October 2015

October 19, 2015

Wavestorm – The Best Worst Board Ever

I recently had an awesome surf session with the Wavestorm, my first time riding it in months, and so I thought I'd dig up this old post about why I love such a seemingly unlovable board. (Originally published on the StoreYourBoard.com blog, with a few additions.)
I bought one of these for my wife a few years back and, on a smallish day, I took it out instead of my short board. I have to say I was blown away by how good this 8-foot piece of Taiwanese foam actually rides...
It's the $100 Wavestorm from Costco, and though it takes a certain lack of self-consciousness to ride one, I can't deny its prowess, though I'm pretty sure that was an accident on the manufacturer's part. I promise I'm not paid by Wavestorm or Costco or some Soft-Top-Board-Riders Association, but I recommend this board so often that I thought I'd write a blog about why I have such a soft spot for this soft-top...
I Catch More Waves
It's big and light, so once you've figured out your weight distribution (some tips for that here), you'll be able to catch almost anything, and I mean anything. If you look behind me in that picture above you'll notice that the water is literally flat. I actually caught waves that day with this board -- they were tiny, but I rode them with a smile on my face and foam under my feet.
It's Surprisingly Maneuverable
I took this to a point break one day and the waves were beautiful long right-handers that rode like a skate ramp. It's got three fins, so it rides like any thruster, and ends up being a surprisingly responsive board. I was able to work the face like a short board, marking this as the day I fell in love with the Wavestorm.
Bottom turn on this big blue beast.

My Leash Never Breaks
The board is thick, and sometimes feels like you're riding some kind of kayak-shovel hybrid. As a result, it's pretty difficult to get a good duck-dive. So when the surf report was inaccurate one day, and 4-foot waves were actually 10-foot waves, I showed up with the Wavestorm and found myself in some tricky situations.
I had to ditch the board a few times when some particularly massive closeouts came crashing on me; and though the force of those waves felt like an aquatic herd of horses, my leash never broke. I'm honestly dumbfounded by this one, as the leash is little more than rubber, rope and some Velcro at the end, but I've had several name-brand leashes break under less pressure.
You Can Return Anything to Costco
You'll see the kayak-shovel effect illustrated below, which is one of the few downfalls to the Wavestorm. I noticed that, over time, these nose-dives were causing the board to bend (particularly when I would lend the board to
inexperienced riders). Well, one day it broke in half, even though it has three stringers running through it.
Got my nose...
My wife had had the board for about two years at that point, so I thought I'd cut my losses and trash it, keeping the leash, stomp pad and a couple fins for future use. A friend then suggested that I try and return it to Costco, given their extremely loose return policy, so with nothing to lose I gave it a shot.
I literally showed up with a two-year-old broken board that looked like I just pulled it out of a trash can, no receipt and minus the Costco card I purchased it with...and walked out with $100. I mean, how are they still in business?!
So that's why I love the Wavestorm, and why I'm recommending it to you; particularly if you're a beginner, or someone who frequents a weak break and is looking to have some fun. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, maybe you can ride fifteen-foot waves with it! Check out this video and decide for yourself if this is the board for you, or just another piece of mass-produced junk:

October 15, 2015

The Good Shepherd

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father -- and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life -- only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"
But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" (John 10:14-21)
In this passage Jesus is finishing up using shepherding as a metaphor for his role as Messiah in relation to the Jews and the world. As I read, a few things struck me: first, the relationship we can have with Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is the same that Jesus has with God the Father ("my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father"). That's an amazing statement! The communion the Son of God has with his Father, a connection words have difficulty explaining, is the same we can have with Jesus. This aspect of our relationship to God is multi-faceted and deep, both complicated and simple, and could take all the blog posts on the internet to flesh out; but I want to emphasize right now that, if you feel far from God, know that an intimacy human language cannot describe is possible with Him through Christ.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
Second, God honors sacrifice ("The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life"). Humans have a tendency for self-preservation, a trait you can't blame us for having, but at times can seem repulsive. Media portrays this well as the selfish man who is only out for his own good is often starkly contrasted against the selfless hero, ready at a moment's notice to throw himself into danger for the sake of others. Consequently, the self-preservationist is the one who gets eaten by the dinosaur or crushed in the earthquake by a falling building, and the hero gets the girl.
As a society, we celebrate the selfless hero (whether or not we exemplify those traits in real life), and I can't help but think that part of that is because God, who loves the Son who sacrificed his life, put that quality in us. The danger here is to wait for the "big" moments to realize that ideal, when I would argue that the truest form of sacrifice comes in daily laying your life down for God and others. Love your wife when you don't feel like it, pay attention to your children when you'd rather look at your phone, do a good job at work when the boss is not looking, read the bible when you'd rather watch TV -- these are the practical sacrifices of a life surrendered to God that will impact those around you, and lead to a life of character, a life that honors God.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
Finally, I take comfort in the fact that people were conflicted over Jesus' words ("At these words the Jews were again divided"). Sometimes I read the sayings of Jesus and think, This sounds crazy. Do I really believe this? But it helps to know that the people standing there, listening to the same words but also seeing the person of Jesus had the same struggles. Two thoughts on this: first, if God came to earth and sat in front of you and started talking, don't you think that this infinitely higher Being would sound a bit strange? Imagine what a Person who exists outside of time, who has been there since the beginning, who was the beginning, would say! I'm sure the words would melt our ears and blow our minds with their majesty and depth! But this did happen, and we have his words here. And sometimes that don't make sense...and that's okay.
Also, after some particularly difficult teaching by Jesus, many disciples left him. Then, going to the Twelve, whom he chose as his inner circle, Jesus has this discourse:
"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:67-69)
What a beautiful response, and one that can ring true for us too. When following Christ gets hard, and his teaching doesn't make sense, or maybe his voice seems absent altogether -- we are left with a decision of where to go -- whether to continue following or not. But I pray your answer and mine in these difficult times is the same, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You are the Holy One of God, the Messiah." Though they don't always make sense, these are the very words of God, to which we must cling in all confusion and doubt. They are life and truth, and if you have trouble accepting that, I charge you to read the scriptures! I think you will find the words soothing and regenerating, light in a world of darkness and the very voice of our Good Shepherd calling us to follow him.

October 13, 2015

Surviving the Washing Machine

We've all been there: waiting for a set to come when a standout approaches, waaayyy past the break. Everyone paddles frantically to beat the looming destruction, but sometimes it's just too far and you find yourself going backwards over the falls, taking a behemoth on the head, or trying to duck dive six feet of whitewater. Either way, it's a losing battle.
The next thing you know you're in the washing machine, tumbling around underwater as if Triton's chariots are stampeding over you, hoping you have enough breath and wondering which way is up. The good news is that you can survive the blows of surfing! And here's how:
  1. Don't panic: Surfing is dangerous and waves can be unpredictable. Still, staying calm will allow you to assess each situation with a clear mind, and prepare to escape accordingly. You will also save energy you would otherwise waste trying to fight a losing battle against the power of the sea...energy better used for swimming to safety after the wave has passed.
  2. Take a good breath: If you see a standout approaching and know you're going to get mauled, take a deep breath and hold on! If I'm paddling out on a particularly big day, sometimes I'll take a lot of deep breaths to stretch my lungs. (Here's a good post on increasing your lung capacity.) Also remember that you can probably hold your breath longer than you think, so when your body is tempted to panic, don't!
  3. Hang on to your board if you can: Floating is always good, right?! If you can hang on to your board through the washing machine, do it. It'll keep you closer to the surface, which always means safety.
  4. Let the wave pass: Don't go all Gandalf on the ocean...let it pass! Curl up and let the washing machine do what it wishes. You'll be surprised at how quickly it passes, and also save energy for your ascension.
  5. Climb your leash (if you have to): If you get so thrashed that you don't know which way is up, reach for your leash and start climbing. The board is floating and will lead you to safety.
  6. Prepare for the next wave: You may have been thrashed by the first wave in a set of three behemoths plowing through the lineup. Be ready for this by taking a deep breath first, and then checking for what's ahead. If the shadow of another wave looms overhead, dive deep and go back to step 3.
  7. Don't panic!: This is here twice because it's that important!
The ocean is powerful and trying to ride its waves is something that should be handled with care and respect. Any surfer who has been out on a stormy day or a big swell knows this well. In case you need a refresher though, here's a video on just how powerful a wave can be:
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
    having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    and the turmoil of the nations.
Psalm 65:5-7

October 8, 2015

Worship + Salvation

You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. (John 4:22)
Jesus was in Samaria and tired from his journey, so he sat down and asked a woman to draw some water for him. They have an interesting discourse where Jesus says some revealing things about the woman, things he would not know unless he were a "prophet," as she calls him. She then makes an off-topic comment saying something religious, and the quote above is Jesus' reply.
There is a ton going on in this conversation, but what I noticed today, something I've never noticed, is the correlation between worship and salvation.
Jesus says the Jews worship what they know, for (because) salvation is from the Jews. To me, that means we worship because we have been saved. This has a few implications: first, to truly worship, we must recognize our need of a savior. This requires brokenness to some degree, for who needs saving if he or she is not in some sort of trouble? And if you're wondering if that's you, Romans answers the question pretty well:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Since we are human and have missed God's standard, we need some kind of savior, which leads to the second point: we worship what saves us. Some people worship their jobs, their spouses, their kids, football...whatever provides fulfillment and/or escape from drudgery. The problem is that these things will never fully satisfy. So we need to ask ourselves: are we worshiping the right thing/person?
I would argue, based on scripture and experience, that Jesus Christ is worth worshiping, because he is God and because of what he did.
The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." (John 4:25-26)
In a loud voice they were saying: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:12)
And so, when we've recognized Jesus as our Savior, we've taken the most important step in worshiping what is true and in the right way. In "spirit and truth," as Jesus says, the way God designed it and desires.