Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pat White's Superfan

My dad just got his first Miami Dolphins hat as a gift this afternoon because he's such a huge fan of Pat White. When my sister brought it in, he wore the hat with pride. Dad is now in a step-down unit and making some serious progress in his status. Of course he doesn't have the greatest appetite, but that's to be expected after a double round of anesthetic.

We've spent the evening trying to encourage him to eat even though he doesn't feel hungry and he says the food tastes terrible. (I tried a little bit of all the food though, and it all tasted pretty good).

Here's where we are right now. Dad needs to start walking (something he's pretty good at), and once he can sit up on his own and walk four times in one day on his own he will be able to be released.

It's cool because now we have some goals and incentives to start shooting for. And Jamie's background in rehab and exercise physiology will make her a perfect coach for moving him along.

But, he needs to eat. It's been about three days since he's had a meal, and that makes it hard for anyone to walk. Say some prayers that Dad's appetite will increase and he can start to get his strength back.

In the meantime, while he's in here he will be breaking in his new Pat White. . . er . . . uh . . . I mean Miami Dolphins hat and looking forward to getting his strength back and start walking around the Parkersburg City Park again real soon.

Another Update On Dad

Well, it's a new day with a good bit more to update since I wrote yesterday. Yesterday felt like a long day for all of us, and I think a big part of that was we spent a lot of time waiting. I guess God is helping us to grow in patience. At the same time, yesterday was a day full of HUGE progress.

Early yesterday morning, as I had previously recounted, Dad was making big steps (and he still is). After we had left his room in the open heart recovery area of the hospital, his doctor came through and approved him to have the balloon pump that was on his legs removed. Then a little later, they took out another tube, and then a chest tube, and then a tube that was going into his neck monitoring pressure in one of his arteries.

By the time we made it in at 2PM, virtually all of the monitoring apparatus, tubes and pumps on his body removed. He had been approved for stepping down, and they said that as early as this morning he should be able to sit in a chair.

He is moving along brilliantly. His blood pressure and breathing are better than most americans'. His pulse is dropping down to a much better level as his body recovers from it's trauma. It was a little higher yesterday in the same manner that ours would be a little high the day after we ran a marathon or the way I felt three years ago after running the Clarksburg 10K.

This is amazing news. And yet, at the same time it was a long day. He was approved for a room early yesterday afternoon. But no rooms are currently available. As of 11.30AM EST Dad is still waiting for a step-down room where he can have regular visitors. Because there are no rooms available, it makes the time go slower. He only gets visitors for 30 minutes every four hours. We only get to spend time with him for 30 minutes every four hours. We are grateful that Dad is alive, and yet at the same time, we've been a little frustrated by our inability to be together with him. Again, God is giving us a great opportunity to work on our patience (as I shared with Dad this morning).

While this waiting has been a minor setback, Dad has made incredible progress and recovery after having his chest opened twice in a 15 hour period. He also had the arteries checked in his neck and found minimal blockage. This is incredible news because we were concerned about the possibility of a stroke when he had his bypass surgery done because we knew there was blockage in the neck, we just didn't know how extensive it was.

Dad is still pretty tired, and during our most recent visitation time, I started talking with him and could see and sense he was tired so I just sat with him while he slept, until I was asked to leave at the end of visitation. Pray for him to continue to gather strength.

Thanks again for following this blog, my twitter, and my facebook. I'm amazed at how fast word can travel through the internet, and I've received encouragement from friends in many faraway places. I just got back from talking to dad, and told him that the folks serving Nuru in Kenya, as well as my friend's family's church in India have been praying for him, as well as you and many of your friends wherever you are. I'm humbled by your interceding on behalf of our family.

Prayers of the Saints

Last night, Willie, Becky, Ray, and I made our way into the small chapel in CAMC for a brief while yesterday evening, and while there, Willie discovered a series of notebooks. The notebooks (one of which is pictured above) contained prayers written out by people who had relatives in this hospital and in this particular wing. I took a few minutes this morning and read a few of these prayers. Some might think this an invasion of privacy, but I think each of these people who poured out their heart wanted to share their hearts not only with God Almighty, but with anyone who might wander into the chapel looking for a bit of encouragement.

I can't fully describe how beautiful and touching these words on the pages are. When you are going through any type of emergency care or trauma, it feels like the world is crashing in on you. It's the same with all of us. These prayers reflect that. Sure we all know statistics on various illnesses. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know about the tragedy of over one billion people when it comes to clean drinking water. But when we are confronted with statistics, they might impress or depress us.

On the other hand, when we are confronted with prayers, the numbers become more personal. All of a sudden our lens gets a little less myopic. We realize that there are many who are hurting in our world, and there's a sense of solidarity because as they say in Kiswahili, "Tuko Pamoja", We Are Together. We are not alone. We are all connected and united. And yet these words in spiral notebook in a chapel point to an even deeper solidarity.

For me, when I read the prayers of others who are calling out to Jesus, it reminds me of a deeper truth. It reminds me that Jesus draws near to those who are hurting in the world. it reminds me that Jesus also suffered and understands everything we may be going through. It also reminds me of a vision from scripture in which the prayers of the saints are described as a fragrant incense to God.

When I read these prayers, they are a fragrant incense to me as well. I'm encouraged by them, humbled by them, and moved deeply in my soul by them.

I'm so thankful for the prayers of the saints. Spoken and unspoken. Written and unwritten. The heartfelt prayers of the saints are a thing of beauty.

Thanks again for all of the encouragement and prayers you have sent to the family over these last few days through phone calls, visits, tweets, and facebook. These have been a strong source of encouragement for me and my family.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dad's Update

First off, I want to thank y'all for reading and following this blog. It's been a real joy for me to share so much of what has been going on in my life and in the world with you through this outlet. While I've been with Willie these last couple of days, we have been kicking around some ideas to freshen the look and feel of this site, so hopefully you'll start to see some of these changes in the next few days.

It's been really encouraging to be able to share the support that has been shown through comments on this blog, on my twitter, and on facebook. You have no idea what it means that I can share your encouraging words with the rest of the family, and that other friends can be encouraged by your thoughtful words and heartfelt prayers. God has blessed us beyond measure.

Alright, now I want to update you on the last few hours. They have been INCREDIBLE. Since yesterday, dad has made significant progress, and we've had quite a few visitors. He was taken off the ventilator yesterday around 6.50PM. So this was right after people started praying. He was still fighting the anesthetic and fatigue, but he stayed awake and was able to have the tube removed on his first thirty minute test. (If you remember, he had to remain conscious and breathe on his own for a thirty minute period before they could take the tube out. Pretty amazing.

He's still on 20% supplemental oxygen but he doesn't need it. This is more of a standard procedure for the location, but he's on the minimum amount they give. While unnecessary, the rich oxygen content helps him to heal and recover more quickly so it's a good thing.

His breathing is phenomenal, and so are his kidneys. Most complications with heart operations occur with kidneys or lungs. He's released most of the fluid taken on through his two rounds of anesthetics (still has a little bit to go though), and he is breathing better than most folks I know in terms of depth and robustness of his breaths.

His blood pressure is nearly perfect, but his pulse is a little high. The high pulse is as a result of the trauma of the surgery. If you or I ran a marathon yesterday, we would have an elevated pulse rate and pretty high sense of fatigue for the next couple of days--even in peak condition. (But I don't anticipate Dad running an actual marathon for a couple of weeks.

He's able to lift his arm to scratch itches on his face, and that's pretty huge considering he had his chest cracked open just a day ago.

I'm so grateful to be able to give such positive news over this last 24 hours, I attribute this overwhelmingly positive news to three things. First and foremost, your prayers and our God. I could talk about this at length but I won't for now, the details would be too many for a blog entry that is quickly growing long. Secondly, the staff at CAMC have been incredible. I can't say enough about the quality of care at this facility. Thirdly, my dad's healthy lifestyle. Until last week, he walked an average of 12.5 miles/day. He's nearly 68 years old. I don't know many 28 year olds who could keep up with him (and now that this blockage is removed, I'm sure even more people will struggle to keep up with him).

One last note on number three. Of course this is common sense, and strongly supported by healthcare data, but seeing my dad's challenges and recovery thus far, I am deciding to get more serious and proactive in monitoring my diet and becoming more disciplined in my own physical fitness, and you should too! Find some people who will do it with you and encourage each other to stay with it.

Thanks again for taking the time to read, to pray, and to encourage. I hope I can share another really positive update with you later on.

PS I know this sounds weird, but I think my dad actually looks younger now than he did in the above photo from a year ago. In spite of his fatigue from the surgery, the removal of blockage has literally breathed new life into him.

Do You Have Pig Flu?

So in the middle of all the trauma of Dad's situation, we have still had time to laugh a little bit. Willie and I decided to take a photo to go along with this link my friend Bryan Monzon shared with me on twitter.

It's a website where you can find out if you have swine flu. If you want to be sure, check it out.

Hopefully your results are similar to mine.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On a Lighter Note

It's always good to take a step back and laugh. There's healing in laughter, and I just saw a couple of things worth sharing recently.

Saturday evening, I spent the night in the Indianapolis Airport because my flight from Indy to Chicago was delayed a few hours, and the subsequent flight from Chicago to Pittsburgh was cancelled. While I was on my 'grand tour' of 500 laps through the airport, I noticed a vending machine. The vending machine was a little different from any I had ever seen before. Instead of Zagnuts and Snickers bars, this vending machine distributed ipods. That's right! Swipe your credit card, and push a button, and an ipod nano (you pick the color), an ipod touch, or one of many ipod accessories could be retrieved from this machine.

When I saw it, I cracked up. (There was part of me that wanted to make a purchase, just for the novelty of it, but beyond novelty I couldn't justify it). What will they think of next?

I'll tell you what they will think of next . . . a website to determine if you have swine flu. Check it out, by clicking here. Hope you come out clean like I did!

Praising Jesus Through the Pain

I took this photo of my dad on April 17th during our Passover Seder meal in Morgantown. I realize April 17th wasn't Passover, but we typically celebrate a little different than the norm. During the evening, my dad was tired, and was dealing with some chest pain, and I took this photo of him as he was worshiping God in the middle of that fatigue. It was during this weekend that we talked about him going to see his doctor about his fatigue and his chest pain.

After three visits to the emergency room in Parkersburg along with a multitude of tests, it was finally determined that my dad had something going on with his heart. When he heard that he might need a heart catheterization, he asked if he could move to the Charleston Area Medical Center, because they have some of the best heart surgeons in the region, and specialize in these procedures.

We're all really glad he made that decision. After an ambulance ride from one hospital to the other saturday evening, he got settled in and was given a stress test early sunday morning, it was determined that a heart catheterization would be a good idea. Last night around 7PM the procedure was done. He had several blockages, among them was an artery with 99% blockage. 99%! That's virtually closed. In fact, it is believed that a small blood clot from the catheterization is what provoked what came next. My dad had a massive heart attack. He was taken back into surgery, and the doctor had to attempt a quadruple bypass in order to make sure dad could be stabilized.

To further complicate things, it was noticed that dad had blockage in his neck as well. While attempting to care for the heart blockage, there was a possibility that the blockage in my dad's neck could cause a stroke. Thankfully, that did not happen. In fact the doctor told us this afternoon that Dad's heart is fully recovered from yesterday's attack and subsequent surgery.

But, we aren't out of the woods yet. What my sister was told is that these next 24-48 hours are the most critical. My dad's recovery from surgery has been slowed slightly because he is still bleeding pretty badly. For some reason his blood isn't coagulating like it should. So, while you are reading, would you mind taking about a minute and praying for my dad to 1) have a speedy recovery. 2) Not be afraid, discouraged, or depressed as he regains consciousness in the recovery room.

Two years ago, my mom was on similar apparatus (ventilator and heavy sedation), and I'm sure this recalls memories for him of that space. My sister said it was incredibly hard for her the first time she went back because it brought up memories for her. While we were able to praise God through the difficult times with my mom, it's always hard to see a loved one in a weakened state.

As a kid, my dad was my hero. He was the coolest, the strongest, the funniest, and the most supportive dad in the whole world. He still is all of those things. He's incredibly tough. Last fall, he climbed a 7% grade for four miles on a bicycle. There aren't too many 68 year olds who can do that. (or 18 year olds for that matter). I think that's part of the difficulty with the whole thing. My dad had all of this blockage, and he could still out-do most people walking or riding a bike.

But now he's in a tough spot. His body is trying to heal from surgery and he is bleeding a bit more than the doctor would like to see. So again, take a minute and pray for him. Thanks so much!

Monday, April 27, 2009


Sorry this entry doesn't have a photo, and not much in the way of a back story. I'm asking you for prayer.

Tonight @ around 9PM, my dad was taken back to his room at CAMC after a heart catheterization and shortly after arriving had a major heart attack. He has multiple blockages around his heart, and blockage in his neck.

His doctor is trying to open up one of the arteries which probably became completely blocked by a blood clot. There is a risk that the blockage in his neck can move and cause him to have a stroke. If they can open up this one artery tonight, then they can go back tomorrow morning and take care of the multiple bypasses.

Please pray for my dad to experience the peace only Christ can give during this time, and pray for the doctors to be able to flawlessly execute their procedures so my dad can be back on his feet walking 10-15 miles/day again really soon.



Friday, April 24, 2009

New River Narrows

Yesterday, I traveled a short patch of US Route 460 that I've traveled on a couple of other occasions. Each time I've traveled, the weather has been poor, and I've been in a hurry to get to my destination. At the same time, each time I drove this short stretch, I've felt a desire to stop and take a picture. I've felt like I should come back one day.

And so yesterday afternoon was my day. While traveling past the town of Narrows, I stopped near a boat launch and snapped this photo. I even took a moment, at the suggestion of one of my friends, to dip my feet in the water (this is a habit I have in a few different locations--year round.)

Between the sun, and the view from the valley, this little moment of respite in an otherwise consuming week was incredibly enjoyable.

Have you ever felt drawn to a place like that? I mean, the first time I went through this area it was night time and it was four years ago, but in my mind, I just wanted to drive this stretch of road along the New River again.

There's something about driving along the bank of a river that just does something to me. I remember having this soothing tranquil feeling as I made my way along the Allegheny River with my parents later in the fall of 2005.

I'm so thankful for the soothing power of water. I can't describe it, but when I go to the riverside, I feel a sense of tranquility and ease that I can't fully describe.

Yesterday, as I stood along this river bank, I thought, "How cool would it have been to have grown up here along this river?" And then I started thinking about how easy it is to feel like the grass is greener on the other side, and to be constantly filled with a longing for something more, something different, or something else.

Honestly, my life and my times have been pretty amazing. The creator of the universe has woven a wonderful set of experiences for me, and I hope I never take for granted the places He has allowed me to go, the work He has allowed me to do, and the people with whom He has filled my life.

My cup runneth over, and I am grateful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's Happening!!!

"Be Hope to Her" at Stanford

See that photo? There's a link beneath it. I need you to click that link, or this one and go vote this photo as BEST in Peninsula Happenings for the Mercury News in Silicon Valley!

Will you go do that?

There's a story and more info with the photo, but you can read that when you click the link and vote. Thanks for helping out!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Early Morning Mist

Took this photo of the Monongahela River valley with the iPhone my
best friend Willie gave me.
You know, when we take advantage of vistas and moments we can enjoy
the beauty of the created world.
Hope you can take a moment this morning wherever you are to reflect
and enjoy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Bucket

It's emerging all over campus at WVU, and making appearances as far west as Stanford and as far north as Boston College and Gonzaga. It's even popping up all over Ball State this week! (Check out this sweet articlefrom BSU's campus paper.

WHat's it all about? It's BH2O+, or "Be Hope To Her" and what it's about is this. THere are over one BILLION people in our world who don't have access to clean drinking water. They can't even get in their car and drive to wal-mart for bottled water. That's right, they've gotta walk and fill up a bucket just like the one you see above. Five gallon bucket, sitting on top of a little girl's head and guess what else. She has to miss school. So she doesn't get an education, and if she doesn't boil the water she acquires, then she and her family can get six. Five gallons of water weighs about 42lbs. Can you imagine carrying that?

But it doesn't have to be this way. There's another possibility. What if they didn't have to walk 30 minutes or more to get water, and what if the water they acquired was clean?

This week, hundreds of women across college campuses here in the states will be walking and raising funds and awareness so wells can be drilled in Kuria, Kenya.

So when you see the bucket on facebook or twitter (or on this blog), take a moment and think about the opportunities we take for granted. Don't let this one pass you by. Be part of sustainable solutions to clean drinking water and even more.

Visit the be hope to her website and join others in confronting this crisis!

Immigration Complications

Let me preface this entry with the statement that I am not an expert on American immigration policy. Now with that . . .

Last night, I was talking to my friends, and he started talking about an immigration case his friend who was a law student was working on. In the case, an illegal immigrant had a child, and that child, who was born in the USA, is a citizen. The immigrant has a good standing and is respected in his community. But because it was discovered that he was not a US citizen, he runs the risk of being deported to his native land. His son is receiving medical treatment that will not be available in his native land. Since his father is his legal guardian, (the son is very young) he will be deported to his native land as well.

What do you think should be done in a situation like this? Here's a recent usa today article on the subject to stir your thoughts.

Morgantown's Top 100-Jen Short

Ok, this entry is pretty self-explanatory. My friend Jen Short just made the morgantown, wv newspaper's top 100 influential people of the area. She's number 15 too! While some of you from other areas may not think this is a big deal, take a minute and read the article above. Jen is living proof that you can make a difference in this world.

Where are you going to make your mark?

You Will Suffer

My best friend on the planet was telling me about this video of John Piper speaking to college leaders at a conference. From the sound of it, it probably took place around Easter.

A few years back, I was able to represent the state of WV as well as Great Commission Ministries at a nationwide Passion Conference in Sherman, TX. During the conference, not only did I hear John Piper speak, but I was able to acquire a free copy of his book, Don't Waste Your Life. I highly recommend reading it if you get an opportunity.

I listened to this video early this morning, and found it to be a good aid to focusing on what it means to be a Christian, to be one who has been transformed by the power of the cross and of the resurrection. It doesn't mean that things will be easy for us. As my friend Jerry Haynes put it, it means that "God is with us, that He hides Himself, and that He is faithful." Even in suffering, God has a plan. He had a plan for Joseph when his brothers sold him into slavery. He had a plan for Daniel when he was placed in a den of lions. He had a plan for Paul when he was beaten severely multiple times and placed in prison.

And you know what else? He's got a plan for you. It may not make sense. It very likely will involve some difficult times. But sense will be made one day. And as God walks through the difficulty with you, there is an eternal weight of glory that we can not even begin to comprehend in this life.

I hope this message on suffering can encourage you in perseverance of faith. And whatever you are going through, remember that God is with you (even when the way seems dark and desolate!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Be Hope To Her

This spring, Nuru International is launching a nationwide awareness campaign focused on college campuses. The event is an attempt to experientially raise awareness about the issue of clean drinking water that over one billion people are challenged with each day. In the states we get our water from a tap, flush it down our toilets, and buy it by the bottle.

In other parts of the world, people hike 30 minutes or more (one way) to get five gallons of water for their family. This trip has to be made multiple times per day. In order to get that water, people have to give up a lot of time to dedicate to water access. Even when the water is acquired though, oftentimes it is filled with bacteria, and is not safe to drink. So the water needs to be boiled. If the water isn't boiled, then people get diarrhea, or have other health problems. This means that their daily routine is slowed down severely at best. In some cases, because of lack of convenient access to medical facilities, this can result in death (an 2.2million million children will die from diarrhea this year). When you have to spend hours each day getting water, and boiling water, there isn't much time for schoolwork, so many young girls don't get to complete school because they are taking care of getting water for their families.

Next Thursday, eleven major college campuses across the United States are participating in an event called Be Hope To Her. Women will gather at a central place on campus, and carry yellow five gallon buckets to a water source where they will fill and carry in solidarity with the women and girls in other parts of the world for whom this is a daily part of life. As the women walk, men will hold posters along the route that explain the fact that this walk is THE NORM for many, many people. Every day. Because water is a necessity.

I've heard people say that it would take $13 billion dollars to provide every person in the world access to safe clean drinking water. That's a lot of money. It's also the same amount that americans spend on cologne and perfume each year.

As I think about the event, and the inner strength of these women and girls who make this journey every day for themselves and their families, I'm excited. I'm excited because I believe this event will help inspire a generation to work creatively and collaboratively to confront the crisis. Not just the crisis of clean drinking water, but the larger crisis of extreme poverty.

If you wouldn't mind, if you have a blog, or you twitter, or you use facebook, will you help us to make the event even BIGGER by telling your friends, and posting a link to and to be part of lasting change?

Be the change you want to see.

Be hope. Be light.

Be Nuru.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fee and Hillsong London

Tonight at Crc I attended a concert with Jerry Haynes and Jamie
Reaser. Concerts at Crc are pretty busy days for the staff but often
it ends up being a mini reunion as well. I've run into old roommates,
friends from my undergrad days at WVU, and people from the community
whom I haven't seen for a long time.
There's something cool about music that brings people together.
There's something cool about reuniting with old friends who share a
common tie. What's cooler than that is to share big dreams together.
Are you dreaming big with friends and with your Creator?
Dream big. Change the world. Love others. Love God.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Water Girls

Water Girls, originally uploaded by Nuru International.
Over the lenten season, I attempted cut down my purchases of beverages and keep an accurate budget of what I spent during the course of the lenten season on beverages. It was kind of shocking to see how the total came out. I tried to keep track of times that people offered me other drinks (whether it was me or them, somebody had to make the purchase).

As a result, I realized that on average, I probably would have spent about $3/day on beverages. A cup of coffee here, and a soda there, and some juice at this spot all kind of add up. Of course there were days when I probably wouldn't have bought anything, but I think I realized over the course of time that I take for granted that I have all of these choices.

In the end, the amount I donated was a combination of what I would have spent combined with the amount I actually did spend on occasion (there were a few times I downed a coke, a coffee, or a vitamin water), and a little bit on top just to round everything out.

It's been an eye opening time with regard to the access to a variety of beverages and even more so to the availability of clean drinking water at my disposal.

If you get a chance, check out this website, and perhaps take stock of the simple pleasures like water that we all take for granted.

And, if you are so inclined, I encourage you to give to Nuru as well. It's a great organization, and they are planning to drill four deep water wells during the month of May for the 5000 people of Kuria, Kenya.

Will you join me in helping to bring lasting change to the people of Kuria?

The End of Christian America?

That image is of the oldest church in the city of Amsterdam. It's called Oude Kerk. Outside the church is a monument to a prostitute. There are still services at the church on sunday I believe, but not many attend. Actually the main function of the church is as a museum. For six dollars, you can walk through this large and beautiful old building and see some amazing architecture, stained glass windows, and murals on the ceiling.

The oldest church in Amsterdam is functionally a museum. To me it is hard to believe that the huge structure that was built in 1280 AD serves better as a link to history than as a gathering place for those who have been radically changed by faith in Jesus.

All around the church, there are sex shops, hash-marijuana bars, and most shockingly, windows.

These windows aren't just any kind of window. The windows are outlined in red lights. Behind the windows, prostitutes stand. Many of these prostitutes are trafficked to be in those windows, so instead of prostitutes a better understanding is that they are slaves. Just outside the doors of a church there is slavery and prostitution. There are drug addicts and dealers. In some ways it seems like a perfect location for a church. But in other ways, it seems very indicting that the church has very little influence in the community directly around it.

This week, Newsweek had an article called The End of Christian America. If you read the article, you'll find no mention of prostitution or slavery, you'll just see that the church in America has a steadily declining influence, as well as a steadily declining percentage of the population who claim any affiliation.

The reasons for the decline are many and the article doesn't really generate many in it's four pages but instead points to this being a good thing. Because I believe that Jesus, and His church are the hope of the entire world, I have to say that I disagree. The author points out that people aren't becoming less religious, because religious devotion of some type has always been a part of society--even if it is a religious devotion to atheism, or agnosicism, or our own personal Gods. And if the truth be told, there has never truly been a "Christian America" although some would like to think so. Regardless, the level of influence that the Christian faith is demonstrating in America is in a marked decline.

People aren't becoming less religious, but they are becoming more individualistic. I believe that part of the reason for the departure is that Christians seem to know a lot about God and love, but often times we fail to be tangible demonstrations of that love. This is what I believe to be the foremost indictment against many who call upon the name of Jesus in America.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to stem the tide, but it might require a change of lifestyle and habit for many. By stemming the tide, I don't mean the creation of a "Christian America" as much as I mean an America where Christians, wherever they are exert a transforming influence on their communities for the better. The transforming influence of Christianity always starts, ends, and is sustained by love. Yesterday, we celebrated Easter, and we saw that love can get you into a lot of trouble with the powers that be, but love is always the best way, and in the end it is victorious.

May you examine your own heart and life, and begin to ask for strength to make the changes in your life that need to happen so the Church can be a better sign of the Beautiful Kingdom of Jesus.

Easter He Is Risen

I took the above photo in Sint Nicolaskerk in Amsterdam a few weeks ago while in the city on a service trip for another local church.

Yesterday, Christians all over the world celebrated the resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. At the very least, there were more people in churches yesterday than virtually any other day of the year. And yet, much like the prior two days it just doesn't seem that there was a whole lot of significance being placed on the event being celebrated. For many, Easter can feel like just another day for family dinners and an opportunity to wear some new clothes to church. In some churches, the big question is how good will the Easter performance be.

Don't get me wrong, Easter is a great time for family. I enjoyed being able to connect with quite a few families yesterday, and there's something special and sweet about seeing the generations come together--it just doesn't happen much any more in the States.

Also, I think that Easter worship gatherings should be extra special too, they should stand apart from any other gathering. If people aren't able to be in a church very often through the year, the celebration at Easter should be huge and beyond anything they could imagine.

When I think about the significance of the day, it kind of makes me wonder why we don't have the day end with fireworks or something like that. What if Easter was just this huge blowout party, and it just continued all day long? What if somehow we could in the middle of a day long celebration manage to keep Christ central to our conversations? What would that be like?

Easter feels like there should be a space for reflection as well. Somehow, in the middle of the celebration, there should be moments of quiet (maybe that's what Friday and Saturday are for?) for folks to consider the significance of the events of these three historic days.

Sometimes I kind of feel guilty because my mind can seem to wander from the significance of the day so quickly. I wonder if I'm alone in this feeling?

I don't know what it will look like, but I'm hoping next year's Easter weekend will be different for me. I have a distinct feeling that I will be compelled to say no to a lot in order to say yes to this kind of celebration and reflection.

Regardless of my scattered feelings, this day represents the single most important event in human history. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and buried, and He rose again to declare his defeat of evil, sin, and death. His resurrection gives proof and validity to the words and actions that led to his crucifixion. He is the God-man, and His victory over sin enables us to have restored fellowship with God. As the Gospel of John states, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

Everlasting life--now that's something to REALLY CELEBRATE!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Longest Day

The above photo was taken of a church near Red House, MD about two years ago.

As I've had opportunity, I've been trying to do a little reflecting on the triduum, the three days at the end of the lenten season. It all starts with Maundy Thursday, then Good Friday, then ends with Holy Saturday.

But let's just set aside the tradition for just a minute and reflect and remember the original period. What would it have been like? What would it have been like to be spending an evening with your Friend who was just asking you to stay awake and pray for just a little while, but you kept falling asleep. WHat would it have been like to be awoken by the roman guard coming in to take away your Friend, the One you believed was the Messiah? If you were daring enough to follow his captivity and trial from a distance, you would witness him taking a beating unlike any you had ever seen after a middle of the night trial.

I can barely picture what this would have been like to the early disciple and witness all of that. But it didn't stop there. I mean, they probably saw Jesus crucified. Now when we watch passion plays or even the movie, we don't get the full effect. He was beaten beyond recognition. He was naked. He was probably gurgling and gasping for air in pained moves. The flesh was torn from much of His body, and He had lost massive amounts of blood. Even before the trial and beating, He had sweat blood from His pores.

So you look upon your Messiah, realizing you are unable to do anything to stop this injustice. Nobody deserves to die like this. You might even wonder if there was something you might have done that could have prevented it. It's the way we always wonder about loss of a loved one when we realize our time is short with them. You look up at the cross and see your Rabbi Jesus breathe his last. (That's if you can stand the sight of this kind of suffering). As He breathes His last, your sadness grows greater. The Sabbath is fast approaching.

Of course no one can walk a long distance on the sabbath. So begins the longest day. Jesus has been crucified under Pontius Pilate, and you can not go to visit the tomb until Sunday morning. So you go to the temple just like any other devout Jewish person. You weep. You morn for the loss of your dear Friend. But the day seems sooooo long. You gather with friends, and maybe share some stories of favorite moments with Jesus.

It just doesn't seem real. Just a few days ago, you were celebrating as He rode into town--on a donkey. Everyone thought He was the One. The crowds cheered as He rode in on that Donkey.

Maybe one day, in the resurrection, you might see Him again, but your Friend is in a tomb.

For now, it is the Sabbath. It's time to sit and wait. Maybe tomorrow will offer you an opportunity to pay last respects. Maybe then you can go and visit the tomb. It's too far to travel on a sabbath. The sun may be shining today, but it's clouds, tears, and dismal darkness in your mind.

It's hard to imagine the loss those first disciples felt. They didn't know what was coming on Sunday.

And sometimes, I have to wonder if we can really grasp what was coming on Sunday either.

Good Friday

While trying to write this entry, my phone has rung a few times, I've received a half-dozen emails, and I've been involved in three conversations. SO if it feels a little disjointed, there may be a reason for it.

Yesterday was Good Friday. Among other things, I spent yesterday responding to phone calls and emails, driving across the state, running errands, and even spent a little time connecting with friends.

Seems kind of weird really. Maybe I'm the only person on the planet that feels this way, but it just seems like life is incredibly fast -paced and busy. Too busy.

When I was a little kid, I used to love looking forward to Easter weekend because it meant a day off, lots of candy and goodies, and fun time with friends. And to be honest, much of my life as an adult has been spent this way as well.

Usually Good Friday is spent running around and catching up on shopping, taking care of little purchases that there is rarely time for during the week, and things like that.

Yesterday, as my best friend Willie and I drove around Parkersburg, WV in the afternoon, we were amazed at the massive numbers of people driving around Parkersburg, WV in the afternoon. It seems kind of strange that on the day that Christians have historically taken time for extreme fasting, prayer, and reflection upon the brutal substitutionary atonement death of Jesus of Nazareth that people would be out and about so much.

Seems like something is missing and feels a little hollow with such a hustle and bustle going on. And as I am writing, I feel like I am confronting my own disjointedness and lack of rhythm when it comes to the sacredness of a day like Good Friday.

I started off the day well. Read a devotional with Jamie as we drove to drop her off at her parents house. Spent the next hour in the car reflecting on the fact that Christ died, and then I connected with Dad, Becky, Ray, Willie, and Emmalee.

I have a friend named Mona whose family spends the time from Sundown on Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday), to Easter morning fasting and in extended times of prayer. Life get's much simpler for them and they end their fast with a HUGE feast to celebrate our resurrected Lord.

I don't know about you, but I feel a bit disconnected from that kind of seasonal rhythm and reminder both of the Messiah's great suffering, and His Great victory.

It's not too late though. May you find some time to worship and reflect on the great sadness and the great joy that have historically been part of the Easter season. Let's not forget that our sins cost deeply, and that our Savior rose victorious.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Be Hope To Her

Be Hope to Her from Nuru International on Vimeo.

Go ahead and hit that play button above, after you read this blog entry.

In just two weeks, Nuru is launching it's largest grassroots event to date. It's called Be Hope To her, or BH2O+ for short. The event will feature women from 10 college campuses in different parts of the country walking in solidarity with women and young girls in the developing world. Campuses like Boston College, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Ball State University, and good ol' WVU are part of this historic event.

Essentially, here is the issue at hand. There are over one billion people who don't have access to clean drinking water. What this means is that women and girls spend much of their days walking long distances and often standing in line to gain access to a water source. Keep in mind that water is necessary for life (just in case you didn't realize this). Because they spend their days walking to get water for their families, often young women never get an education in these areas. Nuru wants to change that.

Nuru wants to give these women hope and opportunity. And women on college campuses are going to be part of that hope. Nearly 300 people have signed up for the event already, and we still have two weeks before the event takes place. Imagine what a stir will take place as women walk from their dorms and apartments with buckets on their heads, meet in the center of campus, make their way to a water source and walk through the campus in solidarity with each other, and with women and girls around the world.

At the same time as the event, Nuru is raising funds for our deep water wells to be drilled next to schools in Kuria, Kenya. Drilling wells next to the school gives extra incentive for students to go to school and then they can take water home with them at the end of the school day. These wells are not cheap. Another organization, Dry Tears has agreed to raise funds for one of these wells. They are raising $20,000 to bring clean drinking water to the people of Kuria, Kenya. BTW did I mention that Dry Tears was started by HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS?

I'm blogging about this today because I'm totally stoked about this event! I'm blogging because there is still time for you to register for the event, or even make a contribution to Nuru. I'm blogging about this event because YOU AND I have an opportunity to save hundreds of lives and create opportunities for others by getting involved.

Will you visit the Nuru site, or the facebook cause page, and make a donation? Or, better yet, will you register, and join in solidarity with women and girls around the world who do this not just once, but EVERY day.

May you take a moment to make a small contribution to change while you have the opportunity.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

an experiment

So I wanted to try this out. It's a little experiment. The garden is
an experiment too but I'm talking about this post. I'm trying my hand
at mobile blogging. This could mean more stuff being written and more
photos being taken.
You see, my best friend in the whole world gave me his iPhone. What a
gift right? Wrong. What a friend! Willie is way cooler than an iPhone.
Back to the experiment. I just took a photo of my garden and now I'm
emailing that photo and these words to my blog. Hopefully you are
reading this with no problem.
But hey, it's an experiment. I hope it works. Might just increase my
blogging frequency again.
Experiments are really a step of faith though. Most of us aren't real
comfortable with that. Comfort is, well, comfortable. But when we
experiment sometimes we end up reaping a major blessing. When we step
away from comfort sometimes we even begin to know God better. Isn't it
part of the gospel story that Jesus stepped out of the the comfort of
heaven to walk this earth and suffer? Pretty cool to think about.
And you. Is there an area in which you may need to experiment and step
out of comfort? May it go well with you and transform your life and
the lives of others for the better.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I Washed My Bible

That image above is my Bible. The one I made lots of notes in. The one that I carry with me virtually everywhere. I guess I should be using the past tense in those last sentences, because I ran my Bible through the washer this morning.

It sounds kind of spiritual, right? Make sure you wash your Bible every day and pray. haha. I can't believe I did this. My bible is now a jumbled mess. It's a little pocket Bible, but it weighs as much as one of the big boys now.

I was multi-tasking a bit this morning (a skill I learned as an analytical chemist at Mylan) when it happened. I was going back and forth between responding to emails, household chores, and planning for a couple of speaking engagements I have in the next couple of weeks. I had my Bible on my bed/futon, and I decided that today I was going to wash all of my blankets. I grabbed up the blankets, sheets, pillowcases (and Bible), and proceeded to shove them all into the washer. An hour later, I open the washer and remove all of the blankets, sheets, etc. and find my bible lying at the back of the washer.

I was more than a little bit bummed. I mean, I've been through so much with this particular Bible so there was a sentimental value attached. But the flip-side is that I've stored these words in my heart. And more important than the Bible is my relationship with the living God. So I hopped in my car and drove to Laura Christie's bookstore, Good News Bookstore. I was long overdue for catching up with Laura, and I like to support local businesses.

While I will miss my old Bible, and it's notes, I guess it is a good reminder to be more aware, and to maybe make my notes in more than one place.

I was able to find a similar pocket ESV Bible--the cover is different, but the words are the same. ;)

As much as I had hoped to be really productive today, the day definitely hasn't gone as initially planned.

Anybody else ever done anything this ridiculous?

Sunday, April 05, 2009


twitter icon (for Fluid), originally uploaded by seyDoggy.
So last week, I started diving into twitter. Twitter is like a micro-blog. I can write about things that take 140 characters or less, share links, and share a little bit of my life in the process. Who would do this? Businesses, celebrities, individuals, friends, the sky is the limit. Our current President twitters as do many celebrities, pastors, and bloggers (like some of the ones linked to this blog). I'm finding out that quite a few of my friends twitter as well.

Lately I haven't been able to share as many full length blogs, but I'm readjusting some things to make that more viable (plus there have been some really cool stories that I want to share, but haven't been able to yet!)

Anyhway, I thought I would take a moment to introduce you to twitter. I'm amazed at the number of people I'm finding on twitter. Some people treat it like a facebook status update or wall post (read more about facebook and twitter in the articles linked in this sentence.)

So I'm telling you about twitter because I have linked my "tweets" (twitterese for updates or blog posts) to this blog in the left hand column. While this will never replace full length blogs, it does allow for me to share a bit of my life while on the go. You can twitter from a phone (but standard texting rates apply), so I choose to use the web and twitterfon to make my posts.

Now some people twitter about anything and everything--for instance, some twitter that they woke up and went to bed. I don't plan on doing any such thing. But I do plan on experimenting with it a bit. So if you are into the whole twitter thing, check my little mini-blog out it goes by the same name as this one.

And if you feel like it, you can let me and the world know your thoughts on the whole thing by leaving a comment on this blog.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Canal View

During our last full day in Amsterdam, our team took a canal boat tour of the city. I took a ton of photos, and I felt like this one was particularly blogworthy. (It continues some of my thoughts on time).

This week, I had every intention of catching up my blog, but I found myself constantly distracted. There just seems to be SO MUCH going on at any moment in my life. I know I'm not alone in that feeling--we all live pretty busy lives it seems . . .

Monday I celebrated my birthday, but unfortunately I haven't really had time to reflect on it. I'd like to take some time over the next few days to think about my life, my goals, and my plans for the year, but we'll see if time is on my side.

I guess it's all a matter of priority though isn't it? Today, I made a commitment to myself to sleep in, to spend more time in prayer, and to move slowly and deliberately through the day instead of in a flurry.

How does that relate to the photo above? In the canal boat, we were a captive audience. We had purposed to go on the ride, and we had no choice but to sit patiently until the ride was over. I couldn't speed the driver up, and really I wouldn't have wanted to. How on earth could I enjoy anything if I went through it too fast.

Even during this time of so much going on, I'm tempted to rush through it and be done with it, but I feel like by doing so, I would be cheating myself of many lessons that could be learned. I think that's the case with any trial. We want to push through it quickly because it is exhausting and painful and time consuming, but when we push through too quickly we fail to learn and grow and benefit fully from the trial--and so it comes again.

The year on the canal struck me--a bridge was built over this canal in 1728. That was a long time ago. It probably wasn't built too fast. Maybe it was just completed in 1728, but took several years prior to establish a solid foundation. And because of it's solid foundation, I could travel under it nearly 300 years later. That's building for endurance.

Often times, I think we are tempted to not build for endurance. I think we are tempted toward quick fixes, sugar highs, and band-aids over lasting solutions that stand the test of time.

Deep down, we all want the lasting solution, but the effort is not easy. It's challenging to build something that will last 300 years, or even 3 years.

Here's a little tid bit about the canal boat tour too. The captain told us that the water in the canals was pretty nasty. There were house boats all along the canals in which people lived. Their sewage went into the canals. So you want a sturdy vessel to navigate the waters, and if you are going to build a bridge, you want to make sure it will endure. There is a lot of refuse that we have to navigate through in this life. Make sure you have a sturdy vessel and build lasting structures to keep you from swimming in the mess.

Have a great weekend, and I look forward to writing more soon.