Category "Uncategorized"

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

A Parable About Illusion

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The following story is found in Lillian Daniel’s book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting…

When I was a child, my mother planned a big garden party. At the heart of her vision was that our backyard would be filled with blooming daffodils, which she had planted in anticipation of this party long before. But as the party date approached, the weather stayed cold and no daffodils were even close to blooming.

Yet on the day of the party, our lawn was filled with daffodils, just as she had dreamed.

The guests marveled at the springtime beauty of our yard, especially since no garden in the neighborhood had any springtime action like that.

But then after the guests went home, the daffodils drooped and my mother went through the yard carefully removing all the cut daffodils she had bought from the florist, that she had painstakingly attached to chopsticks with wire twist ties, that she had carefully stuck in the ground.

Those daffodils weren’t fake; they were just short-lived and flimsy, with no bulb under the earth to allow them to survive the rough weather. On the surface and for a short while, they looked like real daffodils but they didn’t have enough going on underneath to last.

They weren’t living. They weren’t rooted; they wilted early on because there was no oxygen to sustain them.

*     *     *

I don’t want to give this story an application, but rather, I want to offer it for you to consider.

What does it say to you?

 

It’s In The Approach

A few weeks ago on the first day of our big Seattle snow, I went for a walk with my dog around Lake Wilderness. It was morning, and the park was blanketed with thick snow and a silent hush.

When we walked along the trail near the water’s edge, I noticed the blue heron sitting there. We stopped and watched. The heron didn’t move. I wanted to get a good picture (and maybe some video too), so I began walking slowly closer to the heron. I knew there would be a limit… at some point, the heron would be alarmed at the human and dog invading its territory. We got closer, and paused, then moved again… and again.

As I thought, there was a threshold. When we crossed it, the great heron spread its massive wings and slowly flew away.

This experience makes me think about how we approach the other…

Do we approach others (especially those who are “other-than”) with fear, anger, revulsion, skepticism, and a general sense of dismissiveness?

Do we have a better approach than that? I really hope so.

Franciscan Friar Lester Bach writes about the Christian… Read More

40 Love Lessons

I’m reading Jacqueline Bussie’s new book, Love Without Limits. In her chapter on “A Mother’s Love [Charlotte],” she writes 40 love lessons from her mom…

(note: I’ve bolded my favorites)

1. Even if you are not a great singer, sing anyway. God will love the sound of your voice, simply because it is yours.

2. If it gets to be too much inside, go outside. The sun on your face feels like an “I’m sorry” from the world, or from God.

3. Always visit sick, old, dying, and hurting people. Most people avoid looking hardship in the face, but you must always sit down beside it and look it straight in the eye.

4. Everyone just wants to be loved. It’s always within your power to give this to people, even when you don’t feel it yourself.

5. Even if you didn’t get to have/see/do it, you can still create a world in which your children might.

6. Always put a little lipstick on in the car at the first red light. Smiles need to be seen.

7. If you make a promise, keep it. Forever is forever, even if it hurts.

8. Never lend money, but instead give it away—especially to those who have less than you. The love of money is a slave trader who will auction off the souls of the people you love.

9. Showing a person that you remember what they… Read More

Those Times When You Think You’re Being The Blessing And Then You Realize It’s The Other Way Around

God has entrusted the Church to keep the soul of childhood alive, to safeguard our candor and freshness… Joy is the gift of the Church, whatever joy is possible for this sad world to share… What would it profit you even to create life itself, when you have lost all sense of what life really is? —Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

Sunday is NWLife’s annual Toy Give. Over 500 presents will be wrapped, labeled, and stacked. Hundreds of kids in our community will receive a gift at the party… and there will be prizes, a dancing panda, food, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a few surprises too. It’s one of those events that makes your face hurt because you smile so much.

snow at toy give for post

The Toy Give is a lot of work and we put out the call for “all hands on deck.”

We give and serve in various capacities—and at the end of the night we are all janitors… stacking chairs, vacuuming floors, taking out the trash, cleaning bathrooms, etc.

It’s one of those times when you think you’re being the blessing and then you realize… Read More

What A Wonderful World

For the past 8 weeks, our church has been in a sermon series called “Unchained Joy” – looking at the book of Philippians, half a chapter  each Sunday. The most cheerful book of the Bible was written from a first-century prison cell—and it reminds us that despite our difficulties, there is a joy that runs deep.

We have God’s joy in our blood. —Frederick Buechner

The series has come at a particularly “good” time for me personally (good, not in the sense that all is well, but in the sense that the timing is good because all is not well). While walking through some difficult things—betrayals of friendship and painful losses—the “Unchained Joy” series has allowed me to preach to myself as I am sharing with the church.

The most helpful discovery of today has been that right in the midst of my sorrows there is always room for joy. Joy and sorrow are sisters; they live in the same house. —Macrina Wiederkehr

We often create what we call… Read More