Thursday, April 30, 2009

Want to make God laugh? tell her your future plans...

It is so funny to me that we live in a world so full of strategic plans, life goals, measurable outcomes, tests, and performance anxiety. Why can't we just get it that if we were to stop and listen to the still small voice within that we would have all the guidance and acceptance we need?
Don't get me wrong here, i am a man of action...i have had to learn to make plans, and plan options, and i like being able to come into the office, write up my to do list for the day, and look at the end of work to see what i've been able to check off. Not having an idea and a direction can drive me nuts. Maybe it does you too, so here is a holy trinity of letting God direct your decision and planning:
1. Forget goals. Long term (NOT short term) goals are a quicksand pit to me. When you set big global goals and for one reason or another can't meet them, then you're worse than you started judge yourself and the world around you because of the failure. So focus on the next week, the next month, and at the very most, ask yourself where you want to be a year from now. Everything else is setting up for failure.
2. become a list person. When we try to keep the actions and needs in our lives confined to our head, we lose and forget things, or get overwhelmed by the enormous amount of projects and chores to do. So write it down! Make it a sacramental act of the inward change that you are clearing out these lists and dreams and nightmares to make room for the divine.
3. Talk to God. Converse with God. People who ask me about how i pray are appalled sometimes at the tone i use and the words i hear back from within during prayer time. The whole concept started with a book called "Conversations with God" where this guy started writing a letter to God to vent and complain about everything, and suddenly realized that answers to his questions were coming to him when he just wrote in stream of consciousness. Start with this kind of process. Write down a prayer to God, then write the first thing that comes to your mind. Eventually, you'll see the difference between God speaking and your own ego. And eventually, you'll leave the paper behind for a true inward dialogue with God. trust this...if we believe that through Christ we have a loving and creative relationship with God, then just blathering about a litany of "Good Lord, help me to (insert request here)" is really insulting to the Gospel message and Christ's work.

try these three. Maybe you'll begin to get less anxious, laugh more, relax more fully, and get yourself out of your own way because you've just made conscious effort to reunite with your creator, who knows you better than anyone, and who knew every strength and fault in your character and soul before you even took your first breath...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow us half sorrow.

I get questions all the time about relationships from teens and peers. How you do you know it's right? What to do when you realize you've given to much of yourself, and your partner is still entrenched in their defensive walls? What happens when you can see a person for who they are deep down insIde, but the masks they wear hide that person more than you wish? Here's some thought:
1. God is one of creation. With words, creation was spoken into existence. With action though Christ, we have a continual connection to redemption and forgiveness with faith even as small as a grain of sand. And with our thoughts, we have the power to change our lives and the lives around us. When a relationship does not create new life within you, or when a relationship consistently (because there are those days) beats you down or saps your energy, then you know it's not of God. An incredibly simple concept, but one tough as nails to follow through on.
2. A relationship builds you up. It makes you grow, even the unhealthy ones (eventually). Most importantly, relationships from God are ones that help you reconnect with a deeper understanding of yourself and knowledge of who you are. When you try to become something you're not, or change who you are for any reason than personal growth as YOUR choice, then you have abandoned your true self, and become something other than what God has made you to are creating a false image, a false identity, and it will catch up to you.
3. We all wear masks, and we all carry the burden of memory and history. Taking time to help someone heal their pain is a noble thing, but in a friendship or romantic partnership, I have seen that the only way to be truly healthy is when two people come to together to mutually heal each other. One person should not be the catalyst for health and change by themselves- that's what counselors and spiritual directors are for- but together, equally balanced, a true relationship will cause both parties to grow stronger and happier and more honest (as a couple and individally). Don't get me wrong, there are days when one must lean on the other, but neither should be a crutch.

God based relationships, whether personal, professional, or romantic should be ones that create new life in the people involved. Conflict is unavoidable, but even in conflict or the aftermath of it, a person should be able to say, "that made me a better man/woman."

If not, then maybe the relationship was not intended for the purpose you are putting it to, and it's time to take a hard look at how this can be changed to reflect the divine's hope of reconciling each us to him(her) self.

-- note to self: remember that life is given and taken away. What has been, is now, and will be again. The relationships I hold close to my heart should be ones that help me fulfill my destiny, or create my own...if they break me down just to break me down, then maybe I need to readjust my boundaries.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"I'm sorry" -the hard lesson

I get jabbed by those who know me a little better for saying I'm sorry so much. I don't seem to remember being so apologetic about everything in previous parts of my life. Even though i try to live by by the addage "better to ask forgiveness than permission," that doesn't seem to explain it here either.
So I thought about it, a lot, and what I came up with saddened me a bit.
I am a reactive person who reads body language and inflection almost to a fault, which comes from a lifetime of working with teenagers who either can't or won't express themselves fully. I am also a person who had enjoyed learning of other cultures and being taught different ways of looking at our world.
In my past experiences: in New Zealand, Mexico, the UK, even Russia, when I didn't know something about the local culture I just asked...people knew I hadn't grown up there, they wanted to share their culture and lifestyle, they (at least to my perspective) saw my ingorance and attempt to learn as a positive step, and typically responded by setting the record straight.
But in the Islands, in my short time here, the reply is typically just plain harsh. People can be so quick to point out that I don't know the culture and leave it at that, with a look if triumph on their face. I find myself apologizing for my ignorance more than learning how to honor and respect this different way of being. And it has created a slight paranoia that much of what I do will always garner that kind of I've come to apologize quicker and for things that don't seem to make sense to apologize for...

-- note to self: I have got to give people the benefit of doubt. Just because my first days on island and emmersion in this culture garnered a certain response, doesn't mean that everyone will respond that way. And by assuming they WILL react harshly is just a shallow judgement on my part based only on history, not the moment and the person in front of me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

translate THIS into church life, will ya?

A preacher and an atheistic barber were once walking through the city slums. Said the barber to the preacher: "This is why I cannot believe in a God of love. If God was as kind as you say, He would not permit all this poverty, disease, and squalor. He would not allow these poor bums to be addicted to dope and other character-destroying habits. No, I cannot believe in a God who permits these things."

The minister was silent until they met a man who was especially unkempt and filthy. His hair was hanging down his neck and he had a half-inch of stubble on his face. Said the minister: "You must not be a very good barber because you wouldn't permit a man like that to continue living in this neighborhood without a haircut and shave." Indignantly the barber answered: "Why blame me for that man's condition? I can't help it that he is like that. He has never come in my shop; I could fix him up and make him look like a gentleman!"

Giving the barber a penetrating look, the minister said: "Then don't blame God for allowing the people to continue in their evil ways, when He is constantly inviting them to come and be saved."

Friday, April 10, 2009

From: a salty piece of land: one amazing book!

I experienced a bit of long-overdue silence, and what came to me was this: Life is, and always has been, a struggle. The fishing pole bends heavier for some than others, and nobody has yet to figure out why-just as you never know, when you make a cast, if what attacks your fly is a finger sized baby snapper or a tiger shark that can turn you into bait. Still, we struggle with the rod just the same. Life to me is like a fish on a line. When it is there, you feel it. You fight it. You gain line. You lose line. But if that line suddenly snaps, or the pole breaks, or a thousand other problems occur that fishermen use as excuses when the tension is gone, you feel it even more.
Jimmy buffet

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I spent a lot of time these past two weeks thinking about life here in the islands. Going home where friends and family and all things familiar can really make you wonder if you are where you're supposed to be.
But then I got off the plane.
I met robby and lyndsay, who were on island for the first time, didn't know where they could stay or where to start with their little vacation. I took them to the camp ground at Magens bay, told them the basics, and gave them my number in case they needed someone. I hadn't even re-hydrated and I was already knee deep in ministry.
Then I had one of the most amazing evenings with one of my friends here, and can only describe it as magical.
But it didn't was a day of teaching and counseling and being there for some of the All Saints students.
I hadn't even been here 24 hours, and I saw god working through me constantly. It was a gift beyond gratitude.

-- note to self: regardless of what I think I want or should have, there is a plan bigger than me, if I only take the time to look for it: wether it comes in talking pillars of fire, or a ten minute conversation with a random person on the street.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

When life catches up to you

This entry was written yesterday, my last on my spring break to WV

It's never an easy thing to see your parents aging. I'm sitting here in an emergency room, have been here for a couple hours while my dad lays on a bed and doctors can't seem to get their act together enough to figure out why he's in such pain. We thought it was kidney stones, something he's dealt with before, but it seems that is not the case.

So in moments like this, where your faith is tested and you scream out to God to please help this man find some peace and health...where the constant beeping and alarms of the emergency room remind you of your own's moments like these that life jus seems to catch up to you with a ten ton weight and drops you in the drink for a bit.

-- note to self: never take for granted the life you have or the people you have in it. One minute they are the strongest, indestructable people in existence, and the next they might be leaning on you for support. Both roles are equally important.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Roots and wings

I'm writing this from the high school auditorium of the school I graduated from 13 years ago. It's's's strange, haha.
I am a strong beleiver that a person cannot know where they're going until they accept where they're from. As I sit in the very place that helped me develop a love for music, a talent for art, and a need to meet and greet people constantly, I'm also reminded of how much I wanted to get out of this valley. That at the time, every thing in my life as focused on rising above my culture (as I saw it) and moving on to "bigger and better things."
But now, as I sit here, basking in the memories of musicals, madrigal dinners, choir concerts, football practices, and a near never-ending list of old thoughts, I have to wonder how many of us look at our home culture and environment with distaste instead of pride...something we need to conquer instead of steward...a place to leave behind instead of a place to invest in.

-- note to self: culture cannot truly be defined as better or worse...only different. Take who you are close to your heart and rejoice in it, and never judge where you come from by the standards of where you are right now...even if they're the same place!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Each person on this planet have their own idea of what the pace should be. One persons gentle stroll is another's sprint. One person who can love completely by their perspective might seem closed off to another.
But the root of mission work, maybe even the root of all ministry and even love (I believe) is the ability to see the world through another person's perspective. There are no fancy techniques, there isn't a class you can take, and there is definately no chance that a lightning bolt fix will enable you to suddenly "get" someone else's point of view.
But the opportunity to place this tool firmly in your arsenal comes as simply as taking the chance to try using it. Sometimes, like I did as close as last night, you completely misread a person's perspective. Other times, you can nail it dead on and not only reach them "where they are," but discover that we really aren't that different. You see that different persoectives show you a universal truth: that we all have fear and pain that we each uniquely carry, and by humbling ourselves to someone else's perspective and life can we truly use Christ as a role model, and change our lives.

-- Rolling with the iPhone