Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: faces (page 1 of 3)

Australia in Retrospect [This is My Confidence]

The highest heights are often to be found in the least expected places…
Least expected, that is, to a world quantifying success with finite formulas.

I’ve been to the heights. And not standing on a stage before thousands. Nor on some glittering crest of conquest. (As high as those honors are…)

One thing is always the same. I’m always shorter on the highest heights… By the distance of heel to knee.

PC: James Tregenza doanddare.org

This time, it was on a dusty bit of ground surrounded by benches, throbbing hearts, deep attention.
I have never climbed higher. Never seen the world wider than I saw it then. Never looked smaller in my own eyes. Never felt closer to Heaven.

No surprise.

To those who have found eyes for higher glory, though the beauty of the high places always surpasses our dreams, it is never entirely unexpected…

“As long as I live, I will remember his words– 

‘…Mostly, I’ve met God properly.’

That broke me wide open As though standing on holiest ground, I was filled with a smallness; a trembling… How is it that I am even allowed to touch what is this holy?“*

Though every memory fades at least a bit eventually, my wonder will never cease.
Nor will love for new friends with a beautiful foreign accent.
Nor will firm faith that we’ll meet again, if not on this round earth, then inside pearly gates.

“Hey– remember when…?”

Yes, I remember.

morning stars: checkout | PC: Jasmine Tregenza

Before it was over I had the opportunity to try to crunch the essence of 40 pages of worship notes and days and days of prayer and pondering onto 5 minutes of film. 

This is my confidence.

morning and miracle bend
later: snowy mountain living
friends in Victoria

*journal entry, January 20, 2014

Relentless Pursuit

We waste hours and days in pursuit of answers from God.

When the answer to every question is to be found in the pursuit of God.

That’s what I learned this morning.

– – –

Memories from the past week, compliments of Instagram (seannebblett)

The sight sister and brother-in-law will see from their balcony in Oklahoma farm country

Reunion of 8 out of 10 sibs.

Stick up to the knee wall, post and beam from there.

Andrew working his chain saw art

balancing act, on a wobbly floor joist, with an iPhone

fabricating things most people buy from the hardware store

sparklers at Chantée and Luke’s Oklahoma reception

uncomplicated. little ones. (love)

And off they go!

GYC Europe (From the i of my Phone)

Can’t be weary in this place. Nope.
Even when I am tired. 🙂

I pinch myself over and over. Is this Europe? Is that our logo?
And am I really here?

I am. And it is.

I tingle. We all do. I have seen —I am seeing something great.
Something history will remember always.

It’s a blur. But I’m doing my best to remember every waking detail.

coming home from outreach
friends from home 🙂

Just Like Your Father

Radio in my lap, yellow lines blink by out the driver’s side.
The feeling is familiar, but the road… not so much.
I’m not coming from home. And I’m not wearing my uniform.

I am, in fact, wearing light blue with french cuffs. And my tie is branded Kenneth Cole Reaction.

But just the same…

“Catron S.O., 2466 on Davenport”
“On Davenport, go ahead.”
“Yes ma’am, we’re on scene at the rodeo grounds.”

I loosen my collar a bit, single windsor slightly adrift.
And I push open the back door of the ambulance to smile down at a mother and two seriously good looking little boys.

“Hi there…”

“Hello, my son hur– [gasp]

You must be Dr. Nebblett’s boy!!”

And I wish you could have seen her smile.
I wish you could have seen mine.

“Yes ma’am, I am indeed Dr. Nebblett’s boy.”

I sit on the gurney, across from the brave little boy with big dark eyes. He with his cowboy hat, me with my cufflinks.
And I examine, and poke, and ask questions, and watch his eyes. And compare and consult… and tell his mother what she should do.

And we are instantly friends.
And someone pulls a pack of instant ice out of the cabinet, and I squeeze it until the bubble breaks, and it transforms in my hands.

And when he steps down from the ambulance, his mother tells me to tell my dad I’d seen them, and that they sent greetings.

And I did. And my father lit up the same way she had…
Because those boys were his friends, who’d moved away. The ones that would reach for him whenever they came to the office, starting at 4 months of age…

I watch them go for a quiet moment. And I turn to Jared, stethoscope around his neck–

I think I look like my dad.

He smiles; man of well-chosen words.
“You think?”

–  –  –  –  –

I ponder. I wonder

That reaction– Do people see in my face the likeness of my Father?
Is that likeness striking enough for them to catch His features at first glance?
Even when distracted by some other stress?

Even if they’ve never met Him?

What Really Counts

Around the world, and back again…

Part of my heart is still in Southeast Asia. 
What remains of me has been completely transformed. 
I’m an American. Make no mistake. 
But I don’t see the world like the typical American. Not any more…
I cross the threshold back into my office/studio/bedroom at 0300, clap twice. Soft lights around the perimeter of the ceiling surge, illuminate the place. I stop and stare.
Is this my world?
Morning light comes. (3 hours later.)
I press the silver button that will bring my MacPro to life. It doesn’t. 
I hear the sounds of a failing hard drive.
Thank you Jesus!
No, I’m serious. That’s exactly what I said. 
Do you know that stress is a choice?
Do you know that life is about much more than emails, work, school, stuff?
Or shall I say, much less?

Ask my Cambodian friends.
I work in the garden instead of the office. Then I leave home again, after 48 hours. In my flip flops. My dead computer stays. I thank Jesus for [another] Seagate failure all the way to Oklahoma… 
Because to eat, to sleep, to pray…
To serve,

this is life. 

And my computer, and my email, and my to-do list… These other things that dominate when someone asks me what I’m going to do today? 
Those are actually accessories.
On this trip, the accessories stayed home. My iPhone went to Europe in Joshua’s pocket. 
And I just loved people.

I’ve never felt so alive.

Thy Thoughts Towards Me

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand…” 
Psalms 139:17-18
Crashing waves on endless beaches always do something moving in my soul. 
For the larger God looms, the less I fear my problems.
And God grows at the beach in my little mind. By virtue of sheer volume of sand; sheer power of water.
If you don’t understand me, go count the grains in a teaspoon of sand from the neighbor kid’s sandbox.
My long silence has had to do with crossing the United States by car. (then back again). The trip is only half done… But one of the highlights was certainly gathering on the beach at AMEN conference with the surgeons, physicians, dentists, and PHDs and their little ones building sand sculptures from the bible.
You’ve never watched anything like it…

Ten Dollars for Joy

Ok, so… I’ll just drive up like the wind, and give her this box, tell her I’m in a huge hurry, and she can take it to them when she takes the rest of the stuff tonight. 
Best laid plans of mice and minnows.
“Hey Sheena, do you know where Rosemary is?” 
We’ve known this girl as long as we’ve lived here. It’s her dad that keeps our veteran fleet of vehicles mission-worthy. (Quite a feat, by the way.) We’ve called him more than once from 3 states away…
[quizzical look] “She’s not here…”

Not here!? This was not in my best laid plans…
“Nope. She’s in town. Can I help you with something?”

I stare stupidly while my brain twirls like a little girl in a new dress. 
Listen, this was not my idea! Going up to the rodeo grounds to hunt up some perfect strangers crossing the United States in a covered wagon, and offering them a random box of fruit? They are probably both allergic to pears. Where are you when I need you, Rosemary? This was your idea after all. And the box isn’t even from me! So I’m supposed to go up to them (whoever they are!) and say: hey, Rosemary told someone else about you, and they decided to send you this, which I brought? Wow. Oh, and by the way, I’m Seán. 

The girl at the gas station is still staring at my quizzically. (little wonder why.)
“Oh, uhhh… No, no. I had some things to drop off for her to handle, but I’ll just take them myself.”

Um. Hello? Did I just say that? 

I jump back into the van and put it in drive. Of course the moment I do, things don’t seem so daunting. Until, that is, I am actually putting the van in park beside said covered wagon way out at the rodeo grounds. Then once again that voice inside me (which I despise) demands: So here you are. …and just what do you plan on saying? 

I don’t know. I shoot back. (Maybe even out loud.)
And I shut the driver door behind me.  

20 minutes later, my new friend and I are still learning against the hood of my van in animated discussion. His wife had long since hauled the box of peaches and pears into the back of the covered wagon, and is seated in the lawn chair under the juniper tree on her second or third piece of fruit. We on the hood are somewhere halfway through our life stories, when I mention I was born in Chicago… 

“Ahh, I knew you weren’t from around here.”

I looked down at myself. Red Izod sweater with sleeves pushed up, a watch that’s definitely not the cowboy edition, dark blue denim, dotted dress socks and casual leather shoes I brought home from Germany… But what do you wear every day? I was just going to the Post Office. 
He launches back into the tale of taxi cabs in Daytona. 

45 minutes. I finally decide I’d better go. (I was in a huge hurry, remember?)
I’m ready to bid my new friends farewell, but he wonders if I’ll be back. I ask what he needs, and he gestures towards the gas can that supplies their little generator. Of course I’d be happy to take him into town to get some. His one leg and crutches won’t get him and a gas can there and back any too easily. (Never heard if he lost the other one while on US Navy’s SEAL team 6 thirty years ago, or thereafter.) He’s hunting for spare change in the back of the covered wagon.

So it is that I return to the gas station 45 minutes later. 
He follows me in. 

“Hey Sheena, we want 10 dollars on pump 3.”
Poor girl. There she is looking at me quizzically again. But I’m having a scattered day. 
(No Nebblett every pre-pays at that gas station. If we don’t use a card, whoever is in the office recognizes any Nebblett-mobile at a glance, and the pump turns on.)

I dismiss the need for his change. He counters, but I tell him it’s my joy. 
He puts the fuel into his can, and I return alone to pay.

“Do you take AMEX, or only VISA.”
“AMEX. American Express. Do you take it?”
“Oh, yeah. Of course.” 

That quizzical look again.
“87829, right?”

Why did she ask me that?
Suddenly it dawns on me. 
She hands me back my card. I tap it on the table. 
“Uhh, I guess I could have done that out there, couldn’t I?” 
Quizzical look, this time accompanied by a suppressed smile.

“Uh huh.” 

Now I tip my head back and laugh. She laughs too. When we recover, she asks: 

“So what’s he doing with you?

I glance out the window at the stranger with the graying beard, wearing a tattered sleeveless t-shirt and one-legged jeans, in animated conversation with her mechanic-dad working on a car out in the parking lot. 
And then back at Sheena–

“Oh, he’s my friend.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

20 minute later, and finally heading back towards home, I realize:
I almost missed that one, you know. But for Tia’s box of fruit, and Rosemary’s trip to “town.” (Albuquerque) 
And still, I could have missed it… 

Because of selfishness. 
Because I didn’t want to look dumb.
I’m so, so ashamed.
You can’t reckon joy in minutes or dollars.
Joy comes from sharing life. 
Life temporal, and life eternal.
Tell me, of what use is life that’s not shared? 

Taste of the Tour

Words fail of conveying sufficient depth and gravity.
Clichés like: “I’ll never be the same” apply, but still don’t tell it like it is…

I throb thankfulness while I grope for expressions worthy, and finally conclude-

Our best statements are understatements.

Because once again, our God has outdone Himself, blessing when we went to bless.
How I needed the quiet. How I needed to see the rocks that cried red. How I needed the battle to refocus. How I needed to be broken and healed, raised up out of weakness, charged to fight…
Reminded that I am nothing.
Reminded that “All things work together for good…”

All things.

Thank You Jesus.
Thank you, beautiful friends from all over the continent…

We love you…

Taste of the Tour from Sean Nebblett on Vimeo.

Full Cups and New Friends…

I learned today how to make a full cup fuller…
Surround yourself with european friends three tiers high, and talk about war.

Seriously, guys… Why do we have to nearly starve before we’re ready for bread?

friends: three tiers high
sermon notes. (green version)
Marcel manipulating languages
Frank Fournier: fellow “American” and new friend 🙂
This one is for the Fords. 😉
more friends
my pal again. (fun to take pictures of!)
we interrupted a birthday party on outreach. Second from left there got Happy Birthday, and Always Cheerful.
the neighborhood natives lead the way
p.s. you don’t have to speak the same language to be friends…


I love it when a group of kids knocks on the door, and after they have finished singing and the owner has selected a Great Controversy (of all things!) from their stash of “free gifts,” they offer to pray for blessings on that house, and the owner crashes in with his own beautiful prayer of blessing for them…

I love it when a simple songs strikes a solid chord because the heart was made soft by a brother’s recent passing…

I love it when the neighborhood kids get excited right along with us, and wait with huge smiles with their scooters and unicycle for us to pick them up each afternoon to sing to he rest of the town.

I love it when those same neighborhood kids tell me all the english phrases they’ve learned in school, while I stretch my poor tongue to make German sounds back, and we all laugh, friends.

It is hard not to love this place.

we set out
that’s my pal there
and his harmonica is a big hit
neighborhood girls
surrounded by friends
(most of whom have names difficult to pronounce)
this is real fun
next door
see my friends with the wheels?
how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…

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