This week we were able to meet for Celebrate Recovery in person once again. If you haven’t been affected by COVID at this point, you, my friend, are a massive rule breaker! We all know what it’s been like. The isolation and angst has pervaded everyone’s life.
Being back on last Friday night was fantastic. As a leader, I’ve been able to be in the building as we recorded video for our weekly “meetings”. Yet with no one else in the room, it felt hollow. It was good to see people in front of us this week as we did worship. It was great to hear voices singing back at us.
Isolation is still a nasty reality. It will likely be a long time before we are back to doing everything in person, with everyone present. This is not a cry for civil disobedience. I’m not advocating breaking rules and having large groups of people gather where they are not allowed. But I am saying that we all need to find ways to be “together”. Maybe a cup of coffee with a friend. Maybe a small Bible study. Whatever it is, I urge you to try to find some community. When we are alone, we sag, but together we can help each other to…
It’s not my birthday. Not even close. Yet last night when my friends took me out to dinner a scoop of ice cream arrived at the table with clapping and singing.
During the early part of our meal my friend Faith left the table to go take care of something that got in her eye. As it turns out, it was all a clever ruse to go tell the waiter about my 60th birthday.
So let’s examine the facts:
My actual date of birth is 2.22.68, so she’s off by a few months and several years! Also, I’m lactose belligerent, so I can’t have the ice cream.
So what possessed this lady to misconstrue the truth? She knows me. And she knows I love a good gag. One of the reasons she and Dan brought us us here was to help refocus my mind away from the turmoil and hate I’ve encountered over the past few weeks.
Sometimes all you need is a good laugh to help you…
Today your MoM is flying into Portland. Yes. With fires and protests and everything, I am purposely flying to Oregon.
It’s not on a lark or a pleasure trip. This time we have a dear friend who is having surgery tomorrow so we are flying up to help with the family. We know that the smoke and fires are pretty bad. We’ve seen the evacuation maps and his house is close (and getting closer). He even sent a picture of the smoke outside his front door and it is thick.
So why do we do it? Easy- family. We go to support family. And by lifting them, we also get to…
I woke up to a sky filled with smoke today. It’s been like this in California for a couple of weeks now. Today, the smoke is blotting out the sun to a large extent. It feels a lot like an eclipse. But it’s Labor Day in America, and for me and my “son” that actually turns into “Manual Labor Day”.
In years past we have laid brick, out in retaining walls, etc. Whatever it is, we traditionally do some sort of work in his yard each year. This year was no different, even with the smoke that fills our valley today.
After masking up we got down to business and started mixing concrete. Our project for 2020 was to backfill around his new planter boxes. Not too bad, but still, manual labor on a holiday.
An hour and a half later I’m sitting on my couch writing this. It really wasn’t too bad. The yard looks a bit nicer and I got to help a friend. Even the smoke wasn’t that awful since I had a mask. Now all that’s left is to clean up then go back later for so smoked beef burritos and games.
Life can get you down, if you let it. I really didn’t relish the thought of getting up early on a holiday to go toil in someone else’s yard. I didn’t plan on getting a blister on my little soft hands. But I do love serving others. And you know that I love to…
I have a friend who has spent the past ten years in prison. He only has thirteen more to go. If you got twenty three, your math is correct.
Prison sentences are divided into two sections: the base term is served first, then all of the enhancements. Enhancements are additional time added for special circumstances during a crime such as use of a weapon.
The enhancements for my friend have recently been struck down as not legal, however, he was still serving the time for them. Over the past year he has been petitioning the court to remove them from his sentence. Typically the attorneys for the State don’t relish the idea of letting people go home early. People construe that as being weak rather than letting justice be served.
If I were my friend, I’d probably be pretty irate, but he holds his cool. He has NEVER had a write up in his ten years. To put that into perspective, I got two in just eight months!
I had the opportunity to speak at his hearing a few weeks ago. We all felt that it went well. Last Friday my friend was finally able to make his case in front of the judge.
Justice was served. The judge agreed with him and us and struck down the remaining thirteen years!
My friend is coming home. And you know that he is going to…
Remember that playground wisdom that claimed “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Yeah, that’s a load of garbage!
Words are powerful. Words can uplift, but they can also destroy. We are emotional beings, so to claim that words won’t hurt us is just nonsense.
As a writer and podcaster it’s always part of my hope that I will go “viral”. It finally happened this past week, but not in the way that I had hoped. My dream was that I would say something so profound or inspiring that people would just keep on sharing it around the country. I thought I might be sooo encouraging with all of the “rising up” that people wouldn’t be able to help themselves and would just tell the world what they had heard.
My past is out there for all to see. I don’t broadcast it everyday, but neither do I tried to keep it a secret. Last week a few folks decided that it would be best for all if they put me on blast on social media. Thankfully, I didn’t see any of it, but I am told that it was particularly ugly and hateful.
Those words, even though I didn’t see or hear them, hurt. They hurt a lot.
So now I am faced with soul wrenching emotional pain and I’m the “Rise Up” guy. How do I put on that happy face and smile. The simple answer is that I decided to be honest in my emotions. It was our first time in church for weeks. Thankfully we had masks, so I didn’t have to smile. But I couldn’t stop the tears. I couldn’t help but feel like I stood out like a sore thumb. I couldn’t combat the feeling that the words from the pulpit seemed to apply to everyone except me. I was crushed. I hadn’t felt this awful in years.
But the good thing about being down is that it gives a great avenue for me to…
Last week I took a trip to the coast to speak on behalf of one of my CR Inside men. He has an opportunity to have his sentence reduced and had asked that I and a few other men speak on his behalf. It was my honor to do so.
After we finished at the court we decided to head further west and go to Moro Bay. It’s was a beautiful summer day and we wanted to enjoy this wonderful world that God gave us.
We spent the afternoon playing our ukuleles at the beach, wandering the boardwalk, and recording a new set of Daily Steps. Then I found my weakness…
Actually, I went in search of it. Saltwater taffy!
I knew the place to go and I went there. I didn’t go straight away; we wandered about and did some recording first, but I knew where I was going.
I do that a lot in life. I know what I want and I create situations in order to get it. In recovery I need to make sure that I’m chasing the right rewards – those from God, not from myself.
And now, 2 pounds of saltwater taffy later, I’ll do my best to…
Life is a lot like a road trip: You’ve got the miles before you until they become the miles behind you.
I’ve done my fair share of road trips this year. Who knew that a pandemic would provide the right avenue and backdrop for such exploits, but this year I’ve taken two major road trips which have tallied over four thousand miles combined.
The most recent trip was to drive a 26 foot moving truck from Houston. Just to be clear, I wasn’t just driving a truck, it was loaded with furniture for our new pastor and his family.
As the day and miles passed beneath my wheels I had plenty of time to reflect and think. I was able to see how God has used the disasters I have inflicted on my life for good. It’s like watching video of a building implosion in reverse: rubble to completion. God just seems to love that effect the best.
I have pictures to remind me of the road trips. I know what those miles looked like. And they were fun, don’t get me wrong. But the future is where my eyes spend most of their time. The future is bright. God has wonderful plans for me. And if He’s willing to go to such great lengths for the likes of me, imagine what He will do for you, because out of all the people in the world (over 7 billion), YOU are His very favorite.
Sometimes things change…no wait, things always change. If we can’t be ready to accept change, we need to be ready to accept frustration.
At my church we are undergoing some change as we’ve recently offered our Sr. Pastor position to a new pastor. I have the honor of getting to fly out to Houston this week in order to drive one of the U-Haul trucks back to Ridgecrest. Change.
I was all set for the trip then a hurricane hits TX. Not sure how that will affect us, but there will be…Yup, change.
The only thing we can do is be prepared to respond when the need arises. If we react, we often fail. Get out there, look for the change, seize the moment, and..