Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the smell of old photo albums

I'm in texas.  kyle, texas.  30 minutes south of Austin.

a place that I've spent no less than a year, if that, total in the last 4 or 5 years that my family has resided in this area.  it's also a place that I've come to really call my home.

I didn't grow up here.  I barely ever lived here.

 my brother marco is here.  we used to do a lot, together.  we were old buddies.  my dad lives here, too, with my mom.

tomorrow morning we're leaving for WY.

I walk into my bedroom here, and it's almost like walking into a time warp.  if there was ever a place in this entire world that I felt entirely safe, it's where I'm sitting right now - on my bed, in my room, in kyle, tx.

I do love my dear wife, and I miss her and my son more than I realized I would when they dropped me off at the airport.

not long ago, she sent this to me:

'You're my precious husband and whenever you are on the cusp of a life changing event you are nostalgic =) I love you through every step.'

yep.  straight from my brain. a blog entry.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

once upon a time...

when heritage meant something...

someone started a legacy of men who don't give up.  someone purchased land in the south.  someone sired a son who met Jesus, and he did the very same.

and here am I.

and the man told me, this isn't me.  no, it's not.  this isn't us - we don't just give up.

that's why my son will have the middle name of a legacy.  a small legacy, an unknown legacy, a legacy of a boy who met Jesus and became a man and sired a son with the woman who took to be his wife.

you are Titus.  Titus Loverd Howard.  may you fight harder, run further, and do so much more than I ever could, if you meet Jesus.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I've been having a hard time, lately, with everything in general.  really, just lots of stuff.  homework, waking up, getting up, going to bed on time, being all-there at work, loving, caring.  it's not that I'm NOT doing any of that.  and I don't know what the deal is, really.  honestly.  a couple of weeks ago I wasn't like this, and here I am again.

lately I've had this overwhelming feeling of uselessness, and being small.  like I'm just a small, insignificant part of the local body, and that I believe different things than other people, and that they're things that don't (seem to) matter anyways.  and what's worse, I always imagine myself talking to someone older like I've tried to before, and getting some of the same discouraging 'suck it up' responses and some allusions to how arrogant, young, prideful, naive etc. I am.

I'm really happy to be married to erin, to have a boy on the way, that we've prayed and then we've seen that he didn't die in the womb like it seemed like he was going to.  but there are times that I miss, because I felt more alive - and I wish I could take us back there or go somewhere else where things are even better.

where they were hard, sure, but they were real; abundant.  back when I first got saved, before I came up here.  I just question a lot of things, now.  question a lot of tradition.  sometimes I can look in peoples eyes and see that they're wrestling with the same things.

once a man took the mic away from me.  he doesn't know this, I was bitter and I apologized to him for being bitter, but I didn't tell him this much.  since then I've shut up.  it was the final blow from someone who I really thought was an ally.  since then I've just seen myself fall apart.

it was like he was saying to me, in front of everyone, 'you've already said too much; you always say too much.'

so I'm just a ghost blogger, frustrated, wondering and praying at the end of the night while my wife is asleep.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

define: complaining

or you can just click here.

norah jones is playing with m. ward on austin city limits right now.  they sound really good live.

at one point in my life, a good percentage of my friends were in to things like art and music.  it was inspiring, in it's own ways - I wanted to make music with them, do art, listen and hear their things.  but now, I wasn't in to too many different artists.  I wasn't that cool.  I still have this little flicker of pride deep down knowing that I still don't listen to too many main stream artists.  in fact the majority of what I listen to are still things that too many of my friends haven't heard of.

sometimes I wish it wasn't like that, though.  I wish I had a friend from time to time that was in to more of the the things I was in to, and wasn't very esoteric. I wish I wasn't, too - if I am at all.  but I don't think I can't be, because it's really just me and my own thoughts and I can see how they hardly get me anywhere.

anyways I've done art and music recently, and I feel like i have to force it on to people in order to even get feed back.  it's discouraging.  I've written 2 songs in the last month and they will make their way to no one's ears.  but is that complaining? 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

blah blah blah raw

it's comforting to know that one of the things that most newly weds struggle with the most is the transitioning from one social circle to the next.  hence, all my single, college friends are rather distant.

but then, maybe I pulled away a bit, too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

μαρτύριον (or, God at the Mail Boxes)

(martyrion - witness)

it's hard to blog with the twilight zone going on in the background.  it's an episode about a married couple who, in their old age, decided to trade their bodies in for younger bodies in their 20's but only had enough money for one of them to go through with the procedure.  snap.

this is story number 2 of two stories.  story one I haven't told yet.

today was rather interesting.  it wasn't bad, not at all.  a coupled of interesting encounters, today.  see, I was reluctant.... reluctant to go down to the mail box, today.  I'd just gotten home, and it wasn't a bad dad at all.  in fact I spent my time at work and after work rather well - and I think it was spent well because I was realizing just how much I hadn't owned the time at all.  my boss was stressed, things were backwards, I missed breakfast. at one point, honestly, in my barely conscience mind I some how decided to put off the flesh and take hold of the eternal life that was given to me.  take hold of it, and fight.

'But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.'
1st timothy 6:11-12

and the day moved on.  and amidst the days struggles, the Lord was gracious, and there were a few gracious encounters whereas God probably lead this poor redeemed soul in triumphal procession in Christ. 

I sucked, and God was awesome.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
1 corinthians 2:14

but honestly, getting back to where we started (you and me, reader) - I was reluctant to go downstairs, to check my mail.  because I knew.  I knew if I went down there, there'd be someone waiting.  there'd be someone that I didn't know.  and I knew if I went down there I would be propelled into a situation where I'd have to testify - because everything, EVERYTHING about today was leading up to one point where I had to decide whether I was going to go about my business or if I was going to go check the mail.

and there I was, at the mail boxes.  and there he was, on a collision course with myself - one older man in his mid 50's and one younger man creeping up on his mid 20's who had never, until this point, even known the other had existed.  decades of history, decades of life, scores and scores of experiences, dots, dominoes, foot steps, little mice in a maze.  there we were.  there he was.  there i was.  there we stood, two men, there, with the mail.

"So you're religious?"

"Well, I'm a Christian"

we stood and talked for literally maybe an hour or more, and there was a lot that I learned about the man.  I had joy in hearing his stories, hearing about his life, hearing about how he got to where he was, hearing about how willing he was to reveal his own views, his beliefs, his convictions.

 it was cold out.  the wind hit the trees that loomed over the far end of the courtyard.  it sounded like... the ocean.

and it was cold.

"Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' 

"And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.  And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.  Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you.  

Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' "
luke 10:5-9

and there I was, on his couch now.  drinking juice.  talking.  looking at his books.  he took off his sweater, now, and his glasses.  we talked.  there was something that struck me about the moment... now seeing a man as particularly vulnerable.  as far as instances and matter of conversation, no - they weren't very revealing, not very personal.  but there was some love that I hadn't felt for the man until that point.  because there was an instance where I saw really behind what the man was saying.  there was a moment where I saw behind the what and began to see the why...  why he was telling me so much...

and it hurt at one point, on my end.  and I won't go in to it.  it was a strange hurt, because I hadn't meant to stop him in his tracks.  I really only meant to testify, to correct. 

and he listenned.

he gave us a plant - a small aloe plant, and I intend to visit with him again.

Monday, March 1, 2010

the nights, the dangerous nights

Just me, now, and my thoughts.

I've had some really seriously supernatural occurrences of encouragement, this week.

I know they're super-natural.  and I know it even more, because the accuser / the adversary, or a worker of such deeds, likes to get in my face and say it was all coincidence.

"And the Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" ZecharIah (3:2)

  1. Friday morning I was feeling pretty awful.  Honestly.  I walked into our store and it didn't help at all.  It was quiet - just me and the Lord...  and I was pretty vocal.  about everything.  and my groaning, as immature and raw as they were, was graciously considered by our gracious God.  A man walked in, and I got this feeling from him.

    And it's a weird feeling.  Like something inside me doesn't want to connect with this guy.  Why?  Because I'm in a rutt, and he's a believer, and I knew it.  I just had to look at him, look into his eyes and he looked in to mine.  There was fellowship, there, that I can't explain.  He asked for two stamps.

    I told him how much they'd cost - I knew that he had pulled out $1.00 thinking it was enough.  most customers get upset, because a typical stamp costs, oh... $0.40 or so cents.  Not ours, though.  $0.60, baby.  So you do the math - 2 stamps at normal price would land under a dollar, but 2 stamps with us was going to be $1.20.  And so, most customers get upset, as I was saying.  And usually I try to explain to them that we aren't really a post office and how we have to charge a mark up cost.  Sometimes customers walk out.  But I knew he wouldn't.  He handed me a 20, I broke the change, handed him his stamps.  He asked me:

    'Are you a man of faith?'

    We talked, he prayed, I cried, he joined his family outside, I fell to my knees when it was just me and the Lord again and uttered something from a posture that I need to take up more often
  2. On the way to school from work, I put my wife's hillsongs CD that's been in my car since most of our pre-engagement relationship into my CD player and blasted THIS song.  While I was waiting to make my left turn on to the main road, I noticed there was a man in a car next to me - and in particular, I noticed that he was an older gentlemen... AND from what I knew about older-gentlemen, sometimes they don't like younger-gentlemen blasting music in a neighboring car.

    So I pulled up ahead of him a little bit to deaden the sound.

    Out of my peripherals, I noticed at first what seemed like hand gestures coming from the car next to me.  I thought for a second.  "He probably wants me to turn it down."  So I looked over, already reaching for my analogue volume knob, when I was rather surprised to find that...

    Not only was this man unsatisfied with the level of volume that I currently had my music at... HE WANTED IT TURNED UP.  So I turned it... gave him a thumbs up... and we sang together.  right there.  in the intersection.  About how

    Salvation is here!  Salvation is HERE and it LIVES IN me.

    I made it to school and probably bombed my Hebrew test, and then got blind sided by an Econ test (haha oh well).
  3. I had a very, very encouraging phone conversation with a great friend from rockHARBOR... Paul Ireland is planting a holostic, Bible teaching and, consequently, Gospel-driven, church multiplying church in Minneapolis in the old armory building.  We talked.  It was great.  He challenged me on many levels.  He read IsaIah 55 to me and I went on to read it again last night, today, and to my wife.  "I thought you could use some encouragement," he said, or something along the lines of that.  God directed him to call me.  It was the best phone call from an old friend that I've had in years.  It challenged me to follow Jesus even more.
  4. I dated the church today.  Kind of.  No one from PBC reads this so I can say it here, anyways (haha): I went to Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, today (Erin stayed home and slept, etc), and was very encouraged by the message.  I took note of a few things, in particular:
    1. Francis Chan preaches heavy messages from Scripture
    2. God doesn't 'alway's listen to my prayers
    3. My sin can INDEED hinder my prayers, as well as the body
    4. The church doesn't readily teach that
    5. If Francis Chan is emergent then so am I
    6. God keeps bringing me back to Isaiah
  5. While I was at Simi, I ran into a guy who I think I'd literally been thinking about recently - an old friend that I'd just barely got to meet and talk to before he moved away last summer while I lived down the road.  we talked about ENCOURAGEMENT of all things.  we had a good solid talk.  we laughed, we challenged each other, we encouraged each other, we went our ways and made sure we had each other's phone numbers.
At any rate - it's been an encouraging few days for me as a gear up and head back in to the grind.  Thanks for praying, thanks for reading.  I just wanted to post this here and remind you guys that God has us, if you've trusted in Jesus.  God has you, God listens, God answers.  your sin is real - as real as Christ's death that atoned for it.

a lot of prayer needs to go in to this week.

'Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 

And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments." '
Zech. 3:3-4