Please, please, please God, let it be. I mean, I’ve been through enough already this past year.

Thankful Notes (#79)

(note: I’m writing a thankful note each day and posting on Facebook, but have not continued posting to the blog daily – occasionally I will add one here that I especially like)

As I walked downstairs this morning and looked out the windows, I could see that much of the lake was shrouded in fog. I like it when the view is altered in some way and I love seeing Lake Wilderness in all of the seasons.

For some reason, I changed up my drink this morning and had a Starbucks doubleshot instead of the quad tall Americano that I’ve been having. I was pleased with my choice. This made me reflect back on some of the different drinks I’ve had as “my drink” over the years, including a double tall upside down con pana (basically a mini dessert in a cup), a tall sugar free vanilla flat white, and a triple tall cappuccino. There was also that season, after coming home from a trip to Italy, that I would order a quad espresso. Wowza! I don’t think I could do that now… I need a little fluff.

I had a productive day at work, preparing for this coming weekend. It feels good to have everything figured out, settled, printed, and ready to go so early in the week. I’ve never been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda guy (stress!) and I like to be well-planned, so this has become my routine – first day of the week in the office: get ready for Sunday.

Later in the afternoon when Camper and I got home and Shari came home from her job, we all went for a walk together around the lake as the sun was setting.

The air was brisk and smelled sweet, like pine needles and cedar branches and browning maple leaves.

Camper was especially rambunctious on the walk, lunging after every stick or branch on the ground. She has a thing for large branches—ones that are a good 5-6’ long that she can drag and flip around as we walk (inevitably hitting me in the legs repeatedly).

camper with huge stick for poster

This had me a bit worried because tonight is her dog obedience class graduation. I’m crossing my fingers hoping that she gets all the wiggles and antics out before we go to the… Read More

The Great Stripping Away (or—how I lost some of my faith)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thankful Notes

I will always think of this past year as the Great Stripping Away. There were things I intentionally chose to remove from my life, there were things that just happened naturally and in their season, and there were things that felt more forceful, not in my control… more like a taking rather than a giving or letting go.

This past year…

We sold our big 3,000sf home of 10 years in the neighborhood where Ashah grew up

We gave away most of our furniture

I gave away 3/4 of my clothing

My dad started having memory problems

Ashah graduated / turned 18 / has boyfriend / is heading to college – including a study abroad program

We began a complete gut-and-remodel of our little lake house while living in it… which included no heat or water during the snow storm and power outage this winter

We had to move out for some days when the staircase was gutted (leaving no access to bedrooms and the only remaining usable bathroom)

The main level of our house had no walls, no insulation, no lights, etc. for a while

I slept on a cot in the construction zone for a month or two

We had no kitchen, no way to prepare food at home other than with a microwave

We ran out of money to pay contractors and had to borrow in order to keep going

We began a remodel on our rental house so we could sell it

We sold our rental house

We decided to close our Kent campus after some significant setbacks – the youth pastor left to work at another church and took much of the band and our workforce with him; at the same time, an elder/pastor left because of a pending divorce

The church I grew up in, now a multi-site megachurch in our community, hired our youth pastor without any prior contact or conversation with me. Our youth pastor left to work at one of their campuses and took… Read More

Thankful Notes: Just Another Boring Monday

Monday, August 26, 2019

Thankful Notes

After a big and busy weekend, my day off. Nothing to Instagram. Just the same old (cherished) routines…

Making breakfast. Added avocado to the grilled bread, egg, bacon today. That was good.

Walked Camper and myself around the lake. Had a surprise visit from my dad (why this surprises me, I do not know—he’s always showing up to say hi). Mowed the lawn, the old fashioned way, again.

The furniture order arrived (as was expected). I thought I would have some assembly to do (not to the extent of Ikea, but maybe using a hex key to attach legs to things or something like that), and to my delight, I discovered that every chair and stool and ottoman came fully assembled. A day off miracle. Thankful.

The biggest job was breaking… Read More

Thankful Notes: Sunday Defication

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Thankful Notes

Today is my big work day. It started early, just me and Camper heading out for the store and Starbucks and then the church. We would be staying through the end of the evening, so I was hauling clothing and dog supplies for our 13 hour non-stop day.

Because my day was long and I am only now just sitting down, I won’t write much at all—but I will share this one story…

On Friday, our friend Julie took her nephew Jayden, whom she has raised since he was born, to the courthouse. It was adoption day. After so much time and a roller coaster of challenges, it was finally legal.

Yesterday, we went to a party celebrating Jayden’s adoption. And today at church it was Jayden’s dedication.

At our church, we will never do mass assembly-line dedications or baptisms because we want to take time to pause and celebrate individuals, share their stories, and let that moment be about them.

So today we took time with Julie and her family and little Jayden. It was tender and sweet and holy and good.

We had a little something extra planned for them—because of the special weekend with his legal adoption… there would be flowers for Julie and a big teddy bear for Jayden, to be brought up by her friend Leslie.

After the words shared and the prayer given over Jayden and Julie, we stood there on stage and smiled as Jayden pointed to his pictures on the big screens and said, “Look Mommy, Jayden!”

And then Leslie came up with the flowers and the teddy bear and she gave Julie a big hug. Before she left the stage, I asked her to take the microphone and explain why she was up there. Through tears, Leslie… Read More

Thankful Notes: Saturdaze

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Thankful Notes

I went to bed last night thinking about the movie I had just seen (The Peanut Butter Falcon) and I woke up with it still fresh on my mind.

This movie is a Mark Twain-type adventure story set in modern times. It begins when Zak, a young man with Down syndrome, runs away from a nursing home where he lives to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of The Salt Water Redneck. Through circumstances beyond their control Tyler, a small-time outlaw on the run becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor, a kind nursing home employee with a story of her own, to join them on their journey.

In particular, there was one scene that I just can’t let go of…

Tyler asks Zak what kind of a (wrestling) character he should be, “Are you a good guy or a bad guy?” Zak quickly responds, “Bad guy.” Tyler seems surprised, “Why?”

Zak says, “Because I am Down Syndrome.”

Tyler shakes his head, “That doesn’t make you a bad guy.”

Zak explains, “My coach called me… Read More

Thankful Notes: The Early Morning Text

Friday, August 23, 2019

Thankful Notes

Sometime before 6am, my phone lit up with a text. It was from a friend who offered to come help hook up my wife’s high-speed charger at our house for her electric Fiat. He’s a commercial electrician, and he was texting me at the start of his day—giving me a time he could meet later in the afternoon, 2pm.

I was already awake but not up and moving when the text came. I quickly replied, “That sounds great, see you then,” and stayed in bed. I remembered that my friend goes to work really early each morning and I felt thankful for my flexible schedule that would allow me to come home early to meet him. And I felt grateful to have friends who are so gracious and supportive, willing to sacrifice their free time to help me with something.

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about how I exist between two worlds… the low-tech ‘70’s and ‘80’s world of my childhood and the high-tech world of today.

It’s weird. I remember things that my parents talked about, like black and white television and party phone lines. I remember pagers and word processors and taking one or two “correspondence courses” while in college (papers and tests sent through the mail).

Today I appreciate so many of the technological advances that make our lives easier. When I was a kid, my parents brought paper maps on our road trip vacations. This summer while driving around Iceland, we used our Google Maps app on our phones and I can’t imagine trying to figure it out some other way.

But existing between two worlds has me unmoved by some new things, and at times even grateful that I know nothing, nor care anything, about them. I’ve never been on a dating app, and I am so glad. I’ve never used a food-ordering-and-delivery service and I think I’m OK. I don’t really know what WhatsApp is or does and I’m not sure I want to. There’s more, but you get the point.

Maybe I’m happy to be old. Thankful even.

A friend and co-worker in the office today started a conversation with me saying, “Did you see my story…” and I interrupted… Read More

Thankful Notes: The Journey Cover Band

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thankful Notes

Last night I received a text from my mother-in-law, “Have you quoted Jacques Philippe before? Seems to me you have. I’m reading his book Interior Freedom. It’s what you preach, and extremely good.”

I reply, “I don’t think I have, but I’d be happy to borrow this book from you when you’re done with it :)

She says, “Sure. A Catholic lady I sometimes walk with loaned it to me. She’s in no rush to get it back.”

Me, “Oh, I thought it was yours. That’s OK. I’ll look for Philippe books from second-hand places.”

She says, “Oh please take it. If you drive up, I’ll run out and give it to you. I’ve got a whole bag from her. She’s old like me, very relaxed.”

Me, “I’m at home tonight.”

She says, “Oh, OK. I’ll drop it off at church tomorrow. I could hardly put the book down.”

Not long after I arrived at the office in the morning, I heard a car pull in. Looking out the window, I recognized my mother-in-law’s car. I run out to keep Camper from jumping on her (Camper is on a long leash between the buildings and is on the prowl for any living being to jump on and slobber all over).

My mother-in-law hands me the book and I say “thanks” and she’s off.

It feels nice to be known.

That someone read something and think, “This is what Brian is all about” is, I don’t know, affirming of my existence. Is it weird to be thankful for… Read More

Thankful Notes: About Rain & Going To The Grocery Store

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Thankful Notes

Woke up early to bright pink skies and remembered the phrase, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight—red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.”

Jesus even said something like this in Luke 12.54-55 (although I’m not sure it rhymed).

But I’d already looked at the forecast on my iPhone and had seen the predicted rain. The ground was just a little wet—evidence of a light rain before I got up. To be honest, I love a summer rain. It means I don’t have to water everything and sometimes, if I’m lucky, there might even be some thunder and lightning (I’m still waiting, still hopeful).

First things first… Nespresso machine on, two shots in the small black MiiR tumbler and a splash of half and half. Maybe another two shots and a splash later. I sat outside on the deck, and didn’t even care that the chair had a few puddles of rain on it.

Camper and I left for work, this happy routine of ours in the Mini Cooper. It’s always about 15 minutes on the road listening to NPR together.

One of my favorite things is… Read More

Thankful Notes: Strawberry & Blueberry Dessert

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

I woke up with gooey eyes and the need to cough every 30 seconds. I’d planned on riding with a friend down to our youth camp but started to reconsider. Ultimately I decided it would be unkind to sit in a car with a friend—or anyone for 90 minutes while I cough my germs all over the place. And because I was not going do what I had planned on doing, I also decided to just take a sick day and stay home.

Is it weird to be thankful for sick days?

Maybe I do feel a tinge of guilt, like I should be truly miserable for the entire day if I’m going to stay home… but I knew I wouldn’t be miserable. I’m just sick.

I also thought about a couple of ladies I know at church who are battling cancer and multiple serious health issues, but have to work because they are hourly employees and they depend on the income. I had asked one if she could just go on public assistance or disability or something during her treatments, and through tears she said it wasn’t possible. She just has to work.

Because I felt a little more pathetic today, I wasn’t as motivated to… Read More

Thankful Notes: Something Probably Just of Interest to my Wife

Monday, August 19, 2019

I’m tired and have a nasty cold (after a busy week with Backpack Give and Sunday services), but still, I got up early and took Camper out. It’s a nice routine and I actually enjoy that she needs to go… because I get an early morning walk up the hill to the highest viewpoint on the lake.

And Camper is especially sweet in the morning when she first gets up.

Made coffee and sat outside reading for a bit. No hurry. My favorite.

I told Shari, “I think that’s my favorite outfit you’re wearing.” It’s a loose casual black T and some cropped jeans with a few little tears – nothing too dramatic, and her black Birkenstocks. She got all blushy and smiley and said,… Read More