Pray for Shelly's coaching

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Pray for Shelly's coaching

One of the most important things we do here at JSBFM is coaching. We aren't counselors. We can't dig into people's past and/or experiences and help them heal their inner hurts.  But we can walk with people through crisis… be it infidelity, tragedy, sickness, or death. 

Shelly has a lot on her plate right now coaching wise. She is using her past painful experiences to help women through the journeys that they are on right now. This is stretching her emotionally. I would ask that you pray for her. Pray for strength. Pray for God to show up and strengthen her supernaturally with his power. Pray that she can be filled with peace so that she can help fill others with peace. She is had a powerful impact on so many women. We want her to be able to continue to do so for a long time.

Also pray for a few more opportunities to share our story in a more formal setting. This is what truly fills our buckets, and that is what we feel truly gifted at. Our primary purpose as a ministry is to share our story of hope and redemption. We love to do this in any group setting. 

Thanks JSBFM team!

Posted on July 21, 2017 .

QX

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I have been a quadriplegic for 10 years today.

Writing those words 10 years ago would have seemed like a death sentence. Not so much so today…

If you want to hear more of our story you can go back on our website and read blogs or go to the "Our Story" section of our website.

Right now I want to give you the five stages of what being a quadriplegi has been like.

 

Jan 18 2007 - January 29,  2009

Just try to be happy

In this first phase of loss, I would've done anything to forget what I had lost. I was never truly happy, and I was never truly happy with my body. I remember seeing a video while in rehab at Mary Free Bed. It was a famous athlete or entertainer who had become paralyzed. After a few years, they said that they would not go back to being their "fully functioning self" if it meant losing all they had become.

I thought, "What a load of B.S. They are just trying to make themselves feel better."

 

Jan 29, 2009

I love my life.

While driving around the lobby at a VanAndel arena Chris Tomlin concert, I noticed how people were looking at me. It was very much how I would've looked at a quadriplegic two years earlier. Thoughts like...

Poor guy. I bet he hates his life. I wonder what happened to him. I wonder if he has any one who loves him. I bet he smells. What are all the wires to his wheelchair? Is he on life-support?

There is nothing wrong with having these questions. I would've thought the exact same way. But I love my family. And I love my (gasp) life! I loved my life. And I would have rather been me than anybody else in that arena. Or the world.

 

Spring 2011

God's love

As I was growing more into the man God wanted me to be, I kept having this feeling…I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I was feeling more like the guy I was supposed to be all along. One of my main areas of struggle had been (still Is) humility. I really didn't know that until after the accident. I was a people person. I love people and I wanted other people to think that I loved them. I would never want someone to walk away from a conversation with me thinking that I thought I was better. The problem was, I thought my opinions, the ways I would do things, my preferences, etc. were probably better than most people. God had put a massive stop to this very quickly. And now I was realizing that I could be me and not have a pride stopgap from his Spirit. I was enjoying his presence like never before.

And then I realized where I knew this idea from before: that dumb Mary Free Bed video. If the price I had to pay to have a fully functioning body was to lose everything I had learned since my accident, I wouldn't do it. Yes! Thank you God!! But it gets even better.

 

Spring 2013 - Jan 18, 2017

Thank God for the wheelchair? 

I had been living in the joy and realityof that last phase for around two years when a couple of words started bothering me about that phrase: "If the price I had to pay to have a fully functioning body…" Did I want a fully functioning body again? What is a "fully functioning" body?

It was then I realized that even if I could go back and keep everything I've learned since the accident and still be able to walk…I didn't know if I could do it. My fear is that I would go back to being the same old guy. I realized that if God needed me to be in a wheelchair then I could thank God for the wheelchair. It didn't need to look like a death sentence every day. Every day I could get into my wheelchair and thank God for it.

 

January 18, 2017 - ?

Here enters my problem. 2016 was not a good year for my family. Early in the year Shelly began to have seizures again afer being seizure free for about 13 years. She's back on medication and the seizures are now controlled. She's also had terrible terrible migraines for a lot of the year. And we don't know why. I have had sepsis (a life-threatening complication of an infection) four times  Yes, four times. I didn't have sepsis once in my first eight years of quadriplegia. I don't know what has changed. The doctors don't know what has changed. It's as if I suddenly don't have an immune system. In the last 14 months I have been in the hospital for 8 weeks. 

The incredible thing is that when I get home, I will probably feel great. But that doesn't mean there's not something going on still.  I pray that this time, more than any time ever returning from the hospital, I can speak hope and life to everyone around me even though that's not going to be the way I'm feeling. Who knows what I will call this phase. 

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Posted on January 19, 2017 .

Horrific Pain

I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but I am back in the hospital again…

 It is not a pressure sore. It is not an infection. And it's not me getting the latest medical device implanted into my body.

It is pain. Intense, mind numbing,… The kind where you scream out loud and are scared at the horrendous noise that you hear back…it was pain that brought me to the hospital a month ago. But what I am experiencing now is a whole new category of anguish.   

If you know me, or have read some of my writing before, you know that I have had terrible nerve pain for years. I have a baclofen pump, a spinal cord stimulator, and I am taking gabapentin, Lyrica, and Cymbalta all for nerve pain. I also have another assortment of painkillers that I can use as well. All of this gets locked away in a safe. 

This system was doing OK for the most part. I have had a bad day or two a week, but it almost never kept me away from any sort of event that I wanted or needed to be at. This leads me to last Friday (November 30).

It was a pretty difficult workday. By early afternoon, as I worked at my computer, the backs of my legs and my rectum were on fire. It felt like someone had microwaved a golf ball for 10 minutes and shoved it inside me. This is the type of pain that I've been struggling on and off with for a couple of years. Then, totally unexpectedly, the pressure and heat grew and expanded until the point that it encompassed all of my genitals and most of my thighs.

It was terrifying. 

I drove my wheelchair as fast as I could into the elevator. Pressed the up button. The feeling and heat still increasing. I drove my chair towards the bedroom, yelling for Shelly and for the home health care aid who was still there. Never mind the lift... "throw me in bed!"

Reclining brings me relief. Within a half hour, I could catch my breath and my thoughts again. I tried sitting up again Saturday morning - immediate pain. I tried sitting up again Sunday morning - immediate pain. I tried sitting up again Monday morning - staggering pain. I had to go to the ER. (I have not been able to sit up in my wheelchair since then.)

After a rough ambulance ride, I lay on the ER table writhing in agony. Doctors tried different cocktails of IV painkillers… Percocet, Valium, Dilauded, and Fentonyl. They finally got me to a reasonably comfortable state.

With recently being in the hospital with an infection, that's where the doctors automatically want to start… Sepsis. But it is obvious right away that there is no infection. So, for the first time in three trips to the hospital, we finally start to diagnose.

With the fact that my pain is so positional, it seems like it could be some sort of a pinched nerve. But it has nerve pain components and hypersensitivity components.  I need an MRI. 

But my spinal cord stimulator is so experimental, that it is not MRI compliant yet. I knew this when I was getting it. So… disheartenment.  But the doctors have a good alternative, a myelogram, basically a CT Scan with contrast right into my spinal column. And when the scans were complete… a little bit of cramped quarters in some areas of my spinal column, but no pinching. And I was so sure there would be some! 

It is so obvious to everyone that there's something wrong with the nerves at the end of my spine. The problem is finding which ones and figuring out what to do with them. Should we shave the bone nearby? Should we kill the nerve? I would personally like to take a knife and cut the bottom several inches of my spinal cord off.

After one very disappointing meeting with a doctor that I've known for 10 years, and after a somewhat encouraging meeting with a doctor that I have known for 2, I feel like we have somewhat of a plan for the next few days, but there is still a lot up in the air. And it is simply not an option for me to lie down for the rest of my life! 

Please be praying for us. Pray that we find the right advocate for us. Pray for doctors hands as they perform procedures. Pray for strength for our families as they help to hold down the fort.

As I type from my hospital bed and Shelly sleeps on the (surprisingly comfortable) couch across the room, we feel weak and vulnerable. This is not a new thing for us to feel, but it can be so isolating and so discouraging. We know that he makes beauty from the ashes of our lives (Isaiah 61:3), but the refining process hurts.

God bless you all,

J & S

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 

It is pain. Intense, mind numbing,… The kind where you scream out loud and are scared at the horrendous noise that you hear back…it was pain that brought me to the hospital a month ago. But what I am experiencing now is a whole new category of anguish.   

If you know me, or have read some of my writing before, you know that I have had terrible nerve pain for years. I have a baclofen pump, a spinal cord stimulator, and I am taking gabapentin, Lyrica, and Cymbalta all for nerve pain. I also have another assortment of painkillers that I can use as well. All of this gets locked away in a safe. 

This system was doing OK for the most part. I have had a bad day or two a week, but it almost never kept me away from any sort of event that I wanted or needed to be at. This leads me to last Friday (November 30).

It was a pretty difficult workday. By early afternoon, as I worked at my computer, the backs of my legs and my rectum were on fire. It felt like someone had microwaved a golf ball for 10 minutes and shoved it inside me. This is the type of pain that I've been struggling on and off with for a couple of years. Then, totally unexpectedly, the pressure and heat grew and expanded until the point that it encompassed all of my genitals and most of my thighs.

It was terrifying. 

I drove my wheelchair as fast as I could into the elevator. Pressed the up button. The feeling and heat still increasing. I drove my chair towards the bedroom, yelling for Shelly and for the home health care aid who was still there. Never mind the lift... "throw me in bed!"

Reclining brings me relief. Within a half hour, I could catch my breath and my thoughts again. I tried sitting up again Saturday morning - immediate pain. I tried sitting up again Sunday morning - immediate pain. I tried sitting up again Monday morning - staggering pain. I had to go to the ER. (I have not been able to sit up in my wheelchair since then.)

After a rough ambulance ride, I lay on the ER table writhing in agony. Doctors tried different cocktails of IV painkillers… Percocet, Valium, Dilauded, and Fentonyl. They finally got me to a reasonably comfortable state.

With recently being in the hospital with an infection, that's where the doctors automatically want to start… Sepsis. But it is obvious right away that there is no infection. So, for the first time in three trips to the hospital, we finally start to diagnose.

With the fact that my pain is so positional, it seems like it could be some sort of a pinched nerve. But it has nerve pain components and hypersensitivity components.  I need an MRI. 

But my spinal cord stimulator is so experimental, that it is not MRI compliant yet. I knew this when I was getting it. So… disheartenment.  But the doctors have a good alternative, a myelogram, basically a CT Scan with contrast right into my spinal column. And when the scans were complete… a little bit of cramped quarters in some areas of my spinal column, but no pinching. And I was so sure there would be some! 

It is so obvious to everyone that there's something wrong with the nerves at the end of my spine. The problem is finding which ones and figuring out what to do with them. Should we shave the bone nearby? Should we kill the nerve? I would personally like to take a knife and cut the bottom several inches of my spinal cord off.

After one very disappointing meeting with a doctor that I've known for 10 years, and after a somewhat encouraging meeting with a doctor that I have known for 2, I feel like we have somewhat of a plan for the next few days, but there is still a lot up in the air. And it is simply not an option for me to lie down for the rest of my life! 

Please be praying for us. Pray that we find the right advocate for us. Pray for doctors hands as they perform procedures. Pray for strength for our families as they help to hold down the fort.

As I type from my hospital bed and Shelly sleeps on the (surprisingly comfortable) couch across the room, we feel weak and vulnerable. This is not a new thing for us to feel, but it can be so isolating and so discouraging. We know that he makes beauty from the ashes of our lives (Isaiah 61:3), but the refining process hurts.

God bless you all,

J & S

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 

Posted on January 8, 2017 .

Seizures Are the Next Chapter

"Your story is a lot like Job."

"Yeah… I get that a lot."

 It's not that we are as righteous as Job (obviously) but we certainly strive to maintain a Christlike attitude and a steadfast faith in the face of seemingly continual pain, grief, and suffering. It's not that we don't have many moments lightheartedness and enjoyment… a passion for life, but the amount of unexpected accidents and unrelated health issues far exceeds what you would expect. From autism with one child to the death of another… from a diving accident resulting in quadriplegia to marital infidelity…From T-bone car accidents to broken baclofen pumps… from double leg Achilles surgery to pressure sores resulting in three-month hospital stays… from excruciating weekly migraines to incorrectly set CPAP machines almost resulting in death. and now… Seizures.

In Shelly's early 20s, she developed a partial complex seizure disorder. It was completely unexpected, and the seizures looked like Shelly went to sleep. She stopped breathing and was unresponsive, but she came to after 90 seconds or so. After being correctly medicated, she didn't have seizures for five or six years.

In 2007, Shelly had to have her thyroid removed. After her thyroid levels were corrected, the endocrinologist suggested that she go off her anti-seizure medication because he had a hunch that her dysfunctional thyroid was the reason that she was having seizures. He was right, and from 2007 until one month ago she didn't have any seizures.

But as Shelly was getting into bed last month, she made a loud noise and fell into her pillow. She continued making the noise and was unresponsive. I was already in bed and was unable to call 911, so I yelled for Zoe and she called. By the time the paramedics got there, they confirmed our hunch that it was probably a seizure and they didn't take her in. From that time until now her seizures have been increasing in frequency and intensity. She has a doctors appointment tomorrow and hopefully they will be able to shed some light on the situation.

Epilepsy means a lot of things for our family, and probably the worst of them is that we have three school aged kids, tons of extra curricular activities, a thriving nonprofit ministry with lots of places to be, and two adults neither of which are able to drive.

Honestly, I don't know how we are going to make it. I know that we will move forward and make the best decisions we can, but my hunch is that the Bucks will be missing a lot of things that they want and need to be at. (although we have had multiple people help us with rides already)

Please be in prayer for us! Pray that the doctors will get good insights into what is going on in Shelly's brain, that they will be able to come up with an effective treatment plan, and that we will come up with a plan for our transportation catastrophe.

My hope is that the Bucks will continue to shrug their shoulders in wonder, hold out upturned hands ready to receive a blessing, and not shake their fists at God in anger or defiance.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
— Jer 29:11


Posted on December 15, 2015 .

So I almost died…

I'm not one given to overstatement… So I debated the title of this post. But...alas... it's not an overstatement.

I've always thought a CPAP machine just kept you from snoring. I thought this is how it gave you a good night sleep. I was wrong. It keeps you oxygenated. And what happened on the night of 8 November was this, my CPAP machine nearly choked me to death.

Around 2:00 AM I woke up. I couldn't catch my breath. I ripped the CPAP mask off my face and focused on steady breaths. I tilted my bed up and tried to keep from panicking. I didn't know at the time, but my pulse was around 177

Zoe was sleeping on Shelly's side of the bed because she missed her mama. Shelly was in California. I told Zoe, "you're not going to like this babe, but I have to call the ambulance. "

My mother-in-law, Jean was there as well. She called 911 and it took 15 minutes for the ambulance arrive! The entire time, I could not catch my breath. I felt like I was on the verge of passing out.. And I was afraid that if I passed out, I would never wake up again.

Once I was on the table at the ER, they struggled to stabilize my heart. One of the nurses asked if she could cut my shirt off and I said no. I didn't want the situation to have to be any more dramatic than it already was.

 But for several hours they struggled to stabilize me. At one point, one of the doctors told me that they may have to shock my heart to try to get it back into a regular beat. It wasn't going to be the full cinematic gel-on-the-paddles someone yelling "clear!" scenario… But she said it would be dangerous. This was a shocking moment of clarity. Was I ready to go? Did I have any doubts or thoughts of regret? No.

 Luckily, they did not have to shock me, but they did have to give me a lot of medicine to get my blood pressure up.

There were several points in this four hour period where I thought might die. I was never resigned to the fact, and I was never right on the brink of death. But it was terrifying.

Here is what I know… Christ has given me the grace and the peace to know, even in the face of death, that his promises are true, our future is secure, and if we invest our all in him, his peace will reach us even in our darkest of moments

...if we invest our all in him, his peace WILL reach us even in our darkest of moments

I say "if we invest our all in him" as if it were a simple choice to perform. This is obviously not the case. And it has not always come easily for me. There have been plenty of times when I have invested myself in selfish and ultimately destructive ways. If you know me and Shelly and our story at all, you know that we had a three month old daughter die in 2005. I broke my neck in 2007 and have been in a wheelchair ever since. After these events (and many other times in my life) I have dealt with pain and suffering in unhealthy and unbiblical ways.

But as I have chosen Him more, He has revealed himself more to me. I have begun to see 2 Corinthians 4 as a reality, not just an ideal.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
— 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I was raised in a strong Christian home. I had two parents who were biblical examples of integrity, faithfulness, and love. But I also grew up with a very immature view of pain and suffering and therefore…God. In my entire extended family there was no cancer, heart disease, divorce, or much suffering at all. Even though it's not directly what I was taught, I thought that if you loved and served God, bad things would not happen to you.  This made it very difficult when I got to be a little older and started experiencing suffering to have a biblical understanding of it.

 But God has let me see just a fingernail sized sliver of his light, and he has been relentless in his pursuit of me. Just enough that I know where to look in times of darkness. This following song COULD NOT ENCAPSULATE THIS ANY BETTER. Don't leave this post without listening to at least the first verse.

 Thank you God for your relentless pursuit of me.

Posted on November 20, 2015 .

Warrior (a not-so-subtle allegory)

With a flash of light and a clash of metal the Warrior flung himself into battle. Every enemy on the entire field of battle was his target. He recklessly threw himself around the desolate grasslands. He was fighting for the glory of the king.

He was a prideful warrior, though. At times he would fight for riches and for his own glory.  But in his best of moments, his heart was set on the name and the renown of his king. 

Suddenly, there was a devastating blow to his back. He careened forward, dirt grinding into his face mask. Frantically spinning around, he found himself cornered by the darkness. It drew closer. His time had come. 

But as he closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and braced himself for the final blow, there was sudden silence. He opened his eyes to find that a beautiful warrior with flowing blonde hair had saved him.

Several days they sat and visited while they cooked over a campfire and swam in a nearby stream. As they began to learn each other's heart, they covenanted to set out together on a quest for their king. His glory was there aim, no matter the fury of the darkness or the depths of the raging floodwaters.

Several days into their journey, they were walking through a barren wasteland. They began to hear a shuffling sound behind a nearby bush. As the Woman Warrior drew her sword to kill whatever evil stood behind it, a small brown bear came out licking honey off of it's paw. 

"Hello. I didn't see you there. What are you doing?"

"The question is what are you doing little Bear. How did you get so far from civilization… out here in this desolation?”

"Uhhh... I guess I don't know. I was looking for some honey and then… Do you mind if I come with you?"

The Warriors laughed as they continued on their quest, small Bear in tow..

One day, as they were wandering through a woodland, they saw two red eyes peering out from the shadows. Out slinked a small leopard.

"I'm going to get you. Prepare yourself."

The Leopard attacked the Warrior. She scratched at his leg armor as hard as she could. It was immediately clear that she could do no damage. But she didn't care. The Warriors asked if she wanted to join their troop.

"I was doing fine on my own, but since you asked…"

After several days, a beautiful baby gazelle began to follow them. They marveled at her beauty. Never saying a word, she just quietly trod behind them.

Each night, after their day’s journey was complete, they would warm themselves by a small campfire, preparing food, enjoying the warmth, and telling stories. But as the fire died and the small followers were asleep, the darkness would creep further in. The warriors had to be extra vigilant.

Days turned into weeks and into months. Our little group on the quest began to feel like a family. There were bitter cold winds out of the mountains. There were dry warm breezes out of the grasslands. There were week long rainstorms that flooded all the creek beds and gullies. There was lightning, there were even occasional earthquakes. But the Warriors, Bear, Leopard, and Gazelle trod on.

One dreary morning the Warriors woke up and Gazelle was gone. There were screams and scrambling as the group frantically tried to find her. There was a trail in the long grass where one could see she had been dragged away. But there were no other clues as to where she could be. They searched for days, but eventually, with a deep sense of loss, they continued on.

Several days later, a piercing screech shattered the morning sky. As the travelers peered up into the bright morning sun, the silhouette of a small eagle could be made out. It flipped and flailed and barrel rolled its way to a perch on nearby dead tree.

“Hello! You guys look like fun, mind if I tag along?!”

And with that, Eagle with his boisterous and endearing way, was an inseparable part of their group.

They fought rain. They fought snow. They fought sun and heat.

As they were making their way up a steep and treacherous mountain pass, a large boulder broke loose up above. It tumbled down, smashing into the path with the ferocity of a giant's sledgehammer. It sent the Warrior careening off the ledge, armor clattering off the rocks. The Woman Warrior leapt after him. She gracefully skipped from rock to rock almost able to catch up.

But she could not. He impacted the rocks below with a thunderous crunch. She arrived seconds later. His armor was bent and bloodied. She stayed by his side for a moment, long enough to realize his leg was badly broken. She pointed down the path said," you have to meet up with us… just down that way." And she was off, back up the cliff to rejoin the others.

He laid there for what felt like days. He tried to stand and toppled back down. How could this have happened? He was on a quest serving the King. Why had his partner left him so suddenly? 

Eventually he gathered enough strength to stand up. He tested his leg… and as he did, he immediately fell back over. He tested it over and over. And eventually he was able to stand on his good leg drag his bad one behind. 

As he made his way down this lower path, his mind raced. Would he be able to protect his friends? Why hadn't the Woman Warrior even stayed with him for a moment after his accident? They needed each other, and there had been times that she had completely leaned on him. Who else could support him?

What would she think, of how he had been brought so low?? What would all his friends from his home town think? He was no longer the dashing young agile warrior with the splendid armor that he once was.

While consumed in his thoughts, he accidentally made his way into a bog. It was only a couple inches deep, so he wasn't alarmed and he kept on plodding ahead. But the soupy mess got deeper and deeper and soon… he couldn't make his way forward or back. For a moment, he was filled with fright. He had heard about how dangerous these bogs could be. But surprisingly, it seemed to take some of the weight off on his shattered leg. Without thinking, he laid on his back, closed his eyes, and tried to forget his tragic condition. He didn't notice (or didn't care) about the sludge seeping in between the joints of his armor. The putrid sulfur smell almost seemed to put him into a trance. Like a siren's call, the bog had drawn him in.

The shock of the rockslide on the upper path was still sharp in the travelers minds. The sight of the rocks smashing... the Warrior careening off the edge and the terrible crunching sound of his armor impacting the ground below was seared in their memories. Without his strong presence at night they all felt vulnerable. Without his trailblazing and words of encouragement their progress was slower. Without his stories and joking at night around the campfire their days seemed darker. But what could they do? They had no choice but to plod on. The woman felt ready to go under, but she would not give up on those most dependent on her. 

"Just a few days more to the pass where the paths rejoin. We can make it until then guys!" Onward they marched as the jagged mountain terrain slowly gave way to hillier surroundings. They struggled on.

Finally, they found their way into a large opening. Massive house sized boulders littered the area. They quickly scoured the site, looking for any sign of the Warrior. After an afternoon's worth of looking, it was clear that he was not there and he had never been there. They decided to camp out and wait for him. It had to be any day, right? A couple at most.

The Woman Warrior made his absence into a minor inconvenience. A bump in the road. But inwardly she was dumbstruck. Where could he be? He had plenty of time to have gotten there, even with a broken leg, he could've drug it behind him and hobbled there.

The lower path was much shorter and much less hilly. She decided that she would wait one day, then backtrack for him.

The next day dragged on forever. At every sound the group would spin around and see if it was him coming. He never came. That night at their little campfire, she told the little ones about her plan and about what they might see the next day.

After they woke up and had a small bite to eat, they made their way back up the lower trail. After half a days easy journey, they came across a horrible smell. As they rounded a corner, a large, yellow green cesspool came into view. And right in the middle they saw a creature covered in the yellow-green goo. After a few more steps they realized it was their Warrior! 

Eagle immediately flew off to help drag him to the edge. The Woman began to wade in after him. To their surprise, the Warrior would not let Eagle help him to the edge. Eagle swooped down again to grab him by the breast plate and to all of their shock… SWAT!!! The Warrior swatted at Eagle, sending him careening off into the bushes.

As she reached him in the middle of the bog, he began yelling at her, "Why did you come back for me?! I was going to meet you there in a day or two!"

"What do you mean!? It's been two weeks since your fall!"

"You've lost it! It wasn't nearly that long. It was one night at the most," he said as he began struggling to his feet, and then falling again. He had forgotten about his broken leg in his time there.

"Maybe you should just leave me," he murmured under his breath.

"I don't know what you've been doing here, but you're a mess, and we need you. Get up! I will help you."

The two began hobbling down the path, back towards the clearing from where she had come. 

"Eagle!" shouted the Warrior, in a powerful yet compassionate tone, "Come here. How are you? I'm sorry if I hurt you."

"I'm fine! I just lost one feather in the bushes! It was a lousy feather anyway! Why wouldn't you let me help yoUUUU!?"

The Warrior lowered his gaze to the path below. "I don't know how time went so quickly," he mumbled under his breath. "I should've hurried back and met up with you guys."

"It's OK! Let's get on with it!" bellowed Eagle.

Over time, the Warrior's leg healed, and the Woman Warrior didn't have to help prop him up. He became strong in a fight again and eventually she learned to lean her weight against him in her times of need.

They pressed on, battling not for their glory, but for the glory of another.

Our obvious allegory could end here, but it does not. -----------

Over time, our heroine grew increasingly weary of the battle. She desperately loved her little group of travelers on their quest… but she longed for simpler times. She missed Gazelle and she continually wondered if he had done something wrong to lose her. She would go through long periods of quiet and withdrawal… a long dark night of the soul. Bear, Leopard, and Eagle would not notice. But Warrior, her partner on request, would have to carry her.

Often, other people that they would come across on their journey would not understand the weight that she seemed to take along with her. At one point, our travelers even came across the Woman Warrior's family. They spent several nights feasting and visiting around the fire. They brought hope and lightness to a sometimes dreary mission, but as they parted ways, a sadness came over the Woman Warrior. They did not seem to understand the gravity of her quest. She felt alone and not understood. The Warrior would carry her on. He was driven by a clarity of their goals and a fear of what would become of them if he became consumed with his own desires again.

Then, suddenly, our band of travelers would be in a fight against the Darkness and the Woman Warrior would be side-by-side with her partner, slashing and thrusting her sword adeptly and with purpose.... vanquishing foes. She had a great skill and a great calling… But she was wounded… just as much as he was. They were perfectly matched.

This was their fight. This was their journey. This was their quest

Posted on September 25, 2015 .

Happy Fourth! (American Pie -the lyrics are the history of rock'n roll)

Bye-bye Miss American Pie drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry. and good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye singing this will be the day that I die.

Whenever there is a holiday, I look for special music to listen to. American Pie by Don McLean is my very favorite Fourth of July song. It's old, but not too old. It's acoustic but not wimpy. It's simple, but it's mysterious. What in the heck does it mean?

Well… if you've ever wondered like I have, I came across a great lyrical breakdown explanation a few years ago. The original was by a student at Allegheny College. I can't find it. But I can find a site that quotes it in its entirety. It's enigmatic. I think it's fascinating. I also think it should be of special interest to any baby boomers out there. It's the story of your generation's music. Here it is. Dive in. It's beautiful. It's the history of rock'n roll.



Verse 1
A long, long time ago...
American Pie was written in 1971 and the time McLean is going to talk about is the 1950's. This seems
like a long time ago 'cause of all the turmoil that occurred in the 60's.

I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.
McLean's favorite music was that of the 50's.

And I knew if I had my chance, that I could make those people dance, and maybe they'd be happy for a while.
In the 50's, the major purpose of music was for dancing (sock hops). He wanted to play rock & roll so people could have a good time.

But February made me shiver
Buddy Holly died on February 3, 1959 in a plane crash in Iowa. He was McLean's hero.

With every paper I'd deliver
Donny boy's only other job besides songwriting was a paper boy.

Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn't take one more step
This story was obviously on the frickn' front page and made McLean freeze in his tracks.

I can't remember if I cried
He can't remember if he cried.

When I read about his widowed bride
Holly's wife was pregnant when the accident occurred and soon after had a miscarriage.

But something touched me deep inside
I don't even wanna know!

The day the music died.
The crash took the lives of three current rock legends: Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, so now Feb. 3, 1959 is called "The day the music died." The music that died is considered the standard rock & roll songs. The crash was the final blow («--keyword) to this music 'cause these three were that only major artists left. Elvis was drafted, Little Richard (or "Little Dick") turned gospel, and Chuck Berry was arrested for screwin' a prostitute.

 

Refrain
So bye, bye Miss American Pie
Pimp Daddy McLean was dating one of the Miss America contestants during one of the pageants. Also the "American Pie" part is a symbol of the American Dream (at least of the 50's), it was also the name of the plane that crashed and killed Holly (or so goes the rumor).

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
The American automobile was the Chevy. The levee business shows that America wasn't fertile anymore (at least in the sense of music). "Chevy" rhymes with "levee."

And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye singing "This will be the day that I die, this will be the day 
that I die."

The traditional Americans are depressed with the current lifestyle (60's). The song comes from Buddy Holly's "That'll be the day," that eventually says "that I die."

Another interesting note brought to my attention by Scott Tilles, is that the Levee was a bar in Purchase, NY near McLean's hometown. There is also a Levee, NY which is about 15 minutes from the school he attended.



Verse 2
Did you write the book of love?
"The Book of Love" was a hit in 1968 by the Monotones.

And do you have faith in God above, if the Bible tells you so?
In 1955, Don Cornell wrote "The Bible Tells Me So" and there is a Sunday School song "Jesus Loves Me," with the line "For the Bible tells me so."

Now do you believe in rock & roll?
This is from the great song "Do You Believe in Magic?" by the Lovin' Spoonful, written by John Sebastin in 1965. One of the lines is like trying to teach a stranger 'bout rock & roll," and another is "the magic's in the music and the music's in me." The "magic" this Johnny was talking about is the ability of a song to stick in your head. Often times songs bring back memories of the past, this is what the magic is. This magic is especially in rock & roll, 'cause you experience it without thinking about it or trying to analyze the bloody lyrics (like some asshole is right now). Another lyric is "so just blow your mind." (Don't think about it).

Can music save your mortal soul?
Given all that, can music help you get though life? I'm sorry I can't answer that. All of these questions ask about life and if God exists.

And, can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Dancing in the 50's wasn't like it is today. If you danced with someone, you then were committed to them.

Now I know that you're in love with him, 'cause I saw you dancing in the gym.
Like I said, dancing was serious stuff. McLean caught his love cheating on him.

You both kicked off your shoes
Reference to a "sock hop."

Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
He's depressed, and you listen to that kinda of music. There's a style of music for every feeling.

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
ummmm.....yeah, so was I......

With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
A pickup truck was a symbol of sexual freedom (and it rhymes with "buck" and "luck"), and Marty Robbins had a hit with "A White sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation) in 1957.

But I knew I was out of luck, the day the music died.
These old crazy things that worked in the fifty's no longer work, 'cause the 60's brought a new social revolution. Peace Out!


 

Verse 3
Now for ten years we've been on our own
The music died 1959, McLean more than likely started writing this song around 1969.

And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
The great Bob Dylan wrote "Like a Rolling Stone" in 1965. This was his first MAJOR change from folk music. In late 1966, Dylan was involved in a motorcycle accident, and hid in his house in Woodstock, NY for a good year, hence the "fat," and the moss shows the time change. Dylan didn't really get his muse back till 1975.

but that's not how it used to be.
McLean liked Dylan as a folk singer in the early sixties more than his folk-rock style in the mid sixties. (I wonder what he thinks of Dylan's religious phase!)

When the jester sang for the king and queen
Ok, the jester's Bob Dylan. The king is Peter Seger and the queen is Joan Baez. These were the two big names in folk at the time early '60's). During the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, Dylan was honored to play his own set and then combine with these two legends to sing his song "Blowin' in the Wind."

In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
In the Dean movie "Rebel Without A Cause," he wears a red windbreaker. On the cover of the Dylan's "Freewheelin'," he is seen also in a red windbreaker. This cover also resembles a famous picture of Dean. This ties in with the previous line 'cause this album is were Dylan really took off, with such songs as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall."

And a voice that came from you and me.
This means two things. 1. Dylan was the spokesman for the 60's (and he was) and 2. He didn't have the best singing voice in the world, and even you and me could sing like him (but you could write like him if Shakespeare «he's in the alley» himself told you what to say!)

Oh, and while the king was looking down
This could mean two things; Pete Seger remained a traditional folk singer, while Dylan was constantly reinvented himself and therefore became unbelievably popular. This could also be a reference to Elvis (the King of rock and roll), because he joined the U.S. Army and reportedly dropped his soap everyday in the shower.

The jester stole his thorny crown
While Elvis was in the army, Dylan took his spotlight and changed the whole music business. The thorny crown is the price of fame, and is referenced with Jesus's thorny crown before he was murdered.

The courtroom was adjourned, no verdict was returned
This deals with the Kennedy assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald was never convicted because he was murdered.

And while Lennon read a book of Marx
This is about the Beatles music becoming political. Songs like "Revolution" (1968) (which actually mentions Chairman Mao) were much different then "Love Me Do" (1963). Many American adults thought the Beatles were bad for the American youth, especially after Lennon's remark in 1966 about Christianity. He said "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first: rock 'n' roll or Christianity." This started anti-Beatles burnings and such.

The quartet practiced in the park
The quartet was the Beatles (there were four, not including if Paul McCartney is really dead!) and the park thing is Candlestick Park, the place of their last concert. It was practicing 'cause their music would grow after they stopped touring (their first project after this was "Sgt. Pepper" which is considered the best album of all time).

And we sang dirges in the dark, the day the music died.
A dirge is a funeral song. These songs were for the Kennedy's (John and Robert) and Martin Luther King, all who died in the mid 60's. And remember- "Dark" rhythms with "Park"


 

Verse 4
Helter Skelter in a summer swelter
Charles Manson is one of the most dangerous cereal killers ever (his favorite was coco-puffs). In the summer of 1968, he massacred an entire family 'cause of the Beatles song "Helter Skelter," which appeared on the white album. He thought that the Beatles were warning America about the racial conflict and it was "coming down fast." He thought the Beatles were the four angels mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Manson wrote the title of the song on the wall in blood after committing the murders. Also, he thought in "Revolution 9" that Lennon was saying "rise" instead of "right," thought the line "They need a damn good wacking" from "Piggies" was telling him to kill people and the "Hollywood Song" in "Honey Pie" was about him 'cause he lived near Hollywood. He was dropping too much acid and thought the Beatles were talking directly to him and told him to kill those people.

The Byrd flew off with to a fallout shelter
The Byrd's were a popular folk-rock group, with the huge cover of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," in 1965. One of the members was arrested for possession of marijuana and a fallout shelter was another name for a rehab program. A strange note is that Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" appeared on his "Bringing It All Back Home" record, and on the lower left corner of the cover is a fallout shelter sign.

Eight miles high and falling fast.
"Eight Miles High" was the first ever psychedelic song (it was written while high on speed, and the sound of the guitar was supposed to sound like a saxophone). The falling fast part is probably about the fact that the Byrd's abandoned folk-rock for country music with the album "Sweetheart of the Rodeo," in 1967

Then landed in the foul grass
Foul grass meaning marijuana.

The players tried for a forward pass
Here the football metaphor starts. The players are the protesters in the 60's. The forward pass was their movement to change the situation they were in, full of government corruption.

With the jester, on the sidelines in a cast.
emember jester=Dylan. In late 1966, while riding near his house in Woodstock, NY, he briefly glanced into the sun and lost control of his bike. When he went to brake, they locked up on him and sent him flying off the motorcycle. It took him about 9 months to recover (or was he just pregnant and trying to hide it from the world????), in which time he very rarely left the house, hence the cast.

Now the half time air was sweet perfume
Flower Power, groovy baby! Drugs, man, drugs.

While sergeants played a marching tune
Sgt. Pepper, Beatles, 1967, recently named the most influencal album of all time. First ever concept album. First to have lyrics printed on the back. First to have a design on the protector of the record. Included an elaborate cover design and cut-outs. As far as the music goes, it had drug references in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, sitars, animal sounds and studio trickery. In the song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" at one point in the sound the engineer was instructed to cut the tape into small pieces, scatter them around, then tape them back together. In "A Day in the Life" (which was banned from the radio 'cause of the drug reference line "I'd Love to Turn You On"), after the piano cords die out, there is a minute of silence, followed by a high pitched sound (by the request of John Lennon, especially to annoy the family dog), then a loop of Beatles gibberish to make the owners of the LP think that the needle had stuck! What was I talking about again?

We all got up to dance, but we never got the chance
Oh yeah, American Pie!! That's a good song...anyway, the Beatles helped to start a new kind of music that was meant to be listened and not danced to (how do you dance to "Within You and Without You"?).

'Cause the players tried to take the field
Players=Protesters. In 1968, at the Chicago Democratic convention, protesters rioted, and some were beaten by the police. It is now known as the days of rage. Also in 1970, at Kent State University, four students were killed by the National Guard in response to their anti-Vietnam protests, which inspired the song "Ohio" by CSN & Neil Young.

The marching band refused to yield
The Beatles had some anti-violence songs that made protesters think twice about the way they were acting. "All You Need is Love" (1967) says there is a better way then violence, and in "Revolution" (1968) one of the lines is "But when you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count me out." The beatles were in no way pro-government (as seen in 1968's "Piggies," which is about Congressmen), but they were against violence.

Do you recall what was revealed, the day the music died.
So what was revealed? ...well look at today, the president gets more ass then a toilet seat. As Dr. Evil says in Austin Powers, "Face it, freedom failed" or more accurately, the protests failed. The government is more corrupt now then ever before. McLean wasn't a big 60's fan and here is putting down the efforts of the failed generation.



Verse 5
And then we were all in one place
Woodstock Performing Arts Festival took place in August in 1969. 400,000 of McLean's generation were there. It took place at Woodstock (actually Bethel) because that's were Dylan was hiding, and they were hoping he would come out and play. Unfortunately he turned it down for the "Isle of Wright" concert.

A generation lost in space
The moon landing was of course in 1969, David Bowie's "Space Oddity" was released (which was about 'major Tom' who got lost in space), there was a TV show called "Lost in Space" and this is a drug reference, the 60's are generalized by saying everyone in the entire world was on acid.

With no time left to start again
It took them a whole decade to get to this point, the generation's time was quickly fading. McLean thinks they wasted most of there time on drugs.

So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack flash sat on a candlestick
"Jumpin' Jack Flash" was a hit for the Rolling Stones. In this song, McJagger compares himself with Jesus. This line comes from the nursery rhyme that has the line "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumps over a candlestick."

'cause fire is the devil's only friend.
The Stones sold out to the devil. Their only comeback to the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper" was their album "Their Satanic Majesties Request." Seeing that you've probably never heard of this, you can imagine that it pretty much sucks. Also, their song "Sympathy for the Devil," proves that they were desperate to sell their records (the Beatles were SOOOOO much better!). Was it really worth celebrating the devil?

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
No, it wasn't. In December of 1969, the Stones attempted another Woodstock, this time at Altamont Speedway. This time it was a free concert, with the Hell's Angel's handling the security. The biggest mistake was paying them in advance, but instead of money, with beer and handfuls of acid. While the stones were singing "Sympathy for the Devil," a black man was beaten and stabbed to death by the Hell's Angels. They soon began beating everyone, include a member of the Jefferson Airplane.

My hands were clenched in fists of rage
He was pissed.

No angel born in hell could brake that Satan's spell
"angels born in hell" a.k.a. the "Hell's Angels!" When you have sympathy for the devil, you're asking for trouble.

As the flames climbed high into the night, to light the sacrificial rite
The stones were helicoptered out of there it became so crazy, hence the "climbed high." It's like the Stones started the living hell, and left in the middle of it...what's up with that? The sacrifice to the devil was the man's life.

I saw Satan laughing with delight, the day the music died.
This was the definitive ending of the sixties. The generation that was lost in space was now lost on earth. Before the only violence was between the hippies and the police, now it was amongst themselves. Satan had won, in one final blow.



Verse 6
I met a girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news, but she just smiled and turned away.
Janis Joplin is most the girl who sang the blues. Her big hits were "Piece of My Heart" and "Me and Bobby McGee." She died of an accidental heroin overdose on October 4, 1970. McLean is still trying to find happiness like in the beginning of the song "Maybe they'd be happy for a while," "That music used to make me smile." (Note the tone of the song is very similar in these to verses) But this time the smile isn't for happiness but regret.

I went down to the sacred store
Here he's talking about record stores that sold 50's albums.

Where I heard the music years before, but the man said the music wouldn't play
By the 70's, the 50's music was almost ignored by everyone. Hundreds of great albums were released in the 60's, and it seems that everyone has forgot about the 50's.

And in the streets the children screamed
The youth of America were beaten in the streets especially at the end of the decade. (Like I said earlier, the Kent State murders and the Chicago Democratic Convention)

The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
In Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," he says: "I met one man he was wounded in love, I met another man he was wounded in hatred," showing that love hurts sometimes as much as hate.

But not a word was spoken. The church bells all were broken.
Again in "A Hard Rain...," the line is "I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken." Simon and Garfunkel had a hit with "Sound of Silence." The church bells all were broken shows that people have forgotten God. All things are are so sacred are gone, love, faith, happiness, peace. In Dylan's "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," one verse goes: Disillusioned words like bullets bark . As human gods aim for their mark . Made everything from toy guns that spark . To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark . It's easy to see without looking too far. That not much Is really sacred. McLean isn't the only one that feels this way. He was obviously a religious man, and is very disappointed that they have abandoned God.

And the three men I admire most, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
The trinity of God, McLean was Catholic.

They caught the last train for the coast.
God has left. Time magazine even featured a cover story "Is God Dead?" The generation has failed, and "with no time left to start again." It was now up to the next generation to put things right (and they did a terrible job might I add).

The day the music died. And we were singing....
This last verse is the hardest to explain...Remember, McLean never would talk about what what the lyrics definitely mean, so it's not perfectly clear. Some people believe there were more references to the Kennedy's (him being the king and his wife the queen), but I feel his presence is felt though the songs from the 60's better.

Posted on July 4, 2015 .

Really Disappointed Tonight (no Montana)

I had to turn around and cancel a vacation tonight. I'll get to why shortly, but let's start here…

I love to travel. I have to get that out at the beginning of this post because that's what it's fueled by. Before my accident I got to travel all over the country while attending Indiana Wesleyan-hundreds of church camps coast-to-coast for multiple years. I traveled to England multiple times with my family, and I grew up with mom and dad that loved to vacation... even if it was tent camping to a state park. I've also lived all over the country… That fuels my travel desire as well. But there's one hitch,

I've become a quadriplegic since all those travels. It doesn't mean I can't travel. Physically I'm usually up to it. But it means that the logistics are a lot more complicated, and it means that I have to take a full-time personal health care aid.

For the past couple months, my parents have been planning on taking our kids to Montana for a grandma/grandpa vacation. Since Shelly and I have had so much going on at home and with our nonprofit, we didn't even think much about the vacation.

Then, last week, I decided I wanted to try to go. Crazy I know. But I started calling a couple of my aids to see if they could swing 10 days off for an all expense paid trip to Mount Rushmore, the Rockies, Yellowstone, etc. Nobody could. So Shelly and I waved goodbye to my mom and dad and the kids on Sunday morning.

Then two hours later… I got a phone call from my main person saying they could go. So Shelly and I decided that I would go surprise the kids in Montana, and she could have some much needed alone time. I love watching my kids learn, and I love to travel. It's the perfect combo. We loaded up, I got my air conditioner fixed (a must if you're going out west!) and we got on the road about 5:00 yesterday.

A little backstory here… I've been dealing with a small pressure sore underneath my left butt bone for the past four or five days. My cushion was a little flatter than it should've been, so there is just a little inflammation. No big deal. Except the last three days it's been getting progressively worse. I figured if I did a little extra pressure relief throughout the day it would be fine.

...So four hours into our trip last night… Beloit, WI if you were wondering, we grabbed a Hampton Inn.

This morning when I got up, we checked out the pressure sore, and it had gotten quite a bit worse on the road yesterday. So I struggled with the decision... do I get on the road west to Montana or east to home? I thought about it over breakfast, I called Shelly about it for a half hour, and I prayed about it as well. There's just no way I could continue on to Montana. The pressure sore was getting worse, and even if I got there I would have to spend a lot of time with my chair tilted back and all the pressure off my butt.

A trip through Chicago later, around the tip of Indiana, back up to Grand Rapids… tonight I sit at home alone. I sent Shelly with her parents on a couple day trip out of town.

I really don't know what to do with my emotions tonight. I had already made peace with staying here when the kids took off in the first place. But then I got really excited about the prospect of spending a bunch of time with my kids watching them see all these fantastic places for the first time… Not to mention some actual time out of Grand Rapids for once in about the past year and a half..

I'm really disappointed, I'm sad, I kind of have peace, and now I'm lonely for my family… Who has only been gone for a day. I'm a bit of a mess. Way way way way way worse things have happened, but it doesn't help how I feel tonight.

Posted on June 23, 2015 .

Launch Party Thank You's

We had an absolutely awesome time last Wednesday night at our JSBFM launch party! We were planning on 100 and we had about 120! More than "banquet" or a fundraiser, we really wanted this to be a time that we could continue to build a team around our ministry.

This is for sure what happened! We challenged people to invest their Time, Talent, or Treasure. Multiple people signed up to volunteer for events. We had several people sign up who were builders, accountants, chefs, social workers, and office helpers - and we raised well over one third of our annual budget!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this night a success!
Hannah, for your hours and hours of help organizing everything.
Veronica for your tireless work and help making the decor look amazing.
Kelli, for making the merch look classier than it already does.
Charlie and. crew for the dope set up yet.
Heidi for your willingness to dive into games before you knew what you were volunteering for.
Steve for providing discernment and experience.
And the board and Clare for your wisdom and guidance

Posted on June 18, 2015 .

I Am Rod Blagojevitch

I don't know if you remember, but after Obama was elected in 2008, he left a vacant seat in the Senate and according to law, the governor of Illinois got to select a replacement. His name was Rod Blagojevitch.

Gov. Blagojevitch saw his chance to make some money or make some political capital. He began to work behind the scenes to sell the Senate seat. One of his cronies, Scofield, was shocked enough that he taped some of his phone calls with the governor, who subsequently was convicted of and is now in jail. Here is one of the juicier phone calls.

WARNING… profanity.

So after all this came out, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News we're all running reports on how terribly he was and how shocked everyone was… then one day while I was watching one of these reports over lunch I realized… I AM ROD BLAGOJEVITCH

My affair had come out about four months prior. When I had reflected on all I had done to in my lifemy wife... I had lied to her. I had planned things in secret behind her back. I had betrayed her. I had maybe not done things on a corruption or a financial scale. But I had let my sinful man run rampant just as bad as Gov. Blagojevitch. But when people looked on my life from the outside, the disconnect between who I was claiming to be publicly and who I actually was out of the public eye was massive. No less than Rod Blagojevitch. 

If you're honest with yourself, you have the exact same capacity as me or as Rod. If you make one small compromise, and then make another, and then make another… soon you are at a place, living in sin, that you never thought you would be. The outside perception of you and the inside reality of you would be massively disconnected.

I am lucky enough (actually blessed enough) to have people in my life who help me stay accountable to the man that God has called me to be. Not that I ever envision doing what I did before (and not that I'm prideful about it), but God calls me to a life of more than just avoiding sin. In striving to be the man/husband/dad/friend that God is calling me to be, I have accountability guys in my life. I have mentors, and I have 4 or 5 Reminders that go off on my phone every day.

Even with all this, I still have to choose every day to walk in the way of truth and light.

My hope for you (and me) today is that we wouldn't ever think that we are above doing what Rod Blagojevitch or any other broken sinful person did.

We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
— Romans
Posted on April 24, 2015 .

What Really Matters In Life (Love You, Rusty)

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I like to brew beer. Is something that I've enjoyed for seven or eight years. I woke up this morning ready to bottle a pale ale that I will enjoy drinking, but even more… I will enjoy giving away.

When we went downstairs to get the supplies to bottle, there was a massive plumbing leak that was destroying the ceiling in our finished basement. Shelly screamed, We immediately turned off the water, drilled a few holes in the ceiling, and started pulling out Rubbermaid tubs to contain the leaks. Complicating the issue… we were getting ready to paint the basement because our friends John and Hannah are getting ready to move in for six weeks or so while they get a place to live more permanently. They are getting married in a week and a half.

Another friend, Mark, came over with blowers and dehumidifiers… cut a few holes, and pulled the carpet back so that it could dry. 

In the midst of this, I'm struck by a couple of things. 

One, it is all just stuff. I am so impressed with Shelly's attitude towards the chaos in our house. It will all get fixed. Some of our furniture or pictures might be ruined, but neither Shelly nor I are freaking out. God is giving us some grace to have this attitude.

Two, my buddy Mark is more of a minister than many pastors I know. Not only did he drop everything he was doing and rush over here to save us, he brought one of his employees with him to help. I briefly got to talk to this guy, and I found out that he has had some serious run-ins with the law… in and out of jail. Mark takes guys like this and gives them a chance. Gives them responsibility. Gives them work. Wow! Mark is a stud.

But overshadowing all this this morning is the fact that our close family friends the Schultzs are struggling with the reality and the deep tragedy of losing their boy Rusty to cancer in the very near future. They have walked a difficult yet open and transparent path with his cancer in the past few years. Redemption seems like the wrong word to use in the face of such an ugly and shocking tragedy. But through their faith and faithfulness, they have brought the reality of God's grace to the lives of so many.

I am so glad that we serve a God that not only has a plan, but he lets beautiful people like this Schultz family bring beauty to this earth even in the face of the ugliest things that our planet has to offer. It may or may not be a comfort to them right now. Telling anyone who is in the midst of wrecking grief that there is a "bigger reason for everything going on" or that "there's a plan for everything" isn't comforting usually. But just their willingness to walk this path in such an open way gives the rest of us a window into the immense beauty of our creator and His redemption. We love you Schultzs.

I may have to postpone my silly little beer project, and our basement ceiling made cave-in with water. But this day God is redeeming a life wrecked by run ins with the law, and he is giving grace to a family facing the imminent loss of their son.

What really matters today?

Posted on January 13, 2015 .

Why I'm Glad I'm in a Wheelchair (Part 2)

I know it sounds crazy. It sounds unbelievable. It sounds like I'm doing intellectual gymnastics to somehow make peace with the fact that I'm in a wheelchair. When I was inpatient at Mary Free Bed doing rehab, I heard an interview with a professional athlete who had become paralyzed. He was saying that if he could go back to being the guy he was before his accident, he would not do it. I thought this was baloney. I thought that he had to be lying to himself to make himself feel better, and to impress other people with how far he had come.

But now, seven years later, I am the guy in the video. I can't imagine being the person inside that I was anymore. There are multiple reasons why, including my first blog post on this topic. But the bottom line is, if going back to being in a fully functioning body (I would do almost anything for) meant that I had to be the inward person that I was before, I wouldn't do it. And here's big reason number two...

Living in such a visibly broken body keeps me humble.

Living in such a visibly broken body keeps me humble. Let me tell you a quick story. 

In 2007 I broke my neck. Shortly thereafter, I started having affair. I've told elements of the story in the "Our Story" part of this website. But one element I've never shared is this. Watching the toll it took on my kids. Luckily they were young enough to not have many direct memories of Shelley I being separated, And we have begun to tell them elements of the story. But watching what I had done to our marriage was devastatingly humbling. 

Even though I was living in a hotel across town from our house, I still had to find way to see the kids. This usually came in the form of this… my buddy drove to Grand Rapids from Kalamazoo. He pick me up at the hotel and drove me to the house. He went and got the kids who came out to the car in the middle of December and went crazy hugging me, then began asking me when I was moving home. We would drive by Wendy's, drive to the hotel, change into bathing suits in my room,  and then go swimming. 

This was not a luxurious pool. It was not a luxurious hotel. It was a 1960s, Beirut upkeep, run down, stains in the hallways, cracked concrete around the pool... hotel.

We would swim for a couple hours, then my buddy and I would take them back home (because I couldn't drive). 

We would drive back to the hotel in stunned silence, reflecting on the fact that I was not living with my family that God had so graciously given me. The thought would hit me,  "look at this sad shadow of a father that I was to my kids. It was all my fault.

The thought would hit me, “look at this sad shadow of a father I am being to my kids.” It was all my fault.

And now, with the amount of time I've had to reflect on what has happened and why, I realize it was pride more than anything else that took me to that dark place. I thought that I deserved something that I didn't. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my cracked up, frazzled, emotionally bankrupt brain, I must've thought I was different. I must've thought that because of my extreme circumstances, I didn't have to play by the same rules everyone else had to.

I am a prideful person. I don't think I knew what that meant until I was 32 or 33. Here's how it breaks down. Being prideful is not the same as being arrogant. It's not the same as being cocky. I am a people person, and I've never wanted anyone to walk away from an interaction with me and feel less about themselves. On the contrary, I want people to walk away from me feeling better about themselves and what they are capable of. But that doesn't mean that inside I didn't have an unhealthy view of myself, my accomplishments, and my abilities I think that He uses the extreme circumstances that my handicap brings about to keep me sensitive to how broken we are, and how much we rely on God for every breath that we take.

Some people need constant reminders that we are redeemed. We are forgiven. We are whole. We are God's chosen. Whether it's good or whether it's bad… this is not me. Got has built into me a healthy self image that I know he has lifted me up and set me in a high place of esteem. But I need constant reminders of my depravity and my brokenness and my utter pointlessness without him.

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
— Proverbs 29:23
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
— Proverbs 16:18
ppp.jpg

Which brings us to today. I am going in for a procedure that is going to fix the pump that pumps a tiny amount of baclofen into my spinal column. It is actually A wonderful thing. When you're paralyzed, your muscles tend to tighten up. This means you have to take an oral drug called baclofen to keep them limber. Baclofen is tough on your liver. You get the pump, and use a tiny amount and it bypasses your liver. 

For whatever reason, my pump is malfunctioning. So I am going in today to get it fixed.

My pride is a check today 

I know I'm loved. I know God has chosen me as his child… but any day you were going under general anesthesia, when someone is going to cut into your abdomen and put a stainless steel hockey puck in there you feel rather mortal. (anyhow… when Ava died Shelly and I both bought burial plots. I know the place on the earth where they are going to bury my body someday. How mortal is that?)

Please be praying for Shelly and for me. Logistics are kicking our butts right now. I have another procedure on Monday and I have another health condition that is swirling around in the offing. Not sure what to make of it. More later. Love you all. Under the knife… Here I come!

Posted on October 16, 2014 .

Why I'm Glad I'm in a Wheelchair (Part 1)

This sounds crazy doesn't it? Well it's true. 

Caveat… if I could stay the person that I am now (emotionally, spiritually, relationally, honesty-wise, integrity-wise) and have full use of my body, I would move heaven and earth and spend every last dime to do it. But my fear is, if I was back to the old guy when it comes to my body, I may go back to the old guy when it comes everything else. And I would never want to do that.

… If I was back to the old guy when it comes to my body, I may go back to the old guy when it comes to everything else

Before I was in a wheelchair, I would look at people in wheelchairs  (especially people in power chairs)  and I would think to myself, "weird… they look so unnatural. Are they on life support? Do they have tubes hooked into their body? I bet they smell weird. I bet they hate their life. I sure would. I bet they're miserable. I bet they're on the verge of crying right now." 

I think this is one of the reasons that a paralyzed person has such a hard time adjusting. They take on all the things that they thought about disabled people before they became disabled themselves. In my case, I was taking on a lot of presuppositions. Mind accident was in January of 2007.

But then came a monumental day. January 29, 2009, I went to a Chris Tomlin concert with a buddy at the VanAndel arena here in Grand Rapids. As we we were leaving, I was weaving my way through the packed lobby. People would look at me, and hop out of the way. Kids would stare. Adults would avoid eye contact. But past all of that, I realized that I would rather beme than be in any of the other people there. 

What a revelation. It was a breath of fresh air. Even after everything I had been through, I still wanted to be me. It felt pretty badass. That goes for anyone reading this. I would rather be me than be you. This meant that I didn't have to feel like half of a person… A second class citizen… A little shriveled up guy in the corner.

So… with that day began the beginning of a new perspective, I have learned lots of reasons why I'm glad I'm in a wheelchair. Reason number one… 

I am much more of a present person in a wheelchair. 

I am much more of a present person in a wheelchair.

My personality lends itself to dreaming. to always thinking about what's next... to always thinking about the next big challenge. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. Throughout history, great people have done great things because of great dreams. But very often those great people weren't very good spouses, friends, and parents. Very often, those great people didn't appreciate or enjoy the simple pleasures in life, the things right in front of their faces.

Since I have been in a wheelchair, I have been forced to be much more present person. I go to the office at Crossroads Bible Church work one or two days a week, but the rest of the week I work from home. This has the effect of making me know what's going on at home more. I know the kids friends better. I know what is malfunctioning with the house sooner. I enjoy the simple pleasures of our home more... the artwork in my office. the view from our back deck. The fact that coffee on the front patio in the morning, phone calls in the afternoon on the side patio, and wine and cheese in the evening on the back deck with friends is a great way to spend a day.

I know Michigan trees a lot better. I know the difference between a red maple and a silver maple. 

I know Michigan birds a lot better. I know the difference between a Cardinal call, a Chickadee call, and a Blue Jay call. 

I love gardening. Although my first shot at a container garden on the back deck was a disaster this year (because of powder mildew), I'm going to give it another shot next year. I know the difference between how tomato plants pollinate and squash plants pollinate. I've spent more than a half hour at a time watching insects fly around my plants and wondering why there are no honey bees (this is an actual real crisis if you didn't know)  I know that at 11:00a.m. In June there is always a hot sun on the container garden. At 11:00 AM in late September the sun doesn't make it above the tall trees in my backyard to put any sun on the container garden at all.  (this is an astronomy issue) which leads me to… 

I have viewed Saturn from our telescope here at home in the middle of a blisteringly cold January night because that was the best time of the year you could view it..

Basically… I have had to slow down... and have in turn learned to love the world around me so much more. I think this honors God. 

But even more honoring to God is the way that I have gotten to engage my family better. 

I am much more tuned in to my youngest sons struggle against Pride in struggle against dishonesty. The reason why is I have learned to do less and observe more. Shelly and I have now put a sheet on the headboard of his bed that says "Ephram: Man of Character" it has five little icons that represent talks with God, Loves Jesus, helps others, uses good manners, and respects other people and their things things. He goes to sleep underneath this little sign every night. He can quote these to you at the drop of a hat. Although this doesn't guarantee who he will become, It makes the expectation pretty clear...

To be continued...


Posted on September 27, 2014 .

Under Pressure? (Back to the Hospital?)

I was stuck in the hospital for three months in the beginning of 2013. They were trying to get rid of the bacteria that had infected my tailbone. My biggest fear since then has been that the bacteria hadn't been all taken care of.

Two weeks ago, when I got a small pressure sore out of nowhere that seemed to be infected, my heart plummeted. I thought it was the same infection returning... and now it would be even harder to take care of.

I went to the doctor yesterday and he reassured me that it WASN'T THE SAME ONE! This just means that it's a tiny surface issue. Praise God! Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers! I am living high on life!

Now it's back to stressing about the same on mundane things I was stressing about two weeks ago.

Posted on June 21, 2014 .

Old Farts and Proud of It

Pull out your depends. Go buy some false teeth. We are officially old

This morning I surprised Shelly with two nights at a bed-and-breakfast in grand Haven Michigan. It is the same bed-and-breakfast we stayed at on the first night of our marriage. Six years later, we stayed there on the one year anniversary of the death of our daughter. It is a special place to us.

Right after I told Shelly we were going, I had a strange feeling in my stomach. I started to realize I didn't really want to go. We were sipping coffee on our back porch and enjoying being alone. (my parents had taken the kids for four nights) Did we really need to go somewhere?

So I asked Shelly, "be honest, sweetheart. Do you really want to go do this? You seem a little hesitant." (I might've been putting thoughts in her head). She told me she did, but I saw a glint in her eye that she sort of wanted to stay home too. 10 minutes later, she said, "can I be 100% honest? I don't want to go."

I belly laughed and agreed with her.

So… We are very old farts, but somehow we can both communicate in a very tricky situation.

Now it's time for us to go spend time alone in our quiet house. Maybe a cup of warm milk?

So we are going to go spend the money that we don't have at the Melting Pot instead of an expensive bed-and-breakfast. Wow…

 

 

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Posted on June 9, 2014 .

Mac, Money, and Excess

Make sure you read my Facebook status on what I've been up to and how the family is doing. The last thing I want to do is not blog for a couple months and then jump right into a philosophical treatise. But this news story has been spinning around inside my head since I first heard about it.

Dr. Dre is a billionaire. Yup, that's right.

How many dollars is a poor white baby worth? How many dollars is a poor Guatemalan baby worth? How much is being seen with the latest iPhone in your hand worth? Which would you rather have, the latest Beats headphones or the cure to cancer? I seriously think a lot of society would pick the headphones.

And I don't say all this in the "Christian Children's Fund" half hour-long TV commercial type of guilt tactic way. I say it in the real life, every day, I really suck at this, how do we make the world an okay place to live type of way.

Although I am an avowed Apple addict, news of their latest purchase has me scratching my head as to the worth of money vs. image vs. my life priorities. In case you haven't heard, Apple has purchased Dr. Dre’s Beats Audio for $3.2 billion. Yes that's with a capital B. 

Beats Audio is the brand of the chunky headphones you see celebrities and top end athletes wearing. It is also a streaming music service (such as Spotify) that could reinvigorate the 10-year-old iTunes store, and maybe above all… really cool… providing access to a demographic that Apple has lost.

1. CNN Report

2. Public Reacts

Quickly browse through these videos. Can you believe $3.5 billion?

3. Commercial back when iPod had its swagger

Now I don't blame Apple or Dr. Dre really. This is market capitalism baby! And although I don't like all of what has come from capitalism, we can see that through history humanity hasn't ever come up with anything better. What breaks my heart is I don't know what to do about it.

I see Dre and Tyrese celebrating and part of me can't help but smile. But part of me wants to scream, "There is something so much more valuable for you then $3.5 billion!" The way that Dre acts, and his language concerning his success would not be surprising to most of society. How can the kingdom of God intersect with this attitude?

And part of me wants to yell to all of our high school students, "There is something more than the latest headphones and the latest iPhone!" But Don Draper and the rest of the ad execs on Madison Avenue, have learned so much about psychology, sociology, and impulse buying that most of us can't see past the next iPhone, Nalgene bottle, or Avenger Movie. (dare I say Bethel Worship CD, Christian?). 

How do we avoid from buying into this? I completely admit, I want every new Apple product that comes out. With how good advertisers have become (whether it's traditional marketing and advertising or more grassroots or even more guerrilla style) do we really have much control at all?

Should I give up on my hopes of seeing societal change in what we value?  I don't think many of us even realize how dysfunctional we are. How do I best play my part in making that change come about?

A Change Is Gonna Come


Posted on May 12, 2014 .

For Zoe (Befores and afters for the New Year)

Elizabeth Taylor-actress

Soundtrack for today's blog (clicking doesn't change page)

Darling daughter! Happy new year! You will be 11 years old this year. I can't believe how mature you are getting already. I am writing this blog post to you, but I am not going to have you read it for a couple years yet. If you find it before then you'll probably get mad at me… Oh well hehe... Hopefully some of my friends that read this blog will get some wisdom out of it and pass it to their daughters.

I am so proud of who you are. You work so hard at school, and you work so hard at home. You treat others kindly and I know that you want to try to be who Jesus wants you to be! What more can I want? Nothing.

But I am scared. You are going to junior high soon and I know that you will be faced with all kinds of messages, problems, and challenges that you can't even imagine now. The beautiful, simple, innocent world that you live in will be so different in a few short years. 

So... I have something that sounds very brutal to say to you. The world does not care about you. Culture does not care about you. Most of your friends don't know this, and most of their parents don't realize it, but the same forces that are trying to get you to be prettier, listen to the latest music, watch the latest movies, wear immodest clothes, send naked pictures on your cell phone, and have sex with boys, are the same forces that will hate you if you get chubby, don't have much money, get pregnant, get a sexually transmitted disease, or act too much like a "Christian."

Who is "culture"? Who is "the world"? It's not a specific group of people. But at any given point in time we all perceive there to be a group of people that are smarter, more attractive, more cool, and more excepted than we are. We all feel that there is some group that is "in charge." Then, we all make choices as to what we will do to be accepted by this imaginary group.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
— Proverbs 31:30

No matter how pretty you are, no matter how beautiful your clothes, no matter how perfect your make up is… It will all go away. You will get old. You will get wrinkly. And you will not be "pretty" like the world tells you you should be.. Want proof? Here are some pictures of some of the "prettiest" people ever. They had millions of dollars to buy all the latest things… And they still got old and wrinkly

Madonna - singer

Rita Hayworth - actress

Goldie Hawn - actress

Cher - singer

Not only will the world lie to you when it comes to your looks...

...it will also lie to you and tell you that money and possessions will provide you with lasting happiness. Actually, "the world" just wants all of your money, and it would chew you up and spit you out.

I know it's hard to imagine, but almost all the companies that produce music, movies, cars, phones, clothes, perfume, and jewelry, don't care if you end up without any money or even if you end up dead. They just want you to buy their product. Sit down for an evening and pay close attention to the commercials on TV. "The world" will tell you that you need a super fancy car and a new smart phone every year. T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint advertise "zero dollars down" while Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti make us feel like giving a car for a Christmas present is something we should consider doing.

Original iPhone and iPhone 5s. 

Even though your daddy is very enamored with all things Apple, are we really getting that much more with the iPhone 5s than we did with the original iPhone? Look at this picture? We have calendar, pictures, camera, texting, maps, weather, Internet, phone, and email all on the original iPhone? Do I really need thumb scanning security? Probably not. It's a phone, not a nuclear missile launch protocol.

In area after area, what is trendy, profitable, or worth knowing today, will be forgotten and discarded tomorrow. All across our planet and all across time, humankind has a tendency to invest their hearts and lives into things that are temporary.

I want you to base your self-worth on something more lasting than what the world says you should. I want you to have a value system that looks at the reality of things, not at what the companies that are making money off of you say you should.

Zoe, I know all this stuff sounds scary, but I will be here for you and we can work through it all together, okay? I love you and I want you to have a great year!

Michigan Central Station, Detroit, MI - bustling transportation hub for decades

Olympia Cotton Miil, Columbia, SC - One time World's largest cotton mill now vacant

Olympia Cotton Miil, Columbia, SC - One time World's largest cotton mill now vacant

Posted on January 4, 2014 .

I Want to Know What Cool Is? (Sarcasm?)

So I've been promising a post on infidelity. Said post has now been worked on for five days and is 12 singlespaced typewritten pages. I need advice on what parts I should and shouldn't post, so I am now having a few people help me through the content of it. Yesterday I posted this while I was working on it, "The blog I'm working on about infidelity is like giving birth and having an episiotomy. Although I don't know what an episiotomy or giving birth is like." If I were to continue with the childbirth analogy today…  I have to go to the operating room. It's time to get this thing out of me with a C-section. Gross, huh?

So, today I am going a completely different direction… "I want to know what cool is?" There may be a touch of hidden sarcasm in that comment, and there might not be. I'm saying that to keep those of you who think you're too cool to to discuss what cool is on your toes. I might be one step ahead of you. Or I might be the nerdiest quadriplegic you've ever heard of.

Before you go on, you need to start playing one of the four songs of above. They are pretty freaking cool, and some of us base our coolness in music. Some of us base our coolness in our clothes. Some of us base our coolness in our lingo.  Some of us based coolness in our attitude.

But regardless, at some point in our lives, be it in junior high or be it when we are 51, we start to ask ourselves questions. Am I cool? Who is cool? If I'm not cool, what do I need to do to be cool? Should I try to be cool? Is it cool to not be cool?

So now this is my question… In which one of these pictures am I cool?
pic2pic.jpg

I know I know… It's not a fair question because I look so stinking preppy in the picture on the left. Preppie might not be cool to you. But you have to remember that I was in law school when that picture was taken. And I do look rather Dead Poet society, don't I?

My body has changed so much since the accident. One of the annoying things is that since I no longer have abdominal muscles, my stomach pooches out into an annoying thing that they call "Quad Belly." I had a very flat stomach before the accident, but three weeks later I looked down and I asked my therapist, "what the freak is this?" She said "that's just quad belly. It's your internal organs just not being held in buy your abs anymore." As if it were no big deal. I wanted to cry. Since I have this belly, I can't wear the medium or large T-shirts that I wore before. Now I have to wear double X or triple X even though I've only gained 3 pounds. This limits the stores I can shop at, so Old Navy is my go to. My hairline has also receded the point that I just wanted to shave it off. Since I don't have abdominal muscles, I can't quite talk as loud or as full as I did before. Then there are the obvious ones… I can't walk so my legs are thin from atrophied muscles. I can't use my hands so they look funny in the gloves I have to wear so I can still grip things.

You'd think with all these changes that my self-esteem might have taken some hits. That's really not the case. Sure, I've definitely been humbled, but that's more through my life situations then through my changed body. Almost losing my wife and family was much more humbling then not being able to walk. God has given me so much grace … at the end of the day, I still just feel like me. I have learned a lot about pain, overcoming, frustration, loyalty, grace, forgiveness, patience, determination, and organization since my accident.

This brings us to some questions on cool. Who is cooler, an organized person or an unorganized person? Before my accident (and before my increased need to make sure things around me were organized because I can't just wing things anymore) I thought being unorganized was cooler. I thought being spontaneous and being unorganized went hand-in-hand, and I love my spontaneity. But when I make a plan, things unfold accordingly, and I have everything in place so that all my bases are covered, organization feels way cooler than disorganization.

Think about how American capitalism appeals to consumers. Cool is king. Providing crushing pressure from a multibillion-dollar marketing machine for us to try to be a standout, be a star, be an individual is the ultimate marketing strategy. You don't need to listen to the album that artist made, customize your own playlist. Get the phone that you can customize all the buttons, screen, and trim on. New phone! New phone! New phone! New tablet...bam! New laptop...bam!

It's the same with fashion. Be a one of a kind.. Wear these $190 jeans (that 25 million other people have). Do you like whiskey? Drink this kind of whiskey. It is for people who know who they are… Top people… Original people… Cool people.

The obvious irony is that when millions of people are all being original in the same way… No one is original.

An unusual twist to this is the hipster (scenester) ironic (anti)cool. It goes something like this, "we are going to show you (convention) that you don't control us. We are going to pick clothes that don't look good (guys in painted on skinny jeans) and facial hair that makes us look like sex offenders and we are going to prove to you that we're not afraid to go out in public like that. But all that this does is provide a counterculture that is just as exclusionary as culture is.

 

Two hipsters walk into a bar. The first one did it before it was cool, and the second one did it ironically.
Real 2013 American Apparel model

Real 2013 American Apparel model

So maybe you have a greasy ironic mustache. Maybe you spent $300 last week at Urban Outfitters buying jeans and a pair shoes. Maybe your American Apparel T-shirt is a little bit softer than my Fruit of the Loom. But have you seen the American Apparel models?

When it comes down to it, the older I get, I see people desperately trying to fit in, desperately trying to be cool as some of the least cool people I know. I'll stick with my six-year-old Old Navy hoodie.

But before I get too big for my thrift store britches, I have to remember that if I love Jesus, I'm also responsible to these passages…

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
— Romans 12:3
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
— Luke 9:25
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
— Romans 12:2
Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
— Luke 14:7-14

So… Even though I've been a little bit sarcastic in this post, how do we as Christians deal with "cool"? At various ages we all have the need and desire to fit in and be cool. Hopefully as we mature that need fades into the background more and more.

Hopefully we can get to the point as a culture (or at least as the Kingdom) that we all just wear the clothes that we like and we all listen to the music we like we all use the lingo that we we like without paying so much attention to Madison Avenue or to the culture (or the counterculture) around us.

Posted on December 23, 2013 .