Weekend in Review

 

Over the weekend we spent time in downtown Atlanta as we celebrated our anniversary.  We woke up and ate at Thumbs Up Diner. TUD was one of the greatest breakfasts I’ve ever had.  Literally, I don’t like grits.  But I LOVED the cheese grits at this place.  Weird.

After breakfast we spent the afternoon at Atlanta Botanical Garden where I took the above photo.  In the middle of this insanely busy city, there was the most peaceful property you could imagine.  Certain areas to walk in that had trees that surrounded you like a tunnel.  I have a couple shots from in the middle of the garden you can look out and see the tops of skyscrapers.  What an unusual sight.

In the evening we walked to dinner for some sushi.  Then we walked to the Shakespeare Tavern.  And we watched a play written in 1599 called Much Ado About Nothing.  Even weirder than a massive garden in downtown Atlanta…I really liked the 3 hour play.  And I want to go back next month when they start their next performance.

On Friday night we ate at a placed called Max Lager’s and had one of the most unhealthy meals of all time.  Fried cheesecake brought for dessert by our kind waitress as an anniversary gift.  After dinner we saw Dave Barnes in concert.  He is a great musician, and the way he works a crowd and his insane sense of humor made for quite the concert experience.

We tried some new things this weekend (I’ll never eat collard greens again).  The most enjoyable part was that it was some new, some same things with the person I’ve been experiencing all things with the last 4 years.  And even if we had sat around in our pajamas with colds and watched Grey’s Anatomy/NBA Playoffs all weeeknd…

I’d rather do that with her than any of the “new/fun” things we did downtown in a big city this weekend.

But until we are old/crippled/hospice reliant, every few months we will get away from the pjs and experience some new things with each other.  And we have a lot of new landscape to check out in our 5th year…

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Just Gettin Started

I remember people asking me, “are you going to cry?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve never been the groom.”

Some things you missed if you didn’t go to our wedding:

1. Brittany looked better than you.

2. My uncle gave the best wedding message I’ve ever heard (I know I’m bias. I don’t care.  It really was.)

3. We had the BEST wedding music ever!  Brittany picked the songs the wedding party walked into and also the song she walked down to.  And it was better than anything I could have come up with.  Simply cementing that she was to be my wife.

4. I choked up in public (during the vows. never to happen again).

5. The BEST best man speech of all time.  Seriously, Aaron owned that moment.  I had a lot to live up to when I gave his.

6. Dance with my mom.  Meant more to me than any of you could ever know.

7. My cousin Adam throwing two fist fulls of confetti at my face at approx. 92mph from about 3 ft away just before we got into the shag mobile…adrenaline couldn’t mask the pulsating pain.

Today is our 4 year anniversary.  We have been “together” for just over 7 years…

and we still don’t hate each other.

More positively, we actually “like” each other more than we did on that day.  And that isn’t because we got extremely lucky and chose the “right” person.  We have worked at it.  And our lives haven’t been a walk in the park.

I don’t pretend to have GREAT marriage advice.  We’ve only been married for 4 years.  But I do believe that I have a better marriage than most married couples.  That isn’t a condescending statement on anyone else’s marriage, it is just a realization that most people don’t experience what Brittany and I do.

One of the greatest compliments I have ever received came during 18 holes at Dubsdread Golf Course.  I was golfing with a friend of mine that I worked with at Hyatt.  We were golfing and we ended up golfing with another guy who was by himself.  He told us that he spent a lot of business time in Orlando away from his family and he LOVED his time away.  At the time I had only been married a couple of years, so this guy (we’ll call him Brian so I don’t have to say “this guy” anymore) told me I obviously didn’t understand and wouldn’t for a few years.  Brian said that he loved his wife and his kid, but he really loved getting away from them from time to time (2 months at a time) and that helped him appreciate and love them more when he got home.  He told me that one day I would understand.

What did I know?

My friend Chris (doesn’t buy into the Jesus thing) then said something like this (before I said anything):

“I know what you mean man.  But Jason and his wife (he worked with me and Brittany at Hyatt) are different.  They genuinely are different than any couple that I know.  They work together.  They live together.  And they really seem to like each other.  It is totally different than anything I’ve ever seen.  I don’t think they’ll want to be away from each other for months at a time.  Even though I totally know what you mean.”

Chris had seen the best/worst of Jason/Brittany.  And that was his conclusion.  Brian didn’t buy it.  But Chris did.  And I hadn’t really ever had a “marriage” conversation about why Brittany and I’s worked so well with Chris.

It reminded me of something I heard once, “one of the greatest witnesses you could have to a world who doesn’t believe in Jesus is the state of your marriage.”

Brittany and I were a part of a small group in Orlando that went through a study on marriage.  One of the things I stil remember from that study is something that Jesus said.  If you don’t believe in the bible, this is still true:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As i (Jesus) have loved you, you must love one another.”

Jesus made “love” a verb as opposed to a noun.  And as it relates to marriage the question still holds:

“How are you loving Brittany?”

Not “how do you ‘feel’ about Brittany?”…but what are you doing to show Brittany that you love her?

Even if you don’t buy into the whole Jesus thing, this is a great question.  And for me it is a daily reminder…

How am I showing Brittany that I love her?

Four years in and we have a great marriage.  We have seen more in 4 years than a lot of people see in 20.  And we are trying the best we know how to make love a verb and not a noun (feeling).

Brittany is the best person that I know.  It makes me try to be a better person.  And she constantly reminds me that when I am not…she still will show me love.

Here’s to the next 4(40) years…

context.

His words were softly spoken, but I clung to every word.  Maybe because this is how he began…

“Hello, my name is Jim.  I am on the board of directors here at No Longer Bound (see previous post Adam part 1) and I teach this class once a month (Family Recovery-group counseling session for families of addict).  My son completed this program a couple of years ago.  And I have been the example of the family success story of a recovering addict.

Until 3 weeks ago when my son relapsed and I thought about leaving this organization…”

I listened to everything he said.  Much more attentively than I listen to sermons on Sundays.  I felt his words.

And you would have too.  Because of one thing:

 

context.

 

Jim did not leave NLB (obviously, as he was there yesterday sharing), but he did share with us very real and very raw emotions/wounds that he felt recently.  And it was so refreshing to listen to someone be so honest with us.  He didn’t have it together. All of us in the room knew it.

And he was still teaching that day.

During the 2 hour session, Jim had us break into groups to go through some questions related to the material for the day.  Brittany and I turned and became 2 of 8.  We met Austin.  Austin is 25 years old.  In just a few more days he will hit the 7 month mark for being in the program.  Surrounding Austin was his mom, dad, and his wife.  Each of his family members in tears as they spoke…as Austin spoke.  Another lady in our group asked his wife, “How have you been doing lately?”

“Its…..”, tears on, “Its……been real hard…”

And I listened to every word from each of them.  Because of one thing:

 

context.

 

Question #2: When did you decided to change YOU?”

Austin told us that he remembers the exact moment.  That he was in a jail cell with a crack addict.  And as clear as day that was the moment he knew he wanted to change.

Austin’s dad: “You knew at that exact moment?”

Austin: “Yeah.  That exact moment.”

Dad: “That’s amazing.”

And I didn’t doubt a word of it. Because of one thing:

 

context.

 

Crazy that the same session that Jim was required to teach was based on this verse from Philippians 4:

verse 6 (ASV): “In nothing be anxious (worry); but in everything by prayer and supplication (a humble petition) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

As we talked with Austin I began to think more about this verse that we had read at the beginning of the meeting.  I began to think about how in my life I read the verse as is above, but I typically live out the verse (which means I believe the verse) as follows:

verse 6 (Jason’s Life Version): “In many things (especially what you consider a big deal in your context of living) be anxious (worry); but in very few things (daily food, speeding tickets, football games)  by prayer and supplication (a humble petition) with thanksgiving (yeah right) let your request be made known unto God.”

Here is my resistance to that verse (the real biblical version):

You have no idea what I’m going through.  So you can shove it…

 

Playing football was a dream of yours in high school and you were good at it, and it gave you a way to break out of being a quiet and dorky kid.  And you gave it up b/c you knew it was making you into the person you didn’t want to become.  And you had to answer all the questions from your coaches/friends/family on “why did you quit after 1 year? they want you to keep playing!”…don’t worry about it Jason.  Just tell God about it.  Thankfully.

Your mom and stepdad, who had been together your entire life,  told you just a few days before Christmas when you were 15 that they were splitting up….don’t worry about it Jason.  Just tell God about it.  Thankfully.

You knew that you were going to have to tell your mom that you weren’t going to her wedding.  That you weren’t going to live with her and her new husband.  And that you didn’t agree with her decision that was going to change your relationship forever…don’t worry about it Jason.  Just tell God about it.  Thankfully.

Mom has cancer.  Going to die?…don’t worry about it Jason.  Just tell God about it.  Thankfully.

Wife was noticeably downcast for weeks and it had nothing to do with you so you couldn’t do anything to fix it?…don’t worry about it Jason.  Just tell God about it.  Thankfully.

Deciding to move out of state, leave all your friends/family, resign from great jobs without assurance of you and/or your wife having any job once you moved?  And you think GOD led you on this path?…don’t worry about it Jason.  Just tell God about it.  Thankfully.

Offer up $5,000 (non-refundable) of you and your wife’s savings without any factual shred of evidence that you would raise any of it back, just so that you could help get your cousin Adam into a 10 month program that he might not complete anyways?  And your fundraising scheme is a 5min video that is on a handheld camera, unedited, 1 take?…don’t worry about it Jason.  Just tell God about it.  Thankfully.

My mind naturally goes to worry 1st.  Prayer 2nd (or 5th) in situations where I have little to no control over the end result. Sometimes the situation simply “is what it is” and it is very hard for me to pull my head out of the contextual quick sand trap of myself and do anything other than worry.  Much less pray.

And when I hear this verse I think:

You have no idea what I’m going through.  You have no idea of what context you are speaking into .  You have absolutely no idea what this situation is doing to me on the inside, because honestly I don’t really have any idea of what is happening to my heart as a result of this.

Who are you to say this to me?

And then on Saturday, something happened that makes no sense…

 

I got it.

 

Not meaning that I applied it (let’s not get ahead of ourselves) and lived happily ever after.  But literally, I think for the first time ever, my eyes were opened to the context in which this verse was written.

I listened to a broken man teaching this class.  A loving man, who in his brokenness taught this text.  He had every right to throw up resistance to this verse and INSTEAD he said, “When Jesus showed himself to his followers he opened his hands and let them see the scars.  This was real.  This was very real.  And yet many times I walk around with my arms out wide, but my fists tightly closed.”

In our group of 8 I listened to Austin tell the story of being incarcerated and sitting on a jail cell floor and somehow being judgmental towards his cell mate.  The his cell mate reminding him of who Jesus was.

Then it all started making sense.  I thought about the verse.  And I realized that I had always heard this verse as if it was written by whatever well meaning person was saying it to me.  I made myself believe that this verse was just part of some book called Philippians that a guy named Paul wrote a long time ago.  Just some old book.  Just some random verse.  Trying to speak into the context of my life as a twenty-something.

Austin and Jim reminded me that this verse wasn’t written by my friends or acquaintances, but by a man who was chained in an ancient jail cell himself.

Paul wasn’t writing a “book”.  With chapters and verses.  He was simply writing a letter to a group of people who believed that Jesus was who Jesus said he was.  Paul’s dedication to Jesus was so in depth that it got him into a lot of situations that are much worse than situations that I’ve faced:

– Jesus warned his followers that they would be beaten to the point of near death.  Paul received this specific beating not once, not twice, not 3 times, not 4 times…but 5 times nearly beaten to death because he said Jesus was who Jesus said he was.

– Three times he was beaten with rods (flexible sticks tied together to maximize impact) because he followed Jesus.

– Once he was restrained in some manner and men were allowed to pick up rocks the size of baseballs and throw them at his face/body. They did this because Paul said Jesus was who Jesus said he was.  It says that these men dragged him outside the city to the place where the dead bodies were left.  They didn’t respect him enough to bury him, and the process seemed so violent that they assumed he was dead.

– He had been in a few ship wrecks.  No coast guard and helicopters to the quick rescue.  He says that in at least one of the accidents, it was so severe that he spent an entire day floating on the wreckage, waiting to be rescued.

– Robbed all the time as he traveled around from city to city teaching the people about this man Jesus.

And with all of that in mind, he is now in prison.  Awaiting a trial that he isn’t sure will ever come.  One limb chained down, while his hand wrote this letter to these people.  He wasn’t trying to speak into the middle of Jason Avera’s twenty-something life.

Maybe he was writing a letter to this people not knowing for sure if he would ever see them again.  Because following Jesus had led him through these horrible places, and as he writes this, the outlook doesn’t look too good.  In fact, it looks considerably worse than anything I have ever faced.  And knowing every single thing about the tragedy that surrounded his life since he began following Jesus and the fact that in the moment he was in prison:

 

“In nothing be anxious (worry); but in everything by prayer and supplication (a humble petition) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

 

The sentence is far less repulsive with all of that in mind.  When people quote that to me now, I will remember who actually wrote it.  And what he was actually going through.

And I will listen and soak it in like I never have before.  I will try and figure out how this makes sense in my own life, maybe for the first time…really.  I will begin to try harder to allow Jesus to remove the scales from my eyes and allow someone who has been through far more and far worse than me to speak truth into my twenty-something life.  And I will do this because of one thing:

 

context.

Funniest Video on AFV

Last night I turned on a local tv station just in time to see the final pitch of the Atlanta Braves game.  What I didn’t know is that one of the Braves tv commentators is Chip Caray.  Chip was one of the original Orlando Magic tv commentators from 1989-1996.  So as a little kid, and a HUGE Magic fan, I watched Chip 2-5 times a week.  I became very familiar with his voice.

Full circle.  Now that I’m in the ATL area, Chip is here and I get that odd nostalgic feeling from childhood.  Since we don’t have cable TV up here, we bought an HD antenna.  That way we can get all the basic channels for free in HD.  Tonight’s show: America’s Funniest Videos.

I do miss Bob Saget, but the videos are the real attraction.  It is cool that there are some people and some shows doing the same thing since I was 6 years old.

AFV makes me laugh like nothing else.  Seriously, I could watch a dad get hit in the junk 20 times a day for the rest of my life and it would always be hysterical.  Of all of the videos I’ve ever seen on AFV, this is my favorite.

Of all time.

didn’t see that coming…

Today Brittany and I went to get our FL licenses exchanged for GA ones.  We met at the place and when I arrived Brittany was at one of the counters getting her new license.  After she was done she said it only took a couple of minutes and cost $32 to get an 8 year GA license.  After about 15 minutes my name was called and I told Brittany I would see her back at home.

Carried my small plastic sandwich bag (contents: birth certificate/license because I would otherwise lose them) up to Melissa at counter 12.  She verified my proof of residency and took my identification card and began typing away.  I tried to make small talk, but she was focused.

“Sir, you had a speeding ticket waaaaaay back in the day in the state of Georgia.  Did you take care of that ticket?”

I’ve only had 2 speeding tickets in my life.  Both of them were in the state of Georgia.  While driving silver Neons.

Since moving here I have become very aware of the speed limit signs and more in tune with cruise control.  Here is a quick story of the ticket she was referencing:

When I was 19 years old I traveled to Georgia to meet up with my friend Nick that I had met that summer.  It was Christmas break and I was going to hang out with him for a few days.  I invited myself up.  He agreed.  On the drive up I began to go much faster than was socially/legally acceptable.  I was making GREAT time!!!

In Butts county I was pulled over.  I looked up in my rear view mirror and saw a state trooper that looked like his car was almost out of control trying to catch up with mine.

“O.M.G.” was the thought that came through my mind.  This was back in 2002 so I probably invented the whole initials thing.

Officer: “I clocked you going 99mph.  And I know you were going faster than that, but it took me a while to catch up to you.”

I’m not going to lie.  I was kind of proud.  Almost blurted out with a grin, “actually it was more like 115mph sir!!!” Luckily I didn’t.

He gave me a ticket.  It didn’t have the $ amount I needed to pay printed on the ticket.  I asked how much it was and he laughed and told me to call the phone number at the bottom of the citation.

Ended up it cost $397.  I immediately called Chick Fil A (which I had quit about 3 months prior to take an internship at a church) and asked to work again part time a couple nights a week.  A few days later I had to call them back again to ask them to work 4 or 5 nights a week as the church I was working at was having some major issues and it seemed best to get out of there fast.

I paid the $397.  That following summer I was in Ohio and my mom called and told me my FL license was suspended.  I didn’t know I had to take an 8 hour course on driving as well as pay the $397.  So I found a place in Cincinnati that offered the course for $85 and I sat in a room by myself watching videos all day with an instructor watching me.  He had 2 rules: 1.Cell phones were to remain off and he held on to them.  2. No sleeping.

Also, the bathroom had a key that I had to borrow from him to use.  Like some teachers in grade school this key was attached to something else.  Instead of a ruler or an oversized key ring, it was attached to the spokes of a bicycle wheel.  Imagine having 5 minutes to run down the hall and figure out how to position this wheel in just the right space to unlock the much needed bathroom.

FL license was reinstated after I paid around $250 to do so.

BACK TO TODAY:

“Yes mam, I took care of that ticket.  It was the most expensive ticket ever.”

She informed me that in Georgia it was referred to as a Super Speeder ticket.

Again I was proud.

If you are under 21 years old and going over 20mph the speed limit, then it is considered a Super Speeder.  And thus the incredibly high citation fine.

She also informed me that because of that ticket just over 9 years ago, my new GA license was suspended immediately.

Congratulations!

She said she could see all the documentation that I had taken the 8 hour course and all, but I still did owe GA a fee to reinstate my GA license that I had yet to receive.

“Sure, how much is it?”

“$210.  Plus the $32 to actually get the license.”

“What are my other options?”

“Not have a license.”

So I paid it.  And my pride decreased.

Didn’t see that coming.

Adam (part 1)

As I look at that table, my heart is nearly crushed by the grace of God.  If I look at it for more than 20 seconds my eyes begin to water.  What I experienced in the middle seat on the left hand side 1 week and 1 day ago branded my heart like a hot iron cast.  It will always remain with me.  Just the same, you would have no idea what the sting felt like…but I will always have a story to tell.

My cousin.  One of my best friends.  One of my groomsmen.  Adam (by his own admission at this table)  Is a drug addict.  Is a manipulator.  Is a liar.

And Jesus died the same death for him that he did for you.  And for me.  God didn’t have to take a few extra whips to the back or punches to the face for Adam.

Romans 5:6-8(TNIV) puts it like this:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrated his own love for us in this way: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Let’s put it another way: “While Adam was stilldrug addict, Christ died for Adam.”

Or: “While (your name) was still(manipulator, gossiper, control freak, self centered, insecure, divorcee, gambling addict, power seeking, cynical doubter, wind chaser, pornographer, money hungry, unfriendly, truth hider, step on anyone, insulter, think you’re better than everyone, lover of politics more than Jesus, constant comparer, excuse generator, procrastinator, self loving, self hating, lazy, pretentious, obnoxious, envier, family member hater, arrogant, non compassionate, emotionally unstable,   over boastful, idea stealer…), Christ died for you.

If you don’t fall into one of those categories or couldn’t even come up with one of your own and the tendency is to be defensive towards that type of analogy, then the gospel is not for you.

Here is what that table reminded me of last week.

I. Am. Bro-ken.

With a few different decisions here and there over the last 8 years, I could have been sitting in Adam’s chair at the table instead.  Being interviewed to enter a 10 month re-generation program for addicts.

I don’t need the Bible to tell me that I am broken.  All I have to do is think about my own thoughts.  Things I have thought towards the people that I love and love me the most.  Occasionally a thought pops up, or an over the line joke about someone, or straight out awful and unfair comment about someone I love comes out.  And I think, “I can’t believe I thought/said that. Where did that come from?”

It came from my broken heart.  And that broken heart is in desperate need of the gospel not simply for eternal life, but for a better way of life.  Jesus was the only religious leader who ever addressed these issues and explained that God was not a far off God who didn’t really care, but while I was in the midst of sinning…loved me.

At the table above last Monday my heart raced.  A man named Steve was conducting the interview.  Steve had been through the program himself and was now one of the directors of No Longer Bound in Cumming, GA.  He asked Brittany and I to not say anything during the interview.

About 2 minutes into the interview after a couple answers from Adam, Steve (former marine) said, “Let’s cut the crap.”

Steve spoke to Adam just like I would expect someone from the military to, except he didn’t use any foul language.  He told Adam that Adam was a great manipulator, but it wasn’t going to work around this place.

I heard Adam, a guy I have know since he was a baby, say this:

“I am not proud of the person that I have become.  I have nothing to show for my life.”

That was one of the sadder moments of my life.  He was finally starting to be honest and open up in this interview and said that he wasn’t just upset about the addiction, but his entire person.  Someone whom I love dearly.  Someone who’s family loves him dearly. Said that.

Adam understood that this was more than an addiction problem.  This was a heart problem.  This addiction was not isolated to himself.  His addiction was a family problem.

The interview was incredibly intense.  At the same time it was incredibly encouraging.

Every moment at the table that my mind drifted towards, “I can’t believe you Adam…” and my heart sprinted towards self-righteousness…

Jesus whispered, “I died the same death for him…”

And the picture of that table is a reminder of the extreme love that God offered.  That while I was in the midst of my own secret sins, God showed me that he loved me and died for those sins, the same death he died for Adam’s.

And if God was powerful and brave enough to do that, then it leads me to believe that He values Adam.  That Adam is worth fighting for.  That Adam is worth all of the sacrifices and tough love that his family has shown him over the years.  If God died for Adam, then God must believe in Adam.  More than I do.  More than his immediate family does.

And that is powerful.

I believe in Adam.

But I believe in Jesus more.  And place my trust in Him that He actually can redeem Adam’s life and time.

http://www.nolongerbound.com

Year 2

“Just a water is good for me.”

That is what I have said the last 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

Breakfasts/Lunches/Dinners/Parties/Low Blood Sugars…just water for me.

I have no real idea what the history of Lent is.  I have no real idea what denomination it started is.  But last year I gave it a shot for the first time in my life.  Not out of religious obligation, but out of curiosity.  I gave up Facebook.  I remember the first week or so I constantly reached for my phone to check status updates.  Eventually, my muscle-memory learned that I wasn’t going to be using it for a while.

I enjoyed the experience of Lent and decided that I would try it again for a 2nd year.  For Lent, I wanted to “sacrifice” something that wasn’t inherently bad.  I don’t know all this history of Lent.  I know that whenever I bring it up people think something like, “Isn’t that a (insert denomination) thing?”.  I don’t know what it is.  But some traditions are worth trying to understand.

Since I have no idea what Lent is to most people that have practiced it their entire lives, I have no pretentious feelings towards whatever people decide to give up for Lent.  For me, I wanted to give up something that would require some type of sacrifice, although obviously incredibly small.

For instance, if I said I was not going to drink 1 specific type of soda…I could easily go into a diabetic coma drinking massive amounts of another.  Or, if I was addicted to drinking coffee/smoking cigs/x-rated movies…then I should probably give that addiction up for more than 40 days. You might be thinking “Nobody would say they are giving up pornography for Lent, that is absurd/non-religious.”

Exactly.

Again, this is a Jason thing.  I don’t know how other people who have practiced Lent do their 46 days, but for me the most appropriate thing to sacrifice is something that isn’t inherently bad.  Something that actually has quality to it and is useful in your everyday life.  So this year I decided that for 46 days, between Ash Wednesday and Easter, the only liquid I would consume would be water.

Not extreme.  I know.  I don’t think I could do fasting and survive with my pancreas.

Here were some of the highlights(?) if you will.

– The fastest way to raise my blood sugar when it is low is through liquid.  Even though I consider myself pretty laid back, my brain sends a code red to my body when my sugar drops and the only thing I can think about is “YOU NEED TO FIX THIS NOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!!!!!”  Typically, if I am driving I pull into a gas station and grab an apple juice and that takes care of it rather quick.  This time was more difficult.  I didn’t quite think about it until that first time I put down the apple juice in the gas station and tried to figure out a food that could get into my blood stream quickly.

– Breakfast with only water is pretty horrible.  I didn’t eat cereal b/c of the milk factor.  Nothing like scrambled eggs and orange juice….wait…water.  I reached for OJ every morning for the first 10 days.  Then muscle memory began it’s learning.

– There are other foods that don’t go well with water.  So I didn’t eat much of those foods.  Which was actually a good thing.  Since pizza and water is a pretty bad combo…I had pizza maybe once?

– Cravings like a pregnant woman.  I craved Milk.  Of all things.  I don’t even know the last time I drank a glass of milk.  I eat it in cereal and use it to cook with, but hardly ever drink it.  Maybe on Christmas morning when we have cinnamon rolls.  That’s the only time.  But there was a couple of weeks during this stretch that I seriously wanted to quit and do the milk challenge.  So strange.

– After about 10 days of only water, my body began to feel it physically.  I woke up very alert in the mornings.  I had a lot of energy throughout the day.  And even felt energetic as I went to sleep.  Not sure how to communicate that.  I just felt very good physically during the days and had no problems going right to sleep at night.

–  No alcohol for various events/days.  When Lent began I was working a full time job which got me home around 6:45pm.  Eat dinner.  Then work on my part time church job after dinner and on the weekends.  In between that I was planning this life changing move.  There were times where I just wanted to sit in my recliner and have a beer and be still for 30 minutes.  Also, during this time we attended a wedding/vacation at the beach/brother’s birthday dinner/last get togethers with old friends…”Jason…can I get you a drink?”

“Just a water is good for me. Thanks.”

I actually came up with the thought of only water (and this is in all seriousness) from thinking about the fact that my dog has only had water to drink his entire life.  And he seems pretty ok with it.  I figured if Killer can do it for 11 years straight, then Jason can make it 46 days.

For me, the thing about Lent is that every time I opened the fridge in the mornings and saw the OJ…

every time I had a meal and knew that iced tea would go way better with it….

every time I craved a glass of cold milk in the evenings for unknown reasons…

every time I declined a free drink at a goodbye dinner or family/friend event…

every time I turned on the sink filter and filled up the glass with ice and water once again…

I thought of Jesus.

Every. Single. Time.

I thought of Jesus.

There has never been anything in my life that has so concentrated and focused my thoughts and my hearts towards Jesus in the mundane activities of life (daily requirement of drinking something) like Lent has.

Giving up something good.  For such a short period of time.  For something better.

And what I know, is that for at least the next couple of months every time I raise a glass to my lips (water/oj/milk/beer)…

I will think of Jesus.