Low & Slow Enough To Listen

If men do not keep on speaking terms with children, they cease to be men, and become merely machines for eating and for earning money. —John Updike

I wonder if we are “maturing” to a place where most of what we do is a never ending cycle of producing and consuming, consuming and producing. Or as Updike put it, machines for eating and for earning money.

Tina Francis spoke of this recently—when she talked about being still and knowing He is God. She said, “It’s when I’m no longer producing or consuming that I am most able to experience God’s love.”

We often think in terms of how the poor need us, or how children need us – for help, instruction, advice, etc.

But truthfully, we need the poor, and we need the child. They instruct us in the way of the Kingdom.

They remind us to play, to listen, to enjoy small and simple things.

They remind us to celebrate, to sing, to imagine.

They remind us to make use of cardboard boxes and sticks and to not be afraid of the dirt.

If we do not keep on speaking terms with the poor, with the child, we lose… Read More

Sunday Shout Out: Parker Palmer On The Gift Of Presence & The Perils Of Advice

On Sundays, I like to give a shout out and share something (generally a blog post, story, or video) that spoke to me. The piece I want to share today is by Parker Palmer…

parker j palmer

When my mother went into a nursing home not long before she died, my wife and I were told that, for a modest increase in the monthly fee, the staff would provide a few extra services to improve her quality of life. We gladly paid, grateful that we could afford it.

Now in our mid-seventies, my wife and I have no imminent need for assisted living or nursing care. But the house we live in is, by definition, a two-person residential facility for the aging. Here at what we fondly call The Home, it’s not uncommon for one of us to try “improve” the other’s quality of life by offering “extra services.”

Unfortunately, those services often take the form of advice.

A few years ago, my wife gave me some advice that struck me as — how shall I say? — superfluous. Remembering our experience with my mother, I said, “Could I pay a little less this month?” To this day, that line gives us a chance to laugh instead of getting defensive when one of us attempts, as both of us do now and then, to give the other unsolicited and unwanted “help.”

Advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with… Read More

Friday Is For Fun (& Delicious Food)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something just for fun on a Friday and that is kinda like a warning light on my dashboard of life… indicating that I better lighten up or something is gonna break, burn, or fall apart. And nobody wants that, so c’mon, let’s have some fun!

Here’s some fun, happy stuff that made me smile (and think about delicious food):

1. Scottish dad’s conversation with his daughter about boyfriends.

John Tierney decided to lay down some ground rules in a recent conversation with his four-year-old daughter Grace. He then posted the 30 second clip to Twitter, where it was shared by Scottish comedian Limmy (who has nearly 200,000 followers).

John, 37, said the conversation started when Grace waved at two boys who were walking past the car.

He said: “I joked that she should… Read More

Ow Foddo en evan (Teaching The Lord’s Prayer To My Children)

It’s Sunday and I have a shout out…

This post by Ryan Flanagan is honestly my favorite thing I’ve ever read on the Lord’s prayer. Hope you’ll read the whole thing.

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Over the past couple of months I have been teaching my kids the Lord’s Prayer. It’s amazing how fast they pick these kinds of things up. They’ve already got “The Doxology” down, as well as the first verse to “Be Thou My Vision” (the most requested bedtime song these days) and “Bless Us, O Lord” (the mealtime prayer). And even though they have no idea what some of the words mean, I do believe their hearts are being shaped by the practice.

I know mine certainly is.

I have to admit that up to this point praying the Lord’s Prayer has not been a regular practice in my life. I have given mental assent to it, studied its contents, and recited it in corporate worship on occasion, but it has never blossomed in my heart like it has recently, especially this past week.

I would venture to say that the Lord’s Prayer for most of us is an abstract, in-the-clouds sort of prayer. Many of the words that make up the prayer–like heaven, kingdom, sin, and forgive–have been so churchified that they’ve lost any and all sensibleness and relatedness to our everyday lives. This cannot be what Jesus had in mind when teaching his disciples how to pray. To those first followers of Jesus this prayer was as down-to-earth as was his physical presence; these words were as basic as the language of two and four-year-olds.

This is what the Lord has taught me in teaching his prayer to my children.

Ow Foddo en evan, ho-yee is… Read More

Here In This Mundane Place Among These Mattering Things

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*picture above: Rattlesnake Lake, North Bend WA

“When weekly rhythms of rest are at their best for me, I find myself plopped on a blanket with a packed lunch. If it is fall or early winter, I wear a cap, gloves, and clothes warm enough to withstand three hours outside. In a bag, I have my Bible, some paper, and a stack of poetry or a novel. Nestled between the shade of trees of one of my favorite… Read More

Cops, Convicted Felons, Communion, & Church

*picture above: Barry (left) and Don (right) at church together last night

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Cops, convicted felons, communion, and church… these concepts might, at first glance, seem like they are worlds apart, but if we pause and think about it long enough, we’ll see how beautifully they go together.

Barry shared his story at church last night. He committed a violent crime when he was 13 years old, was sentenced to die in jail – life without the possibility of parole. The youngest in our country to ever receive this sentence, Barry was placed in a Washington state adult prison at the age of 15. It is a miracle that he is out today. Because of the work of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative, the laws have been changed making life without parole sentences no longer possible for children.

Massey03

 

After serving 29 years in prison, Barry Massey was released because of these new reforms. He has never stepped foot inside a high school, and has never driven a car, having spent his teens, twenties, and thirties behind prison walls.

Don, a Seattle police officer who attends our church, was also at the… Read More

Coretta

*from A.J. Swoboda’s book A Glorious Dark

 

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I think of the Christmas my mom and I flew to Atlanta to visit my dad while he was in treatment. Near the end of our visit, we walked around old downtown Atlanta on a Sunday morning. We entered this old church building that Mom said was famous. It was my very first, however fleeting, experience of being a racial minority—we were the only white people in the whole place. I learned at that point in my life that black people seem to love God way louder and more rhythmically than white people do.

Black people worship with their… Read More

Loving People Means Divesting Ourselves of Status

*picture above: Henri Nouwen, attempting to ride a skateboard

 

On Sunday, my sermon was about “leadership” – I was attempting to point out that the world’s idea of leadership doesn’t hold much water in the kingdom of God. The big idea of the message, the call to action, was to “base my leadership success on how well I am following and imitating Jesus.”

At the end of the 5pm service when Shari came up to join me and say some stuff… well, what she said was better than the message. She talked about a young woman named Chelsea, who is a… Read More

God & Guns N’ Roses

*picture above: concord grapes growing at my dad’s house, September 2015

 

We planted our vegetable garden on Saturday. There were a few “starts” – small, already growing tomato plants we purchased from a nursery, but the rest of it was seeds—seeds we deposited beneath the soil.

And now we wait.

The various seeds, and the plants they represent, all have their own timeline: days to germination, days to maturity – or harvest. I asked when we will see the first green shoots of life breaking through the soil. Shari said a couple of the plants might germinate in as little as 7-10 days. That kinda bummed me out. I was hoping to see something in a day or two.

It’s easy to be impatient.

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On Tuesday of this past week, I went to the Mariner’s game with Moses. As we were lined up outside with a crowd of people waiting to get through the security check, a street preacher was blasting his message through a powerful loudspeaker. You need to… Read More

Rethinking Beauty

*picture above: the edge of Lake Wilderness about .25 miles from my home – where we walk most days and regularly see bald eagles soaring above.

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My wife loves birds. For her birthday, I got her three books about birds – one of them was “Consider the Birds” by Debbie Blue. I’ve really enjoyed reading Debbie Blue in the past and thought this would be a great book for Shari.

Months later, Shari still hadn’t even cracked the Debbie Blue book open, so I took it. And, oh my goodness, it is spectacular. Debbie has a way of turning things upside-down and looking at them from the other side. Her knack at doing this is particularly fascinating in her approach to Scripture.

Her “Consider the Birds” book isn’t one that only birders would love. I found it to be incredibly thought-provoking, funny, and enlightening.

The chapter on “The Vulture: Ugliness And Beauty” was one of my favorites. Here’s a brief sampling…

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The Hebrew word nesher is often translate in our English versions of the Bible as “eagle,” but most scholars agree that “griffin vulture” is at least an alternative, if not a more fitting translation. As vultures became more loathsome to us English… Read More