Saturday, December 27, 2014


Yesterday I went to the Quick Lane Bowl with my two other brothers. The football game was horrible, a matchup between schools hovering around the .500 mark. Rutgers from the B1G and UNC from the ACC. Dropped passes, missed tackles, interceptions, fumbles, blocked punts, missed field goals. A constant parody of ineptitude. 

But it was one of the best days I have had in a really long time. 

For the first time I can remember, while I was the little brother on this trip, I didn't feel like the little brother. I felt like I was just with my brothers. There wasn't a rank. There wasn't age. There was just brothers. We laughed, sang to the radio, talked sports, joked with each other, drove from the backseat, ate crap food, and got Starbucks way later than is reasonable to have coffee. 

We were just together, and it warmed my heart. 

I have always looked up to my brothers, I am the shortest one after all, so this day where I was included without feeling like I had to fight for attention or garner favor by my actions just felt right. It felt like I belonged. 

I'm still smiling. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday depression

I don't know why I was surprised when earlier today my heart began to sink. This feeling has crept into my life for the past 20 something years around this time. Holiday depression is alive and well in my life. 

And I hate that it is. It is the one tradition that I wish I could be rid of. 

There is a Christmas Day, when I was 15, where I remember just sitting in the corner of the crowded room and just started bawling my eyes out.  So much noise was going on, nobody even noticed. Surrounded by people, but yet all alone. 

And I don't know if I am really all that different now.  

The evidence of brokenness was present then just as the evidence of brokenness is present by my empty house now. 

I have learned something in the past 20 years though. Maybe I should even say experienced something. Psalm 23:4. 

Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. (Psalm 23:4 MSG)

Death Valley...a place of little life, little growth, animal skulls, and no life giving water. It is the antithesis to the Garden of Eden or the Promise Land (that flowed with milk and honey).  I have also likened it to Mordor in the Lord of the Rings. It is a depressing place. 

Holiday depression, feeling low becuase of the presence of brokenness, is alive, but it won't be forever.  It really points to my personal need for Jesus' birth and my personal need for a Redeemer. It points to the truth that if all was left to my own doing, I would screw it all up, big time. 

This growning in my heart reminds me to make room for Emmanuel, because God really is here with us, just like Psalm 23:4 says. 

I still think holiday depression sucks, but maybe I won't hate it because it has a redemptive purpose. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Target on the wall

3 years back there was a parenting study I went through with some friends. Instantly, it changed the way that I parent, not because of some magical formula, but because Chip talked about targeting. 

Targeting is part goal setting, part leading by example, and part correcting the course complete with confession.   

(I didn't realize it at that point, but I was beginning to be shaped for what some of my business relationships now look like as well)

I get reminders all the time that I have great influence on my boys, influence that includes the words I speak but goes well beyond them.  It is my actions that teach them. 

While this thought is scary at times, it is what drives part of my being as well. I want to be the man I want my boys to become. I want them to be giving to those in need, so I give. I want them to experience the greatness of sex only within their marriage covenant, so I am waitin. I want them to be critically thinking, so I engage their mind and value their opinions. I want them to be thrifty, so I teach them to divide purchase cost by ounces to understand the best value. I want them to celebrate life, so we party when good things happen. I want them to be emotionally strong, so I listen to their hearts cry. I want them to know the face of God, so we pray together. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Just things I don't understand

It is good for me to experience things I would rather not. It keeps me humble by reminding me I don't know everything and that I don't have all the answers. 

I can pursue an inward journey of understanding but until a situation in life where I don't have the answer arrives, I will travel at my own comfortable speed. 

I can attempt to learn and understand a person, even psychoanalyze them as I listen and read their nonverbals, but until they act, I am really only guessing. 

Conflict, loneliness, disappointment, heartache, fatigue, anger, depression, doubt, shame, and fear are all things I would rather not experience. 

But what if all those negative emotions are really good for me? What if without sadness I can't have the happiness I want? What if without loneliness I can't understand togetherness and partnerships?  What if without tears I won't every really be able to smile?  What if without horrific endings I won't be able to recognize the beautiful beginnings?

"What is today, will not always be."  It is a statement I have made so many times as I have looked forward to better days, but it is true in the opposite as well. 

There will be bad days. There will be hard days. There will be painful days. There will be days I would rather forget. There will be people leaving my life even though I think they are valuable. And there will be death. 

There will be things I don't want at all, and sometimes for reasons I don't deserve or understand at all. 

But, there will be good!  There is beauty. There is laughter. There is music and dancing. There is love. There is delighting in the presence of another person.  There is simply being. 

There will be the things I long for, and sometimes for reasons I don't deserve or understand at all. 

But there it is, life, good and bad. Life is calling. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Swirl wind

I've been here before.  I'm sure of it.  But where is here?

The place my heart is torn in so many directions. The place where I want to pull back into everything that is safe. The place I want to be like a turtle at the sign of danger. Thwump, into my shell. 

Today, my soul is like a swirling late fall wind. Deep hurts spinning around with deep needs. I want to stand strong in the midst of it yet I want to fall. 

I need to honor my true self, which means I should let myself fall. Fall and then get right back up. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

When I'm sick

It's been a good chunk of time since I've been sick. I am beyond thankful for that truth. 

Tonight though, I was reminded that when I am sick, I am a really big baby. 

Planning to stretch out from 1.5 to 2 miles tonight I started down the road as sundown approached. Clouds in the sky meant it got dark very quickly. Cars were racing down the road like madmen so I had to stay out of their way. 

Just a bit before the mile marker, another car was coming, but as I tried to move to the side, I misstepped somehow, badly rolled my ankle and tumbled onto the ground. 

And then I layed there helpless. I couldn't get up, the immediate pain was excruciating. I literally laid on the ground and screamed like a baby waiting to nurse. 

I run a loop and was on the back half. I was three houses down from my house and was just staring at my light, wondering how do I get up. How do I get across the road. Who can I call to help me. 

My frustration mounted and reached the same level of my pain. I screamed again, hoping the scream would somehow give way to a levelheaded demeanor and that I would find an answer. 

It didn't.

And so I just laid there on the ground with nobody to call for help. 

A random car stopped and checked on me, helped me off the ground and back home. 

So there I was hobbling aroud, getting ice and pillow and aspirin. Finally it was resting, icing, compressing, and elevating.  

Instead of feeling accomplished, I felt alone. I was hurting and I wanted somebody to come sooth my booboo. Really, I used the word booboo as I was talking to myself. 

Sure, I was being a big baby at the moment, whimpering at the still excruciating pain. My ankle was throbbing and had swollen to the size of a grapefruit. 

As I started to settle in, my LifeGroup was starting to arrive. And I was reminded of an important truth. 

While I may be a big baby, I was made for relationships. I was made to care for another and to be cared for by another. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually.  Mentally. Intellectually. Sexually. Wholistically.  My LifeGroup was there to care for me Spiritually. 

I was reminded that while I feel alone today, there will be a woman who comes along and will care for me in all the ways I was created for, as I will be able to care for her. That, and I was reminded I can be a REALLY BIG BABY.  

Monday, December 01, 2014

Corporate worship

I love corporate worship. There is just something about being with others who want to see Jesus work in their lives. 

It is something I could get lost in. 

Part of the reason for this is because I meet God in a fresh way, in a way I cannot do by myself.  I am being ushered into the presence of God by another person. 

I have an active involvement in this still.  If I don't quiet my heart, if I don't invite God in as he knocks on the door of my heart, I will miss him. So many times I have missed him. 

I have begun a habit of inviting God in though, slowing myself while in the car to church, listening to a worship song on the way, and most importantly verbalizing an invitation while the music starts. 

Sometimes this invitation is as simple as "God be here with us, move in us, move in me. Don't let us leave the same."  Other times it is a pouring out of all the thoughts and worries in my mind with the prayer "let me see you, let me hear your voice, let me know your close" added to the end.

The words I say really don't matter all that much, but God does show up.  

Yesterday my prayer was a longer prayer with "let me hear your voice" at the end . God was faithful to answer with a few lines from Hosanna that pierced the dark cloud that was blocking my clarity. 

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours 
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

The bolded words knocked me on my butt. Literally. I sat down and pondered those words. I need those words to be true in my life.  Those words are words to help center the craziness of my life.  

It is amazing that I can be in a crowd of people, worshiping together with them, but yet have God come so close to me. It is part of the reason I love corporate worship.