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Thursday, December 28, 2006

The lost art of life...

Yesterday, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time. I went to the Philadephia Museum of Art and ran up the steps like Rocky all the way to the top. I turned around and put my fist in the air and pumped it up and down like a piston. On my insides, I was screaming out some battle cry. I stood there for a few minutes and just took in the city with all its smog and skyscrapers. It was a moment I will never forget. People were moving past me smirking and thinking to themselves, "Another Rocky wanna be trapped in a puny little frame. What a twirp." I then saw a bunch of people gathered around a newly erected statue of Rocky...I decided to go down and embrace this piece of copper or whatever alloy it was. It was so cool...come to find out, it was just put there in the last several months. I just saw the movie Rocky Balboa last week, so this only added to the pathos of this experience. I loved the last movie, by the by. It was way better than I feared it would be.

After I came down off my "Rocky" Mountain High (long live John Denver), I made my way through the massive pillars just before the entrace to the museum. I paid my dues and just staired at the architecture of this historic building. What a beautiful structure. I climbed a set of stairs to the first floor and spent the first of four hours in a newly added armer and arms section. It had all kinds of old guns and shields and swords from the early 1200's to the 16oo's...unreal. There were armors for horses, medieval spears, and jousting artifacts...I was in heaven. I then made my way to the European art wing...the oldest jewels of that time period...again, stunning and spellbinding. The paintings, the sculptures, the carvings...it was transcendant. Most of the material was religious in nature...centering around Jesus and the crucifixion. I was blown away with how pervasive that presence of Christ was in this museum. I would guess that 7o% of the art was representative of Christendom. It was a spiritual experience walking through each room and taking in afresh the ripple effect left by the life of Jesus.

I then went downstairs to the ground floor and sliced through the modern art section. It was less gripping for sure, but still pregnant with beauty. I guess I'm a sucker for things that date back to the 14th or 15th centuries and beyond. The newer stuff just hasn't stood the test of time...it's really only just begun to be historic. The American part of the museum was my last stop...this was my second favorite part of my self-given tour. By the time I left, I was drunk on art. That is something I would gladly place myself under the influence of any day of the week. I don't make enough time to inhale beauty in my life. It carries me through colorless and savorless days.

Days like this end too soon. But I guess that's what makes them special.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

This is what beauty does to me...

Christmas has come and gone. I'm sitting here with my iPod listening to the soundtrack from "the Fellowship of the Ring"...unreal. It's like I'm swept away into an alternate reality...a world all its own. The theme song from The Shire pierces parts of my soul that only it can. The first viewing of the movie comes flooding back to me and all that it represents. Ironically, I was here in New Jersey on Christmas vacation when I basked in the light of the bigscreen on a Monday afternoon. I was with my brother and it was one of those rare occasions where you go into something expecting nothing and getting something so otherworldly you can't recover from the beauty you've consumed. This movie/soundtrack just tore open parts of my soul that were untouched for over 27 years of my life. The music is haunting and seducing. The landscapes, the themes, the plot, the battle, the simplicity, the friendships, the idyllic community of Hobbiton...the imagination, the wonder...these characteristics aroused areas of my heart pining in a dark corner of my insides for something larger than life.

The mystical arrangement of this album is breathing into my ears something life sustaining. I can feel sound turning into salve for the soul. It trickles into my ear canal and somehow cascades down into my insides...it creates bumps on my arms and tingles in my spine. I feel whole...centered...awakened.

I wish to always feel this strange stirring. I can't imagine growing numb to music's power. There are days when I'm so caught up in the rituals of routine that I become estranged to the arts. And as I ignore my heart, I get ignorant.

I long to walk through the woods all my days...to resist the temptation to walk the trodden path of popularity. I want to venture out, to allow the wanderlust of my heart to find it's satisfaction in making it's way through uncharted territory. I want to drift toward desire and to let my heart be my guide. I don't want to see footprints. I want the virgin land to call out the explorer and lead me on an expedition away from normalcy and toward mystery. I want to wonder what's around the bend. I want take the road less travelled by, and experience the difference the auther speaks of. I want to feel lost in the middle of life. I want that to drive me to seek the truth...no matter where it leads me.

I remember getting lost in the woods several years back and feeling the fear fill my chest. I didn't know North from South, East from West. I ran through the forest and fields not knowing if I was running toward or away from home. I came upon an old broken down barn in the middle of a brush infested clearing. It was getting dark and I remember considering whether to stay there for the night until morning. I was so close to clearing out a corner in the dilapitated shed and creating a nest out in nature. I was scared...it felt invigorating compared to the known means and ends of my everyday existance. I decided to keep running toward the sunset imagining that it would lead to somewhere I would recognize...some backroad, some discernable landmark. Minutes later, I happened upon a large pond with a paddle boat...civilization!! I walked around the pond and toward what appeared to be a tractor path. As I crested the hill, I saw buildings of what looked like a camp. It was. It lead to a road, that lead to the house I was trying to get back to. When I finally walked through the door and told the story of my adventure...I was saddened.

You can't make yourself get lost and feel the same adrenaline I felt...I has to happen to you. I wished for more of that feeling...even if it wasn't physical, only spiritual. I wanted to feel lost somewhere that required me to find my way to where I wanted to go. I didn't want to keep feeling like I was letting someone else think for me, talk for me and act for me. Sometimes it just feels like everything's handed to you on a golden platter these days. Where is the virgin ground yet to be claimed? Where are the lines of logics and the systems of thoughts that need to be questioned and regurgitated for reevaluation? Where are the free thinkers who wander off the path of least resistance toward the mysteries of the dark woods of wonder? This is what beckons me as I listen to this intoxicating score of music written by someone who isn't taking his cues from Mozart, but asking the question, "What music has yet to be written? What must I do to hear it in my heart and put it on paper for the whole world to experience?" Shoot me if wanting this kind of life is juvinile.

Beauty. This is what it does to me.

Monday, December 18, 2006

II Corinthians 7:5
"This body of ours had no rest. We were harassed at every turn--conflicts on the outside, fears within."

"This body of ours had no rest...."
Wow! That is were it begins...the restlessness of the Christian many times starts with "lessrestness". Our minds are preoccupied, our schedules are crammed, our hearts are congested with dreams of what could be but is not, our souls are dry pieces of God-sod....and we are exhausted!! No rest is where things can get crass and business-like. Our walk with God is more like communism than communion. Our bodies are wasted and our quality of life is subject to question. We are existing...but that is about the extent of it. No rest catches up to you once the adrenaline wears off and the rush of what you were working toward fades into the past. You are left in a heap of hurt and people are passing you like you are standing still...oh, wait...you are!

"We were harassed at every turn..."
Once your body lacks rests...your outlook on life is skewed. You start dreading life instead of drinking life. You see what you believe rather than believing what you see. "Harassing" is a good word for the feeling...you feel played with and toyed with like a caught mouse who has become the entertainment of the victorious cat before he is devoured never to return. "At every turn"...yes, again a perfect decription by Paul of the feeling of being overwhelmed with the impossibility of escape at times. No matter where you go, you start adopting the attitude: "Something is going to go wrong, I just know it!" You feel weary of life and now your starting to feel leary of life...you feel like you are being taken over.

"Conflicts on the outside..."
I don't even have to elaborate on this phrase lest I insult your intelligence. Let's just say that you can't go anywhere without facing one conflict or another. It becomes a reality that compounded with fatigue and frustration can take you down for the count.

"Fears within."
This is where it culminates into paralysis. You becomes frozen in fear internally and all your spiritually energy is to keep yourself from falling apart. You fear everything:
1. What do they think of me?
2. Can I do it satisfactorily?
3. Who am I disappointing?
4. Why can't I measure up?
5. Why am I not getting it?
6. Am I missing out on something?
7. What am I going to do with my life?
8. I wonder if I will ever find someone to marry?
9. Does God really exist?
10. Why am I so messed up?

The list goes on and on...but who needs me to dredge up the repressed terror of the heart? I guess I just like verses like this that speak to the heart of what I face without pulling any punches. It's real and it effects each one of us at one time or another. I wonder if this verse happens in anyone elses life out there?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How Great is Our God--Christmas rewrite

I've never done this before, but I thought I'd post a song I rewrote this morning. I'm sure alot of you who read this (whoever you are), have some connection to music, church and worship. This may or may not come in handy for you in this holiday season.

I was thinking about the popular song, "How Great is our God" yesterday and had this idea to rewrite lyrics that fit the Christmas season and the birth of Jesus. I woke up at 5:30 this morning and I had a couple lines going through my mind. Instead of "clothed in majesty" I thought of "clothed in poverty" and another line that seemed to stick out to me was the line, "washed us white as snow". I never connected that to the Christmas season and I wanted to weave that into the song somehow. About 40 minutes ago, it all came together. I just wanted to share it with you in case if fit something you were doing in the next couple weeks.

When I create I feel God's pleasure...
---------------------------------------------------
How Great is Our God
Music by: Chris Tomlin
Lyrics by: Jason Holdridge/Chris Tomlin (chorus)

The King of Majesty, born in poverty
A stable for His home
A stable for His home

He wrapped Himself in flesh, skin held righteousness
The manger was His throne
The manger was His throne

Chorus:
How Great is our God, sing with me, How Great is our God
And all will see How great, How great is our God.

With heaven born to earth, hope began to birth
In every human soul
In every human soul

This little life contained, the blood to cleanse our stains
And wash us white as snow
And wash us white as snow

Bridge:
You’re the God who makes a way
In the darkest of our days
So my heart must say, “How great is our God!”
-------------------------------------------------------

I hope this encourages you in some way today...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cost effectiveness...

What does it cost to stay alive? What price does a person of influence have to pay to maintain a spirit that is attractive and inspiring? What thoughts have to fill your soul in order to have a message to give to people on Sunday morning worth listening to? What torment must be endured to be a vessel of God that is fit for His use? What pain must be assumed and embraced to reach the masses that approach life with such a suspicion of the propaganda? What ridicule must a heart undergo in order to stay close to the heartbeat of the world? Is the "Shadow of Death" the address of the follower of Christ? What cross must be carried?

I had someone ask me if I understood the influence that I have on people. They asked me if I grasped the way my speaking touches the human spirit. I'm not sure that I do. But I immediately thought, "It's nice to feel like you're making a difference in someone's life, but the cost to keep my heart poised without being poisened sometimes causes me to question if it's worth it." The sleepless nights. The devil's advocate in me. The dangerous quest for truth, no matter where it leads. The gut wrenching heartache induced by a glance at the world around me. The angst I live with contunually...wrestling with contradictory thoughts about Christ and Christianity. These are the things that make me the vessel I am. Some days it seems worth it...others, I am left to wonder.

So whenever I have my ego stroked, I am quickly reminded that a minute of influence costs a day of questions. An hour of power costs a week of weakness. A day of ecstacy costs a year of agony. Only the human soul will know what I'm talking about in this excerpt.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I think Jesus was probably right...

It was a Monday not unlike most. I was hauling my daughters to school and asking them some probing questions to see how they felt about the past weekend and what they were feeling about the coming week. We were listening to Christmas music in the car and there was a song that was composed so creatively...I could tell Kami was intrigued with the modifications this particular composer made to this age old carol. I turned to her and said, "Isn't music amazing?" She smirked and nodded her head. She said, "I love music, dad." That made me happy. I want my kids to appreciate and love the arts, and little comments like that bring me to life.

We arrived at Aly's school plenty early. She leaned over my seat and gave me her prissy little kiss, lips tightly pursed, eyes squeezed shut. Kami grabbed her and put her in a head lock and gave her a kiss on the top of her head. She opened the door and away she went.

It was just Kami and I in the car for the next few minutes. As we made out way to her school, I could tell she was focused on something. I asked her what she was thinking about and she said that she couldn't wait to give her teacher her present. I forgot that she had a gift bag along with her backpack today. I asked her if she was excited and she said, "Totally." That reminded me of the mid-eighties, so I flashed back to 21 Jump Street and New Kids on the Block. She was smiling so I said, "Isn't giving gifts so much better than getting gifts?" She nodded her head. I then told her about how Jesus said that "You'll be more happy if you give than if you get" (Acts 20) She turned to me and quickly said, "I think he was probably right!" That he was.

I think Jesus is right about alot of things that we tend to forget about.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I have this urge again...

I saw a few people with shaved heads recently. I don't know if it was a movement of the Holy Spirit, or a curious draw to a more radical way of life, but I wanted to shave my head right down to the soft, supple surface. I don't know if this would work since I'm not actually bald or balding. I know many men who refuse to fight the hair-loss battle any longer and resign to the fact that shaving their head is a far better option than rationing out pockets of hair trying to comb it forward or sideways or what-have-ya...they cave in and just lop it all off much to the happiness of everyone around them. There is nothing that pains me more than seeing a man refuse to give in to the inevitable, holding on to every last hair and trying to be creative with hair bolstering alternatives. I applaud the man that puts down his comb and waves the white towel of surrender.

That is why this decision often causes such mixed feelings inside me. Will the hair on top of my head leave a dark shadow of stubble? Will certain lumps on my skull that I don't know are there make my head look ghastly? Will I have tons of little pimples on my head that everyone feels compelled to pop everytime they get within 4 feet of me? Is there dry scalp syndrome under there, a chaffing of dead skin just waiting to be freed from the canopy of soft, silky hair to be seen for what it really is? Are there birth marks under there that have the appearance of a rash or skin disease? Will I be surprised by a mole or two latently growing beneath the foliage? Will my moderate widows peak look funny? These are the questions that plague a man making this sort of asthetic move.

I also find myself thinking about the cold. I wonder if I'll regret this decision when the arctic winds of Michigan come against me. I wonder if I'll want to stick my hair back on with transparent scotch tape when all is said and done. I wonder if the hair growing out of the top of my ears will stand out even more. (I have nearly 9 aberrant hairs growing out of the cartilage on the tops of my ears). I wonder whether I will be able to keep my soul patch tucked under my bottom lip or if that will have to go with the rest of my head hair...I don't know if I can part with that. I wonder if there will be a distinct line between the tan of my face and neck and my snow white scalp giving me the look of Cruella Devil or a recent recruit to the army. I wonder if people will be able to listen to me when I'm speaking on Sundays or if they will get transfixed on my head and be transported into the Twilight Zone. I wonder if I'll be able to concentrate on anything but the lack of hair on my head when I'm talking to people. I wonder.

And yet, there is this underlying gravitational pull to just do it. To cast off all bonds and make a clean break. To run toward the unknown and embrace the risk on the other side of all these questions. I wonder if I will always wonder what it would have been like to be completely and utterly bald...if I will be on my death bed wondering what I may have missed, passed up in this hurried and frenetic life? What may have been in my marriage, my ministry and my future. What blessings were in store for me if only I would have trusted my instincts and not talked myself out of this barbaric, primal desire.

But what if I'm being summuned by the dark side. What if this is a ploy to disable me, render me imasculated and immobile? What if all that awaits me are sarcastic stabs and crossed eyeed glances of pity? What if I would look like Quassi Moto and be banished to the bell tower of society to live alone, cursed and undone? Would my wife cherish me the same, or would the very sight of me disgust her beyond recovery? Even when my hair grew back, would I be marred for life with a stigma? Would I ever truly be able to cover what has been blatently revealed? Would people walk by me and mutter under their breath, "I know what's under there, he can't fool me." I fear so.

My life hangs in the balance of this pesky thought this cold and careless morning.

Friday, December 01, 2006

10 years...

Heidi and I shared our 1oth anniversary together yesterday. It was awesome. It was everything I hoped it would be. Our time was filled with retelling old stories and reflecting on the things we love about being married to each other.

In the first month of our marriage I distinctly remember wondering if we could keep things fired up or if we would cave in to the crusty and cold emotions of familiarity like so many who enjoy/endure this blessed institution. I remember wondering if things would honestly get better or if we were at the peak and it would be a test of will power from here on. So many relationships at best stay together with little to no passion, at worst they wilt and fracture leaving hurt, hatred and hell to pay. Would sex get better or go south? Would our conversations get predictable and pressured? Would laughter be replaced with resignation? Would our children witness us leading independent lives like so many? Would we shift focus to running errands, paying bills and being on time for appointments? Would our attraction turn to tolerance? These are things that filled my mind in the beginning, not because it was already showing signs of atrophy, but because I couldn't help but look around me and fear the worst based on the bleak performance of American Marriages. (unfortunately throwing the adjective Christian in there doesn't make much of a difference)

But I'm here to tell you that marriage has never been better. Our trust of each other has never seen a better day. Our conversations are deeper, truer. Our home is filled with more peace and freedom. Our bedroom has never witnessed such passion. Our attraction to each other is over the top. Our girls aren't just seeing the permenance of marriage, they are seeing the pleasure of it. Our dates are just as enjoyable and refreshing. Our laughter still hurts our abs. Our tears still flow in the presence of each other when we're needing to vent. Our hope is still in tact. Our love is still abiding. I can't speak for others, but if I were to give a "State of our Union" it would be summed up with the word, "Matchless". I know of no one else who has it any better.

I can look at a couple just getting married and say with all honesty, "It's better today than ever." It feels good to say that and mean it. I couldn't stand the thought of offering false hope to people.

Last night was awesome in everyway. From the shopping, to the dinner, to the movie, to the bedroom and off into a peaceful night of sleep...I felt like we celebrated appropriately. I can't wait for the next ten years. I love you Heidi...for all my days, with all my heart.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

surprise...

I was up before the sun this morning with a friend. We were enjoying some early morning coffee together. I had my French Vanilla brew, he was sipping the strong black blend. The coffee shop was laced with Christmas decor and the music in the background was softly playing 80's music...the best music by the by.

We found ourselves talking about the desires of a woman's heart and how terrible we are at being husbands to our wives at times. It's true, we do need a kick in the pants sometimes when it comes to speaking things into our wives and drawing things out of them. We are deer caught in the headlights of oncoming traffic most days...we know we should move but somehow feel paralyzed in the moment.

But we talked a little about the desires of the man's heart today. Something, strangely enough, that I don't talk about with many men. I know my shortcomings. I'm intimately acquainted with my inadaquacies as a husband. I think upon and about those things all the time. I can spell out my top five behavioral foibles. But to discuss my desires as a man and a husband...I'm not so versed and certainly not so polished in my articulation of those matters.

But as we talked about our needs and our values and our longings, one word surfaced that made alot of sense to me. Surprise. I so much need the element of surprise in my life. In my marriage. In my job. In my relationships. In my bedroom. In my preaching. In my vacation. In my Bible study. In my fathering. In my sonship. In my heart.

At the core, I love adventure. I love suspence. I love not knowing what's coming next. I love the thrill of the hunt. I love discovery. I love getting my socks knocked off. I loved being caught of gaurd. I love feeling scared about the unknown. I love feeling excited.

Let's just camp out on the word excitement for a second. I think a man needs to feel excitement, something to excite his heart in the midst of monotony. I know that men get tarred and feathered for this insatiable desire, and I would admit there is an abuse of it in the male economy. But to miss this inate desire, is to miss the man in my humble opinion. When you try to get man to submit to things like security and stability asking him to set aside his "need for speed" and his "tornado chasing nature", you slowly boil his soul. Men want to test their capacity to think under pressure. They want to be taken to places that require something of them that they are wondering about themselves. They want something to happen during the day that rocks the boat of commonplace and defies the odds of conventional thinking. They are drawn to the unorthodox. They are looking for peculiarities and rarities to surface and knock them over. They want their jobs to invite them to step up and excite them to no end. They want their homes to be anything but routine and rote responsibilities dutifully carried out and completed. They want their wives to surprise them with a rarely heard word, an infrequently felt touch or an out-or-the-ordinary glance. I would even go so far as to say that men don't primarily want sex like everyone accuses them, they want surprise. I remember hearing that man have affairs less for sex and more for adventure. The element of surprise is the first thing to go in most marriage relationships and I feel it is the death blow to the male heart.

I love this about my wife. There are sometimes I am just caught off guard with something she says or does. I will be expecting one thing and she will offer something different. Something different. That's what men want...not a different partner in marriage, but a different kind of marriage. And when the marriage gets bland and banal, men confuse this "desire for different" with bailing out and starting over with someone else or something else. What really needs to happen is that men need to change their mode of operation in their present reality. And their wives(if they have wives) need to acknowledge this inborn desire a man has for things like surprise, adventure, newness and "changing things up a bit". I love it when my wife initiates change. I love it when she steps off the beaten path and moves to the mystery. I love it when she shocks me with an idea. I love it when she wants me to push off the shore to explore unchartered territory. I love it when she applauds my wanderlust. I love it when she takes pride in my inability to settle for less than something "exciting". I love it when she surprises me with a whisper in my ear or a touch that tells me something is asir in her bloodstream. I find myself thinking, "You mean, you...you...you....oh boy...this is exciting!" I love smelling a different fragrance in the house of a new food she's cooking. I love it when she greets me in the morning with zestful joy and optimism...it snaps me out of my robotic tendencies and calls me to action on that particular day.

I know that I'm carrying on some, but I feel this today. If a women desires to be "Captivating" then a man desires to be "Surprised". I've always thought a man wants to feel Strong...but if there is no surprise...then there is no need for strength. I wonder how different marriages would be if women would work harder at creating surprise and men would work harder at creating security. But the woman, because she longs for security, wants to give that to the man and that in many ways kills him and she has no idea why. And the man, because he longs for surprise, wants to give that to the woman and that in many ways kills her and he has no idea why. I'm not saying men don't want security and women don't want surprise, but I do see a difference in the desire for each of these in the sexes.

I guess today I wanted to try to think about my desire for surprise rather than my depravity as a man to do anything good. I spend so much time rehearsing my disabilities that sometimes I forget about what I'm actually looking for, aching for, striving for. I love surprise and I'm wondering out loud if this isn't the ache of a good many men out there. Don't hate me because I'm looking for missing pieces to this puzzle of life. Please.

Monday, November 20, 2006

refreshers/defreshers

I wrote this hypothetical piece to stir up a spirit of refreshment in the body of Christ:

How do you influence the environments you find yourself in? What impact are you making on those around you? What "attitude aroma" permeates the air when you come onto the scene? Are you an energy-taker or an energy giver? Do you drain people and pain people when you press into their lives? Are you a source of encouragement or discouragement to those you know you best and love you most? Do you breathe life or death into relationships? Are you characterized as a sponge or a fountain? Do you repel people or attract people?....The real question is...Do you care? None of these questions mean anything to the apathetic heart.

Defreshers:
These are the ones who spread the fragrance of self wherever they go. They talk about themselves often and spread strife and negativism. They have answers for everything and everyone. They offer little encouragement and need gobs of attention. They vacuum up every morsel of energy they can and leave when they've used you and abused you. They don't listen and rarely hear. They are preoccupied with their business and could care less about anything outside the realm of their needs and wants. They come to get, never to give. They are alive to leach and to teach, not to learn and listen. They have trouble with their attention span and get bored easily. They never say thank you, even if someone bends over backwards to minister to their needs. They don't take advice or suggestions, they never ask for other's wisdom. They propogate rumors and broadcast other people's dirty laundry. They can't stand silence so they fill the air with loud, thoughtless, crude, rude, lude, shrewd comments in attempts to divert attention from their shallow immaturity. They shirk depth in conversations and gravitate to talking about humorous and irrelevant details rather than personal issues of the heart. They hardly ever build up, but are eager to tear down. They find themselves jealous when someone else succeeds, but are quick to remind people of their success. They are always one-up on every story or experience you share. They live in denial of their deviant and deceitful tendencies and ignore the advice of others to grow in their areas of weakness. IN ONE WORD...THEY'RE SELFISH!

Refreshers:
These are the people who often times are taken for granted but are missed deeply when they are missing. They smile often and laugh hard. They love it when you share things with them that made your day and glory in your successes. They share openly about their weaknesses and always ask your opinion when faced with a dilemna. They respond with a nodding head and a soft answer. They appreciate the slightest charity and feel wierd getting credit for their contributions. They are sheepish to be recognized and sluggish to step out for praise and admiration. They have a quite power about them almost like they know something you don't about life. They carry with them a level of moral authority, without demanding it, because of their quite character and consistent conduct. They openly admit failure and frustrations and never claim to have a corner on the truth. They accept criticism with teachable respect and encourage suggestions if someone may have a better way of doing something. They listen far more than they talk and they pick you up when you feel weak and weary. They seek to understand rather than to be understood. They are always asking questions and listening with rivoted attention to your answers. They don't cut you off when you're sharing and they probe deeper if they feel you desire to share your heart. The long to give rather than recieve and offer themselves selflessly and sacrificially to whatever cause is neediest at the moment. They resist applause and popularity fearing it may distort motivations and pollute purposes. They don't wear out their welcome and are discretionate about when to talk and how much. They don't interrupt you when you're occupied in another converstaion and they don't blame you if you can't drop everything for their every whimsical want. They don't hold grudges and are quick to forgive grievances. They promote positive thinking and don't dwell on the pessimistic side of things. They change the atmosphere that they touch and don't find comfort in blending into the existing scenery. They live out their dreams of what the conversation or situation could be rather than settling for what is status quo and culturally expected. They are full of hugs, hand shakes and high fives. They kill people with kindness and live out of the overflow of their Spirit-filled heart. They long to leave a place better than they found it. They are priceless and precious...they are above all loved by all who know them. IN ONE WORD...THEY ARE GODISH!

So what kind of individual do you see yourself representing most...the defresher who dries up the already parched soil of relationships, or the refresher eager to pour the water of life on everyone you come into contact with?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

memory lane...

Another day off. A time to rest my mind and body. A time to hopefully refresh this heart of mine. Some Sportscenter, some play with the kids, some junk food, some house cleaning, some phone calls to friends, a hot bath, a nap, a venison tender loin for lunch, an hour in a good book, a date night with my wife, and some good ole’ contemplation to think upon whatever pops into my head.

Sabbath is what the Bible calls it. I call it shut down or standby. I need it lately.

I wanted to think about some memories from my past that randomly pop into my head…here’s what chased me down…

I remember spilling a gallon of milk on the kitchen floor when I was a kid.
I remember locking my babysitter out of the house.
I remember chewing tobacco when I was 8 and throwing up at my neighbor’s house…I never did that again.
I remember kissing all the girls in my kindergarten class every morning before school. I would line them up and give them each a smooch.
I remember eating my neighbor’s dog food out of the dish on their porch…until they caught me one afternoon.
I remember collecting chestnuts in a grocery cart each year and sorting them into piles like gold.
I remember catching old diseased salmon down by the lake with grappling hooks and then pushing the eggs out of the females and selling them to the bait shop.
I remember picking worms with my whole family out in our neighborhood at night. I had a miner’s hat, so I could pick with two hands.
I remember falling out of my bunk bed.
I remember pooping in my snowsuit when I was 10 because I couldn’t make it home in time to go to the bathroom.
I remember throwing a snowball at a car and breaking the back light…and then running for my life.
I remember playing little league up at Brietbeck Park and packing Big League Chew in my mouth like a Major Leaguer.
I remember getting my bike stolen from the part that I just bought with my own “worm picking” money.
I remember getting caught for stealing fake gold jewelry from Jamesway. I had a stash of loot under my porch.
I remember singing around the piano with my family and then reading books together.
I remember cutting down a Christmas tree on my Aunt’s property in the Catskill Mountains and then driving it home on top of our van.
I remember listening to “Silver Bells” while we were decorating the tree each year when I was little.
I remember picking apples for cider when I was 10 years old and getting paid $9.10 by 12 bushel bin. I could pick two an hour sometimes.
I remember watching WWF wrestling through my best friend’s porch window because we weren’t allowed to go inside.
I remember taking piano lessons at Mrs. Hally’s mansion up on top of the hill of Van Buren St. It scared the life out of me every time I open the iron gate and walked up to what I thought was a haunted house.
I remember waking up early and leaving for Disney Land in the middle of a blizzard.
I remember meeting my great grandmother, Leta, before she passed away.
I remember peeing down the register in my upstairs bedroom because I didn’t want to walk all the way to the bathroom.
I remember punching a girl who wanted to kiss me in the back of the bus and giving her a black eye.
I remember collecting baseball cards with my best friend, Art, and spending unending hours sorting and pricing them.
I remember getting deathly sick when I ate inordinate amounts of Bing Cherries at a nearby fruit farm.
I remember walking in the woods and looking for treasure and thinking I found some one time.
I remember climbing trees after school until it got dark and then running home for my mom’s home cooked dinners.
I remember sleeping with my dog out in his dog house in the winter.
I remember jumping off the side of the barn and dunking the basketball.
I remember hitting a dog on my bike and flying over the handle bars. I slid down the pavement on my lower back scraping it down to the bone.
I remember having a Mazda lot car and driving it around my yard for hours until the body fell off the frame.
I remember eating blue berries down near the swamp and then eating wild concord grapes that would grow in the hedge between the apple trees.
I remember watching the deer through our bedroom window digging up the snow under the apple tree to get to the apples underneath.
I remember ice skating out back on the little pond in the woods down in the Ash tree grove.
I remember waking up in the morning to 12 inches of freshly fallen snow covering the branches of all the trees and finding out school was cancelled.
I remember making snow forts after dad made huge piles with the snow blower.
I remember playing snow football with my brothers and sisters and tackling each other so hard that it would knock our breath out of us.
I remember listening to Steve Green in our bedrooms and thinking he rocked.
I remember watching fire works each July 4th that were launched from the break wall out next to the lighthouse.
I remember dad taking us to watch fast pitch softball under the lights over by Fort Ontario.
I remember diving off the high dive at the public swimming pool for the first time. It hurt.
I remember flexing my muscles at the pool for the girls to see and drool over.
I remember crying at weddings when girls I had crushes on got married.
I remember talking with my dad in the woods about sex…unreal.
I remember watching my dad referee basketball games and get ripped to shreds by the crowd that I was sitting in the midst of.
I remember mom making the best spaghetti in the entire world and then making apple pies that were to die for.
I remember not hitting puberty until I was like 15…I still to this day have a locker room phobia.
I remember the first time I heard how babies were born…I just shook my head in disbelief.
I remember watching the Wizard of Oz with my family each year and being deathly afraid of the monkeys.
I remember not having a television when I was little and asking our neighbors if we could come over to their house to watch Yankees baseball.
I remember my dad listening to Syracuse Basketball on AM radio late into the night.
I remember when I ran into my dad with a hard plastic sled on Fallbrook Mountain…tears came to his eyes.
I remember sleeping out in a cabin with my friend after we went squirrel hunting. I froze to death.
I remember drawing pictures while the pastor was preaching.
I remember the after church birthday celebrations after the Sunday evening services.
I remember my grandpa making us Chinese stars when they were illegal and taking us out to throw them at the side of the shed. It felt scandalous.
I remember hating going to bed when the sun was still shining outside. I just laid there looking out the window.
I remember the first time I was scared of war when Libya was giving us a hard time. Mom showed me how big they were compared to us and with that, I laid my head down and went to bed.
I remember stealing cookie dough out of the bowl in the kitchen when mom wasn’t looking.
I remember eating meals together as a family and laughing our heads off.
I remember mom always chiming in about some bible passage that showed us how we should talk, think, and behave. We called her a “sermon in shoes”.
I remember my dad playing circus with all us kids on family night and making merry-go-round music while he flipped us around.
I remember having church in our house when it got cancelled due to snow. Dad set up chairs in rows and spoke from a make-shift pulpit.
I remember sitting in the dentist chair and looking out the window over the Oswego River.
I remember catching baby pike down at “the slips” and putting them into my friend’s aquarium and watching them eat feeder guppies.
I remember the feeling of sitting at home with nothing to do.
I remember raising homing pigeons in the shed out back and when I finally let them out, one out of the ten actually came back. Stupid homing pigeons.
I remember going down to Bev’s Ice Cream for youth group and skipping rocks on the glassy evening Lake Ontario.
I remember asking Jesus into my heart when I was five kneeling at the couch.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there for now. Sometimes it’s therapeutic to rehearse the stories of old. They are salve to a restless soul. And that’s what I feel my soul has been as of late, restless & aimless.

Sometimes the best way to move into the unknown of your future is to revisit the certainties of your past. They have a way of shining light into the darkness of the present. A trip down memory lane is never a waste of time.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm on iTunes...

I was browsing the iTunes site this morning as I do nearly every Tuesday morning when new releases come out and completely by surprise I saw my name tucked in a featured song section on the opening page. Down where the featured Christian music is on the opening page, the song Psalm 29 was featured...I didn't even know it was on there yet.

So I gues I'm saying that if you want to buy the album or just one song, you can do that now on iTunes. I just wanted to share a little bit of my joy this morning. Surprises are so cool.

Spread the Word...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

a long night...

It's early Sunday morning, very early. I slept so little last night I'm not aware of one half an hour I did not look at the clock wondering if the night would ever end. I was overwhelmed with thoughts billowing in my brain making my stomach tight and my body hot with anxiety.

Alot of it stems from the rollercoaster week I experienced emotionally, but some of it relates to the Sat night service and my inability to think straight. It's been some time since I felt so powerless to control my faculties. As I was speaking, there were times when my mind would blank out and I was left suspended in thought, not knowing how I started a paragraph and, thus, how to finish it. When my mind was functioning, my mouth was clumsy. I would stumble over words and repeat phrases over and over as I wrestled for clarity. This happened earlier this week with Heidi when we were talking through some turbulence. I just went mute. I wanted to say something, I just couldn't get my mouth to move. It was like one of those nightmeres where you are running from a villian and your legs sluggish and heavy. Last night felt like a nightmere to me.

I felt so bad when the night came to a close...I spoke too long and said too little. I left huge gaps in logic, made too many detours from the storyline. I feel like I let God down so badly. People came to hear from God and, instead, got to hear from me...broken and babbling me. I don't know if there's a worse feeling in the world than attempting to speak for God and feeling like you were a broken vessel, a broken record. Over a hundred people sat there and just watched as I crashed and burned...at least that's what it felt like. I pressed on to the end, but there were times when I almost stopped myself mid-sentence to acknowledge the incoherency of my speaking. I wanted to just close the night in prayer and let the people go home, but something inside was wondering if the haze would clear and I would find my voice. I felt a couple shafts of light break through the clouds toward the end...but it felt too late to recover.

I've felt lost a good portion of the week...a restless wanderer. I lost my place in the story somewhere along the line and I'm trying to locate it once again. My confidence is leaking out, my vision is shriveling, my joy has had the wind knocked out of it...and her I am, on Sunday morning, gearing up for two more services in the darker side of the the dawn.

I wonder if I'll tread water this morning. I wonder if God will come through. I wonder if I'll whiteout in my message. I wonder if the message burning in my heart will get a chance to make it into the open. I wonder if my insecurity will disable yet again.

I know this isn't a blog that most pastor's would write. Maybe they don't want to scare the sheep. Maybe they don't want people to see their foibles. Whatever holds them back, I'm too scared this morning to hold this inside. I want today to be different. I don't want to step in front of the people with nothing to say. I need God to fill my heart with His Words and His validation. I want to feel His strength surging through my otherwise bankrupt spirit. I want to sense Him moving my lips with His message.

But if it is His will that I am stopped dead in my tracks and brought to a place where I have no choice but to acknowledge my nothingness without Him, then so be it. Maybe these experiences are purposeful to give me a taste of being on my own and the absolute laughingstock I am without the permeating presence of the Life-giver. He gives life, I don't, I can't.

Bring Redemption this morning...restore what the locusts have eaten.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dancing with my Daughter #2...

continued...

The patent leather shined with light
Reflecting from above
And as my daughter grabbed her coat
I felt a gentle shove.

She looked at me with widened eyes
And said to me, “Come on.”
She grabbed my hand and held on tight
As we walked through the lawn.

I opened up the door for her,
She climbed into the seat,
I could see her spinning mind,
This night would be a treat.

On our way we talked and laughed
As we looked toward the dance,
She kept on looking in the mirror
To give her dress a glance.

She asked me if I liked her hair
Done up with pins and spray,
I told her that it made me scared
Of future wedding days.

She laughed and said she couldn’t wait
To wear a wedding dress
I told her not to think of that
Whole frightening scene just yet.

Just then we pulled into the lot
Where dads where parking cars,
Filled with girls dressed up like queens
Shining like the stars.

Arm in arm we walked the street
That led us to the door
Which opened to another world,
No girl could ask for more.

We got in line to register
and then the cameras flashed,
we smiled and hugged each other tight
then headed to the bash.

The room was dark, the music soft,
The tabled filled with treats,
The DJ stood behind a booth
And played with sounds and beats.

Hardly anyone was there
We happened to be early,
I wondered what I was to do,
It felt a little squirrelly.

But as the minutes passed us by
The room was filling fast
With handsome dads and little girls
Ready for a blast.

Kami asked if we could dance,
And I was good to go,
The song was sung by Rascal Flatts,
How could I say no.

She grabbed my hand and then my side
We swayed with grace and ease,
I was tall and she was short
So I gladly bent my knees.

As the dance floor filled with dads
And daughters at their side
I felt her boldness raise a bit,
A lightness in her stride.

She spun and twirled to see her dress
Flare out and catch the air,
The disco ball was spinning slow
Sparkles where everywhere.

It almost seemed like time stood still
as we embraced and danced
And you could tell her little heart
Was made to be romanced.

I leaned toward her and whispered soft
Into her little ear,
“I love you, babe, you’re beautiful.”
It’s what she loves to hear.

She kissed my cheek and looked around
Taking in the scene,
With sights and sounds that melt the heart
Giving sight to dreams.

The faster songs brought out a side
Of her I love to see,
The inhibition of a child
Foot loose and fancy free.

My sweat was dripping off my nose
As we jumped up and down,
Sometimes we were so into it
I stepped onto her gown.

We both would laugh and carry on
The time was flying by,
She didn’t want to rest a bit,
My legs were going to die.

The night was coming to a close
They played the final song,
“Butterfly Kisses” filled the room,
The atmosphere was strong.

I felt a hand start tugging me
Out toward the filling floor,
My princess looked up at my face
With eyes I just adore.

As we walked out on the floor
And found our special place,
She wanted me to pick her up
And give her an embrace.

My shoulder was her pillowed rest
Her arms wrapped ‘round my neck,
And as I soaked this moment in
I gave her cheek a peck.

I tilted back my sweating head,
And tears began to flow,
How any dad could miss the night
I’ll never, ever know?

I thought of all the time gone by
And also yet to come,
And as the tears dripped off my chin,
My soul became undone.

I did not want this night to end,
I’ve never felt such joy.
While Kami Rose was growing up
I became a boy.

A boy that got a second chance
To get out on the floor
Unhindered by the thought of what
I’d ever done before.

I owe so much to Kamryn,
The firstborn of my soul,
This dance was just the tip of what
You’ve done to make me whole.

As I look back on that night
And memories unfurl,
I won’t forget the time I shared
With my beloved girl.

I love you, Kami.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dancing with my Daughter...

The night was set, a royal ball
announced to every girl
in second grade the call goes out
throughout the halls of school.

"Bring your dad!" the poster says
"and dress with greatest care,
wear the finest gown you have,
and decorate your hair."

So as the day drew ever near
my daughter's eyes grew wide
I saw a sparkle in her face
a lightness in her stride.

Finally the day had come
and love was in the air,
My daughters squeel filled every room
her joy was everywhere.

Her dress was radiant and white
her hair put up in curls,
her legs were covered with her tights,
her neck was laced with pearls.

I walked toward her and leaned to kiss
her little princess face,
She looked at me with happy eyes
and leaned toward my embrace.

She asked me if I couldn't wait
to dance with her that night,
I told her that I'd thought all day
of what it would be like.

She told me that this night was all
that she could think about,
All day long inside her school
she wanted to get out.

I found my suit and matching tie
and dressed to look my best,
I wanted this to be a night
that we would not forget.

We had a meal in candle light
with goblets filled with juice,
And as we ate this filling meal
she buckled up her shoes.

(I will continue this tomorrow...this was an awesome night...)

atmosphere...a note to the band

a note to my band...

I'm sitting here in the coffee shop sipping my morning necter and listening to the rumblings of those around me. Music softly playing in the background, a stiff breeze hitting the face every time someone opens the door. Art hung on the walls speaking beauty and design into the room...it's one of my most favorite atmospheres.

Atmosphere is huge. You can't say enough about its importance. Creating environments is the call off any leader...whether they be worship or otherwise. There has to be an intentional purpose to set a tone, create a feel, to set a mood. I know when I've been in a place the cares about ambiance...I instantly feel warm and welcomed. Barriers come down and the threatening tenticles of awkwardness and unfamiliarity start to loosen and fall to the ground. Everyone walks into a "place" and instantly feels something. It could be cold, inviting, distant, personal, disconnected, stale, vibrant, full, empty, overwhelming, relaxing, frightening, freeing, real, conjured, repelling, attractive, deep, shallow, colorful, bland, modern, old-fashioned, relevant, ridiculous, monotone, over-the-top, gracious, rigid, leniant, stringent, friendly, abrasive, dim, bright, loud, quiet, artistic, banal, beautiful, ugly, unpredictable, same-ole-same-ole, heavy, funny, engaging, unnervong, etc. All these things flood into a person's soul immediately making impressions that either soften or harden the inner man.

We can't overlook the atmosphere we are creating in worship. We just can't. We have to thinking about creating an experience for others to participate in that draws them into an adventurous journey with God. The music we choose, the way we play it, the looks on our faces when we play our instruments or lift our voices, the look of the stage, the placement of people, everything down the most infintesimal details matter. I can't encourage you enough to come into the weekends filled up and ready to "create an atmostphere" for God to move and people to be moved in. This is a collective agreement that must be embraced by the whole of the band in order for a natural freedom to fill the room and then the heart.

If it's not happening in the room, it rarely will happen in the heart.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I feel this so much right now...

The Wellspring…

It’s silly really to write down
The stuff inside my head,
One second I’m on top of it
The next I’m all but dead.

I want to keep it to myself
And yet I want to share,
To lock it up and toss the key
Pretend it isn’t there.

Most don’t mind to hear the stuff
That makes them feel at home,
But any time I vent the junk
I’m swiftly left alone.

The looks I get, the puzzled words,
Or no response at all,
Leaves my heart to question why
so few will catch my fall.

It’s like they want me to be real
As long as real means nice,
But when I show the darker side
It’s like I’m rolling dice.

The crapshoot of my honesty
Will either draw or kill,
What makes the one uncomfortable
Makes the other thrilled.

I look about for someone else
That has the heart to write,
The things that hide inside the day,
yet surface in the night.

I wonder if another soul
Is spending time tonight,
Penning random wonderings
Beside the candlelight.

I find more peace in nights like this
Than almost any other,
Wrestling to stay alive
Instead of under cover.

“Make up your mind, you stupid boy!”
This phrase keeps bugging me,
I’m thirty-one, for goodness sake
What could my problem be?

But here’s the thing that most don’t get
About the life I live,
The time it takes to bind my heart
Is time I gladly give.

I love to sit and let my soul
Come up for air and breathe,
Telling me what matters most
That’s buried underneath.

The questions that emerge from it
Have never led to death,
Even if they make me gasp,
They always give me breath.

They don’t depress my heart a bit
In fact, they resurrect
Desires that are going numb
When cause has no effect.

There seems to be a lot at stake
As it relates to living.
The days are short to change a life
And time is not forgiving.

Tomorrow is another day
But that’s no guarantee
That I will purpose to redeem
The life in front of me.

That is why I have to think
About these things tonight,
For I must greet the dawn prepared
To brandish sword and fight.

I can’t expect to just show up
And let my instincts guide,
They have a way of leaving me
And running off to hide.

Passion today is nothing more
Than yesterdays resolve,
A choice that’s made in secrecy
That in the night evolves.

Growing thick within the breast
And setting it ablaze,
Burning up the apathy
And clearing up the haze.

Even if the thoughts I share
Make me look absurd,
They keep me from becoming one
Who’s seen and never heard.

Seen as one who rarely aches
With feelings of confusion,
Looked upon as something great
Becoming an illusion.

But that is just the thing I am
Afraid I will become,
A figment of the carnal mind,
A fabricated bum.

A fantasy that just pretends
To fill a public need,
Never letting people see
The things that make me bleed.

Illusions satisfy at first
But over time they die,
That always happens when we trade
Authentic for a lie.

So even if at times I make
A person double take,
I’d rather have them see the truth,
Than get to know a fake.

Above all else, I will guard my heart
Even if I find
This wellspring of my very life
Makes me lose my mind.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

contentment...

What in the hank is contentment anyways? I've been wondering whether I will ever feel that. We are in a world that either is lazy or driven, passive or obsessive...so it's difficult to know when one starts and one stops. I want to be excellent at what I do, but I also know there has to be a boundary set in place to keep you from being OCD and not being able to stop achieving, accomplishing, accumulating. When do you just come to the point where you say, "Enough is enough"...instead of always feeling like "Enough is never enough". When I say, "Enough"...for some reason I feel like I'm settling, quiting. When I say, "I can do more or be more" if feel consumed with my need to grow, expand, stretch, excel, ascend. I know, balance. That cursed word seems to be the answer to all quandries. But for some reason, it doesn't do much to calm my restless spirit.

I want to be the best...and yet I want to be ok with not being the best. I want to know more, and yet I want to be just fine with not knowing everything. I want to be accomplished in my areas of expertise, but I don't want that to be the end all, the finish line, the ultimate priority. I want to influence people, but I don't want to be non-stop in my efforts to meet this person, help that person, attend that event, speak at that conference, set up another early morning coffee or lunch with someone, pencil in another counseling appointment in the evening, write another email, make another phone call, post another blog, create another song, start another ministry...etc. When do you just come to the place where you are content with who you are without becoming complacent?

That's the questions that's been bouncing around in my brain.

I want to be content...and yet I want to press on. (both phrases Paul uttered in his pursuit of God)

I'm all ears...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

the power...

A note to my band...

Two day ago, I went to a guys house to ride horses. He has a huge horse farm and I've been trying to stay in touch with his heart more this fall. I love horses and couldn't wait to climb up on the backs of one of those beasts and ride with all my might. We saddled up and took off. It was a rush just flying across the land effortlessly, noiselessly. The power of a horse is beyond description. It's one thing to watch one run from a distance, but when you are strapped on top of one of these babies, you can feel the muscles rippling under you. The tork when the take off just about puts you on your butt. I was loving every minute of it.

And then I woke up the next day...my body aches like I got drug through a knothole backwards. My buns are bruised, my hamstrings feel like they're going to snap like rubberbands, my neck even hurts from being jerked around like a rag doll. I didn't even know that I was torturing my body when I was having so much fun. The adrenaline has a way of distracting you from what you're doing to yourself. Even today, my body still aches. I crawled out of bed this morning limping to the shower...but it was worth it.

I love power. I love that God created things with energy and strength and adrenaline. I love to see power take over and overwhelm everything else in its way. I love to watch power change an atmosphere. I especially love to see that in worship.

I don't know about you, but when I mount that stage to lead worship, I feel like I'm climbing onto a platform of power. I feel like we are dabbling with electricity, a surge of energy, an explosive agent of change and influence. When we are leading people in worship, I feel like we're standing on the edge of something huge, sitting atop the back of something large that could send us sprawling on a moments notice. I feel like I'm riding a bull with the strength of a thousand men.

And as I gaze out at the people, I see the affect power has on the human heart. Music not only soothes the soul, it strengthens it. The power of God moves about the building widening the eyes, tightening the muscles in peoples faces bringing a smile, brightening the countenance, freeing the spirit, filling the lungs with breath that is forced over vocal chords creating shouts, noise, sounds, music, melodies, harmonies, etc. When power flows towards us, in us, and through us to those around us who are experiencing this with us...I can't help but stop in that moment and thank God for the privilege of leading people to power.

I just wanted to remind you of what it is that we engage in when we meet with the Living God...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

the quest...

A man filled with questions at least assumes a quest. With a deep wanderlust he braves the new day hoping to step forward into life. Yes, it's a search, that unlike other expeditions seeks more a someone than a something. A longing for reunion. Like a friend wearing the kindred necklace of a broken heart, man knows the other half is out there longing for completion more than he is. And so the quest goes on and the questions follow.

Such is my life...I feel my halved heart crying for completion, reunion. I enjoy my days, but only partially. The best is yet to come when my faith will be sight. The search will cease. All questions will find their answer. That day couldn't come soon enough for this seeker.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The layaway plan...

check out www.thespiritedword.blogspot.com today and tomorrow and you'll get a little taste of what I've been chewing on. I'm just trying to learn how to talk to God. I know that God has always been the same, but that's hard to believe since my view of Him is always undergoing a face lift. Every month, there is something about God that I learn that morphs my theology. I love it, but I never feel like I get into a groove. Maybe what I think would be a groove would really just be a rut. Either way, God seems to be changing all the time to me. I know that it's really me that's doing the changing...God just patiently waits to disclose parts of Himself to me when I'm ready to handle it. If I would have encountered the God I've come to know back when I was in High School, I would have popped into a thousand fragments. Thank God for the celestial layaway plan.

I have so much more to learn about God...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Illuminate me...

Life supernal make your way
into the cracks of this new day.

Illuminate the caverns cold
with rays of joy from days of old.

Light up spaces dark with sin
and break the spell that hems me in.

Damn the dusk that settles o'er
this soul in search of something more.

Ripen fruit with shafts of light
that hang from heavy limbs of fright.

Shine resplendant through the haze
and set my tattered wick ablaze.

Glow about my darkened view
with less of me and more of you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I need a Savior...

I need a Savior. I haven't said that much since I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was five. I suppose it's because I believed that once you're saved, you don't ask to be saved again, because you can't lose your salvation. Logically, this makes sense if logic is your compass.

But somewhere I've grown to believe something else....something quite important. I believe that I need to be saved every day of my life, every minute of the day, every second of the minute, every moment of the second. Something inside me still cries out for a Savior to come to my aid and rescue me from myself and my broken surroundings. I may even be more desperate for salvation post-conversion than pre- The misconception is that salvation is solely "eternal security" related. Not so. Salvation is the desperate need of any person living eternity in the present. You can't survive the kingdom life without a daily salvation experience shielding you from the perils that seek to take you out. "Father, save me" must become a regular and routine piece of my conversation with God in order to wage war as I ought. (Everything I just said doesn't apply to the converted soul killing time until the rapture.) If you're trying to do something redemptive in the here and now with an "overcome evil with good" mindset, you can't help but cry out for salvation each and every day. It seems to me that it would become as common a response as the gag reflex.

That's why I find my heart as burdened for the lost believer as I do the lost unbeliever. The one needs to be born again, the other needs to be reborn again. The one needs a vision of God, the other needs a revision of God. Both need to be saved...and the salvation will produce similar results. If you're around church folk much, what you will find is that under the veneer of a thoughtless assent to trusting God, there is a soul that doesn't trust God as far as they could throw him. A good many Christians have just as much trouble believing God as secular humanists...they simply attend church on the weekends just in case. You know why I know this...because inside my own churchy skin I wrestle with this very angst. I resonate with the man who said to Jesus, "I believe, only help my unbelief." That makes as much sense to me as anything in between Genesis and Revelation. I respresent that remark. And so I know what it feels like to be an unbeliever even as I rest in the security of my salvation. I need saved just as much as Joe Skeptical...because there dwells in all of us a Skeptic in disguise.

I need saved from my pride and my false humility.
I need saved from my talents and my put on performance.
I need saved from my knowledge and my know it all facade.
I need saved from my selfishness and my false compassion.
I need saved from my lust and my false vulnerability.
I need saved from my greed and my fake oaths to poverty.
I need saved from my self sufficiency and my mask of interdependence.
I need saved from my intolerace and my false flexibility.
I need saved from my judgementalism and my front of impartiality.
I need saved from my lies and my half truths.
I need saved from my anger and my sugar coated passion.
I need saved from my jealousy and my false compliments.
I need saved from my flesh and my dressed up flesh.

We all do.

So I'm making a declaration of my need for salvation today...and everyday from now until the Lord sees fit to terminate my occupation of this planet. I need his salvation more now than the day I first believed. Because for some reason, I slip into unbelief faster than I would like to admit it, even though I just did. Save me, today, dear Jesus...Save me from myself.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Remind me...

Remind me of your presence today, Lord...it's hereness, it's nowness.
Remind me of people's potential.
Remind me of this world's good facets.
Remind me that I'm not alone in this redemptive movement.
Remind me that I'm not all that.
Remind me that I can make a difference if only I'll surrender to your stirrings.
Remind me to cling to what is important.
Remind me that fall speaks of the beauty of dying.
Remind me that I don't have to be right.
Remind me that the future shouldn't distract me from the present.
Remind me that I can change even if I think it's just the way I am.
Remind me that I'm weak without your empowerment.
Remind me that I need to confess my sins daily.
Remind me to inject a vaccine of goodness into this day.
Remind me to remind others of hope.
Remind me that people are the only thing carrying over to the afterlife.
Remind me that You aren't uptight.
Remind me that Jesus died for my shame, not just my sins. (Heb. 12:2)
Remind me that memorizing Scripture isn't negotiable.
Remind me that friendship is worth fighting for.
Remind me that without faith it is impossible to please You. (Heb 11)
Remind me to stay vulnerable and transperant with others.
Remind me to be humble with what I know and hungry for what I don't.
Remind me to love my family with a passion.
Remind me to breathe deeply each morning inhaling your optimism.
Remind me to give thanks in everything and to rejoice in the You always. (note: Scriptural)
Remind me to trust you with the little things.
Remind me that you don't need me to get the job done.
Remind me that you do want me to get the job done.
Remind me of these things...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

landscaping rehab...

Whenever I need therapy...being in the wild world of dirt, plants, rocks, and trees is what heals my soul like no other. It's cathartic to the core. I spent a good portion of Thursday edging my mulch beds. It may seem like a simple task, but I assure you, my body today is telling a different story. I'm sore in places I didn't know existed. I dug out 12 wheel barrow loads of sod and dirt and relocated it in a place that I wanted to build up for a future landscaping vision. I then knelt down and reshaped the beds by hand making sure everything was even and curved just so. I'm anal when it comes to symmetry and uniformity. It's just a fetish of mine.

That evening, the sun shone sideways across the yard casting shadows in such a way that the mulch beds looked sharp, even and shaped with tender loving care. I could feel my insides expanding with pride and delight and everything good. It was like a surge of adrenaline.

The next day, Jim Versluys brought over a pile of mulch and 20 plants for the last phase of my landscaping vision. I had already realized the first three phases in the last year and a half and was waiting to complete the final phase next spring. But I just felt like I wanted to go after it on Friday and Jim accomodated my impulsive desire with an early morning delivery. I heard the truch backing into my driveway and started putting on my work clothes. The minute that truck hit the blacktop to leave, I was out the door gathering tools for the days tasks. I started digging the edging trench and leveling the lands. When I got done shaping the contour of the edging, I sprayed some Roundup on some of the weeds, removed a wild bush, cut down a huge tree with a hand saw, rolled a 200 pound rock into the hedge row, and prepared for the planting of the ornamental grasses waiting in pots to be placed in God's creation. It was like they were patiently waiting their turn to join the rest of creation "out of the pot" and into the wild of nature. You could see them leaning toward where I was working the soil...they couldn't wait. I carefully placed them atop the soil they would soon inhabit tweaking their placement for perfect presentation. After several minutes of shifting and backing away, shifting and backing away, I finally found peace in the placement of each plant.

I started digging the holes and tucked them in the earth with love. I then started the 4 hour process of shoveling mulch into the wheel barrow and carting it into the back yard. It took about 80 trips back and forth to finish the mulching. There were times when I thought I was going to collapse...but I would rest and then resume my work. And now, it's finished. It looks so stinkin' sweet I can hardly stay away from it.

We invited a bunch of people over last night to sup with us. But really, I just wanted them to see what I had done and dote over it endlessly. They did. I felt validated. They did some more...I felt even more validated. And so on and so forth.

After everyone left last night, I turned on the back light to get one last look before I bedded down. It just injected life into me like nobody's business as I gawked at it.

I woke this morning and looked out every back window in the house to see what it looked like from every angle. Before leaving for work, I walked around it and saw a couple of things I need to fix...but all in all, I'm filled with the joy of a thousand angels.

My body hurts today something fierce...but it hurts so good!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

the kingdom...

When I first entered ministry, I felt dauntless. The world inside me was teeming with possibility and promise. I felt like I wanted to "change the world"...i felt like I could. I would daydream all the time about making the world in my head come to life on the other side of my skin, the side where things weren't as the could be or should be. I lived out of the unseen world believing against all odds that it could come true if I leveraged my whole life to see it realized. I closed my eyes when I sang and imagined myself in the midst of millions of worshippers even though I was in a room with 35 uninterested teenagers who couldn't wait for youth group to end. I lived with lively expectation even though so many had given up. I awoke with the hope that things could be different if only I could cast the vision that filled my mind in such a way that people caught the fever. I read my Bible and memorized Scripture so that I could feed the fury of my dreams with the fuel they needed to stay alive and active. I prayed believing that miracles were but a breath away. I remember praying all night long with the students asking God to move as in the days of old...all night long. I remember preaching so hard that I would get a cramp in my left love handle. I remember seeing the waywardness of students and crying out to God to let them see what I was seeing in my mind's eye, my heart's eye.

I'm learning that what I used to call this "world inside my head" was nothing short of the "Kingdom of God" that Jesus promised to put in our hearts. Here's one of my favorite quotes in the Bible:

The kingdom is within you. --Jesus

I didn't know it at the time, but what I was calling "vision" was really the kingdom growing ever more massive inside my heart. I could see the King smiling on His throne high and lifted up. I could watch all of creation join together lifting an anthem of worship to his holy and happy heart. I could see myself tucked in the legions of angels crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almight, who was, and is and is to come." I was there while still living here. I was seeing that while still experiencing this. And all the while I was asking God to make the world inside of me bleed over into to the world of outside of me. I lived believing it could be so..."if only".

I was really asking, without knowing it, for the kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. And no one could tell me that it wasn't possible, no one. I remember someone telling me, "It's just not realistic to think teenagers are going to read the Bible like you're expecting them to." I just couldn't accept that. I was seeing the greatness of God and it seemed reasonable to devour the Word like a ravenous wolf. I remember preaching my first sermon in "big church" and an older lady came up to me afterward and said, "Enjoy your passion when you're young because when you get older it's gone." I just couldn't accept that. I couldn't, for the life of me, comprehend losing the fervor I felt for the Kingdom in my heart. It was too huge! The King was too huge! Sure, I felt discouraged at times with the chasm between the world inside and the world outside. Sure, I wept at the incongruency of what I desired and what I experienced. Sure, I would get overwhelmed at the seemingly insurmountable odds I was up against...but I was chained to the glory of the kingdom come and coming. It's taste was in my mouth. It's sound was in my hears. It's vision was burning in my eyes. I was "all in" as they say in Texas Hold 'em.

But I've been wondering something lately. I've been wondering if the kingdom that Jesus said is in my heart can shrink. If the walls can close in and cave in. If the grass can wither and the flowers fade, if the streams can run dry and the sun set. It just doesn't seem to be as vast and vibrant in there as it used to be. It doesn't propel me with the force it once did. It's there, but it's weaker, thinner, more easily drowned out with the kingdom of this world. I know this because things of this world seem to affect me more than they used to...pinched finances, failing brakes, annoying potholes, disfunctional garage door openers, red lights, endless rain, uncooperative children, chipmunks digging up my landscaping mulch, broken people who are staying broken, car trouble, house repairs, etc...these things become huge when the kingdom isn't anymore. When the kingdom inside shrinks, the kingdom outside expands. I'm seeing this trend more and more acutely as of late...and it's sad.

Maybe that women was right, maybe my passion will decrease with age. Maybe my dreams will become more realistic and reasonable with maturity. But I have to tell you that the prospect of that is disabling to me. The thought of living according to the standards of this world and not the standards of the kingdom within is nothing short of paralyzing. I'm serious. My stomach is getting sick just thinking about "killing time" until the rapture. It's nausiating. I can't let that happen...God, you can't let that happen!

I want the kingdom to expand inside me again. I can't stomach the possibility that those days are over and I'm on to the more sophisticated and sterile leg of my journey. But with every day that I feel the kingdom leaking out, I become more concerned that I will not get it back.

Jesus said in his dying day, "My kingdom is not of this world, if it was, I would fight." Lately I've been feeling the opposite...allow me the latitude to play with this verse..."My kingdom is of this world, and as such, I will fight." And that is what I've been doing inside, fighting. My life is a fight to stay hopeful, happy, and humble. A fight to not be angry with my kids. A fight to keep loving broken people. A fight to not be ticked at the gas prices. A fight to not want to run someone off the road for cutting me off. A fight to not covet what other people have and to mourn what I don't. A fight to trust people after being hurt. A fight to feel close to God in the midst of these emotions. A fight to lead people while struggling. The fight is on. And I want to turn it off. I want to relax into the idea that my kingdom is not of this world and to put down the sword like Peter and fight for the kingdom inside my heart. That is what I want to fight for again, God's dreams, visions and passions. That is the fight that makes all the worldly fighting seem like playground squabbles over swingsets and sandboxs. It is the fight that matters.

The kingdom is in your heart. --Jesus

Monday, September 25, 2006

the gospel according to Taylor...

I was in the car with my youngest, Taylor, a few days ago. She was singing something in the back seat and I inquired as to the song she was butchering. She responded immediately, “Jesus died on the cross.” I think it’s amazing that most three years olds know very little about Jesus save this one fact. In almost every other arena of life parents are trying to guard their children from morbid discussions and images of death and blood and gore, but not when it comes to Jesus, we want them to digest these otherwise R-rated topics like vanilla wafers in Sunday School.

I thought I would fire back another question to see if I could keep this dialogue afloat. “Why did Jesus die on the cross, Tay?” Without hesitation she blurted out, “To make our sins feel better.” I chuckled. I chuckled some more. I’m not sure why, but little kids think of the most palatable heresy. They mix metaphors and whip up some of the best little theological word plays. It happens all the time.

I wonder how many Christians believe that Jesus died to take away their sins and live like Jesus died to make their sins feel better. It seems like a lot do to me. Christians seem to feel better and better about their sins every year. Christians don’t seem offended by sin much these days, but what’s worse, sin doesn’t seem too offended by Christians. Sin feels pretty good around church, it’s gotten used to church. Sin seems to be feeling better and better about itself all the time thanks to the shed blood of Jesus giving it the TLC it needs to survive. People are “getting saved” and “staying lost”…it’s wonderful. They even get baptized to show how much they love this “steal of a deal”…get Jesus and keep sinning. This is a gospel that people can’t get enough of.

You can be passionate about your faith and your sin. Isn’t that fantastic! Finally, there’s an option for those of us that aren’t necessarily drawn to holiness. We can have our cake and eat it, too! And boy, do I love cake! People don’t have to worry about behavior, because we all know that what God really cares about is our “heart” and thankfully our behavior doesn’t indicate a darn thing about where our heart is at. Whew! What really matters is that you have a winsome personality. That covers a multitude of sins these days. But what am I saying?...who needs a covering for sins when you believe that Jesus died to make them feel better? How convenient.

So what should we say then, should we sin that grace should abound? Heck ya. Live it up. There is no way to show Jesus that you love him more than by getting better and better at making sin feel better and better. This, after all, is Taylor’s theology of salvation and we all know that out of the mouths of babes God ordains praise. So why feel convicted over sin when you can feel comfortable with it?

Eat, drink and be merry…join the crowd.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tetelestai...

It is finished. My loyal yokefellow, Dave, has put his finishing touches on my website and I'm much obliged. If you want to read some of my favorite quotes, listen to my weekly messages, email me, see pictures of my family or read some writings about my family...you can avail yourself of these amenities at the leisure of your good pleasure. You will also notice that the new way of purchasing the album is through www.independentbands.com. It's cheaper and easier.

So just in case you don't have my web address, it is www.jasonholdridge.com (I know, very novel and spiffy). Do me the pleasure of checking it out and commenting as to the nature of your experience. If you encounter any difficulty in navigating your way around the site, I would love your feedback. Just don't curse at me...I nurture a fragile heart that can't take the abuse.

Thanks for your faithfulness in frequenting my blog and joining my journey...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the woods...

I know that I've written about the woods on here before, but a weekly reference wouldn't be too much in my opinion. I can't get enough of them, I'm a sucker for a walk toward, in or around the woods.

Today I walked a piece of property down by the Flat River. It was mature with deep ravines and very little brush due to the density of the hard wood ascending 30 to 40 ft. into the blue sky. It was mostly oak trees with a scattering of poplar, hard maple and cherry. Dead leaves from the past few years served as mulch and downed trees added to the untampered landscape. The crisp, cool air of the morning only captured the fresh and vibrant smells that make the woods more intoxicating and enchanting. The dew was still clinging to the leaves deepening the color of green with a moist coating of care. The slope leading to the river was dark, yet inviting. It, too, was an aged forest unspoiled by tractors and tree surgeons and man-made trails and loggers and hunting blinds and telephone poles. I felt like I wanted to run down the steep hill and dive into the river in the nude, Edenic to the core. There is just something that moves me so violently when I'm surrounded by such beauty.

Maybe this is why I always stop when I'm channel surfing on shows like "little house on the prairie" or "the waltons" or "old country westerns". It's not the plot or the production, it's the raw, historic simplicity of the wild. It's the acres of unexplored and unexterminated land waiting to be tilled, talked to, and cared for by the hospitality of the human race. But we aren't treating it as gardeners, as husbandmen. I wonder why.

The sun was pressing itself through openings in the trees shooting rays of ripe life into the mysterious underworld. Who needs intelligent lighting when you have strobe light-like streams of light moving about at the will of the wind shifting and shoving the trees back and forth? The dirt was dark and rich, watered by the recent rainfall we've experienced this past week. It was softer under the feet, like a carpet with a thick padding. There were weeds that were ornimental in nature, large-leafed and covered with velvet. Yellow flowers dancing in the swirling breeze along the hedge waiting to be watched by anyone who would linger long enough to appreciate their presence. The smell was akin to a greenhouse, potent with oxygen and sticky with a dampness about it. The perfect environment for growth. Birds were eagerly communicating with each other all around, some sounded angry, others delighted. Some young, others old and seasoned. Leaves caught the gusts of wind and rustled together with a concert of noise that filled the woods with a monotone hum that braided with the silence perfectly.

The woods are amazing because they would provide the same joy even if you weren't around. The woods are content. The woods love being. The woods don't need recongnition to survive. They display the same attributes with or without the presence of humans. While everyone else is running around making an impression, a name for themselves or a buck...the woods dwell in security and serenity away from the road. Have you noticed that the further you get from road, the better the woods are? It's because roads are the opposite of woods. Roads represent going. Woods represent being. Roads represent speed. Woods represent stillness. That's why if I have a chance of taking the highway or the backroads, I usually opt to take the back roads. I actually drove down a dead end dirt road the other day just to see where the road ended and the wild begain.

With the development of roads and the devaluing of woods, my soul aches all the more for the agrarian lifestyle...the idyllic country setting away from the bustle of the industrial revolution and into the rustle of the trees. Away from the noise of the traffic and into the sound of the rustic. Away from the commotion of civilization and into the emotion of of the uncivilized and undomesticated, the untamed and untampered. I hate seeing cell phone towers and giant powerlines sweeping up every last bit of land. It ceases to be nature when it ceases to be natural. You can't manufacture nature...when it's gone, it's gone. I never thought of myself as an environmentalist before, but as I read this blog, it reminds me of so many mass emails I've gotten over the years asking humans to care again about this planet. Maybe I'm becoming one of them, or maybe I'm just a guy who feels compelled by the woods and wants to fight for them since it's quite obvious God didn't create them to fight for themselves. We were created to tend them and care for them. And there's something about that command that makes sense to me today.

Monday, September 18, 2006

unusual...

I’m now ordained. I’m an ordinant. The man who prayed over me last night asked for God to fill me with an “unusual” unction of the Holy Spirit. I thought that was an interesting request. But I kind of liked it.

I never thought of praying for God to do something unusual. There aren’t any worship songs with that word in it. There aren’t any prayers I’ve prayed or heard in my lifetime that ask for such a thing. I wonder what an unusual filling of the Spirit would be as opposed to a usual one? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take an unusual one any day of the week over a usual one, but what would that flesh out to look like if it actually happened today?

I didn’t feel anything last night when they laid hands on me. I was waiting for a sensation and the only sensation I felt was the aching of my knees on the prayer bench. I was waiting for a stirring in my bosom and all I felt was the growling of my stomach anticipating dinner to follow the pomp and circumstance. I was waiting for a special surge of strength, an increasing of passion, an awakening of untapped gifts…but the most prominent feeling was one of awkwardness. I was kneeling in front of a huge Bible that was to be given to me and it was engraved with the title “Reverend Jason Holdridge” (in golden letters). That seemed quite strange. There is something so odd about being titled with a word like that. I kept looking at the Bible waiting for the word Reverend to change to Retarded. That seems more fitting…more descriptive of my life from moment to moment. I have so much inside of me, but there is a retardation of those gifts on most days…a sluggishness about them, a stubbornness about them. I’m not reverential in stature. I’m not revered by those that know me well. I’m not a reverend at heart.

In the weekend services, our church celebrated this achievement with stories and videos and personal gestures of honor. It was special; it was sarcastic; it was sacred; it was storied. In those services, there was laughter and tears; high fives and hugs; worship and friendship; family and friends; candor and candidness…it was personal, it was real…it was unusual.

And the unusualness of the weekend made the usualness of the ordination ceremony seem sterile and stoic; scripted and stripped of meaning. Don’t get me wrong, I feel honored that so many people invested so much into that night to organize the program. I felt most honored that my friends from the Impact community joined as witnesses of this occasion. I felt privileged to have Mark pray over me with such a powerful charge. But in the end…it was the usual flavor that reminded me of my past that made it difficult to enjoy. The music, the mega church, the suits and ties, the lack of laughter, the funeral-like hush of the prelude, the order and protocol, the parroting back of commitments, the standing and sitting…all these things remind me of something usual…something you’d expect at a Christian gathering.

Which takes me back to the prayer of the man (some Representative of the Denomination) who laid his hand on my head and messed up my hair… “I pray for the unusual presence of the Holy Spirit to fill…” That is something that I want. If my ordination means anything at all…I want it to mean that. I want it to awaken that. I want it to fan that into flame. If ordination doesn’t bring that…it was an empty exercise and is to be celebrated as such. But if I’m endowed with an unction of the unusual, well then, it was worth getting dressed up for. I wish they would have engraved “Unusual Jason Holdridge” on my Bible instead. I think I can live up to that.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

apples, horses and treeforts...

We were on our way home last night (Kami, Aly, Taylor and myself) when we passed by a horse farm owned by someone in our church. It's a huge piece of land filled with rolling hills, fields, streams, aged trees, rock fences and old barns. I wasn't sure the guy would be home, but I wanted to go feed the horses over the electric fence with the girls. (it's debatable as to whether feeding horses over an electric fence is considered child abuse, but for the sake of this story, let's both assume that it's not...that it's perfectly sensible and rational). As we drove up the driveway that lasted for what seemed like a quarter mile, we finally reached the barns. The man was home and quickly led us over to an apple tree that was dropping apples all over the ground. He called in the horses out of the field and in a matter of seconds you could hear this eerie thunderous rumbling from the west. Eventually the horses came over the hill and barreled toward us at a scary pace. It was a rush to watch them effortlessly gallop, their muscles rippling with every stride. As the came to a hault in front of us, my daughters let out a sigh of relief like they had been holding their breath under water. We started thowing apples over the fence and watched as these horses picked them up with their lips and crunched into them with their front teeth. The sound of horses eating is one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. I don't know what it is about it...I could listen all day long to a horse eating vegetation. It's spellbinding.

We ate some wild peaches together (horses won't eat peaches) and played with two goats that looked like they were seconds away from going crazy and bucking us out from under their beloved apple trees. I stayed close to my girls just in case I had to step in and show these goats where they fit into the food chain. They ended up being quite gentle and accomodating...goats are nice.

Then we headed back to this tree fort that this man had made for his daughter. It was 35 feet in the air and crafted around this huge oak tree. The steps leading up to the suspended tree house where much like the steps leading up to the tunnels at McDonald's playland. They were built in such a way that if you fell, you would only fall five feet at the max. They went back and forth leading all the way to a little hole in the bottom of the fort. We all made it to the top and spent some time watching some turkeys and talking about how cool it is to live with the squirrels. They girls were blushing it was so exhilerating for them.

When we carefully made our way to the ground again, the guy asked Kami if she wanted to drive the four wheeler contraption...her eyes widened as she gleefully accepted the invitation. He taught her how to press on the gas pedal and the brake...her first attempt to move forward just about sent us all sprawling off the back...over time she mastered the art of transportation. If Nirvana exists (which I'm not saying it does), my daughter was transported there momentarily. She blurted out almost unconsciously, "Dad, I love you. I really love you." though I had done nothing to warrent that affirmation. She was simply driving this all terrain vehicle and just uttered those words while she was driving across a field. I thought that was interesting.

We left the 100 acre woods and found ourselves back at the Holdridge ranch again. As I put them to bed, I was reminded of how ripe life is just beyond the side of the road, the ditch that seperates the fast paced life from the idyllic wonders of the forest. Just beyond the gravel of the roads shoulder there is a world all its own filled with apples and horses and wild turkeys and treeforts and peaches and barns and stray cats and hay bails and stables and manure piles and broken down tractors and oak trees and rock fences. It is a world that reminds me that not every square inch of creation has been overtaken by the tyranny of modernity. It brings me refreshment even today to know that. I hope my daughters never forget those sights, smells and sounds...they are the echoes of Eden.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

obscurity...

I know this will sound proud, like I want everyone to know me, but that's not the heart it came from. It just surfaced as a sigh of sorts...an exhaling of the weight of the humanistic wrestling with the wish of the heroic. I write this stuff to stay alive, not to trash life. As I wrestle, I rest.

Obscurity

Even the most outgoing are unknown really. You can try really hard to be a household name, but at the end of the day, you more than likely will find yourself ending where you began…alone and tired. The only difference between the end of the day and the beginning, is the bed head and bad breath that accompanies the dawn. It’s sort of depressing to think about much—the relative anonymity of one’s life, I mean. If you don’t work hard at staying connected, people will forget about your existence. Even those that used to be close friends will drift away to the open sea. If you don’t do anything noteworthy or exemplary, it’s easy to feel worthless in this world. It’s quite natural to sink into a depression about the whole thing…the futility of life. Days come and go and very little seems to change, to happen. You try to make a difference, but many times spin your wheels trying to get a grip on the slippery road of relativity. Meaning has a way of being illusive and teasing as it darts to and fro. Sometimes, I feel that I’ve gotten a hold on it, but when I draw it close to me, it vanishes like a vapor. I’m left feeling somewhat betrayed, but have no one to blame but myself.

I know people feel this…I talk to them a lot. They are working just as hard to keep interesting. It’s harder to stay interesting than it is to stay interested. Sometimes I just don’t feel like I can hold people’s attention, like I have to nurture a new trick or skill to appease the consumer in them. It’s tiring to try to stay appealing, attractive. I’m not talking about physique either…I’m speaking of personality…personhood. Who I am never feels like it’s enough.

I want to be content…but mostly I’m concerned. Concerned about my development. Concerned about my maturity. Concerned about my well-roundedness. Concerned about my approaches. Concerned about my output. Concerned about my appearance. Concerned about my cultural prowess. All these concerns are concerning.

It’s hard to keep up with the masses…the herd. They are always forward thinkers. Free thinkers. Creative as all get out. Innovative to the core. Savvy in about every genre of life. Poised as peacocks. Sharp as tacks. Tough as nails. This herd of humans keeps you pacing back and forth …those that settle in become settlers in the settlement. Those that keep moving become movers in the movement. I want to be a mover, but I get tired….very, very tired.

Tired of playing for keeps. Tired of thinking too much. Tired of making my mark. Tired of leaving a legacy. Tired of staying on the ball. Tired of keeping on my toes. Tired of staying on top of things. Tired of having wisdom beyond my age. I’m just tired.

So I sit hear in the woods for the most part unknown trying not to become unknowable. May this obscurity never lead me to that dark place. I want to keep open to the idea of making a difference even though right now I don’t feel I’m making much of one. Better to be obscure with God than renowned without Him.