Wednesday, November 26, 2008

St. Francis Changed My Life; So did Rich

My life has been significantly changed by a man called Rich Mullins, who is no longer with us. He died in 1997, but his impact is far from gone.

The attitudes and actions of this man changed my life. But, what changed his life?

In addition to Rich's Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (all that really matters), St. Francis of Assisi, a patron saint that passed away in 1226, changed his life. St. Francis also loved Jesus. St. Francis loved all of creation that his Jesus had given him. 

"Francis was reverently in love with all natural phenomena - sun, moon, air, water, fire, flowers; his quick warm sympathies responded to all that lived. His tenderness for and his power over animals were noted again and again. From his companions we have the story of his rebuke to the noisy swallows who were disturbing his preaching at Alviano: 'Little sister swallows, it is now my turn to speak; you have been talking enough all this time.' We hear also of the birds that perched attentively around when he told them to sing their Creator's praises, of the rabbit that would not leave him at Lake Trasymene, and of the tamed wolf of Gubbio - all incidents that have inspired innumerable artists and story tellers." (from ewtn.com).

Rich Mullins described creation in one of the most beautiful ways I have ever heard, in the song "Calling Out Your Name." Here's an amazing (unofficial) video.....




I am thankful for this amazing and indescribable creation, and how God uses it to continually change my life. And I can't tell you how thankful I am for recently seeing the horizon on fire.

Whatever you do, please run wild with the hope.

Matthew Perryman Jones - "Save You"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Advent Conspiracy (Video)

Try and watch this before Black Friday. It's probably not what you assume.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Note From Dad

To my Baby Clore (due to this world 5/23/09),

I love you. You are already one of the most precious things to me in this world. Behind my Savior and your Mom, you are the most precious thing to me. You have come along at a perfect time; a time that your Mom and I could not have planned. You are a gift to us. You are already teaching us more about what really matters in life.

We are preparing for Christmas. Thanksgiving Day is this coming Thursday. Although most would call me crazy, I say this is your first Christmas. You are alive and well - I heard your heartbeat this past Wednesday. I see the effect you already have on your Mother. I know you are already rockin' it in there, and I couldn't be more excited, and proud.

The world is going through some interesting stuff right now. The economy is apparently the worst it's been in umpteen years, our nation has its first black president and the St. Louis Rams are a dreadful 2-9. Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Your Uncle Andrew's band played a concert in San Diego this past Friday night, and Grandpa and Grandma Clore were there. Dad's old youth pastor, Thom, is about to come have dinner with us. Those are just some of the things going on in life right now.

You're coming into an interesting world, my friend. One that will hurt you. One that will tempt you. One that will lie to you. One that will not satisfy. It's ok though. You are also about to enter God's beautiful creation. It is His world. In the end, He wins. It's all going to be ok. For all of its beauty, splendor, wonder, confusion and mystery, always remember that it is not your home. It is not my home; and I can't tell you how thankful that makes me.

I promise you will feel this way. C.S. Lewis said it best. "If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." Someday I trust that you will be able to read this quote and smile, just as I am right now.

I cried a bit this morning during church, because we sang one of my favorite hymns, and I thought of you. The song was "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." The third verse gets me every time: "O to grace how great a debtor / Daily I’m constrained to be! / Let Thy goodness, like a fetter / Bind my wandering heart to Thee. / Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, / Prone to leave the God I love; / Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, / Seal it for Thy courts above."

Your physical arrival is highly anticipated. You are already part of a loving family and BIG circle of friends.

I love you with all of my heart,

Your Dad

Artists I've Seen in Concert

The following list is more for my (John) own record-keeping, but you may find it interesting. 

After 27 years of life, I've seen the following artists in concert (some not full shows, but have seen perform live).

Billy Joel, Elton John, Metallica, Poison, Bon Jovi, Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, Duran Duran, Ben Folds, Rich Mullins, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, B.B. King, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Ray Price, Damien Rice, Patty Griffin, The Normals, Tony Bennett, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, Augustana, Spin Doctors, All-American Rejects, Gary Allan, Maroon 5, Alan Jackson, Red, Pillar, Leeland, Krystal Meyers, Brandon Heath, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Kid Rock, Rufus Wainwright, Pearl Jam, Willie Nelson, Newsboys, dc Talk, Beyonce, Prince, Matthew Perryman Jones, Rocco Deluca and the Burden, Stryper (this is all I can think of right now; i'll work on remembering the rest later)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We Need Each Other

There's this song I can't stop thinking about and listening to. It's called "We Need Each Other," by Sanctus Real. And I think about how at Bible study this morning, it was only me, Don and Bill. Two dear friends that the Lord has obviously put in my life. Don and Bill are older than me, and I need them. I need to hear their stories. I need to hear what really matters after retirement and the demands of the office are silent. You know, the stuff that really matters. 

Don and Bill are a representation of the people I need. It's not just those two. It's too many to list here. It's people I don't even know. 

We really do need each other. Life is hard enough as it is. Don't ignore those around you. They are there to help.

I've lived a couple of experiences that provide me with a daily reminder of just how important my bride is; and that she is not to be taken for granted. Regardless, Don and Bill wouldn't let me see that one any other way.

We heard the heartbeat

Yesterday was our latest baby check-up and we heard our little one's heartbeat for the first time. It was absolutely amazing and so much faster than I thought it would be, which shows my level of knowledge on such matters. The heartbeat was around 160.

This is absolutely phenomenal. It can't breathe, yet it's heart is beating. It hasn't seen the light of day yet, but it's alive and well.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feed My Starving Children

I'm very proud to work for a company that is taking time this holiday season to support an organization called "Feed My Starving Children." Check this organization out online, at www.fmsc.org.

We will be helping to make bags of food that cost $0.17 each, and somehow each of those bags will provide 6 meals. 6 meals from $0.17? Really? That stupid cup of coffee at Panera the other day cost me $1.30.

If you have six minutes, watch and listen to Jars of Clay's "Oh My God" (set to an amazing fan-created video)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pain

I was just trying to play the piano, but Abbey (the cat) decided that either she didn't want to hear it, or she just wanted to be real close to me while I played. Still not sure which one, but she was all over me: on my lap, the keyboard, and sitting on my shoulder. Yes, like a parrot.

Abbey's going to have a big day tomorrow. As far as I know, she doesn't know yet. She's going to be losing her front claws. Simple procedure? Sure, for some. Not for me though. I hate this. I've put it off, because I don't want to put her through it. It's not a simple procedure; not even close. I'll spare the graphic details of what the equivalent would be for humans.

The weird and confusing thing about it? Life will be better for Abbey. 

You see, Abbey was adopted by Sarah and me recently, from a kill shelter. Yes, a kill shelter. Usually you just hear the term no-kill shelter, but think about what the opposite must be. Our love for animals, and that picture we saw on the cover of the newspaper at Cracker Barrel, took us to this shelter one Saturday morning.

The lady immediately took us to Abbey (her name was Pumpkin at the time). We went with Abbey into the little room where we help decide futures. Just as we were about to say no, Abbey literally laid down on the clipboard in my lap and started batting at the pen I was holding. Abbey went home with us.

As much as I hate to say it, Abbey losing her claws will help her keep the nice, warm home she has. It really doesn't seem fair that this is how life works; but it is how life works.

No one said it would make sense, be fun or be fair. It's none of these. And I'm glad. We wouldn't recognize the good, if it was all good.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Little Clore Update

I feel like I generally understand how and why a baby is born into this world, but now that I'm actually experiencing it and learning about these little growth details step-by-step, there's only one word I can respond with. "Really?!?"

For example, here are a few updates on Little Clore (from our book, Your Pregnancy, by Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler):

-weighs between 1/3-1/2 of an ounce
-is 2 1/2 inches long
-fingers and toes have separated
-nails are growing
-fetal nervous system is continuing to develop
-skeletal system now has centers of bone formation in most bones

Frederick Buechner once said, "If you think you are seeing the same show all over again seven times a week, you're crazy. Every morning you wake up to something that in all eternity never was before and never will be again. And the you that wakes up was never the same before and never will be the same again."

I'm glad our maker decided this little one was another way to add to his infinite glory.

Sally's I.D.

For those who think they've seen it all, this arrived in the mail yesterday. I knew they took her picture at our recent vet visit, but I didn't know this is where they were taking it.....



Billy & Elton

Yesterday, my buddy Steve mentioned that he heard Billy Joel and Elton John were going on tour again next year. After nearly falling out of my chair and choking on my salad, I realized that he wasn't kidding, and it wasn't some sort of completely uncool joke.

Apparently it's really happening, although dates don't seem to be available yet. A September 2008 interview in GQ Magazine quotes Elton as saying, "I'm going on the road again with Billy Joel again next year."

Personally, I'm a Billy Joel-freak. There's no other way to describe it.

I'm currently reading Billy Joel: The Biography, by Mark Bego. That, coupled with an intense desire to take my bride to see the man in concert for the first time, has me responding to this news like a 3-year-old girl on Christmas morning.

If you (somehow) don't find yourself a fan of either of these masters, at least enjoy this video.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Your dreams are there for a reason


I once sat in my seventh floor dorm room of my West Oklahoma college, with a chemistry book on my lap. "How in the world did I get here?" was the question, along with "I could not care less about this stuff."

Pharmacy school had become an appealing option for me at the end of high school, because I could live anywhere I wanted and make a very decent living doing it. Made sense. Let's go that route. It'll all just work out; I can do anything I want, right?

Not exactly. Not even close. I don't believe that. At least not anymore.

We all have a purpose. Each and every one of us. It was set in motion by our maker before we could come along and try to force something else.

Your unending interest in whatever exists because it was placed there on purpose. It is not something to be ignored. We each have a role, and it's something that causes us to feel a sense of purpose, a sense of wonder and amazement. A sense of "Wow, this is what I was put here to do."

Don't let life pass you by knowing you need to be doing something different with your life. Don't ignore what's on your heart, your passion. Just go after it. Although not flawlessly, that is what will work out. That is what you can do, better than anything else.

Thank God I was pulled out of that West Oklahoma dorm room and put right where I need to be. Although far from perfect, I could not imagine being around another industry, ever. 

-jc

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Identity, and appreciation for our families


I'm thankful to be a Clore. But I'm thankful to know that I am so much more than that. I'm a Wilson, and a Richmond, and a Wallace. My bride is a Clore, and a Mitchell, and a Wright, and the list goes on and on for each of us, back into time for decades and decades.

Identity is an important thing; an extremely important thing. Family is where we start, and it's where we end. They're the ones that are there when things are great, and when things are terrible. They're the only ones, usually, that stick around when there's really no other appeal, except for love. 

I recently read a book about Rich Mullins' amazing life, written by James Bryan Smith. The book is called "An Arrow Pointing To Heaven." This book changed the way I view the world. The paragraphs that really caught my attention are the following (pg. 28). These words describe the home that I, along with my bride, hope and pray to help create someday.

Our parents create an environment in which we can grow. We call it the home. The home is the most powerful place on earth. It is the cradle of the soul. Our minds and personalities, our loves and our hates, our fears and our dreams are all molded in the home. The home is the work-shop of God, where the process of character-making is silently, lovingly, imperceptibly carried on. We search throughout our lives for love and identity, and if we are fortunate, we may find it.

The quest for our identity will always lead us back to our families. They are the ones with whom we discover our potential, as well as our limitations. They are the ones through whom and with whom we learn how to live. It is sheer hubris to think that we are "self-made" women and men. We learn how to live from other people. We did not develop in a vacuum; we were taught how to function from other people and by no one more so than our parents and our siblings. Rich's family shaped him, and he in turn shaped them.

We have families because we are weak creatures, and God knows that we need them. Throughout our lives, those people who knew us first are a part of our makeup even if they are difficult to live with. Old men and women can see their parents in their minds as if it were yesterday. Even in his last years, Rich could still picture his dad cussing in the barn and managing to grow plants out of the tough Indiana clay. He could see his mom hanging laundry and could taste her cornbread and beans. Jamming seven people into a car that seats five may not be comfortable, but it is family. In terms of soul-shaping, it is the most powerful place in the world.

(Listen to Rich's song, "First Family," and some of the above references will make more sense.)

We are very thankful for our families and realize their importance in and on our lives, now, more than ever; especially our parents. 

Identity matters. All thanks to God that it does.

Images from the latest development....


The latest from Little Clore, below. As of today, the little one is rockin' it at the size of a lime, according to our all-knowing pregnancy book.

This is a new thing


So, this is a new thing. Something I quietly rebelled against for a while; because everyone else was doing it. If you know me at all, that is not surprising. However, when news arrived that my bride would bring a new Clore into the world, I thought this would be a great place to keep track of all of the crazy things that are happening, and will be happening.

Seriously? A baby. Wasn't in the plans. At least not four-ish months into our marriage. Not even close. Our grand plan was to "wait" and enjoy life for a while. Now that our best laid plans have been altered, will we not be able to enjoy life any longer? Of course not. But, based on that line-of-thinking, that's what one could deduce.

Either way, we're going to have a baby. We are going to help make the world a little bigger. A little brighter. And a whole lot more intense.

Crazier things have happened, I realize. But to me, this presently seems like one of the craziest things imaginable. And for crazy, I could not be more thankful.

-jc 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blog-ging:


Blog-ging: verb. The soapbox everyone has always wanted and now has, which leaves no one to actually listen to what's being said. At the outside chance that this one is different, here goes.
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New Little Harvey

New Little Harvey

One Month

One Month

Two Months

Two Months

Three Months

Three Months

Four Months

Four Months

Five Months

Five Months

Six Months

Six Months

Seven Months

Seven Months