Sunday, June 10, 2007

shades of flannel

I just got back from camping with a group of men from my church. We went to an amazing lake up near Mt. Hood, here in Oregon. I’ve tried to remember the last time I went camping, but I can’t. The last trip I remember was about 5 or 6 years ago with some friends, but I can’t be sure. My memory has become very sketchy these days. A topic for another blog entry perhaps.

It’s weird that I haven’t pitched my tent in the Great Outdoors for a while, because I really enjoy it. I love the uneasy feeling of being out of cell phone range. I love that the only scheduling decisions I have to make are whether to take a nap in a hammock strung between two trees or spend time fussing with my tarp castle.

It’s so peaceful, restful, and relaxing, but I have to admit one of the great draws for me is The Battle…you know, me versus the elements. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Bear Grylls from the TV show “Man vs. Wild”. You’ll never catch me eating the raw meat off a dead zebra carcass to stay alive or foraging for ants (apparently “an excellent source of protein!”). For this trip I set up a futon mattress in the back of my truck. Not exactly roughing it, but my neck might never be the same.

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But I don’t go to the other extreme either. You won’t find me in an epic struggle to readjust the satellite dish on top of my air conditioned recreational vehicle, or making my camping plans based on the proximity of the nearest Starbucks (my first stop when I came down off the mountain. “Make that a triple Venti Mocha please”).

I think what I like most is that feeling of being a kid again building forts that don’t let in any light or rain, and making stuff out of sticks and rocks. I love the struggle to make do with whatever is available. There’s no satisfaction like settling in for the night after building a fortress out of a combination of tarps, branches, bungee cords, ropes, and…oh yeah…futon mattresses.

The best discovery about this weekend though, had to do with the fifty, or so, guys I went with. I didn’t really know many of them before the trip. My closest buds at church weren’t able to go, so I almost didn’t go myself. What a huge loss that would’ve been.

From Friday night to Sunday morning I sat and talked with guys from all walks and stages of life. College students and grandpas. Blue collar workers and executives. Rugged outdoorsman and, well, guys like me. And do you want to know the best thing about it? I couldn’t tell the difference! When guys are camping, and they’re in all shades of flannel, you can’t tell a mill worker from an investment banker. It’s truly a beautiful thing. When you strip everyone down to the blue jeans, flannel shirts and work boots, we’re all just a bunch of guys readjusting our tarps and playing with fire.

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As I sat around the campfire gnawing on some fresh trout, talking to my new friends, I was struck by this thought. This must be how God views us. In his eyes we’re all the same…just a bunch of guys that He’d love to have a relationship with. I think that’s probably why it was easy for Jesus to hang out with people of all walks of life, from the disgustingly religious to the outcasts of society that no one else would have anything to do with. To him, they’re all just a bunch of guys in flannel. I love that!

Well, I need to run. I’ve got an appointment with my chiropractor. I wonder if he likes to camp?

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the latest on the sells

As of May 27, 2009...

Wow, it's been almost a year since we've updated this. Our family had a wonderful experience traveling to Uganda two summers ago, which prompted us to keep a journal on this blog. You can read our daily journal from our month long trip

This year brings new adventures. Our eldest daughter, Courtney, after graduating from George Fox University with honors, left for her third trip to India to spend nearly a YEAR to work at Happy Home for the Handicapped in Shimoga, India. You can read about her first trip to India and the impact it had on her life here. She'll also give us new updates from her current trip on this site (here). As of this writing, she is just starting to settle in and is very excited to be there. She has been looking forward to this for a long time!

Meanwhile, Hillary spent all of last year
touring the western U.S. with Matsiko, the choir of children we grew to love as our own in Uganda. She journalled about her experiences in Uganda if you'd like to see what that was like. At some point during this tour, she felt led to join the U.S. Army. Quite a big decision, and one she didn't take lightly. After moving through Basic Training with flying colors, she is now at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio training to become a combat medic. It's a very intense training, but we're sure she'll do well. Our whole family was able to travel to South Carolina to watch her graduate from Basic Training. What an awe inspiring experience!

Leslie is having a great year of teaching 5th graders. She's also in a Master's program, which takes a good chunk of her time. She's still finds time to read a TON of books. Literally, a ton!

Curt was overwhelmed by his experience as a first time overseas traveler and kept up his journal here (you can also read his random posts on everyday life here). The busyness of life and keeping track of his traveling kids has slowed down his writing, but he hopes to begin writing on a regular basis again soon.