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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.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I can't explain it...

I can't explain it...but something inside of me has shifted. I wake up with something missing. I move about with something askew. I look at my day with a lazy eye. I dream with less hope. I trust fewer people. I listen with cluttered thoughts. I fixate on random thoughts replaying them in my mind like a scratched cd skipping in place for minutes on end. I don't see the cup as half full these days. Why? What is it inside the human being that trips and falls to its knees. Where is the source of this disturbence to be located? Is it a season of life? Is it a nameless bitter root that starts as a seed and eventually presses through the surface revealing itself to be the strong presence that it is? Am I to blame for dropping the ball somewhere along the way...a discipline forgotten here, a habit formed there?

The luster of life has corroded and tarnished as of late. The shimmer has dulled. The glistening shine has been coated with a dark film, see through, but barely. I can still see what I need to be, feel and do. But the drive isn't there right now. The want has been stripped from my inner man and I'm left to proceed with dutiful obedience. I hate moving about out of obligation. I'm not used to this mode of operation, this way of living. I do things because I should. I feel things because I'm forced. I am things because I'm responsible. This is living, I guess...but the least rewarding kind.

As a pastor, I find myself especially pinched. I'm counted on for passion, inspiration, optimism, resiliance, poise and merriment. Yet when I come to these barren places in my journey, I feel like I let everyone else down...I feel that they won't respect me anymore...seek me out anymore...listen to me anymore. I get the sense that I've abdicated my leadership and am now fit for nothing.

Something inside me starts panicing and begins assembling the puzzle of my being. But in it's haste to get back together, it forces pieces together that don't quite fit. The sizes and shapes and colors don't coordinate, but they are crammed together regardless if for no other reason than you can't just lay there in pieces. But they are pinched and twisted, bent and bullied into places they weren't designed to be. Time won't allow for thoughtful assembly, so you get put back together hurriedly. That's what my heart feels this morning...like I'm putting myself back together. I don't have time to feel the way I do, so I'm pressing my puzzled heart together. It's warped and ugly with banged edges and glaring gaps, but what's a pastor to do? Let everyone see the real thing and get scared to death that their leader is a loser? I may be overstating things...but maybe not.

I'm not depressed either. I know that feeling...I'm aquainted with that sort of sorrow. This is different...like a dismantling or a deconstruction. It is like every year God has to unwind me, undo me, undress me. He does it to give me a good look at who I really am and who I'm really not. He strips me of my schedule, my talents, my friends, and my dreams...and asks me if I'm who I think I am under all the exterior dressing. Am I as sincere as I think I am? Am I as humble as I think I am? Am I as talented as I think I am? Am I as loving as I think I am? Without the safety nets and security blankets of frenetic activity, these questions seem reasonable, when at other times they seem to insult my intelligence with their simplicity. Sometimes I don't feel my faith. Sometimes I can't substantiate my passion with a reserve of truth. It's like printing money without real gold to validate it's worth.

Yeah, that's it. I feel like I just start printing money. And after months of doing this, it feels conterfiet because it doesn't represent what's really in the vault of my heart anymore. I'm giving out money that doesn't really exist. How long can you do this? A long time.

But if you care to be real...you can't do it for very long before your conscience whispers into your ear, "That right there was fraudulent. You don't feel what you just said. You don't live what you just preached. You don't believe what you just wrote. You aren't being honest with yourself, Jason. Did you hear me?...you're getting used to being a fraud."

Those that know me probably can't imagine this conflict being real inside me. But I've realized something unnerving about myself and anyone who has to be "on" as a job...you can fake being real. You can. I know the components of being real. I know the facial features that generate a real feel. I know the words that soothe. I know the passion that inspires. It's not easy to fake being real for very long...but believe me, it's possible. I hate faking the real...but when I get used to doing it, I don't test myself as much, screening out this poser.

I say all this to say, "I want to want. I want to feel. I want to be." I do worse than bad. I don't want to print money that doesn't exist, I don't want to piece myself together thoughtlessly, I don't want to fake the real Christian life...I really don't. And the only way for me resist the propensity to gravitate to these desperate places is to confront myself with truth and to write this truth out for all to know and for me to revisit. When I let in linger within unspoken, it ferments and spreads like a cruel disease. So I lay it out, I write it out, I speak it out of the darkness into the light. Because the light kills what grows in the darkness. As the old Collective Soul song said, "Heaven let your light shine down..."

I can't explain it...but it doesn't mean I can't try.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A couple sights that may be of interest to you...

www.thespiritedword.blogspot.com - This is an online devotional I'm putting together for our church. It's just a simple morning reading through different books of the Bible for the purpose of encouragment and enlightenment. There are 10 writers from our church that are joining together to provide a weekly writing from Monday to Friday. If you want to get into reading God's Word and need a place to start...join us as we walk through the pages of Scripture together.

www.independentbands.com/cd/jasonholdridge/pursueme.html - I was accepted to this sight last week and if you want to listen to the album, write a review, or purchase the album, it's a great spot to do all of the above. It's actually cheaper than it's sold elsewhere. They have a low-price policy that you have to adhere to in order to sell on their site. So avail yourself of that if you so desire.

www.jasonholdridge.com - This next week the website should be pretty much completed. There will be links to my favorite quotes, my weekly messages, and pictures and writing about my wife and kids. Surf over to this site if you have time and check it out.

www.myspace.com/holdridge - This is another spot to listen to the music and dive into my world a little bit. It has a place to leave comments and crude remarks to if you need to vent some pent up frustration at someone. Let me be the punching bag. Seriously, it's a little space on the internet to connect with my world and the world's of many of my friends that have locked arms with me.

www.onefiftythree.com - this is one of my good friends who partnered with me on this project. I'm with his label and owe him a great deal of thanks for all that he's done to encourage my heart on this journey.

Thanks a bunch for your continued friendship...

jason

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Verily, Verily I say unto thee...

Well, it's a day off which simply means to me, "A day not to be on." I get tired of being on, don't you.? On fire for God. On top of my game. On top of the world. On the money. On the up and up. Being on is exhausting. I'm learning that in order to be on, I have to be off for a while. Off the platform. Off the internet. Off the phone. Off the high of ministry. It feels so good to shut off for a while.

The only problem is that I have to be on at home. I can't shut down for my family. I don't want to use my days off to neglect my wife and kids. So I'm trying to figure out how to be off from ministry while being on for family. If anyone has any tips or techniques, put a message in a bottle and float it my way.

I've been somewhat stoned lately. I use stoned in the loosest sense of the term. What I mean is that I feel like I'm a stone watching the world move around me. I find myself stairing into space. I don't know if this is a God-induced coma to give my spiritual immune system all the energy it needs to rehibilitate my spirit or if I'm just a shmuck.

Kami and Aly had their first day of school this week and it was brutal. Kami didn't want to hold my hand or give me a hug when I dropped her off. I leaned down to kiss her and she turned her head away in embarrassment. I was devestated. I know, I'm a grown adult that need not be alarmed at the moods and attitudes of my children, but I was torn apart inside. That day, I picked her up and she gave me the cold shoulder as if to say, "Thanks for everything, but I'll take it from here thank you very much." I wanted to ring her neck...and yet I found myself giving her the silent treatment in return. I wanted to hurt her the way she was hurting me. Silly, I know. It's funny how your kids can wield such a power over you at times. They know how to crush your spirit....boy, do they ever know.

Heidi had to remind her to kiss me this morning before she left. There was something unsettling and unsatisfying about that kiss. A kiss born from a reminder or an alarm doesn't feel the same. It seems forced...scheduled. It feels like she has less of a need for me, and I'll be honest, I'm not handling it well. For years, I've been looked upon with adoring eyes. My strength was matchless. My word carried power and authority. My affection was soaked up for all it was worth. I was the man of her life. I was the man.

But I'm not so much anymore. With every year--who am I kidding?--with every day, she moves outward toward other things, other people, other ventures, other feelings, other places...and I feel left behind...I feel like my left behind.

Sometimes I love seeing my children grow up, but today I'd rather cram them into a wooden barrel and feed them through a knothole for the rest of their lives. I'm not dealing with the letting go process very well. Verily, Verily I say unto thee, I hate this.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

what is theology...

"Theology is the study of God and God's ways. For all we know, dung beetles may study us and our ways and call it humanology. If so, we would probably be more touched and amused than irritated. One hopes that God feels likewise." -Frederick Buechner

I couldn't have said it better myself.