Monday, December 24, 2007

Who said we wouldn't change the world?

Once again, I've fallen off the "blogger wagon". There has been a lot of stuff to write about over the past month-but I think this one deserves mentioning this morning.

Last night I had dinner with one of my best friends -Mark O'driscoll. We ate at the all-mighty Monterrey's Mexican restaurant in North Augusta. ( You haven't lived until you've eaten at Monterrey in NA!) And, as always, it was a mini-city-reunion. I ran into at least 10 people from my old church...and it was great to catch up while the cheese dip started to congeal.

What was more awesome than anything, though, was the conversation that Mark and I had and the memories that we have shared. My buddy Mark is soon to be a commissioned Marine. He has spent the last 4 years studying at USC and participating in the ROTC program. He has excelled. Earning top honors and respect in things that I cannot pronounce and in acronyms that I can't remember (sorry buddy!)

As we talked I began to think of what an incredible impact Mark is going to have on this world. As a Christian, as a Marine, and as a Man in the world but not of it. The Lord has called him into military service; by answering the call he has already done the hard part. And he is actually at the safest place that he can be....right in the center of the Lord's Will.

Their are incredible things in store for Mark. It's funny to think that just, what, 3 years ago we set the Sweetwater Baptist Church parking lot on fire and were shooting flare guns at each other.

Mark is going to change the world. The courage that he has to stand up and fight is far beyond anything I can ever imagine. To think that while I slept through my 8 am class in college, he was up running, training to defend this nation. Soon, he will be fighting, willing to lay down his life to save mine. I am very thankful that he has answered the call. I am very thankful that he believes in this nation and remains steadfast in the values that America was founded upon. While many people speak about ways to fix the world as they sit in their ivory tower, my buddy Mark O'driscoll will be doing something about it. Thank God for Mark O'd.

I can't forget my other friends who have also chosen to serve.

Steven Cheek-an amazing man and Marine who has already served in 2 tours in the Middle East.

Matthew Cheek-another amazing Marine; I don't even know if I'm allowed to mention what he is doing.

Justin Sama-Army Ranger; served on 3 tours thus far.

Mike O'driscoll-soon to be Marine pilot who has recently answered the call

Remember these guys and never forget the sacrifice they are making for you.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Off to Africa...again.

I want to thank my friends who have supported me in this season of my life. Thank you for your encouragement and your prayers and your friendship. You know who you are...and you are awesome!

I just wanted to write down a few prayer requests as our teams at Heart for Africa are headed across the big ocean once again. I covet your prayers, and so does our team. How great it is that we serve a God who is there to meet us right where we are....and a God who listens to us...and a God who cares, what an awesome God.

-Our two teams; one headed to Swaziland, and one headed to Kenya
-Our Medical Mission for the Kinangop and Naivasha Communities
-That eyes will be opened to all that is Africa
-That we would seek out the Lord while in His great land.
-That I would allow him to removehe all anxiousness and worry from my spirit. That I would "get out of the way" and let Him work.
-That I would be confident in Him.
-Safety and Travel Mercies.
-That we would draw near to God, even before it gets to be to much to bear.

I love you guys,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tat tat tat it up!

That's right, no need in fixing your computer monitor, 'ole JP got a tattoo. Last Saturday, October the 20th Ashley, Eric, and I made the trek up to Hendersonville, NC to Empire Tattoos to get the body art done. (Shout out to Jeremy-I'm coming back for another soon!) I have wanted a tattoo for years! And finally, the day came. Dad always said, "Not while I'm paying the bills." I respected Dad's wishes and waited until I was financially on my own to get the art work. And...I love it. I can see where people say that it is an "addiction". Once you get one, you just keep on coming back for more!


Did it hurt: You know, it really wasn't that bad. The tattoo guy, Jeremy, would put the needle to the skin for about 3 seconds, and then wipe, 3 seconds, and the pain was never that bad. I winced a few times, but that was it!.

Why Africa? Well, I wanted something that has meaning in my life. Any future tattoo that I get I want to also either be from a significant event or something that has eternal significance in my life. Africa definitely qualified. Going changed my prospective on life, I always want to help and support Africa in some way. Conveniently, it is my job right now, but even when this season passes I would like to be involved in this beautiful continent somehow.

Right now, I have two countries outlined: Kenya and Swaziland. I've served in Kenya during the summer (going back this week) and will be going to Swaziland this week. I wanted the tattoo to be a lifelong project. Whenever I enter another country (not just the airport) I can throw another outline on my back.

I put it on my back so that I could cover it up when needed, but show it off when I wanted to! It's a constant reminder of the situations in Africa...a reminder that I/We can do something about it.

So, there it is. I'm a fan. I'm thinking of the next tattoo right now. Right now I'm thinking "MotherLand" tattooed on my side waistline. If you have any good ideas, send them my way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kevin "Bubba" Easler

Hey cuz',
I keep typing and erasing, typing and erasing...I'm still in shock about what happened this weekend. But, I think what I am trying to do is just tell you I love you and tell you how proud I am of you.

Cuz, you brought so much life to everyone around you. You were always smiling, always laughing... I can't help but smile when I think about you.

My mind is flooded with so many great memories that we had together. Remember when you fell out of the tree at Memaw's house and hit your back on the root and couldn't breathe? Ok, that wasn't great, but it was kind of funny! How about the many times Scott, you and me would crawl underneath Memaw's pool deck? The pig-pickin' at your graduation. The Lake and Beach trips. The countless hours of Nintendo. I'm even remembering crazy the time (we were probably 5 or 6) you gave me a thank you card and spelled my name with a "G" instead of a "J". And, oh yeah...Harry and the Henderson's. Wasn't that your favorite movie of all time? Great times.

But, of all the memories...I keep thinking of this one where we are at Sweetwater. It's a Wednesday night service, and you are jumping up and down (all 280 lbs) singing praise to the Lord. I can't help to think how much jumping and singing you are doing right now in the presence of All-mighty God. You beat us all to're "living the dream".

Cuz, you would've been so proud of your family. The theme of the weekend was Georgia. Red and white were everywhere. Also, you would have been proud of Scott. What a great man of God. He was strong, when he didn't have to be. I'm so glad he's my cousin. And, your Mom and Dad loved you cuz'...they loved you a whole lot, but you knew that. They are so proud of you. We're going to stick together as a family, cuz, no doubt about it.

Life throws out some crazy hands from time to time. We may never know why your time was up on October 7, 2007. We are grieving. But, I can't help but to think that for the first time in your are LIVING. With that perfect body in the land without sin, standing next to our Lord and Savior. I'm envious.

Kevin, I love you so much and you will always and forever be in my memory. I call the lot next to yours on Golden Street.


Kevin "Bubba" Easler

February 8, 1986-October 7, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Two Weeks in the Big City!

What a couple of weeks! I have to start off by saying that I'm not in Kansas anymore...I'm in the ATL! Well, actually I'm in Cumming (North Atlanta), better known as Suburbia, USA. But it is good. It is definitely going to take some more getting used to, but I'm going to continue to do what I do!

Living Arrangements: I moved into the basement of Uncle Chuck and Aunt Rob's House when I moved to GA. It has worked out great so far. Some of you may know Aunt Rob as my running and Amazing Race buddy. They are a great family, and one that I am glad and proud to be a part of. I look at Uncle C and Aunt Rob and their love for one another is amazing. I strive to have that kind of love with my future wife. Living with a family is definitely different after living in an apartment and/or dorm for the last 4 years of my life. But it is fun to. My cousins Emily (15) and Zach (10) are great and needless to say, I'm quickly becoming an expert at Guitar Hero! (Shout out to Cait, other cousin, whose at NGU!)

Job: In the previous post I entitled my job "Dream Job" because it is exactly what I want to do during this season of my life. And after two weeks...I can honestly say that it is going great. I am learning a lot right now, and am carefully placed up under the wing of Ian and Janine. I get to work from home and the office is a very cool energetic atmosphere. I have a little desk, but from time to time, I take the MacBook out to the porch and sit outside and do my work. You really can't beat it! I think reality will set in when I'm in Africa for 20 days in November working 16+ hours a day! But that's what I'm working/waiting for! The staff has been really supportive of me as I am learning and Ian and Janine seem to give me a little more responsibility each day. When all is said in done, I think I am going to really like what I am doing.

Atlanta: For years I've heard people say, "You know, Augusta's traffic is getting to be just like Atlanta". Or, "Woodruff Road is turning into Atlanta". Over-exaggeration of the century. I learned this quickly. You can really waste a lifetime sitting in Atlanta traffic. For Example, I went to Greenville this weekend to visit friends, and figured that if I left by 3pm on Friday I would be fine. Wrong. The 30 minute trip to the Interstate took an Hour. You really have to plan your drives. But, it's a great town. I know where the Wal-Mart is and I know how to ride the there anything else?!?!

Friends: I have to admit, I miss G-vegas. And I miss the friendships. It'll probably take some time creating and establishing friendships, but I figured that, and am ready for it. I guess I have two options to meet people: the bar or church. I've chosen to go with church. I have been to a couple of Singles get-to-gethers at North Point and have actually just joined a small-group. A group where you "do life together" I'm excited, we will see how it goes. It is kind of weird being dumped into the "Singles" pile of people anywhere from 21-50s. It's fun watching the old guys trying to be smooth and pick up ladies.

That is all I have from the ATL for now...Hawks tickets just went on sale so I'm out of here!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Goodbye...Sweet Greenville, SC

I told Dad on the way to Atlanta that it was funny how are conversations have begun to change. We no longer talk about mowing the grass and doing homework, but instead we talk about Mutual Funds and buying homes. Wow! Have I grown up that fast?!

So, Saturday September 15th was my move to Cumming, GA. I have to admit, I am pumped about the new and fresh opportunities, about my job, and about all the things to come, but I have to say...I'm really going to miss Greenville.

I really didn't fall in love with it until my Junior year at North Greenville Univ. Then, during the summer, I actually stayed in G-ville with Room aka Adam Blanton in a house on Wade Hampton. I worked part-time at The Cliffs Communities, hung out with my friends, started dating Ashley Austin, and discovered all that was Greenville. It was an amazing summer, no doubt about it!

I don't want to say that "I'm leaving Greenville behind" because I love it there. I would not mind even raising a family there one day. But with this blog I wanted to tell you about some of my favorite things in G-Vegas...maybe you'll get the bug...

Downtown Greenville-Best downtown I've ever experienced (and I've seen New York's and LA's). Great place to hang, eat, workout, study. It's all down there. From Cleveland Park where you can run and ride to the new High Cotton where you have to take your lady for an evening meal and try the mash potatoes.

Paris Mountain- A great view of Greenville and a great place to road bike.

Spill the Beans- Best Ice-Cream you'll ever eat in Historic West End G-ville.

North Greenville University- I had to throw the alma-mater up there. I mean, I did spend 4 years of my life at this place! Great Private college...I'm glad I went...but now I'm glad I'm out!

Gusto Cycles- A Great Bike Shop located on Wade Hampton. Great guys and you can ride all over Greenville using the shop as a starting point.

The Beacon- Well, this is Spartanburg, but only about 40 minutes from Greenville. Perhaps the best restaurant in the world. If you're looking for grease and more food than you can imaging eating, you better hit up The Beacon!

Barley's- The Best (and cheapest) Pizza you can get in Greenville. Open late, always a great atmosphere, and right in the middle of downtown.

Catalyst Church- This is a remote of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, pastored by Andy Stanley. A great place to go on Sunday Morning.

So these are just a couple of things that are unique to Greenville that I loved while I was there. Soon, I know, I'll have a similar (maybe longer) list of things from the ATL. Check out the links if you want, I have a meeting with Ludacris and Bow-Wow about ownership of the Atlanta Hawks!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Dream Job...

So I think I've finally gotten the hang of this blog the problem is: "Is anybody reading it?" Haha.

I wanted to fill you in on this past weekend: What a life-changing one that it was! I've been talking with the organization that I went to Africa with, Heart For Africa, for the last month. They were interested in interviewing me for an open position. Of course, if you've known me within the last 2 years you know that I have a love for Africa and want to do my part in helping that Amazing Continent.

I was definitely interested in the opportunity and put my best foot forward during the entire process. Could this be happening, could I really, maybe, possibly, be getting the job of my dreams this season?

Well the dream became a reality this past Friday. I got a phone call from the amazing Janine Maxwell, with the news that I was the newest member of this awesome organization. I will be the Partnership Co-ordinator and will help define and manage projects on the ground in Africa. Also, I will get to travel to Africa a few times a year. So to recap, because I'm on the floor right now as well! Orphans, widows, Africa, full-time job, the Lord's Will for this season in my life, being a small part of the solution for can't get any better than this! Thank you, Lord.

Along with the other life changing events: I'm on the move. In two weeks I'll be moving to the A-T-L. Better known as Atlanta, GA. That's right, the city that I said I wanted to be my eventual home...that's where I'm going. I'm actually moving to Cumming and pumped about the new friends, new church North Point Community Church, and I guess the new start!

I'm not going to lie, I am a little anxious about the whole move and newness of everything. I love Greenville, SC and am very comfortable here...but, you gotta try something new every once in a while!

I'll miss everything here a lot though. No doubt about it. I have a funny feeling, though, that I'll be around...and that I may be back one day. Besides, Mark and I have to develop the first "Bagel Pitt" in downtown Greenville; then on to franchising!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Cyclism Greenville!

As you probably know...I am a big cycling fan. I love to ride, watch, and talk about cycling. Now, I know that some of you are probably laughing or questioning my choice of sports, but that's ok! I had someone (Debbie B) tell me this weekend that she would rather watch grass grow than pay attention to the world of cycling!

This weekend was a big weekend for US Cycling. Greenville hosted the US Pro Cycling Championships for the 2nd straight year...and it was awesome. This was the first time that I was able to witness a pro event and I have to tell you, I got chills when the riders flew past at speeds of 35-40mph. The ride consisted of an awesome sight-seeing trip of Greenville County. The Pros did three laps around Cleveland Park, 4 laps up the ungodly Paris Mountain, and then 3 more laps around Cleveland Park for a finish at Broad and Main for a total of 131 miles.

Levi Leipheimer took the win and beat out our man George Hincapie by a little over a minute. The race was a great experience and from our vantage point we were able to see the pros pass 10x. Ashley was even able to get a VIP pass and party like a rock star with George, Levi, and David Zabriskie after the race was over!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Battery Went Dead...

I am a firm believer that you form your life from small pieces of the people around you. It's funny how you start to hang around someone, and before too long, you end up talking, acting, or laughing just like them?! This can be a great thing when you surround yourself with people that are Great. When I surround myself around people like my Dad, my best friends, and people I respect, I don't mind at all taking a little piece of them and adding it to my life. It's kind of like the old saying, "you are what you eat!" I remember doing similes, idioms, and metaphors in elementary school and not understanding what that one meant!

I have had the awesome opportunity within the last year to meet some pretty cool people. Everybody always wants to meet famous people and I've had a little of that experience this year. As I look back on that, I've tried to take away the Great that they have and instill it in my life. The thing about famous people is that they are just like you and me, no different! So with this blog I'm going to list a few of the cool people that you may have heard of before that I have met...(and I admit, I wanted to brag...!)

Kelly McCorkle Parkison: Amazing Race 7. I can call her a good friend after working for her this year!
Alberto Gonzales: (Former) Attorney General of the United States.
George Hincapie: Professional Cyclist for Team Discovery.
Tim Reynolds: Best guitarist you will ever see/plays with Dave Matthews a good bit.
David James Elliot: Actor, notably on "JAG"
Kevin Costner: Actor.
John Elway: Hall of Fame Professional Football Player
Quite a few Reality TV Stars: Uchenna Agu, Joyce Agu, Chip and Kim, Ray and Deanna, Bianca, Susan and Patrick-From Amazing Race. Ruth Milliman-Survivor Exile Island.

Also within the last year or two I have gotten to see, not meet....
Sheryl Crow
Jay Leno
Kiera Knightley-
Pirates of the Caribbean
Charlize Theron- North Country, Monster, Italian Job
David Lettermen

Donny Osmond
Peter Pace-NATO General, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Tiger Woods
Gary Player

Wayne Gretzky
Cheech Marin, Gary Valentine, George Lopez, Catherine Bell, Josh Kelley, Ben Wright

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Le Tour de France

Ahhh, the Tour de France! The greatest month in the world of cyclists is always July when we sit down and finally get 3 weeks of non-stop cycling on television. We cheer for our favorite riders and teams-if your an American, probably Team Discovery (the only "American sponsored Team") and have memories of "The One" and all his splendor-Lance Armstrong. No doubt about it, it is an amazing athletic event. Cycling over 2,000 miles in 3 weeks is incredible. I really don't think you get a true appreciation for the event and/or cyclists in general until you saddle up yourself. I can attest to this, my longest ride to date is 50 miles and after the 3 and 1/2 hours in the saddle I came home ready to sleep for the next week! I have to respect the riders who ride at an average of 25 mph for 3 weeks!

Of Course I have a favorite rider...George Hincapie, super domestic of Team Discovery. He was there for all 7 of Lance's Tour wins and continues to be an extremely strong force and leader for the Team. His cool laid back demeanor makes him easy to be liked. He actually lives in Greenville-next month he is breaking ground on an "endurance community" for endurance athletes. Also during the first weekend in Se
pt. he will be in the US pro championships in Greenville defending his title. A few of the rides I go on take you right past his endurance community, and he is going to incorporate some of the rides into it. I've had the cool opportunity to see George riding around Greenville 3 times. One of which I was also on a bike and pulled up next to him at a red light on Old Buncombe road. I immediately peed in my pants, introduced myself, shook his hand, and then called all my cycling friends to tell them the news-which was about 3 people! Def, the best ride I ever had.

Alright, I know what you are thinking...Cycling is stupid...everybody is on drugs. Seems that way doesn't it? Which is a sad realization in just about every sport we cheer for and watch on a daily basis: Baseball. Check. Football. Check. Cycling. Check. Basketball. I'm going to check that one. Tennis. Check-well, maybe not tennis, but who knows! The "drugs" in cycling is referred to as "blood-doping". I'm not very familiar with exactly how its done but more or less it is drawing your blood, freezing it, and inserting it back into your body. It helps with the O2 level in your blood, making it easier for endurance athletes to perform. I'm pretty sure that is a simple definition of it.

It makes me sick to realize people, such as Hincapie, who usually finish far back in the Tour de
France may never get a shot to win it because of all the cheaters.

Also, Lance Armstrong...there's been so much debate over him, I feel bad for the guy. But he has had over 100 clean drug tests, so until something crazy comes up that says DRUGS!!! I'm supporting the guy.

I am partial to Team Discovery. Really, I have only been into cycling for about a year when my amazing girlfriend, Ashley, introduced me to the Tour. Her dad is an avid rider, and shortly after I bought my first bike and fell in love with it. ...But, Team Discovery (previously Team US Postal Service) was the home of Lance Armstrong, the greatest cyclist of all time. The awesome thing about Lance was the path. Cocky cyclist, cancer victim, cancer survivor, quitter, humbled, determined, incredibly hard worker, 7-time Tour de France Winner. (A lot of people do not know that Lance pretty much quit cycling shorty after he made his comeback after cancer.) I believe that he offers a lot for people to learn. Some of my friends and even my (amazing) Mom object to this statement.

Lance pretty much has made it clear that he is not remotely close to being or believing in Christianity. No doubt, this saddens my heart. I think if he had an outsiders look on his own life, how close to death he was, how he has been blessed, and the responsibility he has as a cancer survivor-these things could possibly change his life. It is not my belief that I should shun this man, just because he is not a Christian. I want to promote the great things that he represents.
Cancer Research, Never Giving Up, America, Hope, and Determination. And it is my prayer that while on Earth he will turn to the Lord. How much more fulfilling his life would be if this were the case. I recently made a commitment to pray for this man-prayer is a powerful thing!

I wear my Livestrong band with pride. I wear it for my family that has survived cancer, my friends that have survived cancer, and the hope that there will one day be a cure for this awful disease.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Africa, Unite!!

As many of you know, I spent July 9-19 in Kenya, Africa. And, I must say, it was the greatest week of my life. I probably could have told you it was going to be the greatest week, even before I went-and was. It has been tough putting the experience into words. It really was an "indescribable" experience. I learned so much on this trip-I'm still trying to process it all. Isn't is amazing how you go on a trip like this to serve and help others, and you always come back seemingly more blessed yourself!

Where to start?! (See I've got a lot of pressure on me right now, My first Blog, My first Entry...I'm sweating right now, j/k)

The people of Kenya were amazing. We served at an orphanage called Tumaini (Hope in Swahili) where we farmed, built fences, and spent time with the orphans and widows. I realized one day while I was farming at Pastor Phyllis's church that it would be so hard to tell what I had seen in Africa. How would I put this beautiful, magnificent country into words? How would I be able to convince people that God was in Africa and I witnessed, saw, and experienced it for myself?

In America we always hear of Africa being a dark continent, we hear all the stats, we hear all the bad that goes on there. And there is a whole lot of it. The AIDS pandemic, starvation, malnutrition, "street children"-who do anything, ANYTHING, to survive another night. It's more than just the pot-bellied kids you see on goes beyond that to the 9 year-old who is selling her body for money to support the rest of her family, because she is the head of household. These things are hard to type, read, and hear, but they are reality on that continent.

Among all this "bad" is there any good in Africa? My answer to you is YES, YES there is!!! Our team had the opportunity to experience Kenyans who, in our eyes, would have nothing. Yet, they would praise God. They had such a genuine true faith. One that a Christian should have. They praised God during all times, and thanked Him no matter the situation. How arrogant I have become to think that I could do life on my own. I've let the things God has intended for me to use to glorify Him get in the way of His will and way for my life. He may not be asking you or I to sell all our possessions and move to a third-world country. But He is asking us to glorify Him with what he has so graciously given to us.

How have I missed that? It took seeing a people that had TRUE joy for me to realize this! And TRUE joy they had! I have never danced, sang, and praised God like I did in Kinangop, Kenya. For some reason, He was so present there, so real. Have I become so complacent in my Christianity that I forgot what true worship and fellowship feels like here in America? I guess so!

Seeing children share food, when they may not have eaten in days/ hearing Tall John Strong Hope ask us if we had eaten/ Realizing that the people of Tumaini had been praying for us months before we got there/ Witnessing David Kaiuke, a walking miracle, and a hero-go from living on the streets in Kenya, to becoming a college graduate, social worker, and man of God/ Praising the same God in Kenya, as I serve in the USA/ kicking a soccer ball around and talking about Michael Jordan/ seeing children beginning to understand how AIDS is spread (shout out to Kelly!)/ Hearing Daniel say that he was #1 in his class, and being so proud about it!/ Orphans longing for their education so they can have a way out/ Orphans saying they want to be doctors, presidents, pilots, and preachers----All of these things represent the Good in Africa. It represents the hope that the continent has.

Until this trip I simply did not realize that God was present and doing mighty things in Africa. It took listening to Bishop David Thagana who has planted countless churches in 3 or more countries. It took hearing the testimony of Charles Mulli (Father to the Fatherless). How the Lord lead his life-from being an orphan, to a millionaire, to having nothing, to creating the Mulli Children's Family Orphanage with over 1200 kids. It took seeing the other 71 members of our incredible team leaving the country never to be the same again.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. One that God has allowed to see what actually goes on in Africa. But he has also given me a big responsibility to share what I saw with the world. To somehow help others to understand this amazing continent. It's impacted my life beyond what I could have imagined, and I love it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

First Time For Everything...

This is my attempt to blog my life for those of you who are interested enough to read! Actually, I just wanted a website with my name on it so that when I'm famous I'll own the rights to it and not some crazed fan and/or hater!