Morning Phase

When Beck’s latest album Morning Phase was released last year, I couldn’t be bothered to listen to it which is super strange to think now as its my most played iTunes album.

As a teenager, I defined myself through the music I listened to. Beck’s music was a big part of my angst-ridden, does she love or not, early years. Stretching from the illustrious dirty beats of Odelay to the tropical-flavoured tinge of Mutations and 2002’s emotive, haunting Sea Change, I had found an artist whose music actually stuck to me; sounds that hooked into parts of my heart and dug in.

I went to high school in a suburb of Halifax. Beck wasn’t that popular where I lived. I don’t even recall talking about him with any of my friends at the time. The music scene was largely driven by the heavy distorted sound of pop-punk bands. I felt they offered nothing except access to a certain type of popularity.

I didn’t think it was possible for music to change your life. I didn’t think music was strong enough to get under my skin and make me feel. How could an album much less a song shift the entire direction of your life?

I was about to find out.

I went on a blind date when I was 17. I don’t remember much about her anymore except for her long brown hair that finished flowing by her waist. She drove a green jeep with winter tires on year-round. She was a friend of a girl I worked with at the time who thought that we might hit it off. We didn’t.

The date was uneventful. Popped in to see a movie, grabbed some fast food and drove around talking about nothing. It was pretty evident early on there was to be no romance. We actually laughed about it, which eased the tension tenfold. Neither of us wanted to date anyway.

We drove into an empty parking lot, near the centre so the lights wouldn’t shine too brightly into the jeep. We put the seats down and just laid there. She asked me if I had ever heard of Beck. I replied saying I had only heard Loser and Devil’s Haircut.

She said his newest album Sea Change would change my life. I laughed.

She slid the disc in and as cliche as it sounds, my journey into adulthood started. From the first strum of the open E chord, I knew this was important. Like the album title, this seriously shifted my perspective on what music was and what it could do. I listened to that album five more times that night after she dropped me off at home. I never saw her again.

I moved away to college shortly thereafter, made new connections and met one exceptional woman who I just recently celebrated 10 years of togetherness with. Beck’s music gave me confidence, inspired quirkiness and fostered creativity.

I felt Sea Change was the only collection of songs that could cause a reaction, no matter where I was and what I was feeling. Despite it’s sombre message and gloomy nature, it always felt good to listen to. Now I have Morning Phase, a straightforward continuation of Sea Change. He and his band picked up where they left off and if you interchanged the songs, you wouldn’t be able to tell which album they belong on. The songs are simply beautiful.

Eleven years, one wife and three kids later, I’m curious to see how this album will shift the direction of my life.

Morning Phase

Haiti Mission Update!

Most of the work Deep Water does in Haiti is on the island of La Gonave. La Gonave is a small island off of the coast, a several hour drive and boat ride from Port au Prince. Although a very quiet and beautiful island La Gonave is challenged by its lack of resources, infrastructure, and support. Many of the residents of the island have no economic opportunity and suffer from malnutrition. 

La Gonave is an island with no form of public transportation, lack of roads, no electricity, nor safe water systems. Most residents walk hours daily to get fresh drinkable water and chronic health problems due to the challenges found on the island are suffered by many.

Many of the people with whom we work on the island eat once every other day or every couple of days. On the days that they do eat, the meal consists of a beans and rice or, in the most poverty-stricken situations, cornmeal mush. Occasionally, some fish or goat meat in sauce is served over the rice and beans.

Almost no one has a job. The people rely on odd jobs, the sale of personal possessions or, in desperate cases, the sale of their bodies to obtain money to buy food. Few can afford a meal that includes meat and some families are eating only cornmeal mush. A condition known as kwashiorkor is evidenced in many of the children by their distended bellies and orange-tinted hair. This condition is the result of insufficient protein and certain nutrients.

There are numerous large families with young children. In some cases there is a male head of household but in many instances the family is headed by a woman who has lost her husband to disease or who has been abandoned.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living under the poverty line. On LaGonave, poverty is particularly significant with malnourishment and ill health amongst the population. The beginning of the solution on La Gonave is to create employment and healthy communities. To achieve those goals, improved and varied education, adequate healthcare, capacity-building and community-building are necessary.

Of Haiti’s 8.7 million inhabitants, just below half are illiterate. The literacy rate of 52.9% is the lowest in the region. Haiti counts 15,200 primary schools, of which 90% are non-public and managed by the communities, religious organizations or NGOs. The enrolment rate for primary school is 67%, of which less than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enrol 20% of eligible-age children.

Projects that past teams have been involved in include: classes at an orphanage, teaching business seminars, painting, construction & maintenance.

A typical day for me would roughly go like this: teams usually have breakfast at 7am. At around 7:45-8:00, they start working on a project. Some teams have also started work earlier in the morning so they could be done work earlier in the afternoon (to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day). Lunch is served at noon. They can work for the afternoon and come back for supper at 5pm. Evenings are usually free.

Some of my daily activities will include:

  • Visiting an orphanage
  • Visit La Saline (it’s a little village close to the beach –the poorest people live there);
  • Visiting local schools
  • Touring the local hospital

Thank you for reading guys,

Sincerely,

Sean

Haiti Mission Update!

Haiti

 

luv-haiti

This fall I have the amazing opportunity to make an impact in the lives of others. In November, I am going to Haiti with a luvHAITI team from Deep Water Church. I have felt a special calling to be a part of this team. God has placed it on my heart to take this step of faith and get me out of my comfort zone. I will be assisting in day-to-day maintenance, including painting, renovation and other tasks. As well, I will be using my photography and video skills to tell stories of the people as I begin an ongoing volunteer role on the luvHAITI Leadership Team.

The trip cost of $2,000 is a big goal and I need your help. Would you consider helping me by making a donation towards the trip cost? Your gift would be a huge blessing! You can make checks payable to Deep Water Church. Please write in the memo line “luvHAITI Mission Team – Sean McMullen.”

luvHAITI’s focus on a single country with selected partners ensures that all of our missions & development work is valuable. We build and maintain lasting relationships with local missionaries and aid workers. As well, we continue to grow in the depth of understanding of the people and the issues facing the country, which helps us serve them more effectively. Through our partnership with Global Partners and Compassion, we are investing resources in local projects that make an impact in the lives of Haitians.

Since its launch in September 2009, luvHAITI has been sending teams (we’ll be the 10th) and one long-term missionary to Haiti, as well as meeting practical needs through 2 luvHAITI Christmas Catalogues, the luvHAITI MicroBank program, medical support to the communities of Anse-à-Galets & Fontina and the fundraising efforts of the luvHAITI Bike Messenger who raised awareness and funds for the build of a desperately needed new hospital. And we’re just getting started!

I also would be honored to have your prayerful support for this trip. I hope to have at least five people who are committed to pray for me and the team. Please pray that God will provide everything needed for this trip. Pray for the people we will meet and the families we hope to help.

Thank you so much for your support. Thank you for making a difference!

In Christ,

Sean

Haiti

To Be A Father

My son’s name is Jackson. He is almost 10 months old. Last week he began crawling. Pretty soon, he’ll be walking and then running.

It’s been a privilege to watch this unfold.

This morning, Jackson and I were in my living room. I placed him down on the ground by the stairs, set some toys out for him and sat down to watch him play.

After 10 minutes or so of this, I said loudly, “Hey Jackson, want to come to me?” He decided he didn’t want to play with his toys and began crawling toward me.

For some reason, this action by my son moved me and helped my realize something about God.

I noticed in Jackson’s path a strew of obstacles. There were toys, a bottle, pillows, a rug, coffee table and a tricycle that belongs to my daughter.

All he wanted was to come to me, but there was a lot in his way. There were many objects to distract him on his short journey.

Isn’t our relationship with God like that? When God calls us to Him and we make our way toward Him, we discover there are many obstacles in our way. Obstacles like sin, career, and love of money can easily distract us on our journey; sometimes holding us up for years.

As Jackson crawled toward me, he didn’t stop to play with his toys, or drink his bottle. The rug didn’t trip him up and the coffee table only helped to propel him farther. He came straight to my feet and wanted me to pick him up.

The determination of a baby to be with his Dad humbled me. He ignored the easy pleasures of entertainment and food to be where he needed to be.

How often do we chase after God like this? How often do we sacrifice what we love most to be with the One who matters the most?

I know I don’t do this enough. But I will continue to try.

I will crawl.

Like Jackson.

 

To Be A Father

Pale Blue Dot

For a cosmic rendition of seeing the proverbial forest, rather than the trees, take a look at Earth from the perspective of the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. From nearly 900 million miles away, Earth is just a dot of light and the moon is even smaller. (Discovery News)

Cassini’s picture reminds us how tiny our home planet is in the vastness of space, and also testifies to the ingenuity of the citizens of this tiny planet to send a robotic spacecraft so far away from home to study Saturn and take a look-back photo of Earth – Cassini scientist Linda Spilker.

Our life is on that pale blue dot, floating freely in the ocean of darkness.

All our dreams, goals, aspirations, failures, friends, family.

Everything you know love, everything you hate, everything you find funny and everything that bothers you is there, grounded by gravity on that little blue speck in the blackness of space.

I don’t know about you, but I am extremely humbled by this photograph.

It makes me feel small. It makes my desires, fears and failures feel insignificant.

Good.

Better than good.

It’s great.

You see, I need to be reminded that the world does not revolve around me and my problems or my concerns or my worries.

I wasn’t designed to think this way. None of us were.

You see, we are on this earth to love each other, to take care of each other and to serve each other.

Somewhere along the line, it all got messed up and we were corrupted. Our focus was twisted. It was skewed. It was distorted.

We started thinking that life was about us. We stopped caring, stopped loving, stopped helping.

Tomorrow is a new day. An opportunity to start caring, to start loving, to start helping.

Be better. Make that pale blue dot shine brighter tomorrow.

Pale Blue Dot