Happy Friday everyone.

I must admit, it’s been a very challenging week in our home. Mostly because we have been suddenly hit with a case of worrying about our unborn child. You know, the emotional state that we’ve basically signed on for the rest of our lives? Well, it’s begun. We know as soon as we get rid of this worry, another worry will come along.

But nevertheless, God is good and faithful, and we are feeling reassurances today and we are thankful for that. Around us, there was so much going on with the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and other things of note.

Here’s what caught my attention.

In My Blog Reader

There actually was not too much about 9/11 that popped up in my reader, but Alece Ronzino offered some good words of remembrance. Emily Wierenga also asked where God is amidst the current threat of ISIS.

Switching gears, I really enjoyed Mary DeMuth’s podcast, Small Is the New BigIt’s a philosophy that I’ve long believed, but struggled to embrace.

Hannah Brencher shares the what happens when you post your phone number on the internet like Bob Goff. (Spoiler: a lot of weird men call.)

Zack Hunt calls attention to a church you probably have not heard of: the church that went broke because it gave away too much.

Finally, from Relevant Magazine, check out this article on how the church can rediscover its roots and create great art again.

In My Classroom

I don’t post too many things from my Art classes, but I was really excited about finding a new use for my underutilized GoPro camera. I posted it on my Instagram, so you should go watch it. It’s less than 15 seconds.

And that is what entertained, challenged, encouraged, edified and otherwise fueled me this week. What about you?

What does Joel Osteen know that the rest of us don’t?joel-osteen-and-wife1

If you are not one of his fans, you would probably answer, “Nothing.”

There has been quite a little bit of chatter as of late about Victoria Osteen finally “outing” herself and her husband and the gospel they are really preaching. She summarized their philosophy by saying that when we obey God, we do not do it for God, but for ourselves. We do it because God’s greatest desire is for us to be “happy.” So this whole exercise of going to church, reading our Bibles, being Christians is not really for God, it’s for us.

Well those statements set off a little chain reaction among quite a bit of blog-land. “Finally,” we said, “at least we know what they really believe!” At least one mega-famous pastor is being honest about the false gospel he is preaching.

But wait a minute.

Take everything that you might believe about the Osteens, their church, their gospel, their wealth or their haircuts. Take all of that pent up frustration and wad it up into a big wet lump in your throat.

Because despite all of these things, as loathe as we may be to admit it, much of the evangelical church can learn something from the Osteens. We might even learn something about ourselves.

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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?


Son, photo

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?