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How To (Totally) Make Someone’s Day

A while back, I got an email from a friend Liz. You may remember email as that form of communication we used before texting.

I’m not trying to be snarky, I just know that the middle school and high school students I often work with speak only with their thumbs and I’m trying to sound like I totally, like, fit in and stuff.

Anyway, my friend Liz sent me an email a while back. And it was a great gift.

My friend’s email was chock full of words, as human communication often is.  But it was the words my friend chose and the order they were arranged in that made all the difference.  These were blessing words.

A blessing is an ancient tradition. Back in biblical times (when Moses rode around on dinosaurs), a blessing was how one person imparted certain things to another person. Things like:

  • Hope for a better future.
  • Authority to accomplish great things.
  • A clearer sense of identity and mission.

In other words, a blessing communicated to a person, “This is who you are! This is what you are to be about!” Which is why blessings can be such gifts.

Because we all have the memory of a goldfish (which I’m told is about 30 seconds long, though I’d love to meet the poor researcher who had to spend their time discovering this), we easily forget who we are and the important work/play we need to be about.  We forget that much of what fills our calendar and our closets and our refrigerator and our inboxes may have nothing to do with the unique person God made each of us to be. We forget that we are beloved, adopted, set apart. Blessings bring us back home to reality.

I’m grateful my friend Liz sent me my email blessing. It reminded me of truth in the very moment truth’s voice was the toughest to hear. And it made me think: who do I need to bless today?  Who in my life needs reminding of how special and loved they are?  What’s keeping me from just flat out telling them?  What’s keeping you?

Email somebody a blessing today.  Text it to them.  Shock them by sending them a handwritten note.  Or Holy One Direction, Batman, just speak it right to their face and follow it with a hug. You could totally, like, make their day and stuff.

(I referenced One Direction to show how youth-culture savvy I am. Whatev.)

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“Dear Fear-Of-What-Others-Think…”: An Open Letter To My Imaginary Audience

[This morning, I have the privilege of guest blogging for one of my favorite author/artists, Don Miller.  This is the post as it appears on his site.  Thanks, Don and Jordan!]

Dear Fear-Of-What-Others-Think,

I am sick of you and it’s time we broke up.  I know we’ve broken up and gotten back together about a bazillion times, but seriously, Fear-Of-What-Others-Think (or FOWOT, for short), this is it.  We’re breaking up.

Because I’m tired of over-thinking my status updates on Facebook, trying to sound more clever, funny, important.  And I’m tired of wondering which Tweets might drive the most traffic to my blog, as though my value as a human being were truly numerical.

I’m tired of wondering which picture to post online so that my in-danger-of-over-expanding gut doesn’t hang out too much and cause others to think I’m a normal late 30-something male, God forbid.  Or that I vacation not in Hawaii or Paris or rural Vietnam, but in central Oregon, if I can afford to go on vacation at all.

I’m sick of feeling anxious about what I say or do in public, especially around people I don’t know that well, all in the hope that they’ll like me, accept me, praise me.  Those who already like me, accept me, and even praise me; those are the ones I’m constantly trying to keep happy.  I run around all day feeling like a freaking Golden Retriever with a full bladder.  Like me!  Like me!  Like me!

And I’m SO tired of feeling bad about myself all the time.  Bad about how I look.  Bad about my job.  Bad about my net worth (which is currently quite RED in color).  Bad about my 12-year-old car and my one-fashion-season-behind clothes.  Bad about my prospects for wealth and fame and Nobel Prize-winning ideas.  Bad about my community, or lack thereof.

Because of you, I go through my day with a cloud of shame hanging over my head, blocking the sun, keeping my throat sore and my nose consistently runny and my eyes all squinty like a newborn.  And I HATE that.

Because when I’m afraid of what others think, I never stop acting.  The spotlight’s always on and I’m center stage and I’d better keep dancing, posturing, mugging, or else the spotlight will move and I’ll dissolve into a little meaningless puddle on the ground, just like that witch in The Wizard of Oz. I can never live up to the expectations of my imaginary audience, the one that lives only in my head but whose collective voice is louder than any other voice in the universe.

And since I know I’m acting and since I know the spotlight’s always moving and since I know that in the bigger picture none of this matters a rat’s patootie, I’m never content to simply be myself.

And all of this is especially horrible, terrible, evil because if I really stop and think about it, and let things go quiet and listen patiently for the voice of the God who made me and delights in me, it turns out I’m actually – profoundly – precious, lovable, worthy, valuable, and even just a little ghetto-fabulous.

When I listen to that voice then your voice starts to sound ridiculous again.  You turn back into the tiny, whining little wiener dog that you are.

So eat it, Fear-Of-What-Others-Think.  You and I are done.  And no, I’m not interested in “talking it through.”  I’m running, jumping, laughing you out of my life, once and for all.  Or at least, that’s what I really, really want, God help me.

For You On My Son’s B-day: A Video Classic

Today is my son’s birthday.  His very first day on the planet.  As such, I’m taking the next two days off from the blog and offering some classic reruns, just like Nickelodeon (but without all the skin).

This is from just a few months back when we announced our boy’s arrival to the world (by which I mean, Facebook).  It was filmed in our hallway using a little handheld Flip video camera and a six-million candle power flashlight.  Filming had to be done with the camera in one hand and the light in the other.  The song was dubbed over a downloaded karaoke track (using Logic), then we practiced lip-syncing the whole deal while “dancing.”  It was extremely low-budge and poor Katie was violently nauseous (not bad acting, eh?)  It was her idea, lyrics and all.  Hope you enjoy, even if it’s your 37th time through.

See you on Thursday!  I’ll be the one with dark circles under my eyes and the big toothy grin.

How To Use Facebook In Worship

My friend, Jer Swigart, taught me an important phrase.  He didn’t know he was teaching it to me.  It was just part of his regular vocabulary during prayer.

And when he was praying for Katie and I a few years back, the phrase caught my ear.  This was the phrase:

“I worship You because…”

He would use this phrase in the same way I might say, “Thanks, God, for…”, but it had the effect of turning my heart more directly to worship of God for who He is and what He’s done.

What does all of this have to do with Facebook?

Potentially nothing.  But possibly quite a lot.

I’ve started using this little phrase during my day to keep my heart and mind centered on God.  For the record, most of the time my mind is anything but centered, but I’m practicing, and that’s a good start.  For example, I might come around a corner on southbound 5 nearing SeaTac airport and suddenly, there’s Mt Rainier, perpetually snow-capped and looking 70,000 feet tall.

“I worship You, God, because You made that giant hunk of rock, and you let me be here on this rare clear day to witness it.  Awesome.”

Over the last few months, Katie and I have had our son’s sonogram pics up on the fridge (he was due yesterday…he’s already running late for meetings, just like his pops).  When I spot them, usually just prior to pulling something tasty from the fridge, I think:

“I worship You because You’ve given us a son.  AMAZING.”

Now, obviously I don’t say, “I worship you, Mt Rainier” or “I worship you, O Sonogram Picture”.  I say, “I worship You, God, because________________”, and there an infinite number of ways to then fill in that blank. The object of our worship shapes us into its image, so we’d better worship the right thing.

But the point is I’ve started applying this phrase to Facebook.  I’m using that phrase to turn my Facebook-gawking into something more purposeful and satisfying.  Not all the time, but sometimes.  It can sound like this:

“God, I worship You because you’ve created THAT person and made them a unique and treasured part of Your creation.”

Or, “I worship You because you reconnected me to so-and-so all these years later.”

Or, “I worship You because of all the incredible ways you’ve connected my story to the stories of others and we’re all part of the Great Story that You’re telling and including everyone in.”

God has always used the most routinized, ordinary stuff of life for developing us more into His image.  A simple phrase applied to a strange but fun technology fits that description exactly.  And the result could be potent.

Thanks, Jer, for praying for Katie and I this way, and subsequently teaching me this phrase.  “God, I worship You because you made people to shape each other, and you used Jer to unknowingly help shape me more like You.”

You Think Friends Grow On Trees?

I live within a few blocks of a house that sold last year for $4.2 million.  The house is virtually brand new, has 7000+ sq ft, 7 bedrooms, 7 baths, and looks like one of those cool drug lord houses you’d see in a movie where the hero has to ultimately blow it up if any justice is to be done.  The fact that I live so close to the house is an anomaly, a warp in the space-time (or rather, poor person-rich person) continuum.  Nevertheless, here’s what’s so interesting to me about this house:

The Mysterious Owner* I’ve never seen, having yet to live in the house he/she purchased, is tearing it down, bit by bit, in order to build a new one in its place.  A brand new, unlived-in, multimillion dollar palace is being plowed to make room for another multi-million palace more to the owner’s liking.

Now I shouldn’t judge.  No one’s perfect.  Perhaps if I had the kind of cash Mystery Owner had, the kind that meant $4.2 million was pocket change, I’d plow it, too.  But of course, I do judge, and such events only seem to reinforce my yet-to-be-proven-then-“borrowed”-by-Mark-Zuckerberg idea that it is possible to have too much money.  In fact, it’s possible that too much money makes people undervalue what they’ve got.  Which leads me to the point of this morning’s blog.  Finally.

What if having too many friends makes us undervalue or even devalue our friends?  What if our long list of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, and fellow Rebecca Black Fan Club members (just me?), cause us to do the silliest things, like not spending regular time with those who matter most to us, or working so hard to accumulate more that we miss what’s right in front of us.

I know I’m challenged by this.  Most people who have more than 11 Facebook friends probably are, too.  And it’s got me brainstorming for a few simple things I could do to stop blowing my relational cash on silly remodels and start investing in the kind of friendships I’ll talk about on my death bed.  Any suggestions?

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