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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

my 9 year anniversary....

tonight...I'm leaving everything behind and running away with my wife. We're going out on a hot date to commemorate our 9th year of marriage. Time flies when you're having fun. Here's to marrying the hottest girl on the planet and waking up every morning next to her beautiful body. I'm the luckiest man alive.

restless legs syndrome...

I'm a softy. I'm sympathetic to even pathetic situations. I'm moved with compassion over seemingly insignificant scenerios. My heart goes out to almost anyone who is wrestling with turmoil or trouble.

But restless legs syndrome? Come on. No kidding...I just saw the commercial on T.V. and they were talking about taking medication and consulting your doctor about this physical condition. Granted, I haven't done research, so I don't have a leg to stand on in my argument, but I have a hard time believing there is such a thing. What is the next syndrome going to be?

itchy nose syndrome
lazy butt syndrome
disheveled hair syndrome
figgity fingers syndrome
droopy eyelids syndrome
sweaty feet sydrome
cracked lips syndrome
growing hips syndrome
sleepy seeds syndrome
chapped thighs syndrome
ansy calf muscles syndrome
giddy cheeks syndrome
drooling spittle syndrome
overactive tongue syndrome
erratic blinking syndrome
selective hearing syndrome
incessant droning on and on syndrome
chattering teeth syndrome
congested ear wax syndrome
unwanted hair syndrome
irresistible fingernails syndrome

I could sit here all day long and drum up human idiosyncrasies that are unfortunate. But I'm not sure medicating these things is the solution. Maybe it's just me, but I'm sick of being a part of a culture that is so childish as to shift blame to crazy medical conditions that are nothing more than wild goose chases and easter egg hunts.

Maybe people have "restless legs". Maybe it's connected to something neurotic in nature. And maybe I'm insensitive. And maybe, just maybe we're all a bunch of space cadets.

If you have restless legs...I apologize.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

sweet coffee...

I'm sitting here at Voyage's coffee shop. I like being here.

I just met with Dan...I like him.

I just talked to Jim Bowen. He's a good guy.

And now...Bobby Brown came on the radia..."It's my perogative."

And I just danced around the coffee shop.

And now I have to leave.

I like coffee shops.

bye.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Just another manic monday...

not really. I just thought about that old song sung by a girl that sounds like she's a teeny bopper coming down off a weekend high. I wonder what it is about mondays that often feels so gloomy. Maybe it's the time to reflect on the weekend gone by and to ask yourself if you spent it well. Just taking time to ask those simple questions puts you in a rare catagory of humanity.

On this Monday...I don't feel manic, that's for sure. Just contemplative. I feel like sitting on a porch swing and asking myself tons of questions.

I wish for more friends to share my questions with. One great facet about life as of late is the closeness I feel with my wife. We've been praying together and talking together more about life...its hidden caverns, its twists and turns, its ups and downs, its goods and bads. Boy, that's been good to have. Friendship with your wife is unrivaled. I wish as a couple we had friends that we could sit up and talk with until the early morning hours.

I wish frienship was more of a priority in our culture. Weeks and months fly by with little to no deep contact with other couples. I'm not talking about individual friendship at this point...I'm talking about couple to couple frienships. Those are rare.

I wish for them today.

Monday, November 21, 2005

chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Nat King Cole...I just spent some time with him this morning. Just for the record...he didn't die...he lives on through his matchless music. I dropped the girls off at school this morning and on my way to work his voice moved through my antenna, into my reciever, through the wiring, out the speakers and into my ears. I hope I do something in my life that outlives me. Honor belongs to the man who is dead but never dies. I've been giving a fair bit of thought to that whole line of logic.

I love the Christmas season because something transcendant happens inside of me that I can't explain. I know very few things that bring me so much wonder as the sounds of Christmas music and the festive decorations that abound everywhere you turn your eye. It is only intensified with the Chronicles of Narnia movie set to hit the theaters on Dec. 9th. I saw that trailer at the movies not too long ago...I just about wept like a little girl. This season just brings some unexplainable joy to my heart...and the joy is found in the impossibility of explanation.

I wish more ineffable stuff happened in my life. But alas, almost everything has a logical explanation. Even as a pastor I'm amazed with how little I brush up against the supernatural. Most of what happens around me and in me is pretty much the lump sum of my effort+time+talent+spiffiness+a spoonful of personality= fruit of ministry. I rarely feel wowed by something, taken back, speechless, breathless, amazed, wonderstruck.

That is why I love this season...it awakens, beckons. It defies definition. It resists a simple recipe. It escapes explanation. It rebels against reason. It tugs at your heart in the lonely hours. It nudges places inside that haven't been touched before. It stirs stagnant waters that once were alive with anticipation. It arrests affection that hasn't been captured by anything for no telling how long. That's why I love Nat King, Bing Crosby, even Amy Grant (if you can believe that) this time of year...because it isn't about them...they only spinkle the pixy dust over the air waves casting a spell on my heart that leaves me spellbound. Everything around me feels enchanted. Things that laid still move. Things that were silent speak. Things that were once cold become strangely warm. I like that.

I really like that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

spent...

this is a day where I feel I have nothing left...but then I have to go to small group. I want to go to small group...because I love that more than anything else Christianity has to offer. But I feel like I'm a limp noodle, dangling from the fork of a toodler learning to feed himself. I took a blow today...I big one. It was right after an early morning meeting, followed by a late morning meeting. I was informed of something that took the wind out of my sails...I was adrift. This afternoon I have forced myself to accomplish the tasks at hand...but heartlessly at best. My eyelids are 45 pounds a piece. My blatter is full. My butt is sore.

Monday, November 14, 2005

a penchant for the woods...

inklings. This little nagging voice or nudge or stirring within that comes without reason or reasons. Odd as this may sound, I've been driving along and feeling drawn to the woods. I peek into various plots of land and I can't help but feeling like I should stop and explore. I wonder if there are hidden trails untrodden by human foot for decades, centuries maybe. I wonder what trees have recently fallen and the artistic placement of their unique frames. I wonder if there are any trickling streams tucked away like hidden treasures found only by the persistant dreamers who go off the beaten path in search of adventure. Do you ever wonder what has yet to be discovered? I'm not talking about electricity or flying or telephones, I'm just talking about little simple things all around us that are just far enough off the beaten path that they are left untampered with. Some trees are deformed, yet somehow recover from an early wound and turn into a work of art. Some trees grow sideways, once blown over by a windstorm only to put down roots and make the best of the leaning. You can walk up these trees without using your hands...they are still alive, yet they bear the marks of a crisis that left them jaded. Some trees grow tall and slender with limbs accessible only to fowl or acrobatic squirells. Some trees spread wide with low-lying limbs inviting the ground-bound to live a little. Some trees have done their time and witnessed centuries of life...they have watched generations come and go. They have watched our world progress, transgress and digress. They have weathered ice storms, wind storms, rains storms, and hail storms...and are alive to tell about it. They have somehow evaded the sawyer needing timber for cabinets and the woodsman needing logs for the fireplace. They are giants...and they are glorious.

This last week my eyes are drawn to the woods. Sometimes dark, sometimes filled with dimensions created by shadows and colors, sometimes green with life, sometimes covered with fallen leaves. I want to stop my car and run through them, dance through them. I want to stop and talk to the woods...to honor their silence and their secrets. I wish they could talk back...I want to ask them what they are groaning for. For some reason, its seems that they would be perfect teachers.

I love the rolling hills and the rocky crags. I love the old stone walls covered in moss speaking of an age long ago. I love the wild vegetation...the blackberry bushes, the cherry trees, the mulberry trees. I can't get enough of the smell...the rich oxygen that fills my lungs. I breathe the air of the trees to survive, they breathe my air to survive. We work in harmony to enrich each other in this web of life. We need each other strangely enough. Why did God do that?

I could go on and on...this inkling pulls me in. Most of the time I drive on by and take my place in the great circus of life filled with dealines and duties. But occassionaly I will stop and pay attention to the longings of my soul. It's telling me something about life, about God, about me.

The Woods. What a great name for a church.

Jason

Friday, November 11, 2005

time with tater...

We dropped the older sisters off to school. As I closed the sliding door on the van, I could see her eyes light up with a joy that only comes with exclusive attention. She knew that two distractions were just disposed of...narcissism hates competition. As I moved around the van and mounted the passenger seat, I turned my head to see that she was secured safely in her car seat. She smirked as if to say, "I own you." I smiled as if to say, "I know."

This is the morning when Heidi is off cleaning houses and Taylor and I have two and a half solid hours by ourselves until we have to pick up Aly from Preschool. On this day, we decided to frequent the local McDonald's for a quick Breakfast burrito and some time in Ronald's playland. Tater (Taylor) was restless with delight. We sang songs together on the way over until I heard that squeel that only occurs when she sees the Golden Arches as we come around the bend on Main St.

As we walked into McDonalds hand in hand, everyone literally parted like the Red Sea and voiced comments like, "She is simply adorable!" and "What a cutie!" and "Daddy's little princess!" I'm serious, these people don't know the complex they are feeding. I literally have to abuse this child to get the scales to even out after these moments that can only be discribed as psuedo-worship. And the thing that kills me is the way she waves at these people like Princess Diana. She soaks it up like it's her job.

We got into the Playland and I took off her coat (straightjacket) and shoes. She climbed the spiralling stairs that lead to the tunnels of wonder. Who knows what kids do up there? All I know is that every step up the stairs she yelled at me and said, "Daddy, see me?" When I would look away for a second, she was yell until I caught her eye. Like I said, exlusive attention.

Man, I wish I could go on. We finished there and went home. We wrestled, played kickball, ate ice cream, played with babies, watched kiddy television, played hide and seek, and sat on the couch together snuggling. (she doesn't always do that...that was a treat!)

I love tater. Thanks for spending time with me, princess.

Jason

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I almost got into a fight...

Last Saturday I went into the local grocery store and made a conscious decision to encounter people with a friendly face and a caring word. Our church has been addressing social issues that we as Christians need to engage. I've been struck by my need to expand my heart to places where I'm not as comfortable. In an effort to nudge goodness into humanity, I talked to the cashier lady. Instead of saying a simple "hi", I asked her how her day was going. She said, "Fine". Usually I would stop there fumbling around in my wallet for my credit card and looking off into the distance like I was contemplating something profound. Instead, I opened my mouth and what came out next just embarrassed the dickens out of me, "I suppose you meet alot of people in this job." She looked at me like a was a space cadet. I wanted to rephrase the question, but it was too late and I didn't know what I would have said to bail myself out anyhow. She responded with a "Yeah, I guess so." trying not so speak what was probably going through her head, "You think, stupid? I'm a cashier...people come through here all day long...got any other thought provoking comments?" I mumbled something about the rain outside at that point and she seemed to warm up to me a little. I think she felt sorry for me.

As I picked up my bag and wished her a wonderful evening, I saw a man that had attended our church a few times standing over by the fountain drink machines. I dediced to walk out of my way to say hi to him. I talked with him a few weeks earlier and he spilled his horrific story on me after Sunday morning church. I felt like I had invested enough time in him to come up behind him and touch his shoulder with a hearty, "Hey man." Apparently not.

He turned around and with a burst of adrenaline pushed me away. I flew back four or five steps, caught my balance and regained composure. I thought he was joking, so I went back over to him and said, "What's up?" He looked at me and said, "What are you doing?" I responded, "Just wanted to come over and say hi and see how you were doing." He retaliated, "Well you don't do that?" I answered, "Do what?" "Touch someone from behind like that...you could have a knife or a gun or something." I was holding a grocery bag with hamburger buns and crackers...a deadly weapon indeed. I tried to calm him down, but he continued to rip into me. A couple times I saw his fist clench and I felt like he was going to hit me. I eventually said goodbye and went on my way.

My body had that fight or flight thing going on inside. I tried to take church to heart and it about got me into a brawl. Loving people is harder than I thought it would be. Did you know that alot of people are so hurt they don't know how to let people love them? To a guy like me who grew up in relative paradise as a child...this is news to me. You would think everyone would lap up love, epescially those who have recieved very little, but it's not always the case. I learned that at the grocery store.

How do I get myself into these situations. My life is like a freak show. I'm not going to give up loving people...it's the hope of the world we're talking about here.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What have we become...

what have we become?

Cute Christianity

Was John the Baptist Polite and Political,
Sociable and Civilized,
Domesticated and Docile,
Cautious and Conservative,
Stable and Steady,
Predictable and Proper,
Consistent and Constant,
Reputable and Respectable,
Composed and Calm,
Secure and Sound,
Balanced and Behaved,
Poised and Posh,
Diplomatic and Decent,
Tame and Timid,
Refined and Reserved,
Subdued and Serious,
Collected and Confident,
Nice and Neat,
Clean and Careful,
Trustworthy and Teachable,
Cultured and Cultivated,
Moderate and Modest,
Reasonable and Rational,
Sensible and Sound,
Logical and Level-headed,
Sophisticated and Stylish,
Pleasing and Pleasant,
Conventional and Convincing,
Appropriate and Amiable,
Friendly and Fitting,
Traditional and Timely,
Orderly and Organized,
Methodical and Meticulous,
Smooth and Suave,
Concise and Cute,
Intelligent and Inviting,
Universal and Uniform,
Upstanding and Upright,
Separated and Safe,
Corporate and Commercial,
Suspicious and Segregated,
Professional and Proficient,
Groomed and Gregarious?

Then why has religion turned us into this?
We have been bred into banal beings of boredom…
A colorless, savorless, lifeless, loveless collection of Christians
Who have traded godliness for loveliness.
We need more John the Baptists and less Johnny Appleseeds.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I had an affair...

Have you ever been seduced? I mean really enticed by someone asking you to leave what you love the most to embrace your fantasy.

As far as I know, there is only one time when I felt like I was being played by someone, tested, tempted. It was after a time when I spoke at a college gathering. There were people waiting to talk to me after I was done and so I listened and shared and laughed and asked questions until finally there was only one left. She was a college student who was struggling with her relationship with her boyfriend and threw out the statement, "I just wish he was more like you...passionate and in love with Jesus." Something inside me just shriveled into a prune. I immediately looked around and the place was empty...I was on a campus an hour from home in an empty room with a beautiful girl telling me her relational woes and sizing up her boyfriend to my heart for God. I was only half listening to her as my mind started to race to possible scenarios. "Should I just turn and run? Should I close up this conversation with prayer and jet? What if she comes toward me to hug me when we're done talking? Is she coming on to me? Why is she sharing with me her disappointment with her boyfriend? Where did everyone go...does she know we're alone...did she plan to be last in line on purpose? Where's my wife and why didn't I bring her with me." She was talking as my mind went crazy...I heard, "Blah blah blah feeling bad blah blah heart for God...blah blah stressed out...blah blah...what would you do...blah blah blah..." I think my face was white with fear. If she was seducing me, she had to see that I was shutting down. If she wasn't, she had to wonder why I suddenly glazed over and became cold in the middle of her sob story. Either way, I felt like a sitting duck.

Fast forward to last week...it happened again. There is only one woman in my life...that's the way I like it. But in the parking lot I was propositioned to trade my beauty for something younger, more zesty, and in much better shape (sorry babe). I can't lie, I had been feeling like my defenses were getting weaker over the past year, but I didn't know how vulnerable I really was until the opportunity presented itself. That's the trouble, most guys don't know how strong they are until they're tested. They have a false sense of pride and then, bam, they fall prey to the overwhelming temptation before they knew what hit them. Here's the deal I love my girl more than most men. She is faithful and over the years we've become soul mates. But the last couple years, I've let my eyes bounce around to others. At first, you feel guilty and convicted, but then you get accustomed to lusting and it doesn't seem as repulsive. Slowly, my conscience was disinigrating and I was becoming dangerously familiar with fantasizing about what I didn't have. And that's where it starts...wanting what you don't have. Once that sets in, what you have doesn't seem as appealing.

As I stood in the parking lot and heard those words every guy wonders if they'll ever hear, I buckled. "Do you want me?" I looked at what I had, and in a moment of irrational weakness I gave in. And with one decision I left behind the one that had given of herself to make me who I am today. I could picture her face when she learned of my betrayal. I didn't know what I was going to tell her. I wanted to go back to her, but part of me had tasted what I had been daydreaming about for years...and I was strangely drawn back for more. I knew affairs happened, I just never knew they could happen to someone with my character and background. I'm loyal. I'm strong. I'm faithful. And in one moment, I traded what I had for what I wanted.

Don't get me wrong, I still love her, but she's been replaced by a younger model. Miss Acura has been swapped for Miss Mazda. She served me well for several years, but when the offere came, I couldn't resist. She still hasn't forgiven me. She sits at home in my driveway watching me drive away each day and weeps at the all the memories we've shared coming to an end. I sometimes can almost see a tear falling from her left headlight as I back out of the driveway and head into my day.

I still feel guilty for the affair. But sometimes you just gotta do what feels good.

I was given a car last week in the church parking lot...God is good.