the LONE star state.

this was my perception of texas growing up - what i knew from pee wee's big adventure. probably not all that accurate.

anyways. after some long driving, i arrived in waco, texas last saturday (the 15th). my friend meredith from seminary is currently working on a phd at baylor in religion and society (right meredith?) and lives in waco. it was a perfect stopover point to spend a couple days in the crazy state known as texas.

the only other experience i've had with texas, was a week in austin about two years ago...and most texans say that austin is kind of its own flavor of texas. so i was very curious to experience waco this time, as well as driving near-diagonally across the entire state (it's friggin HUGE, by the way). i had a great drive on a backroad highway in the northeast corner of the state (287), then a quick jump down to waco from fort worth. as i arrived in waco, i drove down the length of waco drive, as it seemed that it would be a main drag of sorts. it was a great taste of the city - a real mix of lower and middle class it seemed. and i liked it a lot. it seemed very raw and real - none of the 1.5 million dollar homes that i was surrounded by in CA. just a whole lot of people who probably grew up in waco, working for a living. it felt very authentic to me.

another goal of mine to see this guy in his natural habitat. this is david crowder for all of you who live under rocks. he is an amazing musician, who is also the worship pastor at university baptist church (UBC) in waco. i've seen him in concert many times, but really wanted to see him lead worship at his church. here's how remarkable this guy is: the david crowder band now tours internationally, and almost constantly. and no matter where they are, they will fly back to waco nearly EVery sunday to lead worship. how cool is that - that their priority is always on their church, and not on their professional-musician-status. i'm impressed by that. anywho. it was a GREAT experience to get to go to church at UBC. their teaching pastor josh carney gave the message, and i was impressed by how much he shared about himself and his own struggles. they have been doing a wilderness-theme for lent, and josh spoke about psalm 63, and the contrast that the words "your love is better than life" is from the wildernesses we experience. this i loved - with regards to 'your love is better than life', he said - "if we're honest with ourselves, do we really buy that sometimes?" he was talking about it in reference to the really hard spots we hit - our dark nights of the soul. and i was like PREACH IT BROTHER - it's hard to know that God's love is better than life sometimes...especially when everything seems really dark. it was great. then two nights later, i met their community pastor, john mark seelig, at a bar, and he and i chatted for a bit. overall, i was really encouraged by UBC. there is hope for the church. i need those reminders often.

other than that, there was just a lot of hangout time, bar time, and good talks with meredith and some of her friends. we took a quick side trip to austin to take her friend linnea to the airport, and we walked 6th ave. downtown, and then had dinner at the famous Stubb's BBQ. if you are ever in austin, GO HERE. as i brought my first rib to my mouth, my tastebuds FREAKED out - i could not savor those things slow enough. i could have eaten like 19 racks of them. amazingly flavorful. go.

then there was saint patrick's day. i hadn't even thought about st. patty's day before arriving in waco. upon mentioning that to meredith, she replied: "i've got it covered". i didn't ask any questions. it was a lot of fun - we hit two of the great local spots - a nice low-key pub called the dancing bear, then an authentic texas bar called scruffy murphys. beautiful. some of the crew below at scruff's (meredith is to my right) -
yes, i realize i am not wearing green - sue me.

it was definitely one of the most fun evenings i can remember in a long time. i'm now a big fan of texas. well, not the whole big-truck-thing. that i'll never understand. but most of the rest has grown on me. anyways. thanks to meredith and jenny (and penny!) for hostess-ing me :)

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