As I write, the wind is gusting around my house.  It’s pretty much been doing that all week.

The wind promises to bring with it a change.  We don’t know what it’s going to bring.  But it will be different from the status quo.  For some reason, the blustery wind that has been rattling my storm windows and keeping my tired body up at night has felt extra poignant.

It’s been a week of contrasts, that is for sure.  Here are a few things that fueled me.

In My Kitchen

This week, I’ve been running around like crazy at school putting together our school’s art show which runs this weekend.  So it only makes sense that my few hours at home would be voluntarily spent…working on the art show.  This is how my wife and I spent a couple of evenings together – making these cute little sugar cookies to look like painters’ palettes – white and chocolate.  I would never have been able to do it without her doing most of the work.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

In My Netflix Envelope

And we finally got Nebraska in the mail from Netflix, and I felt long overdue in watching it.  It was hilarious, thoughtful and at times was uncomfortably familiar in its satire. If you have the “silent Midwestern” type of family, you will basically be watching yourselves on screen, while the people on screen stare silently back.

In My Blog Reader

It’s been a pretty ragged week, I’d say.  There are glimmers of hope, people who still unite in the face of hardship, such as told about by Eugene Cho.  There was another post from Kathy Escobar about healers, bridge-builders and community cultivators in the church.

But unfortunately, such stories of hope were not the norm. Maybe we do better uniting around people who are near to us.  But Elizabeth Esther tells us that it’s as bad as I thought.  10,000 children have lost their World Vision sponsorships.  That’s ten-thousand children who have nothing to do with our squabbles, and I just cannot imagine that God won’t hold us accountable for that.  Jeremy Statton also writes a great post about why we must respond in love, bringing personal stories of people affected by extreme poverty. As he says, choosing to love always makes a better story.

And finally, Mary DeMuth launched a new Uncaged podcast, discussing God choosing the powerless.  Really relevant stuff, especially this week.

I’m off to school, where I’ll be most of the weekend!  Those are a few things that fueled me this week.  What about you?

 

You may have heard, because the internet lost its mind temporarily last week.Gift Catalogue - Kandia ADP - Animals

World Vision, known for sponsoring desperately poor children in dozens of countries revised its hiring policy, opening the door for employment to legally married homosexuals…

Then they revised their hiring policies again…back to their original status.

The entire process took about 48 hours, give or take.

And in between the beginning and end was a whole lot of yelling (virtually speaking). A lot of people lashing out at World Vision, heaping on condemnation, so much so that apparently World Vision could not ignore the protests.

This would probably have been an event that I would have been able to ignore entirely if it wasn’t for the collective outcry that drew so much attention to it.

And in retrospect, I have come to an inescapable conclusion, that this event says more about all of us than it does about World Vision.

Continue Reading…

What makes a person great?

I think most of us are taught that a great person is someone who has an “impact” on the world.

And so, we go around, trying to have an impact, trying to change the world, trying to make a difference.

There are lots of ways to do this.  Some people try to shout over all the noise, just to get some attention.  Other people try to gain their fifteen minutes of fame through the internet.  Maybe we stomp around and just try to create controversy.  It is clear that just setting out with the goal of having an impact is not enough.  Because there have been lots of lousy ideas foisted on humanity.  There have been people who have made a difference, sure.  But it didn’t make us better.  There are plenty of people to whom a legacy means conquering the airwaves, invading our collective consciousness and just saying, “Look at me!”

The thing is, a meteor makes a big crash when it hits the earth.  It leaves a big impact.  But that impact is not useful.  It doesn’t make things better.  It’s just a big rock that makes a lot of damage, pushing everything out of its way.

Jesus said that the best impact we can have, the best things we can do will be the things that no one notices.  It’s not about stomping around, making a lot of noise, building a platform, getting attention through retweets and likes on our Instagrams.  It’s tiny little unnoticed things that make a true impact.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Bhuddist peace activist and was a close friend of Trappist monk Thomas Merton, and I think he says it pretty eloquently.

walk

What if today, we didn’t worry about making something that was seen by a whole bunch of people, but created something that made actually made a good difference to just one person?

Hey everyone.  Wow, what a week.

This week, I’ve been busying myself with putting together our school’s Spring Art Show, which is happening next week.  I’ll share some pictures when it’s all said and done.  All told, I’ve been able to get our kids’ artwork up five different public places around Kansas City this year, including a show next month in our town’s big arts district.

Anyway, there has been a lot that has been fueling me lately, which is great, because I’m exhausted!

Blue Highways51jN-UIN+XL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

My wife got an old copy of Blue Highways for Christmas, but that isn’t stopping me from stealing it.  The book is about as old as me and tells about the author’s journey around the backroads of America.  It’s a bestseller, but it’s new to me, and if there is one thing that gets me excited to hit the road this summer, this is it.  And hey, if you’ve purchased any Kindle books, you probably have a credit coming to you, thanks to Amazon losing an antitrust lawsuit, so time to load up on reading!

I Don’t Know If I’m a Christian

Micah Murray never ceases to amaze me with his writing.  I just feel like we are kindred spirits, two lost souls in a life raft.  In many ways, I don’t know where I belong in the world of Christianity.  I can go just about anywhere and hear some teaching, some theology that just doesn’t sound right.  If I decided I was going to cut ties with everyone I disagreed with, I would be very alone, so I choose to try to love people anyway.  But there are many times I have heard what other Christians claim to be the truth, and it leaves me, like Micah, not knowing if I can call myself a Christian.

The Day I Almost Killed My Family

This isn’t the first time he’s posted it, but it’s new to me.  KC Proctor, who is a great guy, by the way, gets vulnerable on the anniversary of the day he almost killed his entire family in a car accident.  Powerful stuff.

If We Live Right…

Of all the Christian heresies and misnomers, perhaps one of the most indelible is this idea that if we live right that God will bless us.  Clearly, most of us aren’t reading our Bibles, because you don’t have to go far to see godly people dying in the desert, getting the crap kicked out of them, or just having their entire lives stolen.  Chris Lautsbaugh takes on this topic far more articulately than I could.

World Vision and Soul Stigmata

Finally, there were a few great people who commented on World Vision’s decision to hire legally married gay couples (and then reversing the decision just days later).  But I enjoyed, related to, and was affected the most by Erika Morrison, whose whole-body-pain is just dripping through her words.

And that’s what fueled me this week.  What about you?

download

As WBC members protest in Kansas City, opponents meet them with condolences.

Of course you probably know that Fred Phelps died last week.

The event was a bit more significant here in my neck of the woods, with Westboro being just about 90 minutes away.  That’s close enough that there have been plenty of Westboro Baptist Church pickets here in Kansas City.

Just about anyone would consider Westboro Baptist Church a hate group. Just about anyone would consider the life of it’s founder, Fred Phelps, to have been wasted.  His legacy has been a waste.

He was a frustrated, angry man on the fringes, who as a lawyer used to work civil rights cases, then was defeated for political office seven times, and then built a church as a platform for his frustrations.

And even though he is gone, WBC lives on, with enough energy to even protest the Lourde concert here in town, for no apparent reason.

I have spent the last few days thinking about what the death of this man means, a man so famous for being so hateful.  

And the thing is, perhaps quite by accident, the life of Fred Phelps quite plainly confronts many of the truths that you and I hold to be absolute. Continue Reading…

Last Friday, I referenced a poem.

A poem by Joyce Kilman, written very nearly a century ago.

In the poem, Kilman contemplates the work of men and women.

We labor and toil and think about how to solve problems.  We build great towers and craft fine products.  We write books and songs that we hope will lift the spirits of other people.  We cook meals to share and wrap gifts to give.

But all of the work of our hands is no match for the creative genius of God.  All of our accomplishments pale in comparison.  You could say that no matter how grand a wonder we humans can build, it doesn’t match the complexity and majestic mystery of even one tree that God has made.

So what are we to do?  Are we to despair that all of our creative energy is for nothing?

No.

Instead we take heart.

We take heart knowing that God delights in our silly poems and drawings and inventions, the way a parent delights in a child’s painting and hangs it on the fridge.

We take heart, knowing that the creative energy in us is the same energy that did create those trees.

We take heart knowing that no matter how “self-sufficient” we become through our invention and innovation, it all still rests in the hands of the first Creator.

And we take heart knowing that the mind behind all things is very, very good.

tree

Create something good today, and share it with the One who made you.

He will like it.