspaper, he was the only employee of whom I asked this.

One for one.

But, being that I have not worked there for almost two whole years, much of the conversation directed my way involved queries regarding how I’m doing, the intentions of which I’m sure are to express concern for a friend and to assess what life might be like “on the outside”.

I remember from the movie, “Shawshank Redemption” being introduced to the concept of institutionalization. Men in the prison who one would expect to be excited upon expectation of their release after decades in bondage actually had little interest in leaving the culture that had become familiar to them.

The outside world seemed scary and unfamiliar.

My main reason for leaving my great full-time job almost 24 months ago was that I regarded a fear within myself that I disrespected. It became apparent to me that one of the main reasons for me considering staying at the BDN was that I was afraid to not work there anymore.

It seemed illogical when I meditated upon the thought. I mean, think about it. There were only a handful of other people in the world who had my particular job, and many of the other people in the world were doing fine.

It became clear to me that my job was occupying too great of a place of adoration, worship and trust in my life. I imagined that, if I left, God would immediately reward me with something even greater for my act of faith.

Things did not work out quite like Heather and I figured.

So were we wrong to do what we did in leaving?

Such a question was asked of us by a BDN veteran at the party.

“Do you regret leaving?”

Without hesitation, I answered no. And I meant it. The certainty with which I answered surprised even me.

To clarify, I added that I missed the paycheck, some of the people, the uniformity of my schedule and the sense of purpose, but ultimately, I felt it was something I was supposed to do.

In the Bible, God declares that He thinks differently than we do. I think it’s safe to assume that He is not just expressing that He’s smarter, but that His understanding of life, value and purpose are completely different than ours.

For example, Jesus commands His followers to forgive when the act of harboring bitterness feels so right. Such a paradox is one of the many ways that we are able to experience an understanding of our sinful condition. The very thing we often wish to not do is often the very thing we should do.

My children have remarked about this regarding food as we’ve tried to teach them healthful food choices (while I sneak chocolate chips behind their backs). “Why is it that the foods that are best for you are usually the least appealing, and vice versa?”

I would imagine these examples of the misdirection of our own personal desires are endless.

One of them would be my own temporal and comparatively small evaluation of the proper system of evaluating life’s value.

As mentioned before, I was expecting God to do something big after I left the NEWS. In my mind, that meant a job that had better prospects of future growth or a large ministry I would be able to invest my gifts and interests in.

Instead, I suffered confusion, doubt and sometimes near hopelessness.

I’ve been humbled. I expected to leave with a disgustingly prideful attitude that would silently scream, “Take that! I don’t need you and I’m better off without you!”

Nonwithstanding how ungrateful such an attitude was toward an employer that paid me well and allowed me to learn two trades while on the job, it is also disgusting to God and unbecoming of a follower of Christ.

In the following months, God taught me how to be very grateful with very little. He taught me of my great need to learn to depend upon him. He taught me to humble myself before others and be comfortable expressing my needs, helping me to understand it is not in my net worth nor my employment through which I should find my identity.

These lessons continue. I have not arrived in a place in my life where I should comfortably rest and reflect with satisfaction upon the past. I am on a trajectory that’s hopefully pointed toward Jesus.

He mentioned in the same Bible that His power is made perfect in weakness. Interesting, then, that we often seek more personal power. My predictions of the characteristics of what I would have determined to be blessings upon leaving my job were all fueled by an idea that I would gain security or influence through another business or organization.

Instead, yesterday I spent awhile adding enough air to a completely flat tire on a car on my lawn so I could drive it close enough to a unit that would allow me to add enough air to the other tires so I could get it on the road to drive to my part-time job for the day.

Surprisingly, none of this bothered me, which I determined to be progress.

A few years ago, I would have been very irritated by this. A few miles down the road, I was trying to process why I had such peace about riding around in what some people might determine to be a junk of a car.

Well, it works. I am seriously thankful for that. It is not sexy at all, but neither am I.

A couple of weeks ago in consideration of our current station in life, gathering and accepting provision from unlikely places and appreciating blessings from God that seem to come more directly from Him without first having to travel through enough channels for the recipient to not recognize the sender, my wife confessed, “I like this. For some strange reason, I really like where we’re at right now.”

It was two days after when listening to Christian radio that I heard a woman talking about how busy her family got chasing sports, activities and two full-time jobs. She expressed that she missed the first few months of her life with her young family when they had time and weren’t pulled in so many directions.

Now that it was temporarily lost, she missed the value of such a blessing and desired to have it back.

I firmly believe this is a season, a time in which God has placed us in a basic training environment where He reshuffles the deck for His purposes. We did not expect the education to go like this, but we do recognize the authorship of the Instructor.

But perhaps it will never change. Perhaps the value of our understanding of the need for perpetual daily dependence upon Him is so great that He wishes for us to have it in abundance.

It is in His guidance and understanding that we must trust. He has been faithful thus far, and there is no reason nor desire for this to change.

AUGUST 23, 2013: Confusion to Clarity

small-business-growthA few years ago, when employed by the Bangor Daily News and feeling like I needed a change, I applied for a job with a local organization. I was one of just a few to receive an interview. The pay was incredible. The benefits were amazing.

The only problem was that I was supposed to work in the marketing department spreading messages through social networking and other media that were directly opposed to those I support.

What bothered me was that I was very tempted to take the job if it was offered.

I talked about this with Heather and prayed about it. It bothered me that I was not able to put this away as an easy decision, that there existed the possibility that my principles could be purchased for the right price.

Thankfully, I didn’t get called back for another interview and didn’t have to make the decision.

However, God used the experience and the revelation of my lack of trust in Him in yet another area to motivate me to reassess by which variables I should make decisions.

To be sure, many of us sacrifice our principles to some degree in finding employment, but where should we draw the line?

Now, a few years later and looking in which direction I should point my labor, I am hyperconscious with the investments of my efforts.

As doors close on jobs I pursue, it only seems wise for me to prayerfully carve my own path. The idea seems romantic on the outside, but its pursuit forces me to face things about myself that are hard to be exposed to.

There was a great deal of perceived security in having an idea of how much money I would bring home each week.

I now do not enjoy that luxury, but the lack of that safety net has forced me to realize how much I need to trust in God’s provision on a daily basis. It is a very difficult thing.

It’s easy to read the tales of the Israelites in their exodus from slavery with a bit of snobbery, wondering how they could see miraculous provision from God, yet still be so untrusting and forgetful.

But in living in this new paradigm, I am granted a greater measure of humility to realize that I am the same way. I saw God provide for the Spokes and Jokes trip when the idea seemed ludicrous. Its development and execution were amazing.

However, we were eventually on our way back from the trip, and I was scared to come home. I would be re-entering a context of confusion and uncertainty.

My second day back was very dark and seemingly hopeless. In addition to having no real prospects for making money there was also an added burden. We had been receiving help from the state for food assistance since I left work, which I was waiting to not need anymore. This is an embarrassing thing to mention publicly, and was a humiliating thing to apply for, especially when a lot of my friends are ultraconservative Republicans who openly and coldly reveal their hardheartedness for people in need of such programs.

I felt like we needed to get off the program on principle alone. We had seen God provide last fall when we cut up our credit cards because we knew that He did not want us to live like that. When making the decision, we had no idea how it was going to work out. The numbers did not match up. We were not even making enough money to pay our bills.

However, in the next few months, we were able to pay down a ton of debt, keep our bills paid, and never touch the credit card again. Within that time, we also raised thousands of dollars to live off while I worked on the road during Spokes and Jokes.

With that provision in mind, Heather and decided we needed to refuse the food benefits we were eligible for. I was very scared, but it felt like the right thing to do. I didn’t even know how we were going to pay our bills, let alone deal with this added burden.

I called DHHS, the administrator of the program. That’s humiliating enough. DHHS is for people who beat their wives and starve their children. There was a very difficult stigma to overcome to get their help initially, but I had to get over my pride back when I applied for the program. Now I was calling to cease my food benefits.

“Are you sure?”, said the lady on the other end of the phone. “You are actually eligible for twice the amount you are now receiving.”

“Yes. This is the right thing to do,” I said. “It is really easy to get addicted to these government programs. I want to give God the opportunity to prove himself strong in this situation.”

I believe I should’ve applied for the aid originally, as I did, because pride was the only reason I wouldn’t. However, things had changed, and I now believed I needed to get off of it because it was my lack of faith that would persuade me otherwise.

I feel vulnerable mentioning this publicly, but God works best through me when I’m open and honest, so I am trusting Him again that, as I lay out a true account of my situation before others, he will bless me for trusting Him with the results.

We have now been home for only six weeks and my prospects have already borne fruit.

* I worked out a couple barter deals with local farms for locally-grown produce and meat.

* I took over the ad sales responsibilities of Funnies Extra and brought it from a financial liability to a money-making asset in one month, thanks in part to the hard work Heather had put in for the last 18 months selling ads.

* Our backup storage freezer is full of food, none of which was purchased by us. It was either spontaneously gifted, picked off our land, or obtained in a barter deal.

* I received a job as the marketing and promotions director of a local organization (more details when it’s official).

* I received another job writing humor columns for a new magazine coming to the area soon from someone who called me out of the blue.

* I have been assisting my friend Chris from Chris Downs Computer Room in repairing technology in his busy office.

* I have been getting unsolicited graphic design work through my freelance design business, Nachotree Print & Digital Design.

* I have been honored to be speaking to a group of 18-30 year olds at Reach in Brewer in Tuesday nights. This is not a job, but a ministry opportunity.

* I have two standup engagements planned for September, with more to be planned, one of which which likely also be in September and be out of state. The routine will consist of stories from our trip.

These are all encouraging developments for me, since it seems that this will be what the next season will look like for me, jobs that offer me opportunity to work more closely with my own vision and offer a variety that makes getting out of bed in the morning a little easier for someone with a personality such as mine.

I am thankful that, in only six weeks, God has brought me from fright when looking at the future to added security and hope through his provision. This context of life upon leaving my full-time job looks a lot different and has been much more difficult than I expected, but my faith in God and appreciation of His provision has grown immeasurably.

I now can be ten times more appreciative of about half of what I had before. That’s some pretty good math.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

AUGUST 22, 2013: Spokes, Jokes, Blokes and Other Folks

chan2I had silently decided I would pretty much be done blogging about Spokes and Jokes.

Why?

Because it’s over.

However, I’ve been amazed in the last month plus of being home how many people were following the trip, many of whom wanted to know details of my life afterwards and a surprising number of whom I had never met!

For that reason, I have chosen to make the investment of time to detail some of the struggles and victories I’ve faced since returning home.

I will try to make these blogs short, but I feel I do not have the ability. I am wordy, and there is much to say.

For this entry, though, I will focus on the fact that, even though the trip is over, I still feel that I am supposed to explore my uniqueness and purpose in determining how I spend my time and gifts in the few days, weeks, months, years or decades that I have left before they print my obituary.

If I live a long enough life on earth, I doubt it will be read in a newspaper, as I predict I will outlive the medium.

Maybe you will download my obit from iTunes.

Or iCroaked.

One of the challenges I am facing now has nothing to do with persevering through 60 miles on a bike in 90 degree heat or being chased by dogs on a highway in Tennessee, but by accepting and processing the opinions of other people.

It has become clear to me, whether delivered by silent implication or verbal declaration, that I should be living my life a certain way – to make my life an entree of which the inactive ingredient is wisdom, but the substance is conformity.

I still believe that my uniqueness exists for a reason. I believe I was created a certain way so that I would manage my choices to maximize effectiveness in accordance with my giftings and desires.

Some people believe the best thing I can do is to discover how closely I can have match my gifts to a job description, whereby I can join ranks with others who end up sacrificing their own visions to labor on behalf of the goals of a large corporation in exchange for the perceived security of a weekly paycheck and benefits.

I understand that it might be necessary to do so, but something in me feels like I’m giving up on something greater by cashing in my chips for such a lesser goal.

I care too much about what people think of me, and I’ve had people tell me they think going on the trip, which was successful by any measure I have, was irresponsible. Some people are struggling with what I did and  – to some degree – the current manifestation of the principles upon which I am making a lot of my life decisions going forward.

But here’s the thing. I have the same opinions about the lives of others, but from a different perspective. It makes no sense to me why a good deal of the population is building things that are just going to burn in a few years and setting their hearts on things that are only temporary.

It makes no sense to me to simply chase money. I have bills and responsibilities and I get that, but I’ve been told in Scripture that God is going to take care of me. I’ve also been told in Scripture I need to work hard and smart.

My plan is to create seismic shifts in the foundations of my life to allow healthy growth that’s more in accordance with the my goals and those of my family. This takes time, patience and sacrifice.

Decisions often involve us sacrificing something for something else, and I feel we need to be ready to properly understand what is most valuable and treasure it, being willing to sacrifice instead what doesn’t measure up.

Money is important, but it is not among the things people care most about on their death bed. People want their lives to have mattered.

I want my life to matter. I am not ready to assimilate to a directionless culture with goals that are inconsistent to my own.

And if you were to observe the trajectories of my life and all of the developments and provisions I’ve enjoyed over just the last month of us being back home, some of you would greater understand.

I will articulate some of those in my blog tomorrow.

AUGUST 4, 2013: Encouragement in Thorndike

THORNDIKEI’ve had a tough time since being home.

It’s not surprising. I predicted it.

One of Heather’s friends put it best when she articulated that she thought it would be difficult for me to enjoy weeks of successes and new experiences with the support of many people who were cheering me on and drawing inspiration and vicarious thrills from the adventure, only to be followed by a return home and the attendant job searches for positions of underemployment.

Yes. That. Nail on the head.

And being without a regular job and paycheck is not only difficult financially (although we are still able to pay our bills). There is a sense of purposelessness I deal with on an almost daily basis. It’s quite disheartening.

It’s unfortunate, too, since I should have a higher mind. My identity is that my life has been purchased by the death of Christ and His empowering Spirit has given me power over sin and death. I should have joy, not depressing frets and fears.

This is still something that is being worked out in me, though. I know I serve a patient God, and I need to not be so hard on myself.

Last night, I had the opportunity to share a bit of comedy at a talent show at the Thorndike Town Office. This was not a paid engagement, but instead the opportunity to simply take part in a small town gathering during which I would see some friends.

I wasn’t really nervous. Not getting paid takes a lot of the pressure off. I figured I would do a couple of my standard song parodies and try out some new stuff.

Wow. It went so well. The crowd was great. Over 70 people who laughed loudly and often.

My favorite part was at the end, when I was asked to come up and sing “I’ll Fly Away” with a group of performers. I feigned disinterest publicly, holding up a piece of cake I had just grabbed in an effort to communicate that I had other plans.

As the group sang the song, I sang loudly and with passion whenever the lead singer looked at me, but when he looked in the other direction, I stopped singing and aggressively began working on my cake. This went back and forth for awhile and the crowd loved it!

It was such a blessing, because none of it was planned, but just happened on the fly.

Interesting, that only two hours before the performance, I forced myself to take a walk outside, slowly pacing along the lawn, fighting off a few self-pitying tears by reminding myself of the many great blessings I could enjoy if I would just focus on them. I have been so richly blessed that it’s nothing short of blasphemy to count myself a martyr.

Nevertheless, though, the feelings are there. It is what it is.

But to stand up before the people and perform for the first time in a month and to feel the appreciation of the crowd. Well, it was medicine. Very encouraging. It was nice to be publicly appreciated for something I can do.

I am thankful I have such a supportive wife and children. Heather never nags me about not having a full-time job. Thanks goodness, because that would make the emotional climate almost unbearable.

In my emotionally-sober moments, I would say that I know God is my provider, but my actions do not bear out that I actually believe enough in His abilities to rest and wait.

But, make no mistake, I did appreciate the hug I felt from Him last night. And, in fact, I believe I learned that I actually do like doing comedy. I have said to so many that I don’t and that it’s just a tool, but I think I was wrong. I think I like it.

I believe I’d been saying that to so many so people wouldn’t think the pursuit of comedy gigs was for selfish ambition alone. As I perform new material for new crowds, I draw strength from the results and grow in confidence in my abilities.

And I’m thankful for my friend, Doug, who after I sat down at the end of my first set said that the improvement in my performances has been very evident this year.

I would hope so, but it’s no guarantee. I have never performed as much as I have this year in any year of my life since starting to do comedy about 10 years ago.

It would seem that I must persevere. Not let the feelings have their way, but concentrate on what is true. To continue in the directions it seems I should go and wait on God for direction.

To serve Him faithfully today where I’m at and not worry about tomorrow.

Heading Home

The Rushings with the Quimbys. :)

The Rushings with the Quimbys. :)

So it has been like forever since I wrote a blog. Sorry about that. I have had so many things that I have wanted/needed to write about. But I think that my last blog was in Arkansas on the way to Texas! That was like 2 or 3 weeks ago. Way to long.

So, Texas. Texas was great! I had an even better time then I would have hoped. I loved seeing Brian and Chanel. And I am serious that Ruby Rushing is the cutest kid that I have ever seen. And she loved me, which definitely not annoying. I love that kid. :) When we were in Texas we didn’t actually stay with the Rushings, we stayed with Chanel’s mother,

Our family with Melody and Richard.

Our family with Melody and Richard.

Melody, and her father, Richard. And Melody was so much fun! :) She was so smiley and friendly and hospitable! I loved the opportunity to get to know her.

While in Rockwall we got to go to the Forth Worth Zoo. Which was a story in it’s self. A long story. But in short, Mom, Dad, Jordan, Brian, Red, Ruby, and I all went to the zoo. After researching it online we decided that taking the train and bus would be the most efficient choice. However, it definitely was not. We were at the zoo for an hour and a half or so, (due to the fact that we got there with only that long before closing) and we were on/ waiting for public transportation for about 10 hours. Brian remarked that that was longer then it took he and his family to travel to Maine last summer. But, it’s a funny memory! :)

And I really enjoyed just hanging out and not having anything to do while we were in Texas, too. During the whole trip we just seemed busy. We would have get up in the morning (at like 7 during the second half of the trip ’cause it was so hot that Dad had to get out on the bike really early, efforting to beat the heat) and pack everything up and get it into the van and then we would be on the road until around supper time when we would bring all of our stuff into the host’s house, eat supper, visit, sleep, and repeat. :P So it was nice to have a break form that. :)

Oh! And I had my birthday there, too! :) I am now 14. We had a birthday party at Brian and Chanel’s house. There were a few people that I met for the first time when they showed up at my birthday party. It was really fun. And I got gifts from people I had never met. For real. Try and tell me that that’s not awesome. ;)

We stayed at Melody’s house for the most of the time that we were there but for the last couple nights we stayed in a camper on the Rushing’s lawn. And I forgot to mention that

The car I painted.

The car I painted.

while we were there Brian had a couple old tiny cars that were all rusty and he had Jordan and I sand and paint them! :D That was a lot of fun. I was outside in 102 degree weather sanding a tiny old car. No, but really it was super fun to paint.

Okay. There is so much more that I could write about our fun times in Texas, but I don’t want to bore you.

You probably are aware of the fact that we are on our way home now. In less then a week I will be able to sleep on my very own bed!!! :D :D :D I cannot wait to see everyone at home! Don’t get me wrong, I have LOVED this trip. It has been absolutely amazing. Words are not enough to describe how grateful I am that I got to be a part of this adventure. It was totally worth any “fun” thing that we may have missed at home. How many people get to experience what I just did? The answer would be not many. But I did. :)

I feel like there is so much more that I could be writing right now, but if you haven’t read something that you would like to know about you can ask me on Facebook.

Thank you for reading my blog. I am still amazed that people care enough to read my long ramblings.

Emma's JUnkP.S. This bug was ON my finger last night. Grossest thing that has ever happened to me.

JULY 6, 2013: Torturous Riding and Rushing to Russian

We stayed in Max Meadows, Virginia last night, at the home of Tony Mattan. We met Tony on the trip to Texas and stayed with him a few nights then. We were excited to see him again.

Tony bought us all pizza from Papa John’s and we ate and played games until bedtime.

Tony and I made arrangements to go for a bike ride the next morning. I hadn’t ridden long and hard for about two weeks, and the last couple of weeks to Texas were largely flat. Now I was facing the prospect of my body being less acclimated to riding and lots of hill work to persevere through.

The ride was very hard. During some of the trip I was thinking about how stupid biking is, how I had no idea how I made it to Texas and how I would determine with great certainty to never bike again.

I tend to get a little dramatic.

Tony is a strong biker, so he had to take it a little easy on me. I suppose I should not be upset with the result. I averaged 14.6 mph for the 48 mile trip that included a total of about 3000 feet of ascent.

But I had very little energy, due in large part to haven eaten a stupidly small breakfast that morning.

Heather made a delicious lunch, I ate it, then we headed up to Harrisonburg, VA to the home of our next host.

I chose Harrisonburg because it was a reasonable distance away, plus I wanted to catch a church service at Horizon Christian Fellowship. The pastor there, Ronny Breen, was one of a very few from churches we reached out to that offered hospitality for us on our way through. We had arrangements to be at his home on the way down, but we contacted us last minute to say he wouldn’t be around, but had made arrangements to put us up in a Hampton Inn in Harrisonburg.

Very, very generous.

With the intention to ending up in Harrisonburg, I searched the Warm Showers website for a host. I contacted one family, and the man of the home responded in good time, inviting us to stay with him.

I noticed that one of the reviews he received from a past guest was that they enjoyed some Christian fellowship during his stay. I was excited at the prospect that we might be staying with some fellow followers of Jesus.

We arrived in the afternoon and were greeted warmly. Edwin is from South Africa and his wife is from Russia, so we had more opportunity to broaden our cultural awareness.

After a wonderful supper they prepared for us, which we ate outside on their back porch without the interference of even one mosquito nor black fly (I love you, Virginia), we relaxed and shared stories of what God has done and is doing in our lives and how we met our spouses.

It was very interesting to listen to Edwin’s wife speak of the contrast between Russian and American cultures. For example, she said it is uncommon in Russia to look other strangers in the eye, smile or greet them. However, she said friendships are deep and sacrificial.

Her immediate observations of the States were of a very friendly society, where people express affection for you on a superficial level, but largely are not willing to invest deeply in relationship.

I totally understood what she was saying.

We also talked a lot about the differences in Christian expression in both cultures. She is from an Orthodox tradition. Whether from the denomination, culture, or some mix, Christianity is not expressed with such confident bravado of salvation assurance as we are used to in America. I didn’t get the impression that people didn’t understand salvation as the gift and work of God, but it seemed to manifest itself with more humility.

This seems right to me. I understand that, from the Scriptures, we should not diminish the power of God to save, but I am too often exposed to a culture that, simply because a prayer was said at one point in a person’s life coupled with a few religious habits of church-going and or semi-regular Bible reading, etc., loses humility and appreciation by treating the grace of God as a cheap thing.

Too often, the teaching of the method of our acceptance of Jesus’s sacrifice and the evidences of its work in our lives seems extra-Biblical, and the danger (in my opinion) is that we adopt a “union work mentality”, whereby those that assume they are His simply out of confidence and public profession alone, say in their hearts, “I’m under contract. You can’t fire me.” and go on to lead lives that are virtually unaffected by God’s great grace.

Another thing that began before we left for this trip and has continued as we’ve spoken to people across the country, is this consistent displeasure many people have with how the Church operates. I feel like this goes way beyond professing Christians having a problem with fellow congregants in a church setting. I sense that people do not feel that they are receiving a fair representation of Christ within the methods currently employed by traditional church ministries.

I have said for years that I have grown at a unparalleled pace spiritually not by sitting under sermons, but by being in close relationship with others who know Him, whether one-on-one or in small groups. I understand now that this is discipleship. I don’t think it needs to occur at the exclusion of church services, but is an effective and Biblical method of growing grounded disciples.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how my life is set up. There is a quiet mandate from the culture to do life a certain way, but God has purposes for my life that American culture might not be set up in such a way to get allow for the greatest efficiency. It’s imperative for me to figure out who I am, why I’m here, then to set my life up in the smartest way to assist with what God wishes to do with it.

I wonder what might happen if churches did the same. What if they were to strip everything back to the basics? What is the point of our ministry? Is it to grow disciples?

If so, then are we set up in the smartest, most effective way to do that? Are we, or do we mostly just continue doing a variation of what we’ve always done, careful to not rock the boat or offend the traditional sensibilities of those sitting in the pews?

I don’t mean to sound contrary for the sake of being provocative, but the questions need to be asked. Successful businesses regularly check their processes against their mission statements and modify where necessary.

Ultimately, though, I am encouraged to sense an undercurrent of those who wish to follow Christ, but seem lost and alienated by how American culture has chosen to express the Christian faith.

I would encourage you, if you are a believer, to be willing to take risks. If you are protecting your reputation, your emotions or anything else in keeping yourself removed from the messiness of human relationship, please sincerely pray that God will give you the strength and direction to pour your life into someone else’s, not looking for what you can get from it, but how you can minister to another sinner through it.

You will suffer hurts and disappointment, but through it, you will greater understand the heart of God.

I know many people who need Christian friends who care about them. And when I say Christian friends, I’m not talking about people you know from church who you get together with and NEVER talk about Christ with nor encourage in the Scriptures. I’m not referring to those you befriend who never pray with you, but instead discuss movies, music and sports with constantly.

I’m talking about people who recognize their need for God because of their otherwise hopeless, sinful condition and love you enough to want to see you live an abundant life in Christ by building you up by basing your relationship on Truth and not folly.

Such friends are greater than gold.