September 5, 2015

I know that I have been delinquent. I know that I haven’t even opened up this blog much at all the last few months. The last few months have been delightfully full and hectically frantic. There are many things to report- some wonderful, some not so much- but the main story of my summer months was ministry and my son. I got to preach nearly every single Sunday the last 4 months. We joked that that is more than most called preachers preach! I loved every single minute of it. I’ve regularly preached since shortly after my son was born and I stepped out of ministry, but to have such a solid block of doing something I love to do was fulfilling indeed. It’s hard not to fall in love with these groups of people who are simply trying to do life and follow Jesus together. And so I don’t even try to stop myself anymore; I plunge face first into love for them. But the hard comes when it’s time to part, when the ending comes, and I am torn away again, leaving a piece of my soul’s skin there, wondering if ever there will be a day when I do not have to leave soul-skin but can stay for longer.

There is much to write about with my son’s continued and prolonged journey. I will try to do that sometime soon when the words emerge in a way that makes a little more sense. I realize that that is probably why you tuned in to begin with, and if I have any readers left after my hiatus, I promise I will return with words on the adventurous and treacherous journey we are continuing to walk beside his small life. So, tune back and stay tuned.

But today, I’ve had an experience that seems to take precedence in my heart.

I came in second again.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Letter to Herm

June 11, 2015

Dear Herm,

On a Thursday morning in the Fall a few years ago, I walked into a local church, sweaty palmed and fighting the inward pull to shut down and shut off and not meet the faces of these strangers I was there to see. I entered the yellow painted room with the round table set and jackets strewn about and the candle- lighted- in the middle of the space indicating the presence of God. And I met you.

Rugged and rough and laughing, with a face that I knew in an instant had been marked by equal amounts of grace and pain. I met you and in the moment, I met the most honest of persons I have ever known. Such honesty is hard to come by, and it is a gift.

You did not know- and maybe you still do not know- that the space I was in on that day was an unkind space. I had been riddled by my own losses, tossed by the violations of those once named friends, and so unable to trust that there would be goodness, especially in someone deemed an authority over others. I was unsure at that time about anything and anyone, yet quite certain that this place too would disappoint, leave me wrung out and lonely and trying to piece back together the soul that had been ripped up several times too many. But I entered, and you made space. You led your pastors to make space. To clear a spot for a stranger in all my awkwardness, and to invite me in.   Read the rest of this entry »


March 27, 2015

My son broke a plate recently. It was a brand that was supposed to be unbreakable, but when it shattered, it broke into more pieces that I have ever seen any other plate have. We are still finding shards weeks later.

Sometimes life feels like that broken plate. Pieces, sometimes many pieces, scattered across the floor of the soul. Tiny shards that hide away in crevices to be found long after you’ve swept up the mess. Pieces that don’t make a whole anymore.

I found a broken piece hidden in a crack in my soul this week. It all started with an email from someone I used to know well. And suddenly, in those moments, I felt the prick of a broken piece of glass in my heart, long after- years after- I had swept up the shards. But it caused me to revisit that place of pain. To allow God to tend to it with the loving care that only Jesus can offer.

Some pieces of life just aren’t fixable. At least not this side of heaven. It’s a reality that sits heavy on many of us- no matter all our attempts to grow, to be in relationship, to love, to care- some things are not reconcilable. Some pieces never find their way back to the whole.

And so we live in that tension. I live in that tension.

And the thing about living in tension is this: in tension we can see God’s grace all the more. In the aching, shard-pricked parts of us that we long to be healed and whole and freed from. In the things that can be forgiven but never restored. In the moments when we accept the limits of others and at the same time, grieve because their limits mean you will not find fulfillment.

Acceptance of broken shards is grace. The ability to carry such heavy burdens and consistently find the strength of God helping us along, lifting it from us. There’s a lostness in the process; but in being lost we find Jesus. The Jesus who comes to us.

So whenever the tiny pricks of broken stories shift in our souls, making us jump as we realize their existence in us, we are prompted to lift our hands to the Lord, and trust his wide berth of grace. And continue to walk in the ways he would have for us.

The Paradox of God

December 23, 2014

(published 7 years ago, but adapted for this post)


7 years ago, I was pastoring an eager church. A church had been experiencing significant decline and decided they wanted to change that. So the congregation decided at that time that they must rebirth or recreate the church in order to stop its downward direction, and that is what we tried to do- we attempted to rebuild and recreate the church. While in the end, this particular ministry did not work out, it was a gift at that time 7 years ago to have a church eager to change- no matter how short lived it may have been.

But even the best of gifts can come with challenges. Paradoxes, I suppose. Even as a congregation is eager and ready to do the work of revitalization, it can sometimes be overly eager. Ready to build ministries that once existed- or new ministries entirely- but at the present, the infrastructure and foundation are not yet in place. Ready to move ahead when it seems we might be called to dally in one spot for a few more moments.

So over breakfast with my leadership just shortly before Advent began that year, I brought up this subject of building too fast. The leaders were quite responsive to conversation over such a topic, agreeing that we must not be too hasty to recapture what was at the risk of losing what could be. But there was still an undercurrent of confusing questions running beneath our conversation, “Why wouldn’t God want us to build as quickly as possible? Isn’t he able to do miracles? So would he ever choose to move so slowly and strangely?” The questions hung in the air unanswered. I was too tentative to address them, and so we turned to prayer.

After a long time in prayer, we lifted our heads with a unison “Amen,” only to find that one man had his head still bowed and he was staring at his hands. In silence we waited a couple seconds for him to finish his private prayer. After a moment, he lifted his head and with tears in his eyes told us, “God gave me this picture.” The man lifted his hands, cupping them in the front of him as he spoke, “‘It’s like this,’ God said to me. ‘When you try to light a campfire, and you finally get a small flame, you don’t just heap piles and piles of wood on it right away. Instead you crouch down, get as close as you can and gently blow.’” The man paused, but only for a moment as the image fixed itself in our minds. Then with a shaking voice, the man continued, “That’s what God is doing here- crouching as close as he can to us and gently blowing. It doesn’t make entire sense to us when we want the raging bonfire right away. But it’s how he wants to start.” We were all deeply touched by this man’s vision, and perhaps stunned a bit as well. To us, it only made sense that God would do miraculous things in big, spectacular ways with our little church. And yet, it seems as though he is restraining himself from such power and choosing instead the gentler, slower, softer route for us. A paradox to human minds indeed.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Son (and this is a long one),

I did something recently that I would not have done a few years ago. I stepped into the fray of controversy. You see, this past August, a kid was killed. Shot to death by a police officer. He was unarmed. And the way in which events occurred caused many people, not simply around this country but around the world, to raise their eyebrows. The kid did some things that were very wrong. But the fact that death was his apparent punishment for mistakes he made is questionable at best.

Then the hopes of a trial where questions could have been asked and answered were dashed when a grand jury failed to indict this officer on any charge. I’m not convinced that the charge should have been murder, but I do think there should have been a charge. Yet that hope was destroyed when a grand jury refused to send it to trial. Of course, now the news is that the people who carried the responsibility with prosecuting the case and getting it sent to trial were possibly out of bounds ethically. That they may have misled the jury in order to not get a trial.

So, the country erupted into pain and anger. There were riots where this boy had been killed and many people were harmed by that. The thing is: it appears many people were more concerned about the riots than about the injustices of a system gone wrong. The riots were and are grievous- though protesting peaceably is encouraged- but it seemed many of your parents friends and acquaintances were more focused on how bad those riots were than on the reason those riots happened. This is a problem; one you will run up against early in your life.

Then yesterday. Yesterday, another grand jury decided to not indict another police officer who choked a man to death… on camera. The coroner even named it a homicide. Everything about the situation demanded a trial. And he was not indicted. And that man who died? A black man. Another terrible injustice.

Read the rest of this entry »