Friday, December 25, 2009

Pray this today:

"I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

This was the exact response of a poor, illiterate, unmarried, nothing-going-for-her, scared, small-town girl who was between the age of twelve and sixteen when she was told she was going to the most significant woman in all of history.

She was about to become the mother of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When sailing in a furious storm, I have two choices.

"I can escape below into skepticism and intellectualism, hanging on for dear life.
Or, with radical amazement, I can stay on deck and boldly stand in surrendered faith to the truth of my belovedness, caught up in the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.
And learn to pray." --Brennan Manning

I must learn to pray like I'm surviving a storm, not taking a test.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Simple Things That This Guy Likes:

-walking through a freezing cold Montana creek
-laying on the warm ground after getting out of the pool
-cool bed sheets
-dog following me at my heels
-trying to hold back a laugh in a quiet room full of people
-ladders in libraries
-cookie dough
-hole-in-the-wall restaurants
-watching an M-80 explode under water
-throwing glow sticks into the ocean (don't do often because of environmental issues, but do at least once because of the coolness factor)
-new car smell
-stone fireplace
-leather briefcases (Indiana Jones style)
-rolling the dice to determine who will live or die when playing the board game, Risk
-throwing rocks at things floating in the water
-snow getting inside my shirt when falling over while skiing (not because of comfort, but because of the intense reminder that I am very alive)
-storing moments and feelings in pictures
-peeling off sunburnt skin
-building a bookshelf
-the fresh smell of morning
-Coke in a styrofoam cup with crushed ice at a Braves game
-fresh strings on a guitar
-smell of pipe smoke
-sound of scratches when listening to a record
-old jazz
-when words look good on a page
-storm rolling in over the ocean
-eating an orange right off the tree
-french-pressed coffee
-putting ornaments on the freshly cut Christmas tree
-sitting in a living room full of people
-charcoal grilled hamburgers (hand-shaped beef, not that frozen nonsense)
-getting my hair cut
-jogging at night
-playing music with my best friends
-watching the massive ships from Savannah's River Street
-smell of books
-seeing the men's restroom sign after a long movie and a large Coke
-spitting off high balconies
-revolving doors because no one ever walks through them with total confidence (watch people's faces as they time their first step)
-my grandparent's grandfather clock ringing
-acting ridiculously passionate at a football game and high-fiving people you don't know
-watching a massive flock of birds change direction at the same time
-taking the pack off after a long stretch of the hike
-eating watermelon off of the rind
-the chill you get when you first sit in a hot tub
-looking around at everyone's faces when the fireworks light up the sky
-the moment after something terrible could have just happened but didn't

What are some of your simple likes?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Let this statement heal you.
Let this statement make you sing.

"But he gives more grace."

The salve to the wounds I cause and receive.
My plea before the judge.
The well from which I draw.
My song.
Reason for an eternal cheering applause.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Thanksgiving night.

Things that happened today that I am thankful for:
-Late night conversation with my granddad after everyone else had gone to sleep. We talked about pursuing dreams and the meaning of success. I will always cherish sitting across from him at that table in their house on the lake.
-Climbing a tree to retrieve the football I had so conveniently placed there. It reminded me of being a kid and skinning my knees.
-Laughing while passing the turkey and stuffing (yes, it is called stuffing if it is stuffed inside the turkey). Laughter always seems to follow us to the dinner table.
-Smelling my grandmother's cinnamon bread when I walked into the kitchen this morning. When we used to stay with them every summer when we were kids, this was the smell that always guaranteed a good day was ahead of you.
-Looking through my grandmother's photo albums with the football game on in the background. These pictures are some of the moments I revisited.

Thank you for the past.
It's the only reason the now exists.

Grandma and Grandpa in 1961.

Mom and Dad in 1986.

Dad and I in 1989.
Fist pump?

Dad, Mike, and I in 1992.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stumbled on these pictures recently.
As I was thinking about the upcoming Christmas events this year, I reflected on past Christmas experiences.
Last year my family gave each other a trip to Roatan to go scuba diving.

Out of this world.
Just a few words to describe it.

If you want to bond with your family this Christmas, do something that stretches you and is out of the ordinary (for us, it was a scuba diving trip and the best quesadilla on the planet) in place of the presents that none of us ever need.
Also, if you've ever dreamed of traveling to another planet, scuba diving will take you there.

Talk about what you're thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Faith, by its very nature, must be tried."

-This is destroying my excuses for inactivity.
-Steadfastness is an offensive battle that requires swords, fists, honor, and a confident gritting of teeth.
-Brotherhood is our wrecking ball.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Name your days.

It helps you remember them.
It helps you realize the kind of life you are living.

You get one line.
So live good titles.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"My soul is losing."
"My heart feels heavy."
"My punishment must be coming because I do the very things I hate."

How do we win?
How do we overcome the temptations that our minds and bodies throw at our souls?
How do we get out of this hole of hopeless battling?

How do we grow?
How do we put a stop to our boredom?
How do we gain the qualities we want to have?

How do we know Jesus?

Meditate on the words that God himself wrote for us and our specific situations.

Meditate--to contemplate deeply.
This is what the Bible tells us to do.
How we do it is through memorizing the words and keeping them in our thoughts as we go about the day.

I have forever been horrible at this.
This method helped me:
-get a small journal
-print out the verses you are going to memorize for the week and tape them to the front of the page
-keep a tally of how many times you say them each day
-write your thoughts on the verses you are memorizing on the back of the page
-don't try to memorize too many verses each'll make you not do it (1-4 is good)
-look back over previous weeks to keep them fresh and accessible

Thursday, October 29, 2009



We see this everywhere around Halloween.
Blood, guts, and gore are our entertainment.
"Hey man, my costume is cooler than yours because, I mean, you look dead, but I look really dead."
The nastier the better, right?
It's interesting that, in the middle of this, a subtle message of beautiful hope has squeezed it's way in.

What if...what if this statement is for life, and not death alone?
What if peace is something we could gain and rest was simply the result of that gain?
The promise of entering into rest still stands.
So let's reach it.
Peace cannot come from something that has no
So it must come from something out of this world.

If you are tired, peace is your answer.

Joy found in gravestones.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I have a bonsai tree.
I have a bonsai tree because it makes me feel like Mr. Miyagi.

I want to feel like Mr. Miyagi because he seems like the type of guy who lived a contemplative and meaningful life because he thought through his decisions instead of immediately responding with ignorance.

Wax on.
Wax off.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I went up to the park today.

The book I just bought was longing to be read so I took it up to the park to read it. The reason I had time to go to the park in the first place was because the work I had to do this evening was cancelled. I often like it when things get cancelled…mostly because of my laziness, but also because things getting cancelled causes me to actually think through what I am going to do with my time instead of flowing past moments and days.

Anyway, as I was leaving the park, I walked past a guy with a metal detector. I looked around for the beach and the other old guys with metal detectors, but neither were there. Now, because there was no sand around, I had to stop and study the situation. He was walking all around the park, through mothers chasing their children, past the flock of geese and flying frisbees, just following his plotted path to search the whole area.

I thought to myself, “I would never do that.” It just seemed like a goofy thing to be doing; walking around waving the metal detector over the freshly-cut grass. My eyes moved from the guy to my car door as I approached it.

As I went to turn on my car I looked up to see the guy bent over digging something out of the grass. Then I laughed and reminded myself how much of a judgmental goof I was.

Because even things that seem purposeless have rewards.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fake Me + Real God = Religion
Real Me + Real God = Gospel

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"What now?"
Taken by my dear friend, Kyle.

I talk to middle schoolers about the Bible on Wednesday nights.
"Come, Holy Spirit, come."
That was our prayer.
We have been studying the Holy Spirit and tonight was an awesome night of worship and discussion.
"So we have the Holy Spirit. Now what do we do about it?" was one of their questions.
First thing we thought about was giving our shoes away to people who need them more than us.
So that's what we're doing.
There are a lot more "what now's" left though.
They are ready to keep asking.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I realized today that there might be another reason to why I don't get what I want all the time.

Here it is:
The things I desire seem to be good things. They seem to be the best things, at times. They are obviously things I think are good because I desire them. And I know we live in a "you can't always get what you want" society. But I was asking myself, "What if I could always get what I want? Would I want that?"

Then I thought about birthday parties and Christmas.

Sometimes you get what you want and everyone is happy. "Yay, we all knew it," is in the air.
But what about the, "No way! Really? This is awesome!" presents? The kind you remember for years and you define your Christmas by as a kid. "That was the year I got the..."

What if God wants to surprise me?
What if He knows what I want and just simply wants to give me something better that I can't see yet?
What if He wants to blow my mind and say, "You thought this was what was best for you, but look at what I've set up for you."

God wants to surprise me.

Speaking of blowing about the whirlwind in Job 38.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beautiful...what does it mean?

Feet in the sand.
Scarf on the neck.
Boat on the water.
Swing on the porch.
Storm over the ocean.
Melody in the ear.
Family at the table.
Waves on the rocks.
Air in the morning.
Feeling of the look.
Story of the friend.
Person at the door.
Picture on the desk.
Moon through the trees.
Rain in the night.
Warmth of the fire.
Road under the wheels.
Mountains in the fall.
Explanation in the smile.
Reason for the question.

Beauty is seeing something beyond anything we've ever seen before, and, in the getting-to-know, we realize it is what we have needed all along.

I went to the U2 show last night.

Two special moments:
-Fist pumping and yelling the words to "Elevation."
-Listening to Bono transition from "Amazing Grace" to "Where The Streets Have No Name." Could it be that that is exactly how it works? Amazing grace takes us where the streets have no name. I don't mean for that to sound cheesy. All I can say is the experience was beautiful.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I forgot what type of plane it was.
An awesome one, though.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I was shot at the other day.
Or more like shot "toward."
I was sitting in the backyard when all of the sudden shotgun pellets rained down all around me.
I could have died...or lost an eye...or gotten a small welt on my arm...or something.

In all these arguments of...
"Life isn't fair,"
"Why do bad things happen to good people?"
"Everyone should be allowed their own opinion of right and wrong based on what makes them happy,"
"All religions are the same,"
...all of these statements are based on a common theme.

Each of these topics, and many more, assume that being happy is good. So the question we have to think about is "why is happiness considered good and sadness considered bad?" There has to be a reason that these feelings are assumed.

When I feel happy I consider that to be a good feeling. And when I feel sad I consider that a bad feeling. I'm not saying that the thing that made me sad is always bad, but the literal feeling of sadness is never preferred.
Is not the admittance that we all think sadness is bad and happiness is good, proof that there must be something in all of us that sets an equilibrium on how we all perceive life, or the accumulation of good and bad moments?
And must not that equilibrium come from some other source than our own opinions in order to set the commonality in all people?

No matter if you're from Uganda or Des Moines...
No matter if you prefer chicken or steak...
No matter if the death of your mother makes you cry or gives you relief...
No matter if you love going to church or hate it because it was the church that killed your innocent family in the Crusades...
No matter if you think abortion is murder or simple relief from a would-be consequence...
No matter if you're Hitler finding happiness in power because of others submission or Gandhi finding happiness in submitting so that others may gain the power of freedom...

...for some reason we all think being happy is good and being sad is bad.

That must mean that good and bad are definite and distinct.
And if you can define a good and a bad feeling, must not you also be able to define a good and a bad action, perception, or standing?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

hung out to dry.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

multiple exposure.
There was a night last week that qualified for a need to "just drive." It wasn't a bad night by any stretch, but I needed to think and relax. Those nights happen to all of us and if you are having one of those nights I suggest the following remedy.

I got in my car and drove down the backroads of Monroe.
Country roads are always best for "just driving."

The following two steps are key.
Roll down the windows.
Turn on Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" record.
I don't care whether you're a fan of The Boss or not.
Make yourself be one because he's going to help you.

Bruce taught me a lot that night.
He taught me many things about freedom and that a man desperately needs it. We need to just go sometimes. Especially men. Here's another key...don't skip around the record...listen straight through. And let the saxophone solo in "Jungleland" send you on your way.
I don't know if it was what he was saying or just how he made me feel, but I did feel that "free" feeling.

One other thing I've learned:
Adventures are best when shared.
Just a side thought.

Fix me.

“Lord Jesus, we are silly sheep who have dared to stand before You and try to bribe You with our preposterous portfolios. Suddenly we have come to our senses. We are sorry and ask You to forgive us. Give us the grace to admit we are ragamuffins, to embrace our brokenness, to celebrate Your mercy when we are at our weakest, to rely on Your mercy no matter what we may do. Dear Jesus, gift us to stop grandstanding and trying to get attention, to do the truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in our lives fade away, to accept our limitations, to cling to the gospel of grace, and to delight in Your love. Amen.”

-The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning...a must read

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Every person seeks freedom.
Whether it is a dream to sail the seas, fight the dragon, or be rescued from the tower, we all wake up every day hoping that it will bring freedom.
In my search for freedom (I know this may sound strange) I have found the Church.
What is the Church?
I'm not asking what the church has done, but what is it's definition?
To me, one must define the church via the cross.
It throws it's arms and doors open rather than drawing a circle around itself.
It is in those arms that I am free.

Friday, September 4, 2009

One of the best places to go for a unique environment for photography is an antique store.
You get to walk through someone else's life and grab images of moments that they have already lived.
Every old bottle and crazy trinket is a story.
And you can make their story up as you go.
Here are a few moments I grabbed.
These are film as well.
Lone ram.
Out the plane window.
Standing on the lake.

These pictures were all taken with an all-plastic camera called a Holga by Lauren NeSmith.
Digital is fun and forgiving, but there is just something about film photography that makes me feel good. The art of the development (all I've done is watch it happen) is like opening the prize in a cereal box. You never know quite what you're going to get. These are from a trip to Montana.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I have always believed that the world involves magic.
Think about it.

Think back to the moments and feelings in your life that can't be explained by the science of simple reactions.
"Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!"... as Sid Bream slides into home plate.
The pure power of Niagara Falls.
Leaning back in your chair around a table of family and friends.
The waves crashing on the rocks on a summer night.
The way you feel around that person.
It's all magic.

If there is magic, mustn't there be a magician?

Everyone has their own philosophies.
Well, I will not call mine my own...because I didn't make it.
God and humanity made it.
And it is that philosophy that has made me.

What is our greatest need?
"Our," meaning every face masking every soul everywhere that has ever lived.
What is the one thing that all of us can't live without?

We are all the same, really.
Different times.
Different situations.

The reason for questions is answers, yes.
But many times the thoughts that lead to the answers are what change us.
Have we thought too little about this one?

hold on.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What is the best way for a person to introduce himself?
Sure, "Hello," seems to always be a solid choice.
A little shallow, but it works.
Or how about, "Greetings?"
I feel like a Christmas card.
That'll do.