So on Monday, I started the year with a proverb about circuses and monkeys.

Phil-Robertson-420x630

Well this is why.

I held my tongue (so to speak) during the whole debacle. The year ended with every other story in my timeline being a comment about the ‘Duck Dynasty’ controversy.   And if I’m being completely honest, I stepped off of social media for a few days, because I just couldn’t stand the sight of it all.

But it’s been a few weeks, and in the world of the internet, a few weeks is a lifetime…

…At least it’s enough time to gain a bit of perspective. I held out on commenting on the story, because I wanted to see how the story would end.  I wanted to see if my quiet suspicions were proven right…

…They were.

Because it doesn’t matter if you were on Phil Robertson’s side or A&E or whomever.

We.

All.

Got.

Played.

And we lost.  This is why we are no better off after falling for another manufactured American Uproar. Continue Reading…

Hi everyone – welcome back!  I hope your Christmas and New Year holidays were restful and meaningful.  We aren’t quite back in school yet, thanks to a “snow day” today.

I am sure that it would be the height of obviousness and understatement to say that much of the world is something of a circus.

Politics is a circus.  I think many of us would agree that we saw that on full display last year.

Pop culture is a circus.

Sadly, sometimes church is a circus.

And I know a big tendency for me (and I’d guess for many of you) is to participate in the circus, to get wrapped up in the latest controversy, to scream and cry and stamp our feet.

But I ask you: does it make us happier?

Does participating in the circus (in all of its forms) actually enrich us?  If not, why are we so addicted to it?

And secondly: are we paying attention to the right circus?  Because there are plenty of things that steal our attention, but what is it all diverting our attention away from?  I have come to believe that many of the controversies in our culture are part of the law of diminishing returns.  The louder they get and the more that we invest in them, the less we actually accomplish.  (I’ll clarify that on Wednesday with a specific example).

But for now, I have a New Year’s resolution.  It’s a simple proverb.  I’ll admit I saw it on Pinterest, posted by a blogging friend.  I’m sure she won’t mind.

notmycircus

The world has plenty of important problems, and we have a limited amount of life to invest in them.  Are we choosing wisely which controversies, which problems, which circuses we are going to invest ourselves into?

I am going to try harder this year to make wise investments.

I have always loved the feeling of exploration.

It’s too bad I missed the Age of Exploration.  I always enjoy the feeling of finding a new frontier, the feeling of discovering something.  Maybe it’s a place or a book or even a new food.

And what’s even better than discovering new things is sharing them.  I love telling people about some new thing I’ve found or learned or seen or tasted.

People say that social media is actually harming us in some ways.  I think one of those ways may be that our drive for discovery is atrophying.  We have a world at our fingertips, but all we want to do is turn the world into a stage so we can be discovered by everyone else.  I think many of us feel like we are living as buried treasure, desperate to be found.

Most of my students do not know our city beyond their neighborhood.  I think that’s sad.  Much of our culture would rather silence people they disagree with than engage with them.  That’s sad too.  People fall out of love with each other when they think they know everything about that person.  That’s really sad.  We think we have discovered everything, that there is nothing left to find out, no one has anything worth teaching us.

You know what?

I don’t think so.

This is what I’m doing with 2014.

exploremore

I’m finding new frontiers.  I hope you are too.

Thank you so much for being my friends this year, on this road of discovery.  I sincerely hope each of you has a wonderful holiday season.  I will see you again early in January.

You know I love sweet little baby Jesus.babyjesus

Sweet little eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus.

And that little baby in the manger is the reason for Christmas, right?

Well, here’s the thing.  I love Christmas.  I love baby Jesus.  But I’ve rediscovered something recently, through conversations with friends and singing old songs and revisiting well-worn stories.  Sure, Christmas isn’t just about shopping and toys and eggnog.  But Christmas also isn’t just about a baby in a manger, arms outstretched like he’s in a classical painting.  It isn’t just about a mom looking reverently at her baby, looking positively divine, mere moments after giving birth.

What if even our Nativity scenes and songs about that baby even missed the point of Christmas?  What if we’ve managed to turn sweet little baby Jesus into an eight pound idol?

I think I’ve relearned something that just might save my Christmas this year…

Continue Reading…

In little over a month, I’m leaving the country.

I’ve been looking forward to telling you about this for a whileRwandan Girl and Boy

In January, I will going to Rwanda and Uganda with World Help and four other bloggers and storytellers.  We will be visiting orphans, widows and villages that are struggling to rise up out of poverty and war.  We will be raising money and awareness for their orphan rescue operations and some specific building projects that are going on.

Guys and gals, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this.

Not just because I’m going to places I’ve never been.

I’m not excited for all the things I hope to do over there.

No, I’m excited for an entirely different reason.

Here’s why:

Continue Reading…

This week, TIME announced their person of the year is Pope Francis.time-person-of-the-year-cover-pope-francis

He’s been in office less than a year.  But he hasn’t wasted any time attracting attention, ironically, through a demeanor that oozes humility.  The attention he has garnered has been just what the papacy and the church needs, even if there are critics who don’t want the kind of attention he is attracting.

But clearly, Francis is winning over the world.  I’m not even Catholic, and I think the guy is amazing.

The Pope has been the most talked about person on Facebook and other social media this year.  TIME magazine’s choice doesn’t crown a person of the year, so much as it acknowledges what everyone already knows.

Now we are coming up on a new year, which is the perfect time to make a resolution.

What if I resolved that next year, was going to be Person of the Year?

Continue Reading…