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Saturday, June 25, 2011

A note I wrote to my friends a while back...do you have friends you write to?

It's been a week of polarized emotions for me. I think I've enjoyed life so thoroughly in some moments that I forget I'm not in heaven, and other moments I can't believe I'm not in hell itself.


Maybe this is just the nature of living in a world that is both groaning for redemption (Romans 8) and declaring the glories of God (Psalm 19). One moment it is taking you up and the next it is taking you out. I can experience both feelings of pathos (pathetically) within moments of each other. From a T-bone steak to a "bit of bad beef" as we've talked about before.

I really wish we could get together more to see each other's faces and hear each other's voices. That's probably why Paul had these exact sentiments when he was writing the churches...he speaks often of his desire to see their faces and to meet up with them. I think writing is a beautiful medium to share your heart, but it lacks the cherry on top. It's just not complete.


I long for life as much as ever. The pangs of passion still are beating on the drums of my heart. Pining is at an all time high. Dreaming has never seen a better day. And maybe it is the last bit of fulfillment in about every arena that keeps you leaning toward the kingdom, because even if we could set things up perfectly in this world, we would still leave the experience yearning. But it doesn't meanw we should give up on the "kingdom come" lifestyle in the here and now, right? It doesn't mean you slink into resignation and settle for crumbs at the great feast of life. I intend to pull up to the table and eat with both hands, no silverware, no napkins--enjoying the extravagance of God like a kid at a carnival. At least this is my affection's affinity. I just hope it doesn't result in affectation instead. Affection's nemesis is Affectation. At least for me.

I fished twice this week. Oh, how I loved that.

I swam in our new pool in the backyard with the girls.

I read some amazing stuff from Donald Miller and Erwin McManus.

I got to study "mirth" this week...who gets to study mirth and get paid for it?

I had two young guys I'm working with declare their newfound intent to go into ministry...that's a cool thing, hugh?

I saw Public Enemies last night...great flick...great cinematography!

I met with a guy who has a big dream to do something great for God.

I met with a couple getting married that saved themselves for marriage after four years of dating...that's rare these days.

I played "Gorilla beats the Man" with my daughters this week.

I had a great creative programming meeting with my team this week. Imagination just stirs up my spirit somethin' fierce.

There's more, I'm almost sure of it. And I must fix my eyes on the "have's" not the "have not's". And I have alot. An awful lot. An awesome lot.

And one of the things I have is "you". For the first time in my life I have someone to write a little note like this to. I can share my heart with kindred spirits who have a penchant for similar delicacies. I don't have to keep this to myself. And that, my brothers, is a little slice of heaven to be sure. Probably what I'm looking forward to most about heaven aside from meeting Jesus face to face, is the opportunity to sit with friends for hours, days, and years...enjoying the eternal bliss of swapping stories and making stories...free from the resistance of jobs, duties, distractions, temptations, trials, and most importantly SIN. This day is coming, but for now, we must fight for it in the now. And this blessing is reserved for those who will not tire of the battle for brotherhood. We don't have to wait for then and there, it's now and here, if we will but seek it wholeheartedly...it's wholeheartedly, or holeheartedly.

I've live too many years holeheartedly...and I don't mean to return to that culturally acceptable place. It feigns fulfillment, but it is filled with holes, some pin holes, some gapping holes, but holes nonetheless.

So, thank you.

Thank you for filling those holes with your presence, giving me a shot at being whole.

With masculine love...

Jason

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Man begins to Notice beauty...

John Eldredge quote:

"Down through its history the church has held up the good, the true, and the beautiful as a sort of trinity of virtues. As we think over the stages of the masculine journey, we find that the boy begins to understand Good as he learns right from wrong, and the warrior fights for what is True, but when a man comes to see that the beautiful is the best of the three, then is the lover awakened. As with the other stages, you'll find expressions of it in this youth, but something happens about the same time a young man begins to become a warrior, late in the cowboy stage, late in his teens and into his twenties. Awakening with his passion for a battle you will often find another longing emerging, a longing for...he knows not what. An ache, often expressed in music, or perhaps poetry, a film or a book that stirs him like never before. His soul is undergoing a sort of second birth.

He begins to NOTICE. Sees moonlight on water for the very first time. Is stopped by certain movements in a song he loves. Pauses to realize that a snowflake or a flower is really altogether amazing. Discover authors that stir him with some special quality in their writings. Now yes, it is often aroused by a woman. Baucher tells of a time when as a boy he fell in love with a girl in Bermuda, "and all the beauty I longed for beyond the beauty I longed for in her." Woman is the personification of Beauty, and it often takes her to turn the young man's attention from adventure and battle, "turn his head," as the phrase has it, and his heart comes along for the turning too.

A young writer who came to see me said that he began to write poetry, and lots of it, when first he fell in love. Over time the woman faded from view--it was a high school romance--but the writing continued, his heart awakened. This is the story of the pilgrimage of Anodo in MacDonald's Phantastes, where a man is awakened by particular beauty from whence he must take a perilous journey to find that it is Beauty itself he longs for."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

hanging on the moment like a drop of mercury...

As I sit here in the airport waiting to take flight Africa bound, my heart was reminded by heart to "be present" and "stay present" from this moment forward. To not linger in what I'm immediately emerging from, to not lean toward what I'm stepping toward, but to sit squarely in the moment. I don't even want to "look forward" to the trip presently. I want to sit in the airport and think about God's accessibility right here, right now.

So with the click of each keystroke, I'm dwelling in the moment, drinking in the moment.

Would you like to join me?

“It’s Now or Never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find eternity in the moment,” urges Henry David Thoreau, the nineteenth-century American philosopher.

Leave the past to God’s mercy. Leave the future to God’s discretion. This moment is all there is.

The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu counsels, “The Purest Human gives himself up to whatever the moment brings.”

The Hasidic teacher Rebbe Nachman advises, “Each day has its own set of thoughts, words and deeds. Live in tune.”

The Sufi mystic Rumi says, “Stay here, quivering with each moment…like a drop of mercury.”

Be here in the moment, as the artist is here with focused attention, whether you are cooking, cleaning, praying, playing, working or reading. Be here in the moment, as an athlete is here in the sweet spot of time when everything is effortless, fluid and free.

“No moment is trivial since each one contains a divine kingdom of heavenly sustenance,” explain the eighteenth century Jesuit Jean Pierre de Caussade.

The banquet is spread out before us, and it is the wish of the Divine Host, God Himself, that we partake of the present moment without regrets of the past or fears of the future.

Pledge yourself to the moment and let it teach you. Surrender yourself to the present and let it preach you.

Episcopal priest Robert Capon warns, “We spend a long time wishing we were elsewhere or otherwise.” We are like the character in the movie Postcards from the Edge who sends a card home from vacation that says, “Having a wonderful time. Wish I were here.”

Teacher Jack Kornfield comments, “The quality of presence determines the very quality of life.”

A so we must stay in the moment, for that is where the Invisible Lover is, hovering as close as your next breath.

So drink deep of the shining and ephemeral glories that surround you. Drink deep of the present moment which nourishes your soul. Drink deep of the grace-notes that accompany your experiences of the sublime. Then you will never have to utter the lament of the third-century philosopher St. Augustine: “Too late have I loved you, O Beauty, O Life, so ancient and so new, too late have I loved you!”

We must live in the moment, this moment.

For this is where God is, this is where God lives.

And to find him is to open our eyes to the present.

The Present. The Present.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Leaving for Africa...

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote something that struck me to the core:

Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills -- against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man or woman. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and 32 year old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. 'Give me a place to stand,' said Archimedes, 'and I will move the world.' These men moved the world, and so can we all.

Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills - against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence... Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation...

It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centre’s of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

__________________________

Was not Jesus an activist, an extremist for love - "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice - "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ - "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist - "Here I stand; I can do none other so help me God." Was not John Bunyan an extremist - "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist - "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice - or will we be extremists for the cause of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill, three men were crucified. We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime -the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thusly fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.

__________________________________

The Kingdom of God has always been about Poetic Justice…

The Scriptures are replete with a heart for engaging injustice with love…

Pr. 14:31 - He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Pr. 19:17 - He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Pr. 21:13 - If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

Is. 58:6-7 – “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Ps. 140:12 - I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.

______________________________

Ps. I want to be extreme, even if this pushes me further to the fringes. If being "further to the fringes" is the byproduct of challenging the nominal life of spiritual/social normalcy, then kick me to the curb. As I leave for Africa in the next couple days to explore God's next step for Impact as it relates to engaging global poverty of stomach and spirit, I ask that you would pray that God will speak deeply and clearly into my heart His dreams for this merger. All I know is that we need Africa as much as Africa needs us.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God uses messed up people...

So many found in the genealogy of Jesus were broken and messed up people just like us.

For some reason, we don’t hear the dark depth of many of these stories though God seemed just fine with making them a part of the Scriptures for us to read and relate to. We wonder why so many of the stories of the Bible no longer take our breath away. One of the reasons is because there is so much cover-up in Christianity. So much censorship. And that cosmetic touch air brushes out the salacious and sordid stories that hold our attention and make the Bible interesting, dare I say, meaningful.

The genealogy of Jesus is chuck-full of the most absurd individuals living out the most salacious stories…and somehow, they are a part of the family tree of our Savior.

- Outstanding Individuals
We see some famous names in the history of Israel here, from patriarchs to kings. The first ancestors of the Jewish nation were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God called Himself their God (Ex. 3:6). David the king was known as a “man after God’s own heart.” His son Solomon had the temple built in Jerusalem. Other outstanding leaders include Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Zerubbabel. The lives of these men included great military victories and the restoration of true worship.

However, none of these outstanding men were perfect. They had their blemishes, from Abraham’s deceit and affair, to Isaac’s lies, to Jacob’s deception, to David’s adultery, to Solomon’s idolatry and sexual perversion, to Uzziah’s intrusion into the temple to offer incense. Several of these men neglected to train up their children in the ways of the Lord. Even the best of these were still sordid sinners who needed a Savior.

- Outlawed Individuals
God also included rankly wicked kings in this royal lineage. These included Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, who purposed to oppress the people of God
Then there was Abijah, Joram, Ahaz, Amon, Jeconiah, & Manasseh

- Obscure Individuals
Finally, we see individuals we know almost nothing about. The names recorded after Zerubbabel are not even mentioned in the Old Testament.

- Outcast Individuals
You could call these “knots on the family tree”. They are all outcasts, showing God’s grace to all sorts of people and nationalities.

• Rahab. This Canaanite harlot became a believer in the true God and hid the Israelite spies from her people (Josh. 2; 6:17, 25). Though she was a prostitute from a pagan nation, God changed her and incorporated her into the genealogy of King Jesus. She is mentioned favorably in James 2:25 and the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11:31.

• Ruth. The Old Testament book of the same name tells the story of this Moabitess. The Moabites were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, by incest with one of his daughters (Gen. 19:30-38). The Moabites were despised by Israel and not allowed to enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:3). Yet, Ruth followed the true God, married Boaz (one of Rahab’s descendants), and became part of this royal lineage.

• Bathsheba. In Matthew 1:6b, she is not mentioned by name, but is called “her that had been the wife of Uriah.” Second Samuel 11 records the story of David’s seeing this woman bathing and the consequences of acting on his lust for her. He committed adultery and tried to cover up his sin. He first tried deceit to make it look like she was pregnant by her husband. When his first plan did not work, David had Uriah—one of his loyal mighty men (2 Sam. 23:39)—placed on the front lines of battle so he would be killed and Bathsheba would be free to marry. As a judgment on David’s sin, God did not allow their first child to live past infancy. But, in His grace, He allowed Solomon to be part of the royal ancestry.

• Tamar. She had sex with Judah her father-in-law by disguising herself as a prostitute in order to have a child. Her story is nothing short of unbelievable! Check it out in Genesis 38.

God is drawn to the holy, but it seems that he was just as drawn to the humble.

Isaiah 57:15
For this is what the high and lofty One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."


Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Anyone ever felt broken to pieces? Anyone ever felt disqualified from the God thing? Anyone here every felt like chucking in the towel or raising up the white flag of surrender? Anyone ever made a mistake you thought was unpardonable? Anyone ever regretted a decision like an abortion or a divorce? Anyone feeling like they are making up for lost time, years spent in vanity and pride as the hymn so aptly says? Anyone ever fallen on their face? Anyone here every felt like a spiritual failure, an embarrassment to God? Anyone ever felt like they’ve missed opportunities because of selfishness? Anyone ever committed a vile crime? Anyone ever played cover up for years only to be exposed as a fraud? Anyone ever feel like they can’t pull it together? Anyone looking for a miracle to make something of their life of dissipation and disgrace?

Anyone needing grace today? Anyone needing a second chance these days to prove yourself worthy of trust? Anyone dying for mercy for stupid choices leading to the deep hurt of those you love? Anyone needing the healing touch of God to mend up the broken places within? Anyone?

I'm so glad God used and is still using people that are broken for His glory. I sometimes wonder if it's the only kind of person he really uses.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Windleton...a world I started to created 8 years ago...

The vision of Windleton
-a land of creative and playful worship-

Here’s the nutshell of the main characters, setting and plot:

There is a people simple in thought, stature and lifestyle called Windals. They are full of smiles, laughter & joy. They love to play and create…in fact, these two activities are basic forms of worship in their world. They don’t eat or sleep…their basic needs are companionship and wind. Without these two elements, they grow weak, bored and in time waste away. They love food and rest…but enjoy these things only as pleasures, not necessities.

They need wind much like we need air…they are desperate for it…without it they are unhealthy and malnourished…fragile and vulnerable. The wind is a symbol of our need for God and His constant filling to sustain the life that He created us to live. They need companionship as well…without it, the wind only seems to stiffen them and render them dry and hard. Their muscles seize up and tighten. But the opposite is just as deadly…companionship without wind affects their bones…they become fragile and easily broken. The muscles have nothing to cling to in order to find stability & strength.

They live in massive trees called Doves…this is their place of security and adventure…for both refreshment and risk accompany the accommodations. The healthiest and most daring live in the tops of these massive trees. The wind is stronger the higher you ascend, which for some brings deep satisfaction and for others a sense of annoyance. The branches sway in the wind and make for a dangerous home, yet the healthiest and most alive Windals are those who brave the unknowns and given the option…wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the midst of the Doves runs a large ravine through which a mighty river rushes. There are beautiful falls running down through the Doves called Wonderfalls. Behind each one of these gorgeous falls is a cave unspeakable in beauty. Each of these caves leads to one location…the Cavern of Bored. It is the place where the evil presence of Boredon reigns in darkness. There are legions of creatures who serve his wishes called Bores. They have little intellect, less creativity and no heart. Each one of these creatures started as Windals with potential and opportunity and over time removed themselves from the wind and companions. With every day they spent away from their most basic needs, they subtly were drawn to the caves where the bothersome winds and annoying friends were no longer pestering them.

The two main characters are Breezon and Airyon. Breezon is a young man full of zest and humility. His altruistic nature draws the whole tree village of Windleton to his heart. He is the life of the party and the leader of his people though he is still a young Windal. There are no positions of leadership, leaders emerge and are given unspoken positions based on their virtues and, most importantly, on the basis of whether people gravitate to and follow them. He loves adventure, explorations, creating, and playing. But the most staggering quality of Breezon is that he is the only Windal who has cried since his great grandfather Voltor. His people are both drawn to and cautious of this phenomenon.

Airyon is simple, yet striking. Her physical features are not stunning, but her inner beauty raptures those who watch her from a distance. Her hair is deep brown, long and curly. She is drawn to adventure and speaks often of the time when her people guarded “The Great Shell”. To most, her childish fantasies bring great discomfort and indignation, but to Breezon, these are more than stories…these are life. For only in looking back can we truly live forward. He is particularly drawn, because his great grandfather was the one who last fought Boredon in the Great Battle of Zargon. The Great Shell was stolen and taken deep into the Caves of Bored. No Windal has dared to retrieve it since that day…but as a consequence, they can never leave Windleton. For their need for trees is deeper than most assume. You see, they can’t be in full sun…their skin is to sensitive and supple. It is the power of the Great Shell that allows them the freedom to move beyond their small world into the glorious landscape that surrounds them. Its energy and life bring vitality and meet the needs that are most basic in the creative design of the Windals. But the war is not fought for simply pride…for the legions of Boredon need its life to survive in the caves of darkness and silence.

For years…the people of Windleton have believed that their need for wind was in the movement, the force…but all along, it’s been in the voice of the wind, the sound it brings into the ears…and ultimately down into the heart. It is only the young lad, Breezon, who has stumbled across letters from his great grandfather found in the knothole of an ancient tree, who knows the true of The Great Shell’s real power…bring the sound of wind wherever it is taken. This sound is power…this sound is life.

But the daring task of capturing the Great Shell and bringing it back to its rightful place will not be without danger…a fight of heroic proportions. For Breezon knows that the caves steal the very life needed to fight for the object of his desire. He will need companions…he will need love…he will need memories. Memories of what was and what could be. This adventure will take more than weapons…it will take heart. For in fighting…he can not lose his heart for playing and creating. His childhood beauty, Airyon, will prove to be his deepest friend and will in the end be the source of his rescue. For inside of this young woman…there is a warrior. Only an adventure can surface the real person that lies behind the beauty. This is just that kind of moment…a moment that will affect a people…a lifetime…an eternity.


More in the development of Windleton:
*Gracinglorn Island – an island in the Jerushia Sea, home to six primary life groups:
-Windals – live in the Land of Galendor in the
Hollow Hills of Windleton home of the
Spring which feeds the Wonderfalls & the
River Rholad.

-Firtons – live in the Land of Liandriel near the Livion
Bay in the Valley of Firtleton. They broke
away from the Windal seeking safety from the
threat of invasion from the Shadish armies.

-Quedds – came from the Darquin on massive rafts
and inhabited the western shore of the island
in the land of Anvior within the forest of
Ebrian. They are mysterious & beautiful.

-Nomes – came from the Mts. Of Zuirisheign and
now dwell in the Caves of Gaun in the Mts.
Of Drydin in the land of Raiboren on the east
Coast of Gracinglorn.

-Shads – came on ships from the land of Dullinstad
& invaded the Windals at the Sand Duffs of
Windlenob. They drove the Windals deep
into the heart of Gracinlorn and started
clearing out trees in the Fallen Forrest of
Shadol. They now possess “The Great
Shell” which they took from Warlon, the
Grandfather of Breezon, the chosen Windal.

-Bors – live in the Caves of Bored behind the
Wonderfalls. They are Windals who pull
away from community and wind and live in
darkness and silence of the Hollow Hills.

Names of Main Characters and Families:
*The Dillingsby’s:
*Grandfather – Warlon Dillingsby
*Grandmother – Marishon Dillingsby
*Father - Gonviel Dillingsby
*Mother – Trushia Dillingsby
*Older Brother – Gustidon Dillingsby
*Younger Brother – Breezon Dillingsby

*Breezon’s Friends:
*Gandi Weln – Best guy friend, innocent
*Dreydin Kilding – jealous friend
*Airyon Colner – romantic interest and best friend

*The Kilding’s:
*Father – Vilsoral Kilding
*Mother – Shilar Kilding
*Younger Sister – Drewshia Kilding
*Older Brother – Belorn Kilding

*The Weln’s:
*Father – Nebb Weln
*Mother – Pharyn Weln
*The Colner’s:

*Father – Bolderon Colner
*Mother – Desia Colner
*Older brother – Jacoln Colner

*Airyon’s Friends:
*Jair Wilbin – best girl friend
-Father – Orden Wilbin
-Mother – Clariel Wilbin
*Curry Elbison – no parents or family, very loyal
*Trisdyn Bibingall – competitive friend
-Mother – Elmyin Bibingall

*Dark Lord Boredon:
*evil leader of the Shad’s, Bors and Nomes.
*rules all evil on Gracinglorn Island and possesses
the “Great Shell” of mystery and power.


More in the development of Windleton:

Locations on Gracinglorn Island:

-The flatlands – “Kaithlands” -Cazingor Creek
-Firg Village
-The Chidder Border
-The Binny Gap
-The Giption Lookout
-The Rocks of Stilden
-Injuwol Island
-Kurtionval Bay
-Thinsol Gyser
-Rolath Falls
-Firshkill Forest
-Itrian borderlands
-Vibranth Valley
-Shinold Valley
-Lovleir River
-Redem’s Fork
-The Isle of Shae
-Serenfair Gardens
-Oglorn’s Canyon
-Wesell’s Point
-Nevern Marsh
-Voth Forest
-Urgaithon Village
-Firtog Fortress
-Mikjah Stream
-The Erish Mushrooms
-West Mysc
-North Safgin Caverns
-Silent Lake
-Lost Valley
-Ancient Gracian Ruins
-Dorgin Tombs of Drydin
-The Vasturn Beaches
-Greyboren Vlocanoes
-The Firshon Stone Valley
-The Zodlingurth Woods
-The fields of Peascolm
-The Humb Hills
-The Yith woods
-Bottinghom River
-Gendiell Brook
-The Praskid Channel
-The Highlands of Ashkov
-The Firns of Far Osh
-Elmorien Lakes
-Quesh Village
-The Wilsh Spring
-The Merciom spring
-The Plome Spring
-The Theighshore Spring
-The Wonderfalls

Varieties of Windals:

Locational distinctions:
Tree Windals – live in the tops of trees
Fern Windals – live at the foot of the trees
Mush Windals – live under the mushrooms
Shore Windals – live on the banks of the river

Genealogical distinctions:
The Windalriffs clan (The Riffs)
The Windalcanes clan (The Canes)
The Windalnooks clan (the Nooks)
The Windaltaiths clan (The Taiths)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Spidey Senses...

When I put on my "scooter helmet" (an oversized dirt bike helmet) there was a bee trapped inside it frantically slamming itself against the plastic face-windshield looking for an escape. It kept bouncing off my cheek bones and my closed eyelids and my ever-protruding 'Spanish nose'. I yelped like a little girl trying to yank my helmet off without getting stung. A hidden camera would have captured footage that could have deeply effected my masculine reputation doing irreversible damage to others' confidence in my already volatile manhood. But thankfully--to my knowledge--there are no surveillance cameras monitoring my private life. So this whole experience is between me and God.

As I pulled out onto the pavement and headed down the road, I couldn't help but noticed the inordinate amount of roadkill emanating the pungent smells of rotting dead flesh. The animal that seems to have the hardest time getting across the highways and byways recently is the ill-equipped turtle. Its shell can protect him from critters seeking its life, but for some reason all-terrain vehicles and garbage trucks don't find the protective shell all that intimidating.

I've noticed multiple turtles making their way up from the swamp and into my lawn to lay their eggs, a process which is nothing short of awe-inspiring to watch. But on their way back to where they came from, they are getting disoriented and moving East instead of North and this is taking them through the "valley of the shadow of death" otherwise known as Parnell Ave., a highly trafficked shortcut used by many hurried humans to cut across the countryside. These poor mama turtles don't stand a chance but for the grace of our Lord. I couldn't help but notice their crushed carcasses lining the road as I scooted by them holding a momentary funeral in my head for each and every turtle that gave its life that the next generation may live. They would just stay in their swamps and oversized mud puddles but for the God-given urge to be fruitful and multiply in this spring season of sexual reproduction that fills even the most reclusive species within the animal kingdom with a passion to procreate.

But the scooter ride was not all death and dirges, it was a glorious time to reflect on the good things granted by the Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow of turning.

One of my favorite things is the the smell of fresh cut alfalfa. The night before, a whole field was cut lying there to dry. The smell was intoxicatingly delightful, so much so that I pushed every bit of breath out of my lungs and breathed in through my nose taking in the aroma like a nature junky. It's like the smell had little nutrients tucked in the oxygen that injected vitamins into my system and awoke my senses with a poise that reminded me of what I think of when I think of Spiderman's "spidey senses". Steroidal Sensual Sensitivity. Yes, that's it to a "T"!

As I tucked my head down, pulled my legs in to avoid wind resistance, crouched down to get the better part of my body behind the infinitesimal wind shield and aerodynamic plastic frame, and tightened my arms close to my ribcage making my body as "limbless" as possible, I picked up another 2-4 mph of speed taking me just above the 40 mph dash on my speedometer.

Simultaneously, I was dodging Michigan pot holes that would have sent me catapulting over the handle bars before I could say "Jack be nimble, Jack be...". Some of these potholes are big enough to repel into, so avoiding them is not just a good idea, it is a way to keep from dying a humiliating death. I cannot think of a more humiliating way to die than "death by scooter". I mean, I know that people would be crying at your funeral, but let's be honest, part of you would be laughing your head off inside. I mean, come on, "a scooter accident"? It's one thing to die in an epic battle to protect the innocent from the clutches of an arch villain or to plummet to your death as a paratrooper shot down on a world saving mission, or to take a knife to the vitals in an effort to protect your family from a burglar who wanted to abduct your little girls, but a pothole mishap while you were trying to get to the coffee shop for an early morning stimulant? This is nothing short of embarrassing.

But none of this happened to me due to my mad skills in navigating the perilous post-winter Michigan back roads. This randomly place potholes only serve to provide a little sport to my morning commute.

I looked to my left and a bean field was filled with turkeys gathering what was left of last years harvest spillover. They were huge birds and my mind immediately undressed them (that sounds bad) and pictured them atop my Thanksgiving table glistening with the glow of a shellacked piece of furniture. My mouth started to water thinking about breaded stuffing and sweetened squash. And, oh yes, those beans! You know, the ones mixed with cream of mushroom soup covered in brittle dehydrated onions and baked to perfection! Holy molie out-of-controlie! To die for!

Before long, I circled into a parking spot in front of Ella's coffee and cuisine and made my way to some little nook to read and think and write. As I sipped my morning brew, I thought of how sweet it is to be alive and to have my 5 senses in tact. But even better than that, I thought about having the 6th sense given by God's Spirit to pick up on the "why behind the what", to see and sense the "what for" and the "who by" that makes all the other senses all the more vividly awakened.

The 6th sense is the best one because it takes you beyond the scent to the flower, but even better, it takes you beyond the flower to the Power. The Power that makes everything a thing. Everyone a one. Everywhere a where. This is the 6th sense of salvation that takes worldly beauty and transports you otherworldly beauty.

His name is Jesus. He gives all men life and breath and everything else. In him we live and move and have our being. He is the author and finisher. He is the provider and sustainer. He is the love and the life. Without him, life is nothing more than potholes and pinheads.