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Words Go Here….

I wish I could say something right now. But I’m too tired.

I’m half-way through my 2-week-long “Hell week”. I’ve got a huge annual inspection thing on Thursday, so I’ve burning the candle at both ends right now.

Hopefully by next week I will blah blah blahh…..

Too tired to even bother finishing that thought.

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Life is difficult. (Thank you, obligatory cliché.)

So why do we insist so vehemently on making it even more difficult?

Sunday morning during worship, I intentionally engaged. Our church starts with four worship songs, then announcements, then sermon, then 2-3 more worship songs with communion. During the first three songs, I thought about the words, I spoke them to God, I raised my hands. Then the fourth song started: “The Stand” by Hillsong, and I felt myself withdraw a bit, because it’s a song that historically I haven’t felt much connection with. But the pre-chorus and chorus gripped me in a new way.

So what can I say?
And what could I do?
But offer this heart oh God
Completely to you

I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I’ll stand
My soul, Lord, to you surrendered
All I am is yours

“What could I do, but offer this heart, oh God, completely to you?”

“My soul, Lord, to you surrendered. All I am is yours”

Those two lines in particular rang loud in my soul. I felt myself doing just that, asking the Holy Spirit to help me surrender myself completely.

Here’s the surprise kicker: it was easy.

Well, at least a lot easier than I would have expected.

I could feel the tension and tightness of clinging to control of my life releasing. (Even now, scarcely a day later, I can feel it creeping back)

The questions of “But what if…? How come…? Why…?” faded away.

My questions were irrelevant.

All that mattered in the moment was that my King is in control, and I was giving myself completely over to him. It’s a pity that it is such a fleeting glimpse of true unity with God. Maybe if we lived in that moment long enough, perhaps a fiery chariot would swoop down from Heaven and take us up.

Actually, that would be kind of cool.

Baby Steps

Remember the movie, “What About Bob?”. Richard Dreyfuss’ character writes a therapy book called “Baby Steps” and puts Bob on the program. Much to his chagrin, it works marvelously.

Silly though the movie may be, I find myself thinking “Baby Steps” whenever confronted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles. There are a lot of goals I have in my life, that are daunting – at best – when I look from here to the conclusion.

  • Get to 170 lbs.
  • Break an 8-minute mile
  • Run a marathon
  • Finish (and publish?) a novel
  • Travel more
  • Become more like Christ

Obviously, some goals (and this is just a small sample) are precise and measurable, while others are a bit more intangible and realistically, will take a lifetime to work towards. The key (in my mind) is taking Baby Steps.

When I am discouraged by the fact that I’ve only gone jogging once so far in January, well hey, that’s one more than zero. Baby Steps.

When I write 51,000 words of gibberish (no where near the criteria of earning the name “novel”), that’s okay. At least I’m writing and getting better and have a rough draft to work with. Baby Steps.

When I feel like I’ve succumbed to temptations more times in a week than I care to remember, but I showed love to someone or spent time in God’s Word one time….that’s a step in the right direction. A Baby Step, to be exact.

You get the idea.

NaNoWriMo Wordcount

Heh heh…remember how a month ago I said I would get back into blogging? Whoops. Anyways, I had some thoughts during church today that I wanted to get down, so here they are…

I felt a little restrained in worship at first today, but as I released and sank into it, I was a bit overcome by the revelatory thought: “Right now, I am experiencing more fully than at any other time what I was created for. This is the closest experience I can engage in in this life that resembles what heaven will be like.” It was awesome in the sense of what a blessing it was to 1) experience it and 2) have enough awareness  to realize it. Yet it was also sobering to realize that I spend such a tiny fraction of my time/energy living like that.

So my goal this week is to pursue hard after God and try to live in that “Heaven here and now” experience more often.

Hi, How Are You?

I’ve decided to start getting back onto the blogging band-wagon again. I’m setting a goal for myself to do some kind of update every day in May. I’m teaming that up with my goal of spending time reading/reflecting on Scripture every day in May too, so that might end up being the updates for many of those days.

I thought it fitting to use this “fresh start” to move over to WordPress, especially since I don’t have comments ability anymore on Blogger. I’m still figuring stuff out and will probably tweak here and there as we go.

I felt like doing my first new post on the new platform today, as I had another “fresh start” today. I’ve been following the Street Church on Facebook for a while now, but haven’t really had any activity in homeless ministry since Christmas and 2010’s new city ordinances that have changed a lot. I finally took an opportunity to do so today, and, of course, it was great.

Robert Moran, who heads the Street Church, pulls his van up on the street behind the Marion House soup kitchen at 11:00am every Saturday. His van is loaded with all sorts of things from the usual donated clothing and canned food to new socks, razors, deodorant, etc.

I had spoken to Robert on the phone earlier to let him know I was coming, so when I walked up he saw me and asked if I was Josh. There was a line of homeless folks already queued up, so Robert just said, “Go ahead and hop up in the van. They get one pair of socks and two cans of food.”  Training complete!

Fortunately, there was another man helping, so I kind of followed his lead on how things were done. After the line died down and there was a lull, I had a chance to chat with him. Come to find out that he was homeless himself until a couple months ago, and was so grateful for the help others had given him, that he wanted to turn around and do the same in helping others. How cool is that?

I was only able to stay for a half hour or so, but it was enough to whet my appetite. As I drove home, once again I was remarking at how fun and fulfilling the experience was. I realized how much I’ve missed my “fix”. I even saw a guy I had spoken with a couple times at Acacia Park. I think my brief interaction with him is the main inspiration for the title of this post and wanting to go back and do more.

When he walked up, I immediately recognized him and mentioned remembering him from Acacia Park. Here’s the heartbeat:  after giving him socks and a razor, I simply asked “How are you?” His reaction was a mixture of shock and grateful emotion. He held my handshake for a while as tears welled up, and he gave me an emphatic “Thank you! Thank you for asking!”

Wow. Most of the time for me, “How are you?” is how store cashiers and people you pass by in church say “Hi”. But for him, someone asking how he was was such a special rarity, he genuinely appreciated my asking. So simple.

That’s going to be my new recruiting pitch for getting people interested/involved with homeless ministry: “Can you say these four words?: ‘Hi, how are you?’ If so, you’re perfect for the job.”

One of the things I like about being a dad is coming up with unique activities and bonds with my kids. It’s like an inside-joke, it’s something only we know about and do, and that makes it special. That may be a bit of a generalization or exaggeration, but at the least I’m hoping that we are building memories and strong bonds.

Before I describe the “Secret Cave” thing, a couple other examples of some of those “unique” things I like doing with my kids:

1. “Bonk” – Ever since Connor was little (pre-Cosette even) he and I will make eye-contact, then slowly move close and bonk our heads together. It’s a form of a hug. I started doing it with Cosette too, but with her it’s more dangerous cause she’s a little wild and crazy.

2. Kisses – I like kissing my kids and do it often, despite the frequent complaints that it’s too “slobbery”. But once in a while the kiss is accompanied by one pop-quiz question: “What does a kiss mean?” And I’m happy to say that I have them trained to know and respond: “I love you.” I see a two-fold significance in this: 1-They know that when I kiss them, I’m telling them that I love them; and 2-Hopefully, they will hold kissing as something special and meaningful, and will therefor wait to kiss later when they’re dating.

3. “SURPRISE!” Almost every day when I come home from work, the kids hear my keys rattle at the door, and by the time I enter (or sometimes a little after) the kids jump out from the hallway and yell “SURPRISE!” It’s like a family ritual of the kids welcoming me home. Me like.

4. Funny/Serious – This one I gotta give credit to Cosette…she’s the master of switching moods/emotions at will in a split second. She and I will have a contest of switching from saying, “Funny” and laughing hysterically to saying “Serious” and making a very serious face. She’s very good at it, and I have a hard time keeping a serious face because she cracks me up.

Ok…now about “Secret Cave”…

This is a newer one. One of the kids’ favorite things with daddy is playing on the bed. We have tickle fights, light-saber battles, pretend to be toys in Andy’s room, etc. Last week, while playing on the bed, the three of us ended up under the blanket where it was dark and “spooky”, but we could still kind of see each other. It suddenly felt like a good campfire/ghost-story atmosphere, so using a semi-creepy, low voice (not wanting to scare them TOO much) I randomly said: “And nooowww…it’s time for…Secret Cave Story Time…” *giggles of excitement from kids*

Uh-oh, I think…they’re into this, gotta come up with something good. I don’t remember what the story was I told, as I was ad-libbing something pretty random, but they loved it and wanted more “Secret Cave” when I finished. So then there was, “And nooww…it’s time for Secret Cave Monster-sound contest.” Then “Secret Cave blinking contest”…”Secret Cave coming up with silly names contest”….etc. Now every time we do Secret Cave, the three of us take turns coming up with the next Secret Cave activity/contest. I love the kids’ creativity and silliness. It’s a real challenge to keep thinking outside of the box with new ideas!

I’ll close with Connor’s Secret Cave idea that we did tonight. It was a Secret Cave activity that went on longer than most: fall-asleep-then-wake-up-and-tell-our-dreams. So we all pretend to be asleep for about 5 seconds, then wake up and share what dream we just “had”. For your enjoyment, here is a brief list of not even 10% of the ones that were shared (it went on for a while, and I can’t remember all of them):
1. I turned into an eyeball! (Cosette)
2. I grew huge and stomped on all the houses and condos in the neighborhood, then turned into a monster and smashed the PLANET!! (Connor)
3. I was a drum, and you kept hitting me on the head! (Me – because every time we “wake up” Connor is tapping me furiously “Wake up! Wake up!”
4. I was all hairy, and made of hair, and went “MYEAAHH” (Cosette)
5. I was a balloon and flew up into space! (Connor)
6. I was a rock that could talk and looked at you with eyes (Me – lame)

Man…that was only a little over an hour ago, and I can’t remember any more. Take my word for it, the kids out-imagination’ed me! Fun times.