When it doesn’t make sense
Feb26

When it doesn’t make sense

Ever prayed for something REALLY HARD (whatever that actually means) and it didn’t happen? Ever think you heard a crystal clear message from God, then turn around and walk right into a brick wall? I found myself in that place a couple weeks ago. And I wasn’t alone. My family had joined my sister Danielle and many of her close friends in prayer for a man we didn’t know. Jim. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But our Savior defeated death. He healed the sick. And He told us that we would do greater things than He had done while He was here. So Danielle and I, along with so many others began to pray. Personally, I prayed with more faith and confidence than I ever have before. And so many amazing things happened. Miracles happened. God gave amazing messages of power and faith to Jim and his family and to Danielle. And to me. But Jim kept getting worse. It’s ok. We know the darkest night comes right before the dawn. God won’t share His glory—maybe He’s waiting until ONLY He can get the credit. I’d be ok with that. At that point, I actually stopped praying. Not because I didn’t believe anymore. Just the opposite. I stopped because I believed it was already done. I had a pretty strong assurance of that. I actually couldn’t pray in the Spirit anymore. To continue felt faithless. Like I didn’t believe Him. That was weird for me, but I trusted God with that. Two days later, Danielle let me know that Jim had died. What??? Yeah, but… (sigh) I have to be honest. That confused the crap outta me. And I didn’t  accept it because I felt like God had given me a different script. No improv, God! It helps to have trustworthy brothers and sisters in Christ to be able to lean on when your legs wobble. Big props to Clemmy, Frank, Nikki, Melinda, Christopher, Lisa, Rick, Eric and Bellami. You guys listened to me and let me vomit all of that doubt and confusion in a safe place. You were the body of Christ to me. Thank you. Conversations like those helped. I was encouraged to know others had wrestled with similar circumstances. And I felt like I was getting at least closer to where God wanted me on this, but I knew I was still totally missing it. Something was really off. I knew I was on the wrong track, but I had no idea how to get off or how to get on the right one. And of course, I wasn’t the only one. Danielle took...

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Gossip Girls
Oct14

Gossip Girls

As I walk the last of our dinner guests out to his car and wave goodbye, my attention is stolen  by my giant stirring neighbors. It’s both unseasonably warm and unseasonably windy on this mid-October eve. The Oaks and Maples are passing not-so-hushed messages to one another in the melancholy moonlight. There seems to be a story in the wind. Apparently everyone knows it but me. Even the wind chime at 317 knows—there’s no denying that wistful airy tune. Instead of going back in the house, I decide to indulge my curiosity and eavesdrop a bit with an innocent walk around the block. I overhear dozens of conversations, but they’re all talking over each other. Blustering. Gesturing. Their looks are as muddled as their words. Like a hairdresser who’s ready for bed, all the bold colors these girls flashed during the day are gone. The reds and golds, and even the greens and browns are completely imperceptible at this time of night. Their entire mass ripples and vacillates between nearly identical shades of gray and silver. Every one of them is in an uproar. Stress will age you prematurely. The proof is right here in front of me. Thousands of green leaves that had no business falling for another week or two pepper every yard and car in our neighborhood. The fuss continues, but as I round the corner toward home, I’m no more informed than I was when I began. My stroll isn’t entirely fruitless however. I’ve discovered something even more valuable than their secret. Inspiration. And that’s definitely worth the walk. photo...

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Lion in Winter
Sep20

Lion in Winter

There’s something about a breezy summer night. The barometric pressure pushes all of that air around with the promise that something is coming. The atmosphere is thick with it. I can’t stay inside on a night like this. I don’t care how late it is. There’s too much energy all around. The lights are still on, food is still cooking, music is playing, and women are laughing. None of my friends are feeling it though. To my surprise (and if I’m honest, my contempt), everyone seems content to hang in their rooms and in the parking lot of the little motel we’re calling home for the week Bah. I can’t take it here. There’s too much going on out there. So even though our trip leader would freak if he caught me leaving, I wiggle my feet into my chucks and trot casually down the concrete stairwell and out into the Mexican night. Maybe they thought I was going to get ice or going down to the desk. I don’t care. This night and this town are calling my name. Above the hot glow of the city, and deep in the cool southern sky, I spy the tail end of a shooting star and take it as a sign to point my cons that way. I can’t believe how alive this place is…even at 11:30. There are probably 35 people packed into this little storefront cafe. Men, women, kids, and babies. All chattering and laughing and gesturing. As I glance in (probably a little too obviously), a shiny man in his mid fifties pops through the kitchen door holding a flaming something or other, and the entire place breaks into song. Kids on bikes are whizzing around everywhere. The urchin to bike ratio has to be like 2 or 3 to 1, but you’d never tell by the way they drive. Smooth, confident, and fast, they sweep through the sparse traffic and over the sidewalks like a flock of birds. I’m strolling at a pace relaxed enough to keep me from sweating too much, despite the warm night. The capricious flow of cooler air that pinballs down the street with me helps too. I was born for weather like this. Was it really just 3 days ago I was brushing snow off my Focus? Seems like another lifetime already. I can’t see how I’ll spend one more midnight scrolling through facebook and netflix after experiencing a midnight like this one. There’s a huge lit area up ahead, and after a few more blocks, I start to hear what sounds like the hum and cheers of a crowd. Even before...

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Small grouping it up!
Jul17

Small grouping it up!

This fall is going to be great season in our family’s life for a lot of reasons. Yes, we’re out of our minds excited to welcome a new little life into our home. I cannot wait to meet this kid!!! The girls are happy and excited too. We don’t have long to go now, and it’s getting REAL!! We have all the baby stuff ready. We have names picked out. Let’s hold that baby!! 🙂 On top of that, Clemmy and I are going to be leading two amazing small groups come September. We’ll be stepping into a leadership role in the group we’re in currently, and in addition, we just met with a handful of great brothers and sisters in Christ that will compose the core of a new group we’ll be launching when summer ends. The more time I spend with my small groups, the more I love being part of them. I know not all groups are sunshine and roses, and ours isn’t always either, but I can honestly say I’ve never been more excited about my faith journey than I am right now, and the wonderful people in these two groups are a big part of that. Because I’m so excited about these groups, I’ve been devouring information about what makes a healthy group, how to lead well, how to deal with common issues, etc. One of the books I’m reading right now that has done more than anything to shape my mindset regarding small groups isn’t even a book about small groups (per se). It’s called “Reimagining Church” by Frank Viola, and it’s all about analyzing and defining what the body of Christ looked like in the early church, and how we can translate that into our lives today. It’s really blowing my mind, and it’s shaping so much of my philosophy when it comes to group life. For those of you who love small groups and  may be considering leadership, I wanted to post the text of a handout I gave my new group this past week. This group will probably look quite a bit different than other groups I’ve joined and led, but these are the ideas and the format that has yielded the best results in my experience. So take a look, leave a comment, ask a question, and let me know what you think 🙂 photo...

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Why Artists are Melancholy
May06

Why Artists are Melancholy

It took me 6 months and about that many renewals at the library, but I finally got to the end of a novel I picked up in November called In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helprin. It’s a story about love and loss, war and wonder. Set in post-WWII New York, the story seems to meander in some places, but the themes, plot, and gorgeous prose more than makes up for the slow spots. It was beautiful in so many ways. I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable reading experience I’ve ever had. I loved this book. I loved it so much, that for days after I finished, I’d be driving in silence mulling over the characters and conclusions. The era and the people the author brought to life were so real and so relatable. I was genuinely frustrated at the end because there was no where else to go. Clemmy might have been the only one that was really able to tell, but for a long time—like more than a week—I definitely felt disconnected and discontent with reality. It actually took a while for me to identify that book as the source of my melancholy, but when I did, it made me think of my favorite poem, “Music” by Anne Porter. I don’t know the legality of posting the whole thing here on my blog, so please click on the link and read the poem (You can even listen to Garrison Keillor read it if you click “Listen” and skip to 2:22 on the timeline). It’s beautiful. I’ll be 2 minutes well spent. Trust me. Pastor Rex quoted C.S. Lewis this Sunday at church in his message on Heaven. “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis It made me feel better when I understood that I’m not the only one who gets this way when I encounter a great piece of art. Whether it’s music, a movie, a photo, a painting, writing, or even (more commonly) a beautiful sunset, I believe that longing and those feelings are just what Anne said, a wound in us An ache a desolation Deep as a homesickness For some far-off And half-forgotten country Remembering that and understanding it was great, but it really didn’t help with my own version of Avatar Blues. But then I remembered some times when I get to be on the upside of that swing—when I feel the exhilaration of creating something beautiful. I’m no renaissance man, but I love singing in harmony with...

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