Sunday, December 27, 2009

The End and the New

I don’t anyone is as excited as I am that this year is coming to an end. Today I write on the last Sunday of 2009. The two great highlights of this year were proposing to Cait, and marrying her. Proposing started off the year, and marrying her ended it. Everything else has been a frustrating stalemate with life and career.

As this year of disappointments end, I am highly optimistic for the next. 2010 will begin with Cait and I leaving the country for a three month internship in Northwest Europe. There we will minister as husband and wife, traveling to a dozen cities, mentoring under missionaries and creating relationships in a multicultural environment.

I have little to say today, except that I celebrate this years end, and embrace whatever the new year brings in. I wish the best for you as well.

So sit with God, sit in silence, and ask what he brings you this new year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.

At our wedding, my dad (who was also my Best Man) read this quote from Don Miller's book Searching for God Knows What. This passage means a lot to me because this is how I feel about Cait.

You probably think I am being mushy and romantic, but the first time Moses breaks into poetry in the Bible is when Adam first meets Eve. The thing about Moses was, he was the first king of understatements. He could pack a million thoughts and emotions into just a few words. Here is what he said about what Adam thought when he met Eve:

“Bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23)

If you think about these ideas they are quite meaningful, and the bit of poetry Moses came up with truly summarizes the scene because, for the first time in his life, Adam was seeing a person who was like him, only more beautiful, and smarter in the ways of love and encouragement, and more deliberate in the ways of relationships. He must have thought to himself that she was perfect, and after a few days of talking and getting to know each other, they must have fallen deeply in love. After Adam had taken Eve to the distant mountains where they could look down on the four rivers, and after he built for her a home and showed her the waterfalls and taught her the names of all the animals, he could have gone on a long walk with God and thanked Him, and I’ll bet that was a very beautiful conversation. I’ll be Adam felt loved by God, like he was somebody God was always trying to bless and surprise with amazing experiences, and I'll bet they talked together about how beautiful Eve was and how wonderful it was that the two of them could know her, and I would imagine that Eve felt safe, loved, not used or gawked at, but appreciated and admired.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


No official post today. Just enjoying life with my bride.
See you next week.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Whisper of Grace

This is one of the most powerful stories I've ever read. Taken from my favorite book, What's So Amazing About Grace?.

A young girl grows up on a cherry orchard just above Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a bit old-fashioned, tend to overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to and the length of her skirts. They ground her a few times, and she seethes inside. “I hate you!” she screams at her father when he knocks on the door of her room after an argument, and that night, she acts on a plan she has rehearsed in her mind a thousand times. She runs away.

She’s visited Detroit only once before, on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. Because the newspapers in Traverse City report in lurid detail the gangs, the drugs and the violence in downtown Detroit, she figures that’s probably the last place her parents will ever look for her. California, maybe. . .or Florida. . .but, not Detroit.

Her second day there, she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. He offers her a ride, buys her lunch, arranges a place for her to stay. He gives her some pills that make her feel better than she’s ever felt in her life. She was right all along, she thought – her parents were keeping her from all the fun.

The good life continues for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car teaches her “a few things that men like”. Since she’s underage, men pay a premium for her. She lives in a penthouse, and orders room service whenever she wants. Occasionally, she thinks about her folks back home, but their lives now seem so boring, so provincial, she can hardly believe she grew up there.

She has a brief scare when she sees her picture printed on the back of a milk carton with the headline “Have you seen this child?” But, by now, she has blonde hair and with all the makeup and body-piercing jewelry, nobody would mistake her for a child. Besides, most of her friends are runaways and nobody squeals in Detroit.

After a year, the first sallow signs of illness appear and it amazes her how fast the man turns mean. He growls at her and before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, but they don’t pay much and all the money goes to support her habit. When winter blows in, she finds herself sleeping on metal grates outside the big department stores. “Sleeping” is the wrong word, however … a teenage girl at night in downtown Detroit can never really relax her guard. Dark bands circle her eyes. Her cough worsens.

One night, as she lies awake listening for footsteps, all of a sudden, everything about her life looks different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world. She feels like a little girl, lost in a cold and frightening city. She begins to whimper. Her pockets are empty and she’s hungry. She needs a fix. She pulls her legs tight underneath her and shivers under the newspapers she’s piled atop her coat. Something jolts a synapse of memory and a single image fills her mind: of Traverse City in May, when a million cherry trees bloom at once, with her golden retriever dashing through rows of blossoming trees in pursuit of a tennis ball.

God, why did I leave, she says to herself, and pain stabs at her heart. My dog back home eats better now than I do. She’s sobbing and she knows in a flash that more than anything else in the world, she wants to go home.

Three straight phone calls, three straight connections with voice mail. She hangs up without leaving a message the first two times, but the third time she says “Dad, Mom, it’s me … I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, well … I guess I’ll just stay on the bus until it hits Canada.”

It takes about seven hours for a bus to make all the stops between Detroit and Traverse City and during that time, she realizes the flaws in her plan. What if her parents are out of town and miss the message? Shouldn’t she have waited another day until she could talk to them? And, even if they are home, they probably wrote her off as dead a long, long time ago. She should have given them some time to overcome the shock.

Her thoughts bounce back and forth between those worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. “Dad, I’m sorry. I know I was wrong. It’s not your fault. It’s all mine. Can you forgive me?” She says the words over and over again, her throat tightening even as she rehearses them. She hasn’t apologized to anyone in years.

The bus has been driving with lights on since Bay City. Tiny snowflakes hit the pavement rubbed worn by thousands of tires and the asphalt steams. She’s forgotten how dark it gets at night out here. A deer darts across the road and the bus swerves. Every so often, a billboard. A sign posting the mileage to Traverse City. Oh, God.

When the bus finally rolls into the station, its air brakes hissing in protest, the driver announces in a crackly voice over the microphone, “Fifteen minutes, folks. That’s all we have here.” Fifteen minutes to decide the rest of her life. She checks herself in a compact mirror, smoothes her hair and licks the lipstick off her teeth. She looks at the tobacco stains on her fingers and wonders if her parents (if they’re even here) will notice.

Walking tentatively into the terminal, not knowing exactly what to expect, other than to be disappointed, not one of the thousand scenes that’d played out in her mind could have prepared her for what she’d see.

There, in the concrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great-grandmother, to boot. They’re all wearing party hats and blowing noise-makers … and taped across the wall of the terminal is a banner that reads “Welcome Home”.

Out of the crowd, breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears puddling in her eyes and begins the speech she’s memorized. “Dad, I’m so sorry … I know …”

He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. There’s a feast waiting for you at home.”

Powerful, huh? Read the original story here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Remaining Ignorant

I think it would be easier if I would have just remained ignorant. Life is easier that way.

Its harder to sleep at night knowing that there are 27 million slaves in the world.

Its harder to wake up on Sunday morning and find out that the Kentucky Wildcats pulled ahead and beat the Bulldogs after I went to bed.

Its harder to love after knowing a wound so deep.

It would be easier to remain ignorant. But that would be foolish, wouldn’t it.

And a lot of times, I feel that reading Scripture complicates life, rather than simplifies. Take the book of Job for instance. Life would be simpler had I not read the book of Job.

To surmise, Satan makes a wager with God. Satan claims that Job only worships God for what God has done for Job. God suggests otherwise. God allows Satan to strip Job of all blessings to see where Job’s worship rests.

Job suffered.

Job suffered more than I could ever imagine.

Job suffered because his faith in God mattered to God. For no other reason than it mattered to God.

He didn’t deserve to lose his children.

He had no great sin that ruined his financial enterprise.

Simply put, Job’s misery mattered to God.

It would be easier for me to allow you to remain ignorant. But that would be foolish, wouldn’t it. I want you to know that your suffering, your faith, matters to God.

My suffering matters to God.

In the end, Job is restored. God healed Job. But that wasn’t the point of the wager. God and Satan wanted to see if Job would worship God even if Job was never restored. Would you worship God if your suffering never ended? Would I?

That question hurts, doesn’t it? It hurts like a scalpel. Cutting deep. But this deep cut is for healing purposes.

What would it take to make today’s ‘No’ become tomorrow’s ‘Yes’?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Change Provided: An Afterthought

This is an afterthought of Meredith Grady's production of Change Provided. Meredith wrote, produced, and starred in her own play. My favorite part? Dr. Ellington took off his Theology Professor hat, slipped into his camo fatigues and played the part of a Vietnam vet with little grasp of reality.

Meredith's play, as I took it, underscored the importance of relationships. We all carry baggage. Although important to deal with our personal baggage, we don't have to have it all together to develop relationships.

We are broken. Insert whatever jargon or Christian-ese you want. Christian or non-Christian. Saved or un-saved. Regenerated or pre-regenerated. Broken. We are all broken.

Just in case you think otherwise, becoming a follower of Christ does not fix all of your problems. Yes, your sins are forgiven, and yes you can now have a relationship with a holy God. But no, your problems will follow you.

And thats what Meredith communicated in her play. Do not allow your brokenness to prevent you from developing relationships. Rather communicate your brokenness and allow for God and others to heal you.

Her play? I laughed, I fought back tears, my soul smiled.

And Meredith, I loved the witty title.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Naturally Supernatural or Supernaturally Natural?

Yes I believe in the supernatural.

Angels. People raised from the dead. Thousands fed with a small lunch. Prophetic dreams.

They’re incredible. Aren’t they? And what more should we expect from an All-Powerful God?

But what stuns me is that this supernatural God chooses to work in the natural.

You. Me. The church.

With all of the evil, injustice and corruption in the world, people ask, “Where is God? He could fix everything in one swift moment.”

Does this supernatural God just sit on his hands? Not quite. Rather, we as Christians make up the body of Christ. We are his hands and feet.

“Where is God?” they ask. To which the reply should be, “Where is the Church?” Where is the collection of believers of the supernatural God who can use their natural resources to relieve so much suffering in the world?

So what needs to change? I think our attitudes do. We ask God to answer our prayers, thinking he holds the answer. Maybe God wants us to understand that our hands are the answers to our own prayers.

Are we naturally supernatural or supernaturally natural?

Here are some ways you can be his hands and feet.

Compassion International

Wellsprings Living

TOMS Shoes

Lastly, TOMS shoes have some GREAT new shoes this month! Check them out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Woe to you who are the Strongest

Cait and I were wondering how well we knew each other.

If we were on a gameshow, we’d have to know the right answers. We can’t allow ourselves to get on national TV just to embarrassingly miss answers.

“What is your biggest pet peeve?”

“Stupid people,” she replied. “Stupid people that hurt other people.” I’m glad she clarified.

“Mine? Apathy.”

There is nothing that makes me angrier faster than apathy. Nothing.

The story of Judges is a story of failed leadership. Particularly Samson. The nation of Israel, the people of God, are oppressed by the Philistines. And the Spirit of God rests on one man to liberate the nation: Samson.

Samson is given supernatural strength to accomplish this. There is no man in history more physically capable of defeating the Philistines. So what’s Samson’s problem? He doesn’t care.

Everything Samson did in his life glorified Samson. The mighty acts recorded in Judges are only motivated by revenge, adultery and apathy.

We wrongfully glorify Samson’s last act if we attribute him redemption.

“O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (Judges 16:28)

For his eyes?! Not for the years of oppression. Not for his repentance from apathy. Not for God’s glory. But for his eyes. For vengeance.

So what for us in the here and now? If you are reading this, then you have a computer and internet. You have power, just as Samson did. His was brute strength; yours is wealth, information, and connectivity.

There are 27 million people in slavery today. More now than ever in history.

Do you have Samson’s apathetic attitude? Or do you care?

I find no need to start another movement for these 27 million slaves. I am not smart enough nor influential enough to start one. Rather I want to help International Justice Mission who already confronts aggressive human violence, violence that strips widows and orphans of their property and livelihoods, violence that steals dignity and health from children trafficked into forced prostitution, violence that denies freedom and security to families trapped in slavery.

This is just one of many organizations that you can support.

Do you care? Or are you apathetic?
Learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
(Isaiah 1:17)

And always remember Martin Luther King Jr.'s words,
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What I learned from playing Apples to Apples

So there we were.

Sitting on the floor playing Apples to Apples. It was a group of us twentysomethings hanging out for the first time. The circle was mixed with old coworkers and new friends.

I flipped over my card and it read ‘Mid-Life Crisis’. I muttered under my breath, “More like a ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’.” I’ll never forget what I saw in that moment. Everyone’s eyes slowly widened, they looked at me and muttered one word “Yes...!” Especially Kevin. Kevin has it all together. Kevin is incredibly relational, independent and respectable. And I could tell from Kevin’s face that he knew this term all too well.

I couldn’t believe how those three words threaded us all together. A quick John Mayer quote and I could tell that everyone there felt the same way I did.

It’s the who’s what’s when’s where’s and why’s that petrify us, isn’t it? It’s the feeling of wasted time, the fear that we’re doing it wrong while everyone watching. Or worse, nobody cares.

I’m sure most of you reading can relate. Is it refreshing to know that most people at your stage of life feel the same way? Even those of us who ‘look’ like we have it together, don’t have it together. At best, they’re winging it. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe its time for us to let go of ‘needing to know’ and worrying about if we have it together or not.

To quote John Lennon,
“Life is just what happens to you while your busy making other plans.”
Be present. Always learn.

I say all of this for two reasons. First, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And second, I need to hear this more than anyone else.

Lastly, I leave you with what Jesus said on the topic.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25, 33-34)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dahnmaya's Song

This is one of my favorite passages. It comes from Philip Yancey’s book Prayer.

I have seen evidence of God's presence in the most unexpected places. During our trip to Nepal, a physical therapist gave my wife and me a tour of the Green Pastures Hospital, which specializes in leprosy rehabilitation. As we walked along an outdoor corridor, I noticed in a courtyard one of the ugliest human beings I have ever seen. Her hands were bandaged in gauze, she had deformed stumps where most people have feet, and her face showed the worst ravages of that cruel disease. Her nose had shrunken away so that, looking at her, I could see into her sinus cavity. Her eyes, mottled and covered with callus, let in no light; she was totally blind. Scars covered patches of skin on her arms.

We toured a unit of the hospital and returned along the same corridor. In the meantime this creature had crawled across the courtyard to the very edge of the walkway, pulling herself along the ground by planting her elbows and dragging her body like a wounded animal. I'm shamed to say my first thought was She's a beggar and she wants money. My wife, who has worked among the down-and-out, had a much more holy reaction. Without hesitation she bent down to the woman and put her arm around her. The old woman rested her head against Janet's shoulder and began singing a song in Nepali, a tune that we all instantly recognized: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

"Dahnmaya is one of our most devoted church members," the physical therapist later told us. "Most of our patients are Hindus, but we have a little Christian chapel here, and Dahnmaya comes every time the door opens. She's a prayer warrior. She loves to greet and welcome every visitor who comes to Green Pastures, and no doubt she heard us talking as we walked along the corridor."

A few months later we heard that Dahnmaya had died. Close to my desk I keep a photo that I snapped just as she was singing to Janet. Whenever I feel polluted by the beauty-obsessed celebrity culture I live in -- a culture in which people pay exorbitant sums to shorten their noses or plump up their breasts to achieve some impossible ideal of beauty while nine thousand people die each day from AIDS for lack of treatment and hospitals like Green Pastures scrape by on charity crumbs -- I pull out that photo. I see two beautiful women: my wife, smiling sweetly, wearing a brightly colored Nepali outfit she had bought the day before, holding in her arms an old crone who would flunk any beauty test ever devised except the one that matters most. Out of that deformed, hollow shell of a body, the light of God's presence shines out. The Holy Spirit found a home.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wild Things (spoiler free)

I hope you have seen the movie, but if not, I’m sure you’ve read the book.

Max is just a boy in a wolf suit. Or is he? In contrast to our predictable lives, Max finds adventure inside of himself, living the adventure that we only dream of. This adventure is limited only to his wild imagination.

Inside all of us is hope.
Inside all of us is fear.
Inside all of us is adventure.
Inside all of us is a Wild Thing.

Somewhere searching for a career I settled for predictability over adventure. I started out pursuing a passion and end up settling for a paycheck. What once began as a vision to liberate people from bondage turned into an attempt to impress the interviewers across the table.

This blog is confession.

I confess that the fear that is inside all of us got the better of me. Keeping me from living life adventurously, limited only by my imagination. I rationalized it by saying I was being ‘responsible’. I put my ‘boyish’ ways behind and tried to act like an adult.

I began to think differently when I read what Mark Batterson had to say about responsibility.

“So instead of making a life, all we do is make a living. And our deep-seated passions get buried beneath our day-to-day responsibilities. When God puts a passion in your heart, whether it be relieving a starvation in Africa or educating children in the inner city or making movies with redemptive messages, that God-ordained passion becomes your responsibility.”*

It is not irresponsible to live your passionate adventure. Far from it. Mark Batterson would call it obedience. This is a boy and his God. This is why I write. We don't have to have it all together, responsible, and organized.

*Batterson’s quote is from his book Wild Goose Chase. A great read!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why I respect Jay Bakker

If anyone has a right to hate God, I think it would be Jay Bakker.

Don’t know him? You may remember his dad, Jim Bakker. Jim Bakker of TV’s Praise the Lord. Jim Bakker who was arrested for fraud. Jim Bakker, the first of many televangelist to fall into scandal. If anyone has a right to hate God, I think it would be Jay.

Imagine the hell of watching your prestigious father go from Christian television’s biggest hero to behind bars. Imagine the betrayal. Imagine how he was treated by self-righteous Christians for his father’s sins. My heart broke for him when I read his autobiography, where he recounted the fall. Jay did nothing wrong, but he suffered more than anyone.

Being abandoned by his father to prison, abandoned by the church who ridiculed him, Jay turned to rebellion, drugs and bitterness.

For years, Jay worked at a church he started in Atlanta, The Revolution. Late one night, while walking the streets of Atlanta, I was speaking with a man who ran a homeless shelter. He mentioned that The Revolution was a few blocks down the road. I asked him, “What do you think of Jay Bakker?”

“Jay is weird.” He replied, probably alluding to Jay’s liberal theology. “But Jay loves Jesus. I have no doubt about that.”

If anyone has the right to hate God, I think it would be Jay. But he doesn’t.

Jay found God’s grace when he extended it others. He forgave the people he hated the most, his father’s consultants turn betrayers.

Jay found God’s healing when he shared his pain to crowds of Christians. Finally accepted after years of chastisement, as they listened to his pain rather than hurl their insults, God healed.

When I think of this tattoo covered preacher, I don’t think of his father’s sins, nor his years of rebellion, I think only of God’s grace.

If Jay can love God after the undeserved hardships he has suffered, then so can we.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Keeping Whole

This is a difficult post for me to write because it happened so recently.

But here it is.

I quit my job.

There were several factors that made me decide to leave. But one of the strongest is that I was finally understanding my boss. And I didn’t like what I was seeing. I don’t wish to be disrespectful, nor slander him. But simply put, I did not see a man of integrity.

In response to leaving, I have had my own reality check. For years mentors have stressed to me the importance of a strong foundation of character before any pursuit of success. And now I know why. People may follow you for your successes, but they will remember you for your character. Were you who you said you were? Did you do what you said you would do?

What I'm saying is this: Do not take your integrity for granted. And do not take your boss's integrity for granted. Prior to this experience, I had only worked with people that had strong character. Looking back, I had assumed that I would never have a job experience under dishonesty. Now I know the right questions to ask. Now I know what to look out for.

My thoughts go to one of my favorite speakers, Erwin McManus. He said,
It’s wonderful when you look inside your own heart and like what you see.
As I walk away from this job, I still like what I see inside myself. And that is worth more to me than security, plans or budgets.

-LASTLY, its my birthday on Wednesday! Time to relax and have a fun week.

Sunday, September 27, 2009



It’s terribly destructive. You probably know that from experience. The feeling that everyone is a part of something exciting, everyone but you. It stings your self worth. It’s the constant reminder that life used to be better. You once belonged. Now you don’t.

We’ve all experienced the pain of loneliness. When time stands still after a breakup. Or a move into a new city. Or empty nests. Or graduating college.

Months ago I read this Kurt Vonnegut quote. It's bothered me ever since.
"What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured."
Pursue the lonely. Invite him to your small group. Buy her coffee. Help them belong. Change their life.

It’s that simple. It’s that powerful.

*Pic used by generous permission of Alex. Check out the rest of Alex's photography.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Perspective. My car is usually dirty. But instead of cleaning my entire car, I just clean my windshield. Approaching my car, I notice it needs to be washed. But when I sit down and look through the windshield, I think, “Ah, clean!” Simply cleaning my windshield changes my entire perspective. It changes the way I see everything.

Mentors help change the way we see the world. They change our perspective.

I met with mentors. I grew. I changed.

I began to wonder, if I could have coffee with any historical figure, who would I pick? C.S. Lewis? He could read the culture and offer extraordinary perspective. Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, with his talent to find grace in the most bleak of circumstances? Or the Greek poet Homer, who although blind could paint a story so captivating it would be retold for thousands of years?

We allow mentors to shape perspective. How we spend our time, talents, energy, and money.

I was caught off guard the day I realized the wisdom I was searching for was hidden in the Gospels. I simply forgot his advice was there. I re-read the Gospels, discovering my mentor’s advice.

Jesus taught me to keep a heavenly perspective.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29)

He taught me to find grace in the most bleak of circumstances.

‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ (John 8:7-11)

He could paint a picture so captivating, so rich with irony, that we would retell it through the ages of the church.

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:21-24)

Who influences the way you see the world? Through what lens do you perceive your circumstances? Are you like me, and forgot that we can find the wisdom we were searching for in the words of Jesus? He spoke of a world in need of grace, of forgiveness. He gave freedom from material possessions. Given the chance, what would you ask him? Has he already told you your answers in the Gospels?

And this week, I am going to clean my car. More than just the windshield.

*Photo belongs to Rain. She let me use her work. You can see the rest of her work here. She was generous enough to let me use her pic, so please check out her other work.

P.S. Cait asked if I noticed the title of last week's post could be a double meaning. I picked the title specifically. The double meaning was intended.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Brittani's Escape Plan

Growing up with only an older brother, I always wondered what life would be like with a sister. It’s not that Brittani and I we were long lost siblings, but it sure felt that way.

I met Brittani her freshman year of college. I was a junior. We grew close quickly.

It being a private Christian college, the campus was run under certain restrictions. Namely there were to be no girls in guy rooms, nor guys in girl rooms. Yet one day, the four of us guys and Brittani wanted to play Poker. Easily enough, we could have used any community center facilities, but we were a bit more adventurous. We decided to play in my room.

Sneaking Brittani in was the easy part. It was a simple glance down the hallway, followed by a sprint and a locked door. We dealt chips and cards, and our gambling began. A few hands in, there was a knock at my door. It was my RA. Worst case scenarios began to flood my mind. At best I would be charged a fine. Worst, I could lose the various positions I held in Student Life. We quickly threw Brittani under my comforter and she hid between my couch and corner. Rylan, my RA, stepped in.

“Texas Hold ‘Em? Deal me in!”

“Um, well, Rylan, we’re out of chips. We can deal you in next game.”


But he didn’t leave. He continued to stand there. Watching. Our hearts were pounding. Our hands sweaty. Certain, I knew our poker faces would betray us.
Brittani would later tell us that she held her breath for minutes as Rylan watched our game.

“Rylan, do you want us to call you when we start a new game?”

“Sure guys.” And with that he left.

Sort of.

He stepped outside, but stood by our door, talking to passersby. A small crowd formed on the other side of my door. We uncovered Brittani. Her face red from fear, lack of oxygen and regret.

I suggested that we tie my bed sheets together and lower my little sister out of the second story window. There was a strategically placed bush that would break her fall. Out of the five of us, I was the only one who thought this was a good idea. She refused that escape plan.

We decided to call a fellow hall mate, and convince him to fake a crisis. He would then call for Rylan to help 'counsel' him through this crisis. The moment Rylan left the hall, we threw the bedsheets back onto Brittani and ran her down the stairs, passing by a dozen confused onlookers. I turned to them, put my finger to my lips to quiet their questions, and ran down the stairs to retrieve my bed sheets.

I told this story from the stage of Brittani’s memorial service. My little sister was killed in a car wreck on May 2, 2009. Three days before her 23rd birthday. One week before her college graduation. A few short months before she left for training to enter the mission field. On dark days like May 2, 2009, when you lose your little sister, God doesn’t make sense. The most loving, graceful, talented people are killed in accidents so seemingly preventable. I have little advice on how to deal with these situations. I turn to Jesus’ Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

If you have suffered a loss so confusing, so painful, take comfort in that you are not alone in your suffering. Others who have suffered will mourn with you, and you will find comfort. Because of the cross, we can look to Jesus for comfort in our mourning, for he too has suffered. If you find little comfort in others, search for comfort in him.

Finally, read 2 Corinthians 1:3-6. I think you will be surprised at what you find.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

a boy and his God

Through success and tragedy, I still feel like a little boy, following the steps of a big God. This blog is confession, mistakes, observation, and relationship. On our individual pursuits of God, I think we share a lot of similarities. Here is my opportunity to share what I’ve learned to encourage you on your pursuit. So let’s be brutally honest. To God, to each other, and hardest of all, to ourselves. You are invited to speak your mind and heart.

Today, when I woke, I was hit with the idea that I am still a kid, a boy. Apprehensive about the world and it’s ways, longing for the safety of grade school. From time to time I watch my favorite boyhood TV show, The Adventures of Pete & Pete. When I do, the nostalgia hits me. Staying up all night, summer vacations, bullies, best friends, slurpies. Now life seems to revolve around resumes, experience, budgets, bills, long term goals. I’m not naive. I know those are important. It’s just a struggle to balance boyhood and manhood.

As an idealist, spirituality is risky business. Unfilled expectations can leave an idealist feeling betrayed. Big dreams become flirtations with failure. So I need your encouragement just as you can benefit from mine.

I will do my best to update this blog every Sunday. I aim to be brief yet thought provoking. If you connect with what I write about, please pass this blog on. This is a boy and his God.