This last weekend, Sunday afternoon, I had a medical emergency.images

I was home alone, my wife out on a walk with the dogs at the park.

When suddenly, I could not see.

Now, I wasn’t stricken blind like Paul.  I could see…sort of.  But my eyesight was suddenly obscured with blind spots and auras.  The world looked like a broken mirror.  As I struggled to read WebMD (obviously, the first and most reliable course of action in any medical emergency), I realized just how severe the problem was.  I could not make out more than fragments of words and I was beginning to be overtaken by a headache.

I called my brother, a nurse, who told me that I should immediately call 911.  Now, I’ve never called 911 for myself, so this understandably made me more panicked.

The afternoon was filled with my first ambulance ride, my first CT scan, and the first time I have ever been scared that I was having a stroke.  The episode lasted a couple of hours and then went away, as inexplicably as it had arrived.

The doctor had no answer, other than that I did not have a stroke.  I chalk it up to stress, a “quasi-stroke.”  In talking with others, I learned that I’m not the first person to experience something like this.

While being transported by ambulance and laying in my first ER bed, and contemplating the possibility that I might be having a catastrophic event happening to me, I thought about these few things: about life, about suffering and about what I think of God.

Continue Reading…

Last weekend, my wife and I went searching…

We ditched town and ventured into unknown places across the Flint Hills of Kansas.  If you have never actually been in Kansas, I assure you it is unfairly represented.  It’s solitude and peacefulness can be stunning.  We woke up to catch the sun rise.  We drove through nature reserves on long gravel roads.  We stopped at lonely cemeteries and long forgotten schoolhouses.

Our little adventure reminded me of a search that so many people seem to be going on.  It is that search to find ourselves.  I suppose the quest to find ourselves means something different to everyone.

But something struck me as we sped along endless roads and stared at faraway horizons.  No matter how far I traveled or how hard I searched, I would never be able to “find” myself.”  Our selves are not some treasure, locked in some treasure chest.

If we are going to find the selves we are meant to be, we have to be even more active than the intrepid explorer…

We have to create ourselves.

Creating ourselves does not require a long journey away from home.  But it is a lifelong quest.  We do it every day, bit by bit.  Some of us do it quite on accident.  Others spend their whole lives looking when they ought to be making.  

Me?  I’m not nearly done.  I have a long way to go.  I’m still a half lumpy wad of clay that’s being formed.

findyourself

Yep, that picture is my wife, just last weekend.

What are you doing?  Searching…or making?

Happy November 1, or All Saints Day, if you are observant of such things.

So for the last few years, my wife and I have flipped on our porch light and waited with a big bowl of candy for our neighborhood kids.  I know there’s a lot of them because the school bus stop is right on our corner.  But we never get more than a handful of kids, so we end up giving them fistfulls of Twix bars (while keeping plenty back for ourselves.)  Last night we tried “reverse trick-or-treating.”  We went out to find the kids ourselves, handing out candy to any lucky passers-by.  Pretty fun.

Anyway, I was struck this week by both the quality and quantity of great blog stuff that happened this week.

Continue Reading…

I love my wife.

But sometimes, I don’t tell her enough.  Or I don’t communicate it in a way that she can receive it.

That’s not her fault.  It’s my fault for presuming that she should just feel loved because she’s married to me.

In the last couple of weeks, a couple of news stories have caught my attention.  One is national news (at least in Christian circles), jmac1002the Strange Fire conference, led by John MacArthur.  The other was local news in my town.  A couple of restaurant patrons, in lieu of a tip, wrote a “loving” message to their server, whom they assumed was homosexual.  (You can see where this is going already.  Be warned, there are slurs quoted below.)

And although both events seem as if they have nothing in common, they have a common thread.  The perpetrators invoked “love” as their motivation.

It seems that “love” really does cover a multitude of sins, at least if you tell everyone that’s your motivation.  But these two examples prove, once again, how good Christians can be at using the word “love” in vain, and both can teach us something about what it means to truly love others.

Continue Reading…

You’ve heard the old expression, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” right?

Sure you have.  It’s what our dads and grandads told us when we left their tools out or mowed the grass haphazaradly or just did any task in a way that was not up to their standards.  It sure made sense.  If you are going to take the time and effort to do a job, you might as well do it correctly.  

I have no problem at all with that sentiment. I teach it to my students every day.  But I’m equally enamored with G.K. Chesterton’s play on the old expression for its subtle truth.

The first time you do something, you probably won’t do it correctly.  You will probably mess up.  You will likely make mistakes the second, third and fourth times you do something.  The work of your hands will not match the vision of your mind.

And everything that is worth doing is worth pushing through that.  It’s worth doing something over and over again, getting lousy results, making mistakes, in order to hone our skills and perfect our passions.

And that is such a harder lesson for kids to learn.  I can be hard on them all day about doing a lousy job on purpose.  But it’s so much harder to motivate a kid to keep going and try for the twentieth time because the thing they are doing is worth it.

badly

Some of you know that I’m taking woodworking lessons at our local guild.  Last week was a train wreck.  Totally worth it.  What mistakes are you making today?  What are you doing badly and saying “It’s worth it.”?

Hey everyone.  Glad it’s Friday?

It is sometimes amazing how we can start the week in a completely different mental or emotional place than where we end up.  I have to admit, I started out pretty rough, with some weighty things bearing down on me.  But as the week went on, good conversations with friends and students lifted me up.

Besides that, as always, there were a few bits of generosity and creativity that impacted me this week.

In My Kindledownload

I admitted a few weeks ago that I had started a new reading habit of which I am not entirely proud: the celebrity memoir.  I have read Jim Gaffigan, Mindy Kaling, and now Rachel Dratch.  You might remember her from Saturday Night Live.  She was “Debbie Downer.”

Rachel’s story is hardly a “fairy tale.”  Basically, everything she’s done, she had to try at least twice in order to achieve.  And what I have gotten out of these celebrity memoirs, above all else, is that just because someone has been on TV, it does not mean their life has been easy.  Life is a struggle…for everyone (not just you and me).  Most of the people who you and I think are very glamorous are actually unemployed most of the time.  But despite a lot of difficulties, things work out in unexpected ways (hence the subtitle “midlife miracle.”) Her story ends rather open-ended too, because that’s how life is.

In My Blog Reader

Everyone wants to find a great purpose to their lives.  We want to know that we are making an impact on the world, and we never really feel like we are doing enough.  Steve Weins lets us in on the dirty little secret about finding our purpose in life.  What an encouraging and challenging thing to read this week.

It’s true – if you aspire to be a writer, you’d better get comfortable (or at least be able to tolerate) rejection.  And really, doesn’t that go for all of life?  Living with rejection is just a good life lesson.  The first publisher that rejected Life After Art told us it sounded too much like All I Really Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten.  If you are wanting to publish a book, read this to-do list from Katie Axelson on handling rejection as a writer.

Finally, I was so excited to meet longtime blog-friend Caris Adel a few weeks ago at STORY (and even more excited to learn that we have more in common than we thought.)  As a guy who really feels like a misfit in the modern church, I really appreciated what she had to say with Pastor Kings and Servant Leaders.

Oh, and if you don’t remember “Debbie Downer,” watch her first and best appearance (despite the pre-train-wreck-but-still-annoying Lindsey Lohan who was hosting that night).

Those were the highlights of my week.  What fueled you this week?