there are days when it feels like everything is out of control.


not doing what i want, or need, or think it should be doing. but rather, spinning wildly, jerking erratically and heading towards the floor, only the sound of the crash remaining.

i was facing the window while in a meeting yesterday, and had to force myself to not simply sit and watch the constantly falling leaves. there wasn't a second where at least one leaf was making its mesmerizing, spinning, beautiful journey to the ground.

the trees appear to be wiser than i am.

to graciously give up what you cannot hold is a lesson i am still learning. to remember that there is a season for everything. to trust that the Maker of the season knows more and better than i, is a place i need to rest more. a place i need to live.

given all this, it is only fitting that i let Rilke weigh in on the situation. as always, i am silenced by his words...

by Rainer Maria Rilke

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.



if someone is on a church staff in a support capacity, should they attend that same church?

over the past few days, i've had three different {and unprovoked} conversations regarding this question with different friends, from different areas of my life, some currently on staff at different churches, some never having been employed by a church.

there appear to be no shortage of different opinions.

in my mind, it only makes sense that i attend PORTICO, the place of worship where i spend not only my sunday mornings, but my workdays as well. it is the place where my best energy, creative efforts and ideas get used—i pray—to not only glorify God, but to encourage and inspire the people who sit in the pews around me. from an implementation perspective, why would i not want to see what works, what doesn't and what i could improve on?

from a spiritual perspective, given how much blood, sweat and prayer that i put into PORTICO, could i ever feel anything but divided by attending another church? sure, there might be days when it would be easier, not getting pulled into work-mode when my goal is to worship would be nice, but would my heart be in it? or would i even—horrors—end up comparing them?

perhaps i over-simplify the situation, but if i do, i come by this over-simplification justifiably.

for pretty much my entire childhood and adolescence, my father worked at Chrysler. everything–all the meals my family consumed, Christmas and birthday presents, back to school clothes—was made possible because of dad's pay cheque from the automaker. to go along with that, i don't ever remember my dad owning a car that wasn't a Chrysler, and pretty much every car i have ever owned was the same. to this day, if i bought a car, it would have to be a Chrysler.

did dad have to buy Chrysler? well, no, he wasn't forced to. but to him, it was {and still is} the right thing to do.

and my dad isn't the only one who feels this way. this morning i read an article about Melinda Gates not allowing any Macintosh products to enter their home. would it kill the multi-millionaire to drop a couple hundred dollars on an iPod for one of the kids? probably not, but Ms. Gates appears to subscribe to the same 'you support what supports you' theory as my dad.

last week, on a church communications blog that i read, Over-Communicate, i read this post that has helped me solidify how i feel about this. the post uses John 10:11-13 as its basis, with Jesus talking about the difference between a shepherd and a hired hand in the care of sheep. when the wolf comes, where the hired hand hightails it out of there, the shepherd stays. why? the hired hand only collects a pay cheque, he doesn't own the sheep. the shepherd, however, owns and loves the sheep, and will do all he can to protect them.

this great post has stuck in my head, and the truth is, i don't want to be just a hired hand at PORTICO.

to be honest, before these conversations, i hadn't given all this much thought. it just makes sense to me that being part of PORTICO's staff would mean that i would attend PORTICO. it is where the rest of the staff and i use the best parts of ourselves, where we work side by side the sake of the kingdom of God in this corner of the world where we live.

why would i want to be anywhere else?



it seems, for the people in my life, that october is the month to go on vacation. right now, i have friends and family in Egypt, Israel, Texas and California.

as envious as i am, given that i always want to travel, there seems to be a bit of a theme woven throughout some of these vacations, and even crossing over into some of the books i have read this year.

more than one friend who was going to Israel told me that for them, the crux of the trip is to walk where Jesus walked. to see things He would have seen with His eyes.

this morning i received an email from my dad, who, with my mom, is finally living his lifetime-long dream of visiting the Alamo. in it, he said,
"What a feeling to be standing where all those heroes stood. To cross the line and stand with them. The feeling of hopelessness as you realize they were all going to die yet stayed there to serve their country."
my dad is living his dream, walking in the footsteps of his heroes.

after that, i read my friend Phil's blog post, and in it he has a video where Francis Chan talks about going to Oxford and getting a crash course in church history, actually seeing where some lived, and some died.

combine all that with some books i have read this year. A Walk With Jane Austen, for one, where a young woman drops her life to go to England for a month to visit the places where the famous author lived her life and wrote her words. and then there is the book i just finished, Juliet, which while it is a novel, is about a woman who discovers that she is related to the original Juliet, of Shakespeare fame, and returns to Siena, Italy to discover the truth, and her rightful inheritance.

there is something so compelling about connecting the past with the present. about standing in a place and wondering how many fascinating, or just plain normal people through the years have also stood in the same place. about wondering what they did, who they loved, how they faced down their own fears.

...as a child, i walked through forts on vacations with my family, where people of bravery took stands and fought to keep invaders away from their land, teaching me that the way things are now, is not they way they have always been. that there are things that are worth defending.

...i have wandered a Parisian garden where both my favorite sculptor and favorite poet wandered themselves, looking for inspiration and solace, hoping the garden would pass its magic into my own words and art.

...sadly, i have found myself standing in a gas chamber in Auschwitz, unable to keep the tears from flowing for all the lives that ended in that cold, cement room, and all the ways the world could have been made a better place had that room not ever been built.

there are still so many places that i want to touch the ground. so many people, long dead, whose ghosts i want to will my eyes to see. so very much history that i want to connect with.

so many places to walk...

where do you want to walk?



these past few weeks have been rough.

i have dealt with emotions and gone places i never anticipated going, all in my mind. it hasn't been a party, and i have not at all enjoyed it.

one thing i have learned—or more accurately, relearned— is the importance of what you allow the voices to tell you, and how much validity you place on those voices. that not every thought that finds its way into your head is truth and worthy of thinking about.

with all this in mind, i came across this prayer this morning. i have quoted from Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann before, and i am fairly sure this won't be the last time...

Hearing Better Voices
        on reading the prophets

We make a pause
    amid many voices—
        some innocent and some seductive,
        some violent and some coercive,
        some forgiven and genuine,
        some not.

Amid this cacophony that pulls us
        in many directions,
    we have these old voices of your prophets;
    these voices to attest to
        your fierce self,
        your severe summons,
        your generous promise,
        your abiding presence.

Give us good ears,
    perchance you have a word for us tonight;
Give us grace and courage to listen,
                                                  to answer,
                                                  to care,
                                                  and to rejoice,
    that we may be more fully your people.

this is my prayer today.



while emailing my good friend Alicia this morning, i started to explain to her why sometimes doing the things that i know are good for me are just so darn hard. it's not that i'm lazy, or i don't understand how important these things—writing, exercise, etc.— are. it's actually quite the opposite, i know how vital they are to a healthy me, and paradoxically, the weight of their importance, at time, cripples me.

when i am about to embark on something good for me, be it writing or working out or whatever, it is never just a single event in my mind. somehow my brain takes that event and turns it into something bigger. as though if it is worth my time to do today, then surely, here and now, i must make a commitment to do this good thing every day for the rest of my natural-born life. merely doing it once would be a 'why bother?'

then, the weight of a lifetime of said good thing starts to wear and feel incredibly daunting. the fatigue that plagues my mind as it attempts to wrap itself around this heavy commitment, and all the other things i will never do because i will be doing this forever, makes me want to go take a nap... which is not very conducive to getting anything done.

my challenge, it seems, is to not put added weight onto the daily tasks that i need and want to do. the writing i do today, is the by-product of today, not the rest of my life. walking to work is merely a 25-minute jaunt. not 25 minutes times 365 days times how many more years i will live. first off, i probably couldn't do the math, but no one can expect to live a lifetime in one day.

i only have to be faithful and disciplined for today. for right now.

and deal with tomorrow when it gets here.


October 2010 Desktop

happy, happy october.


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