Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Have a Good Idea.

At work there are certain things I always say.
Sometimes I think of it as a sort of chant.
Blah blah price today. Thank you. Here you go.”
It’s a chorus of numbers and repeated phrases,
A ballet of credit cards and coffee cups.
Corporate choreography through a sliding glass window,
Thrust horizontally apart then back together.

Once the dancers have descended
It is time for the last line of the opera
And I am the fat lady who bids them good day
In a sing-songy voice.
But today is not the same.
My diction derails somewhere between
Mind and body, takes a course of its own
and comes out:
“Have a good idea!”
I didn’t mean to say it but I decide to mean it-
This appeal for innovation by the slip of a tongue.

And so I say again to you,
Have a good idea.
Hold onto it like the last word you read
Before you looked up from your book;
The word you’ll return to when you’re
Trying to find your place.
Have a good idea
And then turn it into something else.
Plant it and grow it and pluck it and use it.
Refuse to let it die.
Have a good idea
To do something about your life.
To help someone else’s.
To change anything as long as it’s for the better.
And if you can’t think of anything, at least
Have the good idea to have a good day.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Recent themes swimming around my mind have been secularity and time management. My whole life there's been this divide between Christian and everything else. There's Christian music, Christian literature, Christian t-shirts (which are awful, am I right?). There's this entire closed off community of religion that we're taught will keep us pure and holy. We're urged not to fall into the temptation of listening to rap music or watching movies with profanity. This, to me, is a load of poop. 

Everything doesn't have to be so black and white. There shouldn't be a difference in our lives between "secular" and Christian. Every talent that we have is from the Lord. We don't have to be singing a song about God, writing some allegorical tale of Christ's life, or painting pictures of crosses to be using our gifts to serve Him.

We are so focused on compartmentalizing our lives when it should all just be one big thing. We should be glorifying God in everything that we do, but that doesn't mean we have to be street evangelists or nuns. Be whatever you want to be when you grow up, watch movies, sing along to the radio. If we let our love for the Lord encompass our lives, then there doesn't have to be a "secular".

This leads me to the other aforementioned topic of time management. I am always hearing people talk about spending time with the Lord. In bible studies my whole life I have been taught that it is imperative to find separate time from my regular life to pray and be with the Lord. But I've been thinking lately, what if that's what we're doing wrong- thinking that our relationship with the Lord is dependent on scheduled time away from our lives to talk to God.

Once again, I think this begs the question of why do we need a separation? What if we just incorporate God more into our daily lives instead of trying to squeeze him in as an entirely separate concept? I'm as guilty as the next lad of feeling too busy for said time with the Lord. Between work, school, and (ironically) church, I've, at times, felt like I was failing because I couldn't set apart any time for the Lord. The more I thought about it, though, the idea of setting apart time didn't sit right with me.

I'm just sick of this whole this-or-that mentality. Do the things you love to do. Do them for the Lord. And do them awesomely.

I know that we are to be "in this world and not of this world." We're not supposed to be conforming to the patterns of the world. I agree with that. But it is possible to love life without losing sight of eternity. It's possible to find this fleeting earth beautiful. It seems to me that creating worship songs that are nearly identical to every other worship song ever is in direct violation of the no conforming rule. Don't just glue your feelings about Jesus onto some G, C, D chords and call it good. Express those feelings through the creativity you've been given. Go against the grain. Be radical, be passionate, be genuine.

Be like Mumford and Sons who are not classified under Christian music, but whose lyrics are immersed in a spiritual beauty more profound than nearly any praise band I've encountered. At their concert in June they started into "Awake My Soul" by saying that they were going to sing a gospel song. I don't know if these men are actually Jesus-loving dudes or not, but either way, their expression of blatantly Christian themes in otherwise secular music has given me some of the most intensely worshipful experiences of my life.

Bottom line, I just think that life should be life. We're given it from the Lord and we should use it for the Lord. It doesn't matter what or how. It matters why. If we're taking our gifts and using them to their fullest potential to glorify the Lord, that will be clear and that will be powerful, and that is what matters. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving More Than Thanks.

This may not be your typical Thanksgiving blog post. Instead of listing all the many things for which I am grateful, and I assure you that list is long, I want to challenge you.

You probably spent today doing a combination of the following: eating a lot, enjoying great company, sleeping, planning your day of shopping tomorrow, getting ready for the Christmas season. Undoubtedly you took time to reflect on all of the things you are blessed to have; the things you too often take for granted.

Perhaps some of you even took a moment or two, or maybe even more, to think about the people in this world who have fewer reasons to give thanks. I want to take that a step further. Last Sunday I went to different church (Restore Church in Liberty, MO) than my home church. The sermon was about giving, and it has been swimming in my mind since then. Too, too often I am an extremely selfish person. I do give, but not as much as I should, and I tend to want people to know about it when it does happen. I am not proud of that fact, and I am working to change it.

Today I challenge you to give. Take some of the money you would have spent on yourself and spend it on someone else, someone who needs it. As you are filling out your Christmas list, instead of asking for 10 things, ask for 5 and say that you want the rest of the money to be spent on something great.

In terms of selfless giving, the options are endless, but I want to focus on one particular organization that is close to my heart.

His Voice Global.

This organization creates opportunities for orphans. So far they have built 3 orphanages and a church in Sudan. They have seen many approaches to these types of ministries that end up hurting the indigenous people, and for that reason they've taken their own approach.The staff of these orphanages are completely indigenous so as to build up the community and economy in each location. Their goal is to "strengthen the local church by promoting the reality of God's holistic vision to reach people." They want to see the local church in the states partner with the local church of Sudan. His Voice Global is doing incredible things in the world, and I can't explain how much they inspire me. There is no way this little blurb does them justice, so I encourage you to visit their website: and learn more.

I also encourage you to support them. Right now there are two major ways to do that:
1. HVG is currently working on raising money for a fourth orphanage to house 100 orphans. Not only that, but they hope to also build a school for the orphans and other village children, a medical clinic, a church, and a freshwater well. This is a hefty goal, for which they've already made a lot of progress. Your help would do wonders.
2. Their goal this Christmas season is to outfit each of the orphans with two new full sets of clothes (shirt, skirt/shorts, and shoes). This means 410 sets of clothes! It is $20 dollars to send one set. It might sound crazy, but think of how radical it would be to tell your loved ones that instead of getting them a Christmas gift this year, you clothed an orphan in their honor!
For specific information about option 2, visit

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful for you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Say "I love you"

This weekend was my sister's wedding and it was wonderful. She looked amazing, and even better she looked so happy. Everything went smoothly and I think everybody had a great time. I know that Jon will be good to her and I am really excited for their life together.

This is a video of the toast I gave at the reception, and below are the words to the poem I wrote for it.

Say to each other "we can do this"
Say that you love the way that they kiss
    And you'll miss them for whatever time you're apart.
Say all the things you've said from the start,
    And any good thing you've said since then
Say it too, as long as it's from the heart.

Say that you're sorry, but more importantly
Say that you forgive. Don't keep score.
Say that you know they're worth fighting for
    But do your best not to fight.
Say to her "you're beautiful"
    Even when you wake in the middle of the night,
    Or in the morning when she'd never say it about herself.
Say that he's strong and ask for his help.

Say "I need you. For you I am grateful."
    Bite your own tongue before you let it sound hateful.
Say goodnight, good morning, goodbye, and good luck.
    Don't ever say words to each other like... schmuck.
    Let all that you say have the intent to encourage
    Let all that you say make your love flourish.
   When you think of something nice,
Say it, and mean it- however small.
   When you think of something mean, just
Say nothing at all.
Say "yes."
Say that you care.
Say that you're scared.
Say "it'll be okay" and believe in all the things you say.

Say "I love you"
    And when you say it, let the words carry the weight of their worth,
Say it like, of all the people on this whole earth,
    You'd choose each other every time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Prayers and Poetry.

This is the first piece of my spoken word poetry that I actually performed in front of people. Afterward, some of them asked me for the words and I said I'd post it on here. It's still in the making, and I'd love your feedback. Perhaps I will perform it, and others, someday. Happy November, all!

Dear God, thank you for sun
And thank you for rain
Thank you for the growth that comes with pain
And that moment of healing when only beauty remains.
Thank you for scabs that turn to scars and don’t hurt anymore
And thank you for metaphors about windows and doors
That make us want to get out of our chairs and say yes to the world.
Thank you for beds at the end of days we wish could be erased
For grace
And for mace, not that we would use it, but it makes us feel safe
       on those nights when we walk home alone.
For the ability to hear smiles over the phone.
And for bodies that cry out to You from the depths of our bones.
For brains that send messages to the rest of our parts
That tell us how to feel, when to stop and when to start.
And thank you for the messages that say “feel joy right now.”
For our hearts that pump blood up through our bodies and all the way down
To our toes, to our nose, and even our elbows.
For hearts so strong that we made them our symbol for love.
And for love so true we can never be deprived of it.
Thank you for love.
Because forget the hokey pokey, love is what it’s all about.
And thank you for those times we start to doubt,
Because waiting on the shore of our sea of fears is true understanding coming out.
Thank you for the beauty of blue skies
And for the people in our lives so wise we can see the truth in their eyes.
Thank you for making mornings worth it just for the sunrise.
For jobs that start early and for the ones that go late,
Even at times when we want to say things like I hate
Thank you for always reminding us that isn’t true,
And helping us find ways to love what we do
Because we know there are people who do much more for much less,
And we should never, for one second, forget that we're blessed.
For the people who have shaped who we are.
Who inspire us and motivate us to go far.
Thank you for making us whole always
For the promise of better days and for glimpses of glory in broken clouds’ sun rays.
Thank you for forgiveness, and the ability to forgive.
For redemption, salvation, restoration- the death of abomination
For knowing we'll never die, but through You can only ever truly live. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I think this is peace.

There's that moment when the rain lets up just enough that I can hear my music again- beautiful and lyric-less- and suddenly I am strangely aware that there are lights on inside and I honestly feel like I could be doing anything in this moment and still be happy. I am living in that moment right now, and I am striving to make all my moments as content as this. I feel like I have been gradually inching toward the door for months, and a few days ago I finally set myself free. And it turns out all along I was just waiting for the key to a door that has always been unlocked. Now I live on the outside of the things that used to cause me pain, and I tell you what, there's more to see out here. I feel the effects of truly being free by the fact that every time I cry, it's only because I'm happy. I am moved to tears by things that I find beautiful, not by the bittersweet pain of believing in something that doesn't exist, wanting something I can't have- something that was once so good but has since turned bad and long before I decided that the bitter far outweighed the sweet. This was my downfall: a grip too strong on all the wrong things, an inability to forgive. But at the end of the day, it is still a choice just to live, and to live is not the same as to breathe.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Here is the story of my life over the past week and a half. It has a happy ending and a moral, so don't give up on it too quickly.

It goes like this: school, work, homework, church, sleep. To be specific: 15 hours worth of English classes. Only. English. Classes. 30 hour work weeks with shifts beginning at 4:30 or 6 AM. Several hours of reading every night. Church groups 4 nights a week. And I was just kidding about sleep. It's not really a character in this story.

But the worst thing about the last week and a half is that I let the above paragraph make me whiny, grumpy, self-pitying, and downright negative. Whenever I talked I was annoying even myself, but I just kept complaining and drawing everyone's attention to all the things I had going on. I even began letting myself believe that I was simply going to be miserable most of the semester. 

As I was driving home from an event Tuesday night I had an epiphany: 

I don't want to live my life waiting for the day to end.

I'm always telling other people not to wish time away, to make the most out of everyday, and to learn to love the things in life that we can't change. Yet, I let all of those core values that I claim to cling to slip far from my mind. I've been doing so much changing over the last month or two, but I almost let some of that get unraveled- and for what?

The thing is, there's no point to it. Complaining, negativity- it has no benefit for anyone. It's just foolish to choose not to be happy. And I do think, to some extent, it's a choice we make. I know that life isn't always going to be good. I'm not an idiot. But I genuinely believe in the power of positive thinking, and I don't think that our happiness is as directly linked to what happens in our lives as much as it is to how we handle it and to what extent we let it shape us. Life's beauty is really just a matter of our perception. The right perspective is like capturing a picture with the right light- it doesn't change what's actually there, but it makes the way we see it more beautiful.

So, the moral of the story is: think good thoughts. It's so simple. You've heard it all your life. But sadly, we have this innate tendency to gravitate toward negativity. I don't think we have to choose to be negative, and a lot of times we aren't completely aware we're doing it. But when we constantly make a choice throughout the day to cleanse our thoughts of that negativity, life is completely different. Try it. As you go through your day tomorrow, guide your thoughts in a positive direction. Look for the good in people, and find reasons to enjoy everything that you do.

My current positive thoughts:
Autumn is approaching and it is the best time of year. I have a job. And at that job I get to interact with people in a friendly and genuine way. I can run 7 miles without stopping, and 2 months ago I could barely run 1. I am creative, and have the means by which to express that creativity. I have the best people in my life. My wounds from the last year are healing into scars that almost don't hurt anymore and they remind me of how strong I am. I am feeling confident, empowered, independent, and valuable. I am inspired by so many people and things and I know that I can inspire others. I can take 15 hours, work 30 hours, run 20 miles, read 300 pages, spend 3 nights at church, and maintain a social life all in one week. And when I say 'can,' I really mean 'get to,' because Lord knows every single one of those things is a privilege and I intend to treat it that way.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 456

In 2009, an exquisite movie came out. Far from the typical love story depicting myths about love and happily ever afters, 500 Days of Summer is a quirky, delightful, and refreshingly accurate representation of  relationships. (Also, it has one of the greatest people in the world in it: Zooey Deschanel.) If you haven't seen it, I urge you to. The movie basically goes through the 500 days that a girl named Summer is in the life of a guy named Tom. Before each scene, a number is flashed on the screen to indicate how far along we are in Tom's journey.

I promise this post will be more than a synopsis of the movie. But for the sake of my main point, it is essential that I describe a few key scenes. After several months of dating, Summer tells Tom that she doesn't think they should see each other anymore- and so begins Toms's spiral into a brokenhearted depression. Eventually Tom learns that Summer is engaged to someone else and for the following couple of days Tom doesn't even get out of bed, and when he finally does, it's just to buy Twinkies and whiskey.


We come to Day 456. Sweet, sweet day 456. On this day, Tom decides to stop rolling around in his own grief and do something with his life. He starts pursuing his dream and begins to turn his life around.

Whether it is a broken relationship, an injury, a layoff, or something else, we all reach a point in our lives when things stop going the way we want them to. What we desire and what is reality become such distant concepts that it is hard to see beyond them into the realm of the good that can come out of it. More often than we would like, things don't turn out the way we had hoped they would. But the thing is, this doesn't always mean that they didn't turn out right. What we want and what is actually best for us do not always match up. And sometimes what we want would have been great but it just didn't work out that way, and either way, we owe it to ourselves to get out of bed decide to let life get better. Misfortune is unavoidable. Accidents can happen, disaster may strike, and people (both the good and the bad) will hurt you whether they wanted to or not. These are things we cannot control. But what we can control is what we do about it. We can stay in bed all day, literally or figuratively. We can choose not to forgive and stay hurt. Or we can do something.

I say we do something. Be in control of your happiness. Stop thinking about your burden and free yourself from that sadness and from that anger. Lately I have been claiming Philippians 4:8 as my motto:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things

I feel like in the last few weeks I have finally reached my day 456 moment and I want to extend some advice to you:
-Stop thinking about how you wish things were and decide what you can do to make your life great. Then go do it.
-Think about your specific talents. Are you using them? If you're not, then you should start. Find a way to express yourself in a way that is unique to you.
-Get active. Physical health has more of an effect on emotional/mental health than many of us take into account.
-If you like to sleep in, try waking up earlier and doing something productive. And whenever you do wake up, convince yourself that it is going to be a great day.
-Pick up a new hobby, or pick back up a hobby you have been neglecting.
-Above everything else, you have to make a conscious effort to stop living in the misery you have become accustomed to. Although that sounds obvious, it's hard to let go of certain hopes and expectations we hold onto even when we know that clinging to them is destroying us. You must make the decision to have a better life before it can ever become a reality.

I know I say this in nearly all of my posts, but never stop reminding yourself that you are awesome. If anyone has led you to believe otherwise, then shame on them and forget everything they said. You deserve to have a great life that you love. Believe that, and then make it happen.

Monday, July 18, 2011


It's been a long time since I really walked on water.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Matthew 14:25-29

It's never really been a lack of faith in who Jesus is that has caused me to sink. It's my inability to trust that even though people aren't always good, God is good. For some time now, every time I hear that word "come," I start out steady then see the winds of "what if this person doesn't come through?" or "what if things are too messed up to be fixed?" or "I don't know if I can change, or if I can let go" and I take my eyes off of the promise for good things and feel my ankles get wet.

So, to anyone who feels like they can relate, and to myself I say these wise and true words:
God makes beautiful things out of the dust.

Perhaps you have heard those words before, most likely in the form of Gungor lyrics. But I have been giving them some deeper thought over the last few days. I don't mean to speak for you, but I would imagine that most people take this song to mean that God can make beauty from nothing, and God can make beauty out of us. This is absolutely true, but I think it goes deeper.

I've just been thinking about dust a lot. Yes, God can make beauty out of the simplest thing like a piece of dust. But I think we lose faith in the fact that God can make something beautiful out of the dust and debris of our disasters. The particles that float through the air after everything has finally just exploded, I believe that God can make beautiful things out of that too. In certain situations in my life, I am terrified that there's been too much ugly for anything beautiful to blossom again; like we've uprooted all that was once so good, and those thirsty roots have nothing from which to grow. This I no longer feel to be true. I believe that God can make something new and wonderful out of the wreckage of our catastrophes. Sometimes what grows isn't what we would have expected. But maybe we ought to be expecting daisies instead of roses. Or maybe we just shouldn't hold on to some kind of expectation. Maybe we should simply let ourselves believe that something good can really grow, let go of the ugly, and just work on being whole.

So here's to faith!
to dry ankles.
to letting go of things that keep us from being beautiful.
to daisies.
and to the promise of restoring our beauty.

You are beautiful!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Different Kind of Freedom.

The theme of my thoughts the last few weeks has been centered on the idea of freedom and potential. I've been spending a ton of time lately reflecting on my actions, both now and over the last year. In a humbling and rather raw awakening, I realized that I had very minimal personal growth between this time last summer and just a few weeks ago. I look back and I feel as though I was living in the bondage of my desires, trapped by my vision of what I wanted life to be and consumed by the frustration that my reality and my fantasy didn't align. Instead of spending time working on myself, I spent time dwelling on what wasn't, and praying for change in others when I had so much room for improvement myself. This post is in no way meant to whine about not having a good year. I had a fine year; plenty of good things happened. Rather, I am pointing out the fact that I let the last year go by without taking the time to come out of it better than when I went in. For that I apologize. To everyone who noticed, to everyone who didn't notice but was still affected by it, to everything I half-assed, and on behalf of all the opportunities I forfeited: I am sorry.

Here's the thing, though. We can't live in regret. I may have let several months slip by me, but I can't have them back so all I can do is move forward. I can't be my best yesterday, I can only be my best today. I have had several changes of heart in the last few weeks. Issues I was unaware that I was living with have surfaced, and I am working on scrubbing myself clean of them. I see the real me peaking through, and though not quite fully visible, I have the sincerest faith that I will soon shine again.

I feel free. I feel like I have finally removed the padlock from the cage that I put myself in, and I have the freedom to be happy regardless of what happens. I've been reminded that my joy is not some dependent variable in my life, determined only by the value of other people or how much they value me. And I believe that my absorption of these truths will be reflected in my actions. As of yet, I have still relapsed a few times, and found myself reacting irrationally to matters that hold little to no importance. However, I think after a weekend away from visual reminders of who I was over the last year, I might finally receive a beautiful replenishment and the opportunity for genuine change.

So here is to new beginnings!
to remembering that you are great and believing in your greatest potential.
to letting go of the past.
to letting go of (expectations for) the future.
to healing.
to self love.
and to all of the people who inspire me to be great.
And a particular shout out to the most wonderful couple I have ever met. Who welcomed me into their home the night before their anniversary, and, coincidentally, the night before one of them left the country for two weeks. Who have exemplified love in every part of their lives. Who bought me sushi, blew up an air mattress for me, and provided me a weekend away when I needed it most. To two of the greatest people I know, Andrew and Sarah Beard, happy anniversary and thank you for teaching us what it is to love by loving each other. Also, thanks for the gummy worms on my bed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our lives are art.

I haven't posted in several months, but it isn't for lack of writing. I have been starting all kinds of stories and poems, and just free writing, but I can't seem to finish any of it. It's not to be attributed to writer's block, or a lack of inspiration. I think the problem is my distraction-ridden mind trying to make art of everything I do and see. The problem with that is that it already is. Our lives are art. What we do, how we do it, who we see and what we say. Some people speak in an eloquent poetry of their own, and others a special kind of prose, but all of it is art. Our lives are paintings and songs, novels and movies, all of which are unfinished. Not every day can be Mona Lisa's smile. Some days are nothing more than shading in the back drop. But that is life. Not every day is as beautiful as the last or the next, but they all work together to create this grand masterpiece that is your life. I've been thinking a lot lately about how we are created in God's image.  -So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.- Genesis 1:27. The first line in one of the poems I'm writing reads: "If we're made in God's image, aren't we born to be great?" Who are we to put ourselves down? To not appreciate what works of art we are is, in a way, insulting to the artist. I just want everyone to love themselves. That is my hope: for everyone to love themselves, and in turn love their neighbor as themselves. Love God and love others, yes. But you can't forget to love yourself among those things. You are great, and your life is art. Make it beautiful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Today I met a man named Vincent. I passed him without eye contact on my way into the Barnes & Noble on the plaza, but I knew I would talk to him on my way out. I think the majority of conversations between the homeless and the "homed" happen on the wrong end of spending. Everyone waits until they have made all of their purchases and can just get rid of their change. On the way in they "don't have anything to give," which really means they have much more than they're willing to give but they haven't broken it into smaller bills yet. I think also we avoid making eye contact on the way in for fear that it will birth expectations for the way out, or perhaps we feel awkward having two conversations with someone so we just wait. Or we simply ignore them all together. I have been guilty of committing each of these.

But today I met Vincent, and Vincent isn't actually homeless. I handed him my two dollars and offered him my two cents that he spend it on something good. He looked at me and said "now see, I'm a married man. I've got three kids and a place to live, but right now I find myself unemployed." He explained that he stood in that spot and collected money so he could feed his family.

He said "I've decided to ask for help instead of going and committing a crime so my family can eat." And I was overwhelmed by his humble honesty. Now, you cynical cynics out there may wag your finger at me and call me foolish for believing his story. But you did not shake this man's hand or see that his eyes held no trace of deceit.

Lately, I feel like everybody in my life has been telling everyone else not to have too much pride. I've always had a hard time understanding what it means to be prideful and how it's different than being proud. I think the words are actually synonymous, but in the right context they create a dichotomy that was always just beyond my comprehension. When we're little, everyone says "be proud of who you are." Our parents tell us how proud they are of us. We're encouraged to take pride in our school, our accomplishments, our heritage, and ourselves. And that all makes sense. As I got older I noticed that word, 'pride,' popping up among lists of sins and other flaws that people commonly carry with them, and I got confused.

I have this friend who has helped me understand what it means to have too much pride, and why it can be bad. He is one of my very best friends, but he rarely lets people help him, myself included. I will say to him, "Friend. You are going to be studying all night and I have studied that subject before. Let me help you" and he will not ask for my help. And I will say "Friend. You are cleaning your room while I sit here and watch. Let me help you." But still he doesn't ask. He will sling several heavy objects on his back, and only when I physically remove one will he allow me to carry something for him. This is not all the time, and it has even become a joke. I will ask him a question, and his polite declination is followed by "I have too much pride" with a wide smile.

I have this other friend who is sometimes bad at letting people in. She loves others with her huge and beautiful heart, but she can be blind to the abundant love people have for her. She is tough; she is one of the strongest people I know, and she does not like to be vulnerable. There has been devastation in her life and I hope she will forgive me for shedding light on that fact. She hates when people describe her past as hard, or say that so many things have "happened to her," but the truth is that she has faced tragedy in a more genuine form than most people in her life and certainly more than I have.

I've noticed that both of these individuals are slow to accept things given to them, even if it is simply a chicken sandwich or a cup of icecream. The reason I started sensing their pride was because I have this third friend and she is one of the ones who often says "you have too much pride." And she says it to them, and I believe her because she is one of the wisest people I know, and also because she says is it with the love that the rest of her words are also flavored with. She changed both of these people whom I love so much, and she changed me, and she is changing the world, and I miss her.

These three people helped me understand pride, and Vincent helped me understand humility.

Before I walked back to my car I put my hand on his shoulder and I said to him, "the Lord loves you very much and I want you to know that." He looked back at me and said "yes, He sure does. And you know that the Lord can do everything except one thing. Do you want to know what that one thing is?" And I said that I did.

"Fail. The Lord cannot fail." and I said "amen."

Monday, March 21, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about how life is like driving. I don't want to get all cliche here. I mean, I'm well aware that I am not the first person to make this analogy, and there are a lot of different ways I could go with this. There is the "Jesus, take the wheel" approach. I could talk about speed limits and traffic lights and stop signs and other things that slow us down. Or I could make some metaphor to cruise control or something. But I think I'm going to go the whole "life is a highway" route. Sort of.

Bear with me, this is going to get better.

I've been doing a lot of driving these past few weeks and it's got me thinking. Some people think of our lives like a book and every time they move or get dumped it starts a "new chapter." I'm not knocking that way of looking at life, but lately I've been thinking about life in terms of exits. Instead of town names or highway numbers, the signs would list the major events in our lives like graduating high school and college and getting married and finding a job or taking over the world or becoming president or whatever it is we do with our lives.

Sometimes when we're driving we're keeping an eye out for our exit because we know when to look for it. Like how around mile 17 or 18 we start looking for the exit that has "high school graduation/college enrollment" in big white letters and next to it will be a sign that says 'attractions' and there are a bunch of little square pictures that symbolize partying and sleeping in and freedom and skipping class. Then around miles 22-25 we start hoping that we'll see an exit for marriage and by the time we get to mile 30 and still haven't found it we figure we must be lost.

And then there are times when we see the exit we want to take, but for some reason there is a road block. Even though there are signs for a detour we know that that's going to take a bunch of extra time and work and gas and we're just not really sure it's worth it. So we settle for a different route.

Then inevitably there will be times when we reach a fork in the road. Maybe it will be clear that we are supposed to "keep right" or make a "slight left" and we will just continue the way we were going, but other times we'll have to make a real choice and we might not always make the right one. Then whenever we've made our decision and realize it's not the one we should have made, we have to find a way to get back on track.

Unfortunately there are going to be times when we find ourselves in territory we would never have imagined ourselves venturing to, but we're so out of fuel that we have to take that exit because we just can't stay on the road we're on any longer. That exit might say divorce or unemployment or relocating or something else that will change every aspect of our lives in the scariest way.

Or sometimes there will truly be nothing we could have done, but somehow we've taken this sharp turn and ended up in the land of sickness and death and funerals and tragedy and we never even saw it coming. And it feels like we will never be able to escape that place of grief and return to life as we knew it before.

Regardless of which of these categories we fall into at the moment, and we will all experience each of them at some point, it is important not to lose sight of our surroundings. It's easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what's ahead instead of enjoying the scenery around us. If the only thing we're truly opening our eyes to is when the next big thing is going to happen in our life, we're going to miss all the beautiful little things that we will pass on the way. It's great to look forward to those truly exciting events of life, but if we pass away the drive by counting down the mile markers until the next exit, what fun is that?

Roll down the windows and let the breeze remind you that life is refreshing. Look around you and appreciate the beauty of life's scenery. Turn up your music and sing along as loudly as possible. Dance even. Play the steering wheel like a drum even though you don't know how to play the drums. Stick your foot out the window. Go nuts and enjoy your drive.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Taking off your watch.

Today I cannot stop thinking about how ungrateful we have become.

I got up extra early today so as to give myself enough time to look especially fly for my trip to Springfield tonight. (I don't know if you know this, but Springfield sort of expects all of its visitors to come looking sexy.) I have class at 9:00 in the AM, so I got up at 7:30. As I was damaging my blonde locks by way of heat, I realized I had probably given myself too much time to get ready. My first reaction was "well shoot, I could have slept longer." As soon as I let myself think that I realized that, if anything, I should be happy that I will have a few extra minutes to eat breakfast or just relax.

I got to school only to find out that my teacher wasn't going to be able to make it. Again, the initial response that ensued was one of frustration. I almost failed to recognize that I was complaining about a blessing. All of a sudden I had an extra hour of my day to do whatever I wanted.

So, I spent the next two hours catching up on homework and reflecting on the very things about which I am typing. I go to my 11:00 class to, once again, be informed that class isn't happening today.

In other words I have been awake for 4 hours for nothing, right? SO wrong. This is a problem we have today. We're always talking about wasted time. Somehow we've gotten into this mindset that if we're not doing something then we are wasting time. Even if we are doing something, in order to really make our time "worth it" we have to be doing something else too, we're the generation of multi-taskers. We can always be doing more and more to reach these goals we have. It's always about getting something done. What happened to just enjoying life in the present? If we take a few minutes to stand outside or just take a few breaths, we're accused of not using our time wisely and waiting in line is this huge inconvenience that gets in the way of doing important things.

Well I say sometimes doing nothing is important. I say life is not about managing your time just right so that at the end of your life you can have perfected a list of skills and climbed higher than a list of people and been awarded a list of titles and positions that really just meant you were getting paid more to be home less. I say we should think less about where we're trying to go, and focus on how we're getting there. I say that we should see waiting in line as an opportunity to be alone with our thoughts, or prayers, or day dreams. I say that we should relish in canceled meetings and extra time in the morning to praise God for the breath in our lungs and the pillow under our heads. I say we should stop caring so much about these tight schedules that lock us down and realize that every minute is a blessing.

This life is a gift for which we should be grateful. The weddings and graduations and promotions are gifts, but so are the car trips and elevator rides and the five minutes early that you got off work. How rude is it to write off some of these gifts as a waste? There will inevitably be times in our lives when we are forced to do things that seem trivial and lacking any conceivable merit, but it is still on us to decide if that time is wasted. Find some reason to make every day count for something. Walk away from everything feeling like it was worth something.

What's the point in coming out of something exactly as you went in? Let things change you for the better. Learn something new. Give everything a reason to be remembered.

As for me, I am grateful for these few hours to be able to manifest my thoughts for the first time in weeks and create something. I hope you have an exceptional weekend, whoever you are.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Being a tree.

I haven't really been able to think of something terrific to write about, or whenever I do find something I want to say I struggle to say it right. So, until this little blip of writer's block goes away, I will just share with you a few completely silly poems I wrote earlier this year. I was going back through my journal and found them, so I figured I might as well share these in the mean time. Enjoy!

Aren't you glad you're not a tree?
Although you'd live, and grow, and breathe.
You'd change, and blossom, then parts of you'd die.
People would cut you, and you wouldn't know why.
There are trees that feed
         and trees that weep.
Trees from which people learn to leap.
There are trees that are only for people to climb.
And ones that are judged a big waste of time.
Many trees do nothing but stand and make shade.
Others live on through the pages they've made.
The thing that makes people different than trees,
Is that they have no legs and they have no knees.
Trees can flourish and trees can sway,
But a tree can never walk away.

My thoughts on the rainbow:

I think that yellow is the happiest color.
Green has alterior motives.
Blue can be boring or beautifully brilliant.
Purple is for girls who dream of Prince Charming.
Pink is just misunderstood.
So is black.
Brown got the short end of the stick.
Red is like saying 'I love you' at the wrong time.
And orange has no secrets.

Monday, February 7, 2011


As human beings we have a natural tendency to want to be in control. We like to see what we're facing and be able to choose what happens with our lives. If even for a moment we are unable to see at least a portion of the road ahead of us, we go ballistic.

I remember the first time I sneezed while learning how to drive. I thought I was going to die, I really did. All of a sudden, while trying to master this terrifying skill of driving- putting myself and everyone else on the road at risk at all times- I was forced to close my eyes. No longer could I be sure I was staying in the right lane. I had no way of knowing if the car in front of me had abruptly stopped. What if I just ran a red light? I would have no clue. It's a temporary yet dreadfully scary loss of control- not to mention you are now inevitably covered in boogers. When sneezes attack, for 10 to 30 seconds (or 15 minutes if you are my grandma or Alexis Martin) we are forced to blindly grip the wheel and hope that it all turns out okay.

For some reason, nearly everyone speaks about events in their future as if they are clairvoyant: "in May we're going to Cabo," or "next summer I'm getting married" (note- these are two random examples, neither of which apply to me). How very presumptuous of us to think that we can ever know what will happen to us. Life is full of sneezes. Sometimes we feel them coming, and other times we are totally caught off guard. No matter what we think we see down the road, the truth is that at any moment we could be left gripping the wheel that guides our life with eyes tight shut, praying that we don't get in a wreck.

The mission of this post is not at all to spread propaganda for pessimism, rather to plea for a little flexibility. It's okay to believe in dreams and plans that we want to happen, but at the end of the day it is imperative to realize that not everything will go the way we've imagined it will. It's impossible to avoid the unpredictable anyway, why not invite some spontaneity to your existence? If your life is already full of surprises and lacking in routine, it won't seem so scary when life throws you a curve ball. Don't get hung up on the elaborately illustrated future you've painted for yourself and enjoy today!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tents and ladders.

Plans change. People change. Or people don't change when you wish they would. Time doesn't stop when you wish it could. Kids are loud and break things. Moms know how to bake things. Friends move away and you miss them. Boys say nice things and you kiss them.  Boys say mean things that make you mad. Boys say nothing which makes you sad.

You set up camp under a tent made by hand with invisible stakes keeping it too low to stand. Then one day you cut loose what's been tying you down and take that great leap even though you might drown. Then the ladder of life you begin to climb, but fall short of the top when you run out of time. Or you miss a step on the ladder and fall, break both your legs, and relearn to crawl until healing you find from the back of your mind and in time you will shine again.

Prepare for the worst, but never expect it. Act on impulse, but never regret it. Know that love isn't always going to feel good, and sleep will avoid you more often than it should. Don't complain about things that you know you can't change. Do all that you can not to cause others pain. Take every opportunity that you get to feel free. When you look in the mirror always, always, love who you see. Never wish away any period of time. And never take for granted the sun when it shines.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year Revolution.

I can only remember making one New Year's resolution in my life. I was 18 and I had resolved to floss more often. It didn't last. I still floss less frequently than I do laundry, which is almost never. I'm a fan of the idea of making a choice to somehow ameliorate your life. I'm just not such a fan of waiting until the first of the year to decide something should change. And I mean, the evidence is incontrovertible that resolutions will rarely be completely followed through. I say, if you have something you want to change about your life, start changing it today.

Needless to say, I have not made a New Year's resolution this year. Instead, I've decided to make a list of things I would like to do in 2011. As you read this, I want you to keep in mind that I have only put things on this list that I feel are actually plausible. They are not in a particular order and I'm sure I will be adding to the list con mucha frequencia, but for now please enjoy the following list:

-Read [at least] 15 books.
-Give blood.
-Visit [at least] 3 states that are not Missouri or Kansas.
-Stand outside during a torrential downpour.
-Visit a beach.
-Sky dive and/or bungee jump and/or ride in a hot air balloon. (However, I've always wanted to get proposed to on a hot air balloon and I wouldn't exactly list getting engaged as a huge plausibility in 2011... so that one is probably going to move to 2012. or never).
-Get a tattoo.
-Get my nose re-pierced.
-Go to [at least] 5 live concerts.
-Build something.
-Be involved in a non-violent protest (for a worthy cause).
-Write something original everyday, even if it is only one sentence.