Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Post Christmas- Joy?

We stayed in Louisville this Christmas. It was the first time that it was just our family without our relatives around. It was our first ham-at-home experience, first 10-pounds-of-mashed-potatoes-for-seven-people, and first skype-induced-Christmas.

It was different, but honestly pretty great. As I woke up this morning I didn't feel the Christmas hangover. I haven't seen it in the kids or felt it in the air. There were presents and food, but this Christmas was slow. The lead up was slow. The weekend was simple. The result, I believe, is joy.

It's not about staying home or being away from family. The thing that is standing out to me right now is that there wasn't so much pressure on Christmas. Nothing had to be like Norman Rockwell. Nothing had to be glamorous or glorious. My kids breath smelled like chocolate covered funk all day and the world kept spinning. Even the toy playing was slower and less urgent.

I think that many of the Christmases I have had were full of driving, partying and caffeine. I'm sure plenty in the future will as well, but this Christmas I learned something about pacing. I'm slow. I walk slow, drink coffee slow and for a guy drive extremely slow. It only makes sense that I celebrate my Savior's birthday slowly too.

When I try to speed up I miss too much. I end up passing what I love and lacking joy. As I sit in my office on the 26th listening to some awesome Herbie Hancock I feel joy. Not that my kids got the presents that they wanted, but that my Savior lived so that I can too. Things are far from perfect, but if they were why would we have Christmas.

On this December 26th I feel joy. I pray that you do too.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. There is some serious excitement in my house. Interestingly, it's not about presents or food. My house is excited about Christmas.

I'm sitting in my basement right now with a cup of coffee sending out my emails and daily chats with Ethiopia. As I do this, I can't help but sing Christmas songs in my head and imagine the next three days with my crew. We will meet with friends today, go to church tomorrow, open some stockings and presents, and laugh and dance while the ham is cooking. The truth is I am spoiled.

I love this time of year because as some problems (health of friends and family, dealing with loss, etc) come to the forefront, other problems go away. It's not that they are not important any more, but they take their rightful place behind the manger. Bills, the kid's schools, day to day life, it all gets laid down so we can be in awe of the miracle of Christmas. I'm sitting here in my basement wondering what it would be like if we kept everything laid before Him. What would life be like if by practice we laid everything before Him in the manger, or Him on the cross and left it there? What if our eyes remained fixed on Him? After all, that's what Scripture invites us to do. We know we are to do it, but do we really obey and practice this?

Last night as we drove home from Nashville Durant reminded us that Jesus was in the car with us. (I love my little theologian!) We know that this is true, but so often we live with the heaviness of Good Friday. We carry this extreme weight around with us. So often life feels heavy and that is the end of it. We just live "Good Friday heavy" until Kingdom come. Then comes the Christmas season.

I love Good Friday. Good Friday gives us Easter. Easter is probably my favorite holiday of all. Yet it is Easter that makes Christmas Christmas. I'm excited to live in the mystery, beauty and simplicity of Christmas this week. I pray that it carries on well past the week. Going into the next year I want to live with the expectation, hope and joy that I feel in this Christmas season. After all, Jesus came to earth and now He is in the car with us!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Talking about the One in the room

It's incredible to me how much time I talk about God with people, whether family, friends or random folk. We talk about what He has done, who He is and what we are still waiting for. I realize that it is way often that I just talk directly to Him, thanking Him for what He has done, for who He is and reminding Him of what I am waiting for.
This last few months with Eyes That See has brought to my mind how badly I need God to be God and how quickly I invite someone else to be. In these last few days preparing for Christmas I want to echo the other voices as they encourage us to prepare our hearts before all other preparations. May God bless you this week.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Scared to Life

I've never understood horror movies. I don't want to be afraid. If I did I would simply go outside to the jungle that is my backyard (more on that in a future post!) Actually, this morning I learned about wild pigs in Texas and how they are as big as trucks. I learned that they charge at you when you shoot them, which disqualifies me on several grounds.
1. being around anything that is "wild."
2. being near a pig that doesn't have an apple in its mouth.
3. being in Texas, but not Austin or Dallas.
4. carrying not only one gun, but two.
5. being around any animal that runs at me.
None of those things should happen. They all, like horror movies produce nightmares.

The only thing that I understand about horror movie lovers is the rush of life that you feel. It can be addicting. I think often the ways that we experience that feeling are counterfeits to the real thing. We can feel a thrill from a movie, roller coaster, or someone jumping out of a closet at us, but the feeling doesn't last. It may not be bad, but it quickly fades.

I am thinking about this because I just left a phone conversation that scared me to life. I called a friend to thank him for who he is and was amazed how frazzled I can feel by being vulnerable. There was real life there in this awkward conversation. It sounds small, but sometimes saying what we really feel and inviting people into our real lives exposes us to real life. It feels like a raw nerve being exposed and we get jolted by the real thrill of life.

I won't start watching horror movies, shooting pigs, or taking out the garbage at night, but I hope that I become addicted to real life. I like the feeling that comes with that.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

100th Post

This is a bit of a milestone for me. I was trying to think of what I would say to both of you readers in this 100th post, and I decided to list a few things that I am grateful for.
  • I'm grateful for my job. Some mornings I wake up stressed out. Some days are more than exciting. Other days we wait in anticipation for funding to come in, or reports from Ethiopia. The truth is I rarely go to bed without experiencing some real life during the day. I'm pretty spoiled that way.
  • I'm grateful for really good friends. I have many friends that I know a little who encourage me and inspire me. I have a few friends that know me well who hold me up when I'm tired or distracted. They are such a gift.
  • I'm grateful for my extended family. I remember being worried about this move to Louisville and what it would do to our families. I didn't want to fracture anything, and in some ways we've gotten closer. My mom is a gift in particular as we spend more time talking now than when I lived less than two hours away! Seriously, you should hang out with her, she's pretty fun.
  • I'm grateful for my kids. Last night we were at a Christmas street dance listening to the Rolling Stones. I don't even know what they sing. (Judge me now!) My kids don't either. Either way, the seven of us were dancing around like it was our own wedding dance. As they filed to bed I was reminded how blessed I am by them. I would have never put this family together, but I praise God that He did.
  • I'm grateful for my wife. Through living in Louisville I've realized what a gift I have in Nikki. Her faith is pure and she has taught me to see life a whole lot clearer. My bride has great courage and loves well. I'm a rich man!
  • I'm grateful for my Jesus. I can remember being a middle schooler who was afraid of life. I had just lost my grandpa and didn't know if the cruel world would win out, or if there was something more. I can't tell you how changed I am because He is more. I'm secure in Him, found in Him, and alive.
  • I'm also grateful for jazz music, Longhorn football, coffee, warm weather, the reset button on electronics, good movies, great books, Adidas shoes, razors and so much more. I know this reads cheesy, but it is a great reminder to me.
Enjoy your day everyone. It's almost Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Enjoying Doc Cheatham

I have been sitting this morning getting some paperwork and administration done while listening to incredible jazz music. One of the artists who stood out was Doc Cheatham. He's this amazing trumpet player who played a long time ago. The thing that grabbed me about him is that he hit his stride as a soloist in his 70's. I guess this is about ten years after trumpet players usually quit. He played for another twenty years.

This is incredible to me. I keep thinking about how we often have this feeling that we have to know the one singular purpose to our entire life by the time we graduate college, get married or have a kid. Maybe we keep growing and eventually our lives make beautiful music. It's true for Doc at least. I hope it is true of me as well. Enjoy your day and start celebrating Christmas early!