You know, I have made more mistakes than I can count.

When I was a young student in school, I believed that the mistakes I made on my math homework were a big deal. I kept hunting for an elusive “100%.” Every once in a while, I achieved perfection. But not very often.

Then I grew up a little bit and went to high school. I made plenty of mistakes there too, but the ones I cared about most had to do with girls, not math problems. There were all the times I put my foot in my mouth, or misjudged a situation, or just had something blow up in my face.

But I grew up some more, and wouldn’t you know it, I did not care so much about my high school mistakes anymore, mostly because I was busy making new mistakes. I felt I had made a mistake in my choice of school. Then I feared I had made a terrible mistake in my choice of college major. A few years later, I seriously wondered if I had made the worst mistake of my life with my career choice, which was not panning out so well.

Over the last eight years, my happy married life has supplanted my formerly single life. But marriage has not been all bliss. There have been days when I have felt the burden of making huge mistakes in my marriage, actions which I wish I could take back. And just over the last few weeks, I have realized some glaring mistakes I have made in my work life.

You know, this is the funny thing that no one tells you while you are growing up. The mistakes that consumes your mind today will not look so bad later…because you’ll be busy making new mistakes!

I grew up thinking there would come a day when I would be past making mistakes, a time when I would achieve a “100%,” when I would be able to do everything right.

Yeah, right.

It seems to me more and more that while life is hopefully a process of becoming wiser, it is never a process of achieving perfection. If it is perfection we are striving for, we will never reach it.

Cheri and I got a cool old typewriter over the weekend, so I spent a good amount of time playing with it. The thing about an old typewriter is that it is very easy to make mistakes. And once your mistake is on the page, it is on the page. A typewriter is a really good tool for learning to deal with our imperfection. In fact, it took me three tries to get this little paragraph exactly right.

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I think the trick is to learn, not to fear making mistakes, but to learn how to let them go and not let them haunt us. Fortunately, most of our mistakes do not exist, imprinted forever in ink on paper.

Man, these four day weeks are killers. 

And, we may have just had our last ninety degree day of the season. Dang it.

I honestly cannot even believe I’m still seeing first day of school pictures in my social feeds. What have you all been doing the last three weeks? Hogging up the amusement parks? Taking up a half mile of abandoned beachfront? Grossly exceeding the maximum daily limit for catching fish?

Anyway, it’s been a fun week, school or not. And there were some particularly good things that popped up this week.

In My Blog Reader

A couple of weeks ago, I posted by opinions about the goings-on in Ferguson, namely, that my opinions do not really matter. That’s a stand that I’m sticking to. In fact, you could say, that I vehemently believe that my beliefs do not matter. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to this post from Anne Marie Miller, Fight for Unity or Don’t Fight at All. Particularly as Christians, there are so many things we can fight for. Is there anything more noble to fight for than Christian unity?

Next, I so, so, so appreciated this deeply honest, episodic post on the reality of depression from Alece Ronzino. Another thing that does not deserve our opinions so much as our mere acknowledgement.

This post from Abigail Waldron hit me, not just because it’s about infertility, but because it’s a little bit of a look at the next phase in my life. As my wife and move from childless to parents, how will we treat our friends whose prayers have not yet been answered?

Partly because I wrote a letter to my own son this week, I was especially drawn to Emily Wierenga’s letter to her son as he goes off to school. I don’t know if this exercise of letter writing to our children is really for our benefit or theirs, but either way, it’s therapeutic.

On the more practical side of things, Ally Vesterfelt discusses why creatives underestimate themselves, and how to break out of that trap.

Look at that…all women in my blog feed this week! What else?

In My Video Feed

Finally, you may have seen this clip, but if you have not and you need to see something truly “exasperating,” watch this kid react to the news that he’s getting a new baby brother or sister.


That’s what fueled, inspired, challenged and entertained me this week. What about you?

 

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It’s me, Dad. You and I still won’t meet for a while. You’ve got about four more months to go. I just wanted to get in touch with you again since it’s been some time since we talked.
The last time I wrote to you, you were just an idea, a hope and a prayer that your mom and I just whispered together. We did not know if you would be a boy or a girl, or if you would ever even be born.
But now you are not just an idea or a thought or a prayer. You are an idea made alive. You are growing every day, and for that we give thanks. While I am writing this letter, I think about the book manuscript that sits on my desktop, a testament of all the things your mother and I have done to try to help bring you into actual existence. When you finally show up, it will be about five years that we waited for you.
Those five years will have been worth it.
But I want you to know something, son. it’s really important that I say this, because it’s going to be easy to misunderstand.
Your mother and I want you, but we do not need you.
That sounds a little harsh, I know. What do I mean I don’t need you?

Happy (almost) Labor Day, my friends.

Right now, I’m sneezing up a storm as fall allergies have officially kicked in, but I’m looking forward to a wandering drive across the Kansas countryside on Monday. We will stop at unknown points of interest to take pictures, visit hidden gems and memorable places. One last taste of summer, even as we have been in school for a couple of weeks now.

In between my sneezes, I’ve managed to find quite a few hidden gems in blog land this week. These are the posts that fueled me over the last few days.

In My Blog Reader

When Childhood has Become a RaceJen Pollack Michel discusses the increasing pressure and decreasing sense of purpose our children have in life, and I know she is absolutely right. I don’t even have to have kids, the pressure for our kids to perform is that palpable. Parents, we can change this, because we are the engineers of what is happening to our kids.

What Does It Really Mean to Have Faith? Zack Hunt takes on a question that is so basic, I wonder if we forget to even talk about it. I have been thinking a lot about doubt lately. Maybe we cannot really answer questions about doubt until we define faith.

The Truth About Social Media. And How It’s Wrecking Us. Emily Wierenga nails this one. Being around high school students, I can tell you, everything she writes is true. Every now and then, I’ll find myself in some previously unknown corner of the internet and I just cannot believe the shallowness of what is being made, and the sincerity and fervor with which that shallowness is pursued.

Finally, two posts about the continuing conversation about justice. I think justice is a good catch-all, broader than just Ferguson or racism or any other single cause. White People, White Power, White Platform is another great commentary from Caris Adel, and finally Eugene Cho challenges us with If We Want to Seek the Peace of the City, We Have to Engage the Conflicts and Injustices of Our City.

That’s what fueled me, friends. I will see you back here next Wednesday.

What fueled you this week?

 

Last January, I went to the other side of the world, to Uganda.

I think we all have a picture in our minds of what a place like Uganda is. The thing is that what I found was so much more than what I thought I would find.

Uganda was so much more poor than I ever imagined. When I say poor, I mean that thousands of people live in slums, collect their water from ditches, do not have basic sanitation. I mean that there are systemic problems that prevent people from just “pulling themselves up” by their bootstraps, the way we proud Americans think.

But Uganda is so much more than poverty. To see only poverty is to not see the people. Uganda is a beautiful place, far more beautiful than we imagine. It is a place that is rich in spirit, where people who have nothing believe that they are blessed. The people of Uganda believe they are blessed far more than you or I do. They are grateful. They are joyful. 

Uganda is everything. It is tragic and beautiful, a combination of despair and triumph.

Last week, I got some much needed good news. The infant rescue home that we worked to fund is finally complete! We have photographic proof. The furniture is being moved in as we speak and children will soon be rescued from poverty and certain death to begin a new life in a clean, safe, loving home.

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Just seeing those kids brings me back.

What’s more, the remaining rescue home is just about $13,000 away from reaching total funding! Just a few more bucks and the number of children rescued by this wonderful place can be doubled. How incredible is that?

If you can loosen a few coins from your pocket, you could assist World Help reach their goal and finish the final phase of the project.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of Peter getting out of the boat this weekend.

You know, the one where the disciples see Jesus walking on the water and they think he’s a ghost. And so Peter dares the “ghost” to tell him to come out on the water.

And before Peter can even think twice, he acts recklessly and steps out of the boat.

There are very few times in our lives when we actually get a chance to step out of the boat, to take a big step of faith, not knowing if we are going to sink. Peter took his chances.

I’ve also been thinking about something else.

The eleven guys who did not get out of the boat.

I wonder what they said to one another.

“What is Peter doing?”

“That’s a bad idea.”

“He is going to sink!”

“I’ve read a blog about these guys who try to walk on water. I don’t agree with it.”

See, every precious time we get the chance to step out of our boat, there is going to be eleven (or a lot more) people who stay in the boat, and tell us why we should stay put. They are the concerned friends who urge “discernment.” They are the experts who prophesy disaster at every turn. They are the barely-informed Christians who think they have well-reasoned moral objection.

I have been seriously struggling with this recently, knowing that I have made choices, I have gotten out of my boat. And there are plenty of people who have an opinion about that. Mob mentality is alive and well and it keeps us in fear of ever leaving the little boundaries of the boats we are in.

“We are all in the same boat,” they say. Maybe it’s because no one is allowed to leave the boat.

All of the people in the boat mean well. But the result is the same. The voices of fear, anxiety, safety, guilt or shame always try to crowd in and hold us back. They try to tell us that our faith is too reckless. They try to tell us that God wants us to stay safely in the boat. They try to convince us that we are doing something wrong by getting out of the boat.

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You know, the hardest part of getting out of the boat might not be seeing the wind and the waves that are about to crash into us, but shutting out the voices who try to hold us back, wondering what could have been.