Going Out

This morning I was awakened by a tiny kiss on the cheek. I’m visiting my grandkids and that’s how it goes in the morning: litter patter of little 3 year old (“Going on Four, Papa”) feet then a kiss on the cheek. It’s the best!

Today we had planned on going out to breakfast as a fam. As I sit downstairs I can hear protests from the same sweet lips that so recently kissed my cheek. “I don’t wanna go, Mommmmmmmmmmy!”

Wow, that’s my eco very right there. Stuff I need to do, but just don’t want to. I’m happy one minute, then wailing and sobbing in the next. Now my daughter has her calmed down. She like my sponsor. She just listened then helped her figure out the problems. Now we’re good to go. Everything is set for us to…

—Rise Up!!


My wife and I like to watch TV. It’s a typical evening for us to both be curled up and watching a show or a movie together. Topics will vary, but we both enjoy spies movies and shows. Watching the hero or heroes go through all of the things they do in order to solve the problem is fun for us. This morning in my reading I found myself in John 9. The Pharisees were grilling a man who had been blind about the miracle that Jesus performed in giving him sight. They kept asking the same sort of questions and trying to find the crack in the story. The crack in the story was the miracle: dude was blind, then dude could see. Their mistake was trying to explain a miracle with logic. Miracles cannot be defined by logic. Christ makes no sense! Still, people continue to investigate to see why Christians are wrong about this Jesus. We I need to spend less time as a denier and more time as a proclaimer! Looking for the Truth is a fantastic way to…

–Rise Up!!


New Year’s Day was a Sunday this year so I had a big weekend filled with lots of stuff. Our annual Sober New Year’s Eve Bash at CR was great, but took a ton of time to pull off. Another thing I gave time to was sports. (Hard to imagine, right?!?)

This weekend my teams had games that were played after some other important ones. That meant we had opportunities to do things, based on our own results. By the end of Sunday night I think I had a new ulcer and TMJ from clenching my jaw!

Seeing opportunities ahead is hard to avoid. I’m always playing out possibilities to see which direction a thing might go. Perhaps it’s like defensive driving, where you look for possible problems and try to be prepared in advance? Biblically we are taught not to worry, yet the thrill of sport derives in part from the worry. It’s wonderful to trounce an opponent, but I tend to remember the close ones longer.

This morning my ulcer is gone and my jaw is fine (well mostly fine, the Steelers waited a long time into the game to beat the hated Ravens). It’s a new day, and as I sit at a local restaurant waiting for a friend to join me for breakfast I see the annual Rose Parade on the TV.

What’s my point? Well, I suppose it’s that even the things I chase don’t last forever. There’s always a new “something” on the horizon. I need to manage my expectations and my emotions. Keeping an even keel might be the best way to…

—Rise Up!!

But Do You Really?

It’s Boxing Day! The wrapping paper is all in the trash cans. The food has been put in the fridge. The Premiere League starts again. It’s a great day. I love all of the stuff that surrounds the “Holiday Season”, but like everything, it all eventually comes to an end. We look forward to one thing, then as soon as it gets here it’s gone and we shift our focus to the next prize on the calendar. I got my Christmas Eve Eve service taken care of at Celebrate Recovery, now we have our New Year’s Eve Bash coming up.It can be hectic.

The anticipation is part of what drives us. Knowing that something fun is just ahead is a bit thrilling. We think about the excitement and pomp of a big event. Then it happens and poof, it’s gone. Nothing but memories.

Today I will be officiating a wedding. The happy couple has had the same rush of emotions with the holidays that the rest of us have had, but they get an extra boost on this Boxing Day. So what happens after the I Do’s? When the tree is down and the decorations are in boxes will you feel the same? We hear a lot of talk about the meaning or spirit of Christmas, but once we are on the other side do we try to maintain that spirit? The day after the wedding do we still feel the I do? What about three years down the line?

Wherever we are in our walk, I think it’s important to try to keep the joy of the next event alive. It’s good to know what is coming and to have a sense of excitement for it. But don’t forget the past. Looking back with fondness can help us move forward and…

–Rise Up!!

Late vs Never

Your MoM woke up early today to record a podcast. Not bad, getting things done in advance, right? I felt pretty good about the recording and even scheduled my next recording session for the Christmas Day Special. After that I went to breakfast with a friend. I de-boned and cut up 17.5 lbs of pork shoulder to make more sausage. I made a Christmas photo mug for someone. All in all I was pretty pleased with my level of output.

Then my wife reminded me that it was already one and I hadn’t posted my blog yet. Yikes!

Sometimes, no matter how much we plan, things fall through the cracks. We all make mistakes. I think it’s best to just put my hand up and say “My bad” then move on with life. They say better late than never. I suppose it might be true (except for maybe something like CPR). Anyhow, I’ll let you decide. Check the clock and then…

–Rise Up!


This morning finds your MoM on the road. We are headed to a Prison Fellowship Hope Event where I will be speaking. It was cold when we left home and it’s even colder now that we are up in the mountains where the prison is located. Snow is on the ground, frost in the air, and we are tentatively scheduled to be outdoors!

I think about the journey that I’ve taken to get here today. There have been so many ups and downs in my walk. I’ve certainly seen struggles and valleys. While beautiful, life does provide a fair amount of difficulty.

Now I am almost 5 years into prison ministry and I am able to appreciate the hard things. I always knew that God promised to use the bad times for His glory; now I can see the delivery of those promises. In a few hours I’ll be telling a yard full of inmates how I stood in their place so many years ago. I can deliver the message of Hope that strangers brought to me all those years ago.

Watching the sun rise encourages me to do the same thing. I’m driving up the mountain so that I can help others to…

—Rise Up!!

Rise up, indeed!

Hurry up and Wait

As you might already know, I spend a lot of time in prisons. One thing you can count on in every prison I’ve every encountered is that time and schedule are a fluid thing. Let me re-state that, for inmates, schedule is fluid. When the “prison” makes a decision that something needs to happen, it happens. Think about being a small child and making a plan then your folks tell you that instead of watching your Saturday morning cartoons you are going to visit Auntie Edna in the hospital. Not nearly as much fun, but honestly, what choice do you have?!?

We started a brand new Prison Fellowship Academy this weekend. It was our first time in this particular institution, so we were trying to learn the practices and procedures, the whys and wherefores of the place. I frequently tell people that expectations are premeditated resentments, and this was definitely a case in point.

Both days that we were there we had scheduling snags that required us to just shift gears and wait. On the first night we had to wait for them to clear the count before we could release our class. On Day 2 they were experiencing fog at the institution so they had to perform a special count. We sat in the chapel (our “classroom”) for almost a full hour before any students arrived. Normally a one hour wait would invite everyone to reach for a screen, but we aren’t allowed to bring anything like that inside, so we just sat and chatted. Once the men arrived we learned that we would need to release them ten minutes before we planned in order for them to be back in their housing units before the normal count. Out of a two hour class time, we got about 50 minutes.

The awesome thing is that as Bev and I drove away from the prison we couldn’t stop talking about how awesome it was to be with this new group of men. There was no talk at all about the issues and challenges that arose, only excitement at beginning a new class. Sometimes it’s necessary to hurry up and wait in order to…

–Rise Up!!

The New New

I never write these things until I write them. What I mean by that is that I try not to think about the blog until I’m writing it. I don’t have a file of “good blog topics” on my computer. I want it to be whatever occurs to me at the moment. Thursday I had some things pop up in life that seemed like possible candidates. Then Friday I had some that were even better. As I sat in my local Starbucks this morning I thought I had a good idea to write on, then I got a text from my daughter who lives in Hawaii that Mauna Loa was erupting. Talk about “the floor is lava”!

Lava and volcanoes really don’t have a lot to do with recovery. I could talk about lava being fresh rock and how we always get a fresh start with Jesus. I could talk about lava spewing into the sky and have a really good on ramp to my “Rise Up” ending. I could talk about the destruction of an eruption eventually being the creation of something beautiful. Without giving away too many of my “trade secrets” for writing, there are lots of avenues to explore with the volcano.

The thing that stands out though is that life is constantly evolving. Stasis is fickle at best. Even when you think you’ve got a plan, things can change. As Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” So enjoy your day, avoid the lava, recognize that you might be witnessing the creation of something beautiful, and…

–Rise Up!!

Farewells and Boundaries

I was blessed this weekend to get to be among those who saw Elton John at Dodger Stadium. It was a magical night, made all the better by the gifts that got us there. The tickets were a gift from a friend. Our dinner that evening was also provided through gift cards by the same friend. Having a beautiful date with my wife was a great way to enjoy a special evening.

For all of the joy, there were also moments of trial that complemented the fun. Traffic heading into the stadium was predictably chaotic. When you get over 50,000 people convening on the same place it can create delays. The age and location of Dodger Stadium accentuate the traffic jam potential. There simply aren’t enough entry points to create smooth flowing traffic. Once inside the lot (after paying an extremely “reasonable” $50 to park) we joined the parade of cars searching for a lot and a spot to park. Eventually we traveled almost completely around the stadium before we were able to find a spot.

Once the music started, the earlier stresses all escaped. Joy overcomes stress if you let it. For two hours we were regaled by hit after hit. Lights and music filled the stadium with an atmosphere of happiness. Dancing, smiling, and singing ensued for the duration of the show.

Then we tried to leave Dodger Stadium…

If you’ve ever been to this venerable old ballpark you know exactly what I’m referencing. We only had less than 100 yards to travel before we were officially out of the parking lot, but it took about 90 minutes to make that journey. For those of you who don’t want to do math, that’s almost the same amount of time that Elton played! There was lots of bumper to bumper driving and horn honking. At one point I actually had a conversation with the car trying to shove in front of me. I was able to peacefully stand my ground without incident.

And all in all, it was worth it. I could have left early and “beat the crowd”, but why? I won’t remember the traffic in several years, but I will remember the songs and the farewell. Always take the time to enjoy the moment. Don’t leave early. Sit in your seat and…

–Rise Up!!

Set Backs

I received an email today to let me know that our classes at the prison will be put on hold for two weeks. “Modified Programming” is the official term, but basically it means that we won’t be back inside the prison until after Thanksgiving. As is frequently the case with governmental agencies, we are not given a great depth of understanding as to why the change has come about. We are just notified, do not show up until further notice. I suspect it has to do with public health concerns, but I probably won’t get any confirmation on that, nor will I ask.

It is what it is…

And that’s the way we get through. We have to accept things as they are, not as we would have them. This attitude helps us to retain our serenity and sanity. If I get myself too lathered up about why things are happening, it diminishes my ability to just roll with the punches. Certainly I am discouraged to miss out on working with the men in our groups. Yet I know that these things will happen as I volunteer in a prison. In life, I am at the whims of the world. As I have said before, there are almost 7.5 billion people with free will wandering around the planet and we are bound to bump into each other at times.

I try to let those bumps become opportunities rather than problems. More of a “Howzit?” than a “Watch it!” It helps to keep the stress down while I…

–Rise Up!!