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Keep Me Young, South Dakota

December 19, 2015

If you want an uneventful life, don’t hang out with the Tuggles.

As Tim drove Lynn and me up the side of a snowy hilltop in the Black Hills of South Dakota with a drop-off to our lefthand side and I insecurely bounced around on the middle console of this old beater truck, I found myself saying to them, “You two keep me young.” While simultaneously praying that that wouldn’t turn into “You two kill me young.”

I tell you what, buddy, I’ve wondered most every day since Monday if I was about to be seeing the Lord’s face. From getting stranded due to a snowstorm after 20 hours of travel, to a solo sleepover in a random town hotel, to rescuing fellow snowstorm victims out of ditches along the interstate, to closing my eyes on that console with sweaty palms, I think I’ve met my quota for heart-pounding circumstances for 2015. Tim and Lynn will send you out with a bang.

But no “yes” that we say to Jesus is void of eventfulness, and I wouldn’t trade this crazy life I lead for any other. In a few months, Lord willing, we’ll have a book in our hands and I will put the most adventurous season of my life thus far on the shelves.

Until then, I’ll just try to stay young and not dead.



August 20, 2015

Who knew it would be more difficult to write a blog after arriving back home?

Over four months have passed since my return home from traveling, and life is unique and interesting. Major realization: Writing a book is nothing like writing a blog post.

Here are some nuggets of wisdom I’ve gathered four months later:

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The End of the Beginning

April 9, 2015

Sometimes we struggle to identify the blurry lines between our beginnings, our middles, and our endings. Life can be messy and endings can slam into other beginnings faster than we can sometimes manage to close the door on the previous chapter. Things aren’t always as linear as we might hope. Times of transition get muddied in the mix of the grandiose and the mundane.

In just four days I will board a plane with a one-way ticket and return home to Indiana.

In case you’re just now tuning in, I have been on the road for six months with Tim & Lynn Tuggle, missionaries who traveled horseback from California to North Carolina from 2010 to 2014. While my purpose with them has been multifaceted, the primary reason the Lord called me to this journey has been to write down their stories from their time on horseback and, Lord willing, see it become a published book.

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Battle of the Givers

February 21, 2015

It was my third Sunday away from home. October 19, 2014. I sat in a church pew and we bowed our heads for prayer before the offering. My finances on this trip have been nothing short of God’s miraculous provision. It was agreed that once I came with Tim and Lynn, I would be included as part of the ministry team and my general needs like food and toiletries would be provided out of their same ministry fund. However, in order to quit my job and have zero income for an indefinite span of time, I needed a financial miracle prior to leaving in order to secure my monthly student loan payments. That was the first miracle, because God came through and provided for me an amount that would cover nearly six months of payments up front before I even left. This was His confirmation to me that I was to go and that it was Him sending me.

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Two Months of Silence

February 4, 2015

This week marks four months that I have been living out of a backpack on the road. I wish I could say that each day’s experience always builds upon yesterday and that I’ve now figured out all the secrets of Christian living and discipleship. Come to find out, just because something significant is learned three weeks ago does not mean that that challenge or lesson is never seen again, nor that all failure is now impossible.

Looking back on the past two months feels like reviewing my entire high school career. While this blog has been silent, my life has not. So much has happened. Whenever I would consider my next post, three more huge things would happen and my overwhelmed self decided to put it off altogether. So in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll give a brief rundown of this whole shindig from start to now.

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There Was No Room

December 2, 2014

Every year I draw nearer to God through the celebration of His Son coming to this earth over 2000 years ago. The older I get, the more I learn, the more I learn, the more there is for me to learn. This summer I began pondering an element of Christmas that hasn’t quite baffled me in times prior. Sure, the whole thing is pretty bizarre–God sends His Son by immaculate conception in a woman’s womb, thereby joining God with human flesh and retaining full deity and full humanity in one. Incredible. But every detail of this story is just mind-bending. And one detail in particular snagged my heart recently and I haven’t been able to shake it since.

“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
~Luke 2:7

The whole story of Christ’s coming to save His people is entirely and completely baffling. The God of the universe, setting His sight and His mark on mankind to love relentlessly, chooses to navigate through the expanse of His creation in order to win back His love.

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Obedience: The Completion of Faith

November 14, 2014

It was fourth of July weekend and Tim and Lynn were scheduled to speak at my home church in Indiana. Having followed along with their ministry on Facebook, I was excited to reunite with them and hear about the completion of their journey on the east coast a few months prior.

The morning started normally with the worship team doing sound checks and warming up voices before milling around until the service began. I headed to the back of the room when the doors opened and in walked Tim and Lynn Tuggle, as rugged and horsemen-like as ever, and Lynn’s parents in tow. My mom was first to greet them and introduced them to my sister. As I walked up, I caught Lynn’s eye and she turned to my mother and said, “Now this one I remember.”

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The Funeral that Birthed New Life

November 3, 2014

It was early September of 2012. As the late morning sunlight cast across my parents’ living room floor, I crawled off the sofa and onto my knees. Bowing into the carpet with forehead in my palms, an overwhelmed and burdened request escaped my lips:

Lord, just take her. Take her today. Why is she still here? Will You please end this pain and suffering?

My great-aunt Pat had been struggling for several years with a rare lung disease that had been gradually worsening. Her last days were spent in bed, living alone and nearly 45 minutes away. My dad called every day to check on her and in the event she didn’t answer the phone after several attempts, a drive was made. Stubborn as she was, she insisted on mostly caring for herself and a doctor visit was a rarity. Her coughing fits seemed to manifest excruciation in my own lungs just by the sound of them, and from my front row seat to this agony I questioned and questioned what purpose God had in all this.

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This Beautiful Death

October 27, 2014

Isn’t it incredible that every single year God would remind us how beautiful it is to die?

What kindness is that?

It’s as if He’s saying, “Look here. See the majesty of the changing leaves? I’ve done all the work it requires to make something so unappealing into something so alluringly glorious. I invite you onto this path with Me. See how beautiful it is to die.”

But since when is death ever appealing? Since when did we ever see something start to die and exclaim, “Sign me up! I want that!”

We don’t live in a culture like that. We resist the masochism of mortifying our flesh and thereby forfeit the gain of the truest Life He has to offer.

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Holding on to Faith

October 13, 2014

It isn’t every day you see a horse walking down the street of an average American neighborhood. Two-ton machines on four wheels with headlights and loud music don’t turn any heads except to get out of the road. But a thousand-pound, four-legged clopping beast is guaranteed to draw a crowd in the inner city.

Last week we went into the ghettos of Shelby, North Carolina in hopes of giving away clothes, books, and some miscellaneous items to any who might be in need. After setting up in a nearby church parking lot, a few of us set off down the street with Tim and his horse, Faith.

Let me tell you a bit about Faith. She’s barely two years old, and she has an attitude.

The second day of this trip, I spent a couple of hours holding Faith’s halter while she grazed in a grassy lawn. Every time her head was near enough to me, she would smack me with the side of her head. I am not a horseman. But instinctively I knew this to be bad manners.

So here we are, walking down the street with Faith and I’m just a little nervous about how much attitude we will be seeing.

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