Friday, October 27, 2006


I got my glasses back today. Whew! I missed them! I made it through the last week or so with a seven-year-old prescription. The other day I was eating in the cafeteria (I often eat there to be among the kids) when a 7th grader walked in...

“I wonder why she is wearing sunglasses...”

As she drew near I realized she had applied her mascara a touch thick.

Golly, I missed those glasses.

So the ol’ (new) trifocals are perched atop the ol’ nose and I have returned to the blogosphere (you know... I don’t think I like that word after all).


But the lack of glasses did not prevent me from blogging. (Though it made reading small print ridiculously difficult... try reading a teenager’s devotional with a tiny magnifying glass some time for a strange experience.)

The truth is I am busy. Really busy.

Now I’m not complaining, just explaining. All of this is my doing. Here’s “The List”:

Six classes in five periods (the sixth graders get only a half of a period).

The Canby Virtual Museum --130 7th graders herded in the general direction of producing approximately 60 internet exhibits on the history of our fine city. So many connections to make between students and resources!!!

Lego Robotics -- Four, yes four, teams of middle schoolers creating, programming, researching, and celebrating (arguing?) their way to the local tournament in December.

The Ackerman Television Studio --a technological wonder of used and hopefully new equipment where students will be able to recreate any scene from anywhere in space and time with their own green screen editing studio built in a storage room and (hopefully) funded with generous donations and grants (cross my fingers).

The Lord’s Prayer --I’m still working on that large painting for my church.

AMS TV --I’m the executive producer of a weekly television show created by a cute bunch of cherubs.

And of course... Dad, hubby, home owner, voter, and friend.

I’m told that I do too much. That I take on too much. There are always small side projects... the video for Randy’s brother’s 50th birthday, the taping of Tammy’s dad’s retirement party, making this, writing that.

I don’t think I am that different. Our culture loves to run at top speed. We make a real effort at going as fast as we can.

One I first started estimating demolition and earth moving, circa 1985, no one was concerned about an estimate coming in the mail in a week. Then came the fax machine. With a year or so the bids had to be in that afternoon. When the computer finally came into its own it wasn’t about making things easier. It was all about efficiency and speed. “Do more in less time.” The mantra of the information age.

So I rush to work... I rush through the day... a long day (10-12 hours)... I rush home.

It isn’t supposed to be this way.

Did you know that hunter gatherers have the greatest amount of leisure time of any form of society? They do a little hunting every few days. They pick berries, mash some yams. They nap a lot.

We were designed to fit into the world in a simple way, a casual way.

We should be spending a lot more time watching the clouds drift across the heavens. We should be spending a lot more time looking at the heavens. We should be spending a lot more time looking at Heaven.

Heavenly Father... I love You. I want to be Your servant. But Lord, I could be a better servant, I could love You more fully, if I spent more time watching sheep...

My friend has returned from Africa. In that land of poverty and misery. He had many stories to tell. I am so impressed by their devotion to faith and the richness of their lives.

They pray.

It is almost embarrassing to say that our church has been an answer to their prayers. It is embarrassing because what we have given is so small, hardly noticeable, but it has enriched them.

We send the Sesay family of Lungi $250 a month. Asmall amount of money for a congregation of over 300 people.

PARDON ME... I need to interupt this post.

I started this post two days ago and I have not finished it because I am so busy. There are even more things going on than mentioned above.

I feel guilty for some weird reason that I have not been posting regularly... That somehow I have an obligation to keep up to date on this online journal.

The direction I was headed with the post was some philosophical/theological point about busyness and spirituality. I could push on with that... but I won’t.

I love all of you. Many of you I wish I could meet in person, squeeze your hands, look you in the eyes. But this is just a little journal of mine and hasn’t any real value I suppose.

I’m not quitting it, you understand. I just don’t feel like finishing this post. There are some things on my mind, on my heart, and on my plate.

I feel like writing a different post, but I’m pretty sure I can’t get to it today, probably not tomorrow.

So... I’m going to just stuff this message into this bloggish bottle and throw it out into the internet sea.

I’ll get back to you soon.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Rough World, Tender Hearts

The world is a very rough place.

Today, somewhere, probably not so far away, a young girl’s innocence is stolen.

Somewhere, probably much nearer, a man betrayed the solemn promise he made.

Somewhere a man doesn’t understand why he hates his body, why he feels trapped inside it, why he wants to be a woman. He thinks God has played a terrible joke on him and he hates his life.

Somewhere a woman is filling her life with a string of sexual partners, attempting to convince herself she is loved.

Somewhere a child is wondering why the soldiers dragged her parents away.

Everyday atrocities are happening beyond description, beyond my imagination.

The world is frustrated, angry, rushed, grieving, longing, lonely, lustful, resentful, depressed, and simply dying inside.

It isn’t surprising so many people question the existence of God.

Not a cheerful topic. I’m in a cheerful mood though. It has been a great week. I have been challenged at work, I am tired, in a very good way. My marriage is good. My kids are fine. I am working harder than ever and am loving my life. But I’m mindful of those who are hurting.

I wish more could know peace.

Their frustrations and disappointments, pain and shame, seem beyond their control. They assume the control of these terrible things are in His hands.

“He holds the whole world in His hands...” But He has leased it out to us, and given us one Hell of a landlord. More accurately, a landlord from Hell.

But remember, the free will we have been given is augmented by the power of prayer, prayer can move the hand of God. An amazing thought. The Lord of all, the Creator, has arranged the universe that He permits us to use His power.

My friend is in a land of tears. He and another are rolling along a potholed road in the mountains of western Africa. The medical supplies they carry will bring welcome relief for many who suffer. But it is a small drop of water in a very thirsty place.

I took two semesters of African history. It is a sad tale of colonialism, imperialism, and greed. It can be tiresome learning what the French did to Africa. What the British did. What the Dutch did. What slavery, poverty, and disease did. What coffee growers and soap makers and dealers in precious metals and gems did to Africa.

My friend is taking glasses of cool water to thirsty people, and seeking ways to bring them more.

It does not replace the arms of children hacked off with the machetes of ethnic hate. And it does not restore home and family to those who have lost both.

But it does demonstrate, to a few, that there is love in the world.

Readers of the Book of Job are usually searching for answers to why people suffer. It’s a tough question. They sometimes think that Job will answer that question. But in the end, God never tells job the why of it all.

I think the book isn’t about such questions. I think it is about how we are to live in the face of tragedy.

The world rolls on, and those in deep grief look on in horror as it does. The sun rises and the world blithely goes about its business, callously ignoring the breaking tender heart.

The owner of a breaking heart might wonder if there is a God. If He is cruel or uncaring.

Suffering is part and parcel with free will.

So is salvation.

That drink of cool water my friend is taking to Africa is really about love. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

The pains of Job are relived every day, all over this rolling ball of dirt.

What an awful, hideous, festering realm of sorrow.

My life is good right now. I love my job. I love my family. I really love my wife. I am happy to follow my Lord.

I recognize the world is filled with sorrow. I also recognize there is joy in offering a glass of water.

So tonight my friend is walking under African skies, gazing at stars I have never seen.

It is a joy to bring water to those who thirst. To provide a glimmer, a dim reflection of the blinding love which sorrows with us. The love which gazes in compassion and grief at our choices, the ones which lead us to choose evil.

If you are in pain. If you are aching and weary. Let me know. I am eager to pray for you. It would be my honor to offer you a cup of water.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Note: This post is just a little prayer, a heartfelt accompaniment to a piece of music: “Mercy Now” by Mary Gauthier

Heavenly Father... I love You Lord. You are the center of everything, and I am Yours. Bid me, I will obey.

Lord, my heart is full. I am thinking of people important to me, and people I have not met. Lord, there is so much pain in our world, and I would like to lift them up to You. I hope, I pray, that You will bless them. Bless them with heats willing to change, soften their hard hearts, heal their broken hearts.

My father could use a little mercy now
The fruits of his labor
Fall and rot slowly on the ground
His work is almost over
It won't be long and he won't be around
I love my father, and he could use some mercy now

Bless my father, Lord. He has heard the truth, but he clings to the pile of things he has claimed. He is proud of the work of his hands. But those he has loved have fallen away. The motorcycles, the cars, the heavy equipment, the houses, the girlfriends, all of the things that he has grasped in searching for meaning mean so very little. Please Lord, help this rich man become humble, this man of things and actions become a man of obedience and spiritual growth. Draw him close to You my Lord. Send to him people to say words that he can hear.

My brother could use a little mercy now
He's a stranger to freedom
He's shackled to his fears and doubts
The pain that he lives in is
Almost more than living will allow
I love my bother, and he could use some mercy now

Bless my brothers Lord. My brothers and sisters who wander this world, hurt, confused, fearful. Bless those I have come to know through the internet, the bloggers who live with the scars of abuse, and broken marriages, and addictions, and the confusion of not knowing love. Bless my fellow humans. We are all so fearful, and we can use Your mercy.

My church and my country could use a little mercy now
As they sink into a poisoned pit
That's going to take forever to climb out
They carry the weight of the faithful
Who follow them down
I love my church and country, and they could use some mercy now

Bless The Church Lord. Bless my country Lord. Forgive us for our sins, for using authority in ways which do not honor you. Forgive us for actions which lack love, lack compassion. Bless my Church, Your Church. Bless this country Lord. Help it to move from being a “Christian” nation in the way it is a “western” nation. Help us to move from the lip service of being Christian. Move us to be Christ Followers. Help us to hold true to ideals which reflect our desire to obey Your commandments to love each other and love you.

Every living thing could use a little mercy now
Only the hand of grace can end the race
Towards another mushroom cloud
People in power, well
They'll do anything to keep their crown
I love life, and life itself could use some mercy now

Lord You know my fears. I lift up North Korea to You Lord. I pray for that region and beg You to help us step away from paths that lead to destruction. Lord I pray for India and Pakistan. Please send Your Spirit there, help those antagonistic neighbors to learn to resolve their differences. Lord I pray for the weak areas of Russia, the places where there are few guards, and few securities guarding the awful weapons of the Cold War. Lord I pray that Your grace and Mercy be poured out on us. Grant us the wisdom to step back from the dangerous toys we have created. Touch those who rule, especially those who rule with fear and hatred and anger and jealousy. Help them find fresh eyes to view their people and the world.

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don't deserve it
But we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance
Dangle 'tween hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now

Lord... bless us all. Thank you for Your gift of Jesus, Your only son. Grant us the mercy to spread that word of joy and salvation and redemption.

Bless us Lord.

Every single one of us could use some mercy now.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

25 Years

Next month is our 25th anniversary. I’m pretty excited about it.

We are going to a hotel in Newport that caters to readers. It’s called the Sylvia Beach Inn (named after the writer, not a beach), Each room is dedicated to an author and is decorated in a style reflecting that author’s life, and has many of their books. There are rooms dedicated to Mark Twain, Hemmingway, Melville, Poe (creepy!), Seuss (children’s room of course), Stevenson, and many more (check out the site!).

It isn’t often we get away for a couple of days alone. But a quarter of a century together deserves a special recognition.

I met her on leap year day, 1980. We married about a year and a half later.

The moment we met our eyes locked. We stood looking at each other, feeling a connection, something special. It made her boyfriend, who had brought her over to my house, more than a little nervous.

I offered to teach her the game of chess. The next morning I noticed her passing by my house (it was only her fourth time sauntering by) and invited her in.

What a heady emotion: falling in love. It is an all-consuming madness that robs one of sleep and rational thought.

Now 25 years have passed since that afternoon we exchanged our vows in my dad’s backyard and I love her more than ever. We think alike, we communicate better (not perfectly, but better).

We have recently begun answer questions in conversations with the exact same words at the same time. It is a little freaky.

She worries about the wrinkles, a natural thing for a woman I suppose. But I find her more beautiful than ever before.

She is my partner. She is my mate.


When I first became a Christian I was infatuated with the movement of The Spirit in my life. It was the time known as the Jesus Movement, and we were derogatorily referred to as Jesus Freaks. But it was all joy to me.

I met each week with some other teens in an old garage. We sang songs, read scripture, gathered pamphlets, and went out witnessing together.

That passion faded a little as I experimented in eastern philosophies, and came down with a sever case of wanderlust.

But the love of my Lord never left.

Strange. It seems that in returning to faithfully following of the paths of the Shepherd, I have had many sorrows. But He has remained true to me in ways I cannot easily explain to my ever so rational friends, the ones who love science so much.

None the less, I find myself loving my Lord in ways that are new to me.

Lately I have found my passion for God increasing to a point where I truly do not care what others may think.

A few weeks ago there was a concert in the central park of our town where I worshipped openly, not caring who might see me. This goes against the grain for someone who is fairly well known in this community of 12,000 people. I have taught thousands of children in the local middle school. But I didn’t care. This is who I am.

A couple of weeks ago we had a special worship service at church and again I felt freedom to worship, to be as open in my devotion to God as I am in revealing who I am in this little online journal.

And then this morning. I went to the church unsure what would take place. Our pastor, my friend, is walking under African skies as he and another friend take medicine to a people group our church sponsors in Guinea. I always go early to pray with and for those who participate in our Sunday services... and this morning I felt so close to what was going on. I didn’t have any real part in the service. I led no prayers, shared no announcements, made no videos. But the spirit moved within me.

And I found myself, worshipping with eyes closed as usual, so passionate about my Lord that I began to dance.

Isn’t that an amazing image?! A fifty year old, 225 pound man dancing and bowing, his mind singularly focused on the divine. The world fell away.

He is my creator. My master.


I am a long ways from 20 years old.

That is a very good thing.