Equip

The Perfect Idol

Twice in the last few months it hit me that most of my prayers for myself could be summed up something like this: God, please make me better. Even the prayers for closeness to the Father and the efforts to read Scripture are consistently invested toward this goal: More holy, less flawed. Both times it […]

Awkward Hugs and God’s Embrace

I am an awkward hugger.

In the short span of a hug, questions fly—millions of thoughts wreaking havoc in my mind:

Do my arms go over or under? Or do I do the side hug? What on earth, do I do with my hands? Do I turn my head? Ugh. Do I smell bad? No? Good. Yes, this is good. Nope. Too long. How long do we hug? How do I end the hug? Who is supposed to end the hug first? Am I supposed to be thinking this much?

 It appears that I can’t seem to simply rest in an embrace.

Hiding the Broken Things

Here, in your presence, I am not afraid of brokenness.
To wash your feet with humble tears,
O, I would be poured out ‘til there’s nothing left.

I just want to wait on You, my God.
I just want to dwell on who You are.

-Kari Jobe, “Beautiful”

As a child, I hid the broken things.

One Christmas, I accidentally beheaded a ceramic figure from my grandmother’s nativity set. (It wasn’t Jesus, so I lived to tell the tale). I simply placed the head back on and walked away. Weeks later, as we put away the Christmas decorations, I feigned shock and disbelief upon the discovery of the broken figurine.

Another time, it was a bookshelf. I flipped the shelf over and strategically placed items of a specific weight to balance out the offended side. I had forgotten about it until I packed my room for college – I didn’t have to fake my shock, but I did hide my culpability.

The Magic of Going All In

Have you ever had a jellyfish fight? It’s like a snowball fight, but slimy. Instead of the brisk burst of thousands of powdery ice crystals hitting your cheek and tickling your neck, you get slapped with something like a wet Jello jiggler that smells like the ocean.

Moon jellies are a clear, non-stinging jellyfish that we have in the Puget Sound. Every once in awhile a tide will come through carrying hundreds more jellies than normal. If you just happen to be 10 and spending a weekend at the family beach cabin with cousins and friends during one of those tides, the only thing that makes sense is to fill your t-shirt with jellies until it stretches to your knees and wage war.

Have you ever skipped a sand dollar across the water’s surface? They’re infinitely better than any flat stone. Or tipped a rock to see dime-sized crabs scurry? Or filled a jar with sea glass? Or paddled a canoe late on an August night watching fish swim under the surface sending trails of tiny phosphorescent diatoms that glow and sparkle like pixie dust?

Terrified, But Doing the Brave Thing

One of my favorite rides in Disneyland is the Indiana Jones Adventure. The ride’s grand opening to the public happened during my very first trip to Disneyland. After a three hour wait, we were among the few hundred people to ride the highly anticipated new attraction. It was a glorious adventure! I don’t remember it […]

The Legacy of Faith

Through the years of my growing up and into my adult life it seemed that my mother and I were often at cross purposes. We were polar opposites in personality. She could not understand my strong-willed, survivor drive, and I certainly could not understand her tendency to just let life happen.

Even with all our differences, I have always had a sense of gratitude for the legacy that she left – a legacy of faith.

It was Mom who taught us about Jesus, who made sure we were in church every Sunday. It was Mom who stopped what she was doing to answer my questions and lead me to ask Jesus into my heart and life when I was nine. It was Mom who prayed for me as I rebelled and walked my own way.

Structures

How is your New Year’s resolution going?

Ugh. No one is really supposed to ask that question. Two reasons why: First, we don’t want to remind people that they might be failing to keep their commitment. Second, we don’t want to be held accountable for not keeping ours.

Goals are easy to make. Harder to attain. Have you ever wondered why?

I’m going to give you the quick answer in case one of your resolutions was to read less this year.

Successfully attaining your goals requires structure.

At work, I often present on time management to either my employees or to others seeking to develop that specific skill in their work life. As part of my presentation, I lead the participants through a self-discovery exercise that looks something like this:

When God Disappoints

“I don’t want you to ‘weave’ me.”

Her words stung. My three year old daughter told me the best way she knows how that it disappoints her when I’m not present when she wakes. Unfortunately the logic about how I have to work to pay for our life doesn’t hold weight with her. It’s certainly not enough to knock the lingering guilt I carry. She doesn’t see the big picture. She just knows what she wants: me to be present throughout her day. Necessity could be debated in this scenario, but I know other times will come where I won’t be able to prevent my kids from being disappointed with me.

I have a friend who’s a single mom, and as much as she would love to, chronic and severe back pain preclude her from playing soccer with her son. He continues to ask, because he doesn’t understand. And he’s disappointed. Another friend is working through the hurt and disappointment of her toddler following his dad’s recent deployment. None of them chose those circumstances, but they have to walk through them. And the children were or are disappointed. Understanding the why behind the circumstance might or might not change that. That’s hard to say.

The Songs I Sing

 

I sing little songs to myself while I’m waiting.

This fact was made known to me quite recently, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

I teach classes for a non-profit organization. As part of my job, I demonstrate procedures before I have the class follow along with me.

Several months ago, while I was waiting for the computer to process the steps I had just entered, I sang to myself. The class proceeded to sing the little tune with me before they erupted with laughter. Shocked, dismayed, and wholly confused, I asked what had struck the class with amusement. They reported with glee:

“You always sing that song while you wait.”

Agree with Grace

I hate buying cell phones.

Well, I hate buying any tech, really, but cell phones especially. I hate spending money on something that will become essentially useless in two years. If I spend over $100 on anything I want to bequeath it to my ancestors. I want the family to gather around the Christmas table and pull out great-great-grandma Erin’s antique Galaxy S7 they usually display in their curio cabinet and reminisce about a simpler time.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, why don’t they make things like they used to? It bothers me that we have built into our lives this rhythm of tossing costly things aside. I notice it most in fashion and tech. There’s an understanding that in a year or two, or as soon as next season, what you have now will be out of style and out of date. We are expected to throw our money at it and then throw it away. This is partly why I have hoarder-like tendencies. I’ll go to toss something out and there’s this tug, “But this cost me something…I gave something up to bring this into my life and now I’m stuffing it into a giant black bag…” It feels wrong, like I should never have bought those things in the first place.

I think this rhythm of cheapening the objects that surround us has led to us cheapening much more important things. Things like grace.