Thursday, November 22, 2012

Your Cliche Thanksgiving Post

Just some strokes of brilliance on gratefulness and thanksgiving, in light of the season.......

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."  |  G.K. Chesterton

"We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country."  |  C.S. Lewis

"We meet many Christians who have tears in their eyes, and complaints in their mouths; but there are few with their harps in their hands, who praise God in affliction.  To be thankful in affliction is a work peculiar to a saint.  Every bird can sing in the spring, but some birds will sing in the dead of winter.  Everyone, almost, can be thankful in prosperity, but a true saint can be thankful in adversity.  A good Christian will bless God, not only at sun-rise, but at sun-set.  Well may we, in the worst that befalls us, have a psalm of thankfulness, because all things work for good.  Oh, be much in blessing of God: we will thank Him that doth befriend us."  |  Thomas Watson

"When I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me."  |  Ann Voskamp

"On your feet now -- applaud God!  Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourself into His presence.  Know this: God is God, and God, God.  He made us; we didn't make Him.  We are His people, His well-tended sheep.  Enter with the password: 'Thank you!'  Make yourselves at home, talking praise.  Thank Him.  Worship Him.  For God is sheer beauty, all generous in love, loyal always and ever."  |  Psalm 100

a quick exercise in thankfulness

The Lumps celebrating Thanksgiving Day together

Monday, October 29, 2012

Glimpses of Fall

Autumn.  The shortest of seasons.  But arguably, the most beautiful.
With its reds & oranges, and crisp, clean air, and the invitation to boots & hoodies, and the roar of a nearby football stadium.  I love this season.  And I have been having a blast celebrating with the dearest of people in my life.

Just some snapshots........

Camp Palmer Lake 

Sometimes I visit cemeteries to remind myself of the brevity of life.  Is that weird?  Yeah, probably.  But this was a beautiful shot of fall leaves and life come and gone.

Pumpkins at MacQueen's Orchard

Zach making caramel apples!

With my dear friend, Tim, carving pumpkins.

Just for the record, our pumpkin won in the in pumpkin carving contest.  But it's cool.  I'm remaining humble.

Kala and I with our caramel apples!

The whole Butler gang!  

Zach and I's "Grand Beginning Date" @ Cedar Point and a surprise ending!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Better than I deserve

I've been reading this power-packed little book by a guy named CJ Mahaney.  Mahaney is a pastor is Lousiville, Kentucky and has been offering some incredible insight into life and faith as I work my way through his book.

He shares this gem of story in my today's reading, "It was a crowded morning in Starbucks.  ...As my turn came to step forward and order coffee, the young man serving me smiled and said, 'Hey, how are you?'  ...'Better than I deserve,' I answered."

A small, simple response.  Filled with meaning and intrigue.  Surpasses, by far, the typical response, "I'm good."

"Better than I deserve."

...on my worst day.  I'm still better than I deserve.
...on my best day.  I'm better than I deserve, by far.

My heart is beating and my lungs fill with air.  I am far better than I deserve.

I deserve my heart to robbed of its beats.  My lungs to be nothing more than a dry, cracked desert floor.

I am a sinner.  I am full of deceit.  And manipulation.  And counterfeit gods.  And lies.  And cutting corners.  And compromise.  And laziness.  And "me-firstness."

But, BUT, the grace of God intervenes.  The grace of God does not sit passively aside.  The grace of God answers.  And my heart beats.  And my lungs breath.  And I am way better than I deserve.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Eyes Focused and Clear

My friend texted me today and said she prayed this specific prayer for me today.  How thoughtful and wise that my friends would pray such a thing over my life.

"That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you -- every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks.  But I do more than thank.  I ask -- ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory -- to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him -- endless energy, boundless strength!"
  | Ephesians 1:15-19

"Eyes focused and clear."

Oh, that God would peel back the veils from my eyes so that I may see the treasure of knowing Him glimmer and glean and shine.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mug N' Muffin

Pack 60 girls into one living room.  Bake 150 muffins.  Brew 2 pounds of coffee.  Sport your favorite mug and pajamas.  And what do you get?  Our first CRU Mug N' Muffin!

We had a blast!  We snuggled in together on the first official autumn day, with a crisp cool breeze sweeping through, and we learned one another's thoughts on God, eternity, and living a life of legacy.  

Inward & outward beauty come from living according to that for which we were precisely created.  I humbly suggest we were created for life to invest solely in two things: God and People.

What do you think you were created for?  Any thoughts?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Eat, Learn, Move

Feeling stir-crazy to travel the world, on account of these short videos......

Friday, August 31, 2012

BGSU 2012-2013 in full swing!

BG CRU is in full swing!  I am having a blast this year!  We are connecting with freshmen, creating space on campus for spiritual conversations, eating lots of ice cream, laughing our heads off, and witnessing God's fingerprint all over BGSU.  Threads of gratitude and joy weave themselves into the fabric of my wayward heart.

 Nick & I kickin' off the first CRU of the year!

 CRU at BGSU's CampusFest.
Plinko.  Free pizza.  CRU cards.  Photobooth.  T-shirts.  Goldfish.
CRU.  Things are happening.

 A few photos from our CampusFest photobooth......

Celebrating the beginning of the year with Cotton Candy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Martin Luther's several strokes of brilliance

Sometimes, others can just say it better than myself.

Martin Luther has been capturing my heart lately with thoughts of the like.......

:: Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.

:: You have as much laughter as you have faith.

:: If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.

:: I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.

:: Let the wife make her husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

:: God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.

:: Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wildwood 2012 Video

Wildwood 2012 on film.

This was a special group of students. of my all-time favorites, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

To my dear friend, Summer: We'll see you again real soon

Dashboard said it best a few years ago..... "so long, sweet summer."

With the arrival of BGCru staff marathon-meetings and the arrival of BGCru's student leaders and the moving in of 3,800 new freshmen, I think it's safe to say summer is over.

No more afternoons on the beach, no more fruity summer drinks, no more long sunny days, and no more multiplying mahogany melanin.

The high school bell rings, the college dorms fill with nervous freshmen, the football fans wear their eye-black, the leaves turn colorfully crispy, and the pumpkin boasts in its new found popularity.

"The dog days are over," friends.

May the shortening days, and the lengthening nights, may the caramel apple, and the oversized hoodie, may the crisp leaf under your new beautiful boots, and the smell of bonfires in the neighborhood be our new joy, our nostalgia for days to come, and our senses' satisfaction.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Birthday Post, Pt. 2

Here's to 26.

Raise your glasses!  Your cup of coffee, your glass of wine, or you faaancy drink. 26.  Cheers!

Here's to a new, thrifty, vintage journal to scribble the musings of 26.
Here's to being closer to 30 than 20.  Eek!
Here's to choosing thankfulness in the simple, the mundane, the complex, at the graves, in the storms, at the rising and the setting.
Here's to chiseling my measly muscles.
Here's to laughing again and joy as strength.

But, most of all, here's to the Author of the Story.  To the One who holds the pen.  Here's to a God who gives life.  Here's to a God who knows the measure of all days, and by His very own grace, gives men and women second chances.  And redemption moments.  And 25 years.  And 26 years.  Fleeting.  Like shadows. 

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;

And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Birthday Post, Pt. 1

I woke up this birthday morning unable to shake this line:
"Rejoice, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."

I remember exactly one year ago joking with my friends about turning 25.  You know, they say you begin dying at 25.  You are no longer more than 51% living; you are, instead, 51% dying -- it has something to do with your oxygen intake or consumption or something.  I don't really know.  But I know I'm on my way out, and no longer on my way in.

So the dreams that have been created, and the hope for influence, and the stir-craziness in my soul to do something worthwhile -- those things I want to start doing.  And not just thinking about doing.  I want to see dreams come to reality.  I'm on my way out, you know........

25 was quite the year.  Maybe one of the most eventful in a long time.

Ann Voskamp says, "joy and pain -- they are but two arteries of one heart that pumps through all those who don't numb themselves to really living."

This little gem of a statement has defined much of my 25th year on earth.

Joy.  Joys abounding.
New roommates.  A new, cozy home.  Meals with friends.  Laughter in car rides.  Songs that speak in ways words never could.  Living in brutal, beautiful honesty.  My support team.  Tanning on the beach with friends.  BGSU Greeks.  Living in the face of seemingly debilitating fear.  Free Kenny Chesney concert on the beach.  Chasing for the real over counterfeit.  Friendship.  The Color Run.  BG CRU.  The Seifferts.  Kala Butler.  Ashley Rozelle.  The Butler gang.  Fireworks.  Trips to the breathtaking San Diego and Arizona.  Redeeming misfit sins.  Celebrating.  Cookie cakes.  Friends marrying the loves of their lives.  Taking risks.  Late-night TBS Friends marathons.  Learning the art of gratefulness.  Language.  BG CRU staff team.  Opening myself up to love, and romance, and marriage dreams.  Allowing my heart to wonder.  Sunsets.  Mornings with coffee and the Bible.  Beholding the underwater beauty while snorkeling.  Praying.  Making decisions by sheer faith.  Full-out wrestling with God.  Love, and the darlingness of it.  Worship.  Beauty platformed.  Pumpkins.  Back roads.  North Carolina.  People believing in Jesus for the first time.

And yet, yet........

Pain.  Pains deep.
Heartbreak.  Insecurity.  Uncertainties.  Begging God for other ways & options...and Him not giving them.  Finances.  Shattered dreams.  Slavery.  Questioning God.  Excavation of the soul.  Wrestling.  Sleepless nights.  Break up.  Armor to shield the weapons.  Grief.  Skepticism.  Distrust.  Reflecting.  Loss.

Joy and pain -- two arteries of one heart of those who don't numb themselves to living. 

25.  Fully alive.  Feeling the elation of joys.  Feeling the pierce of pain.

I'd rather live with a fleshy, soft heart, than a cold, stony heart.  Through the joys.  and the pains.

It's been a year.  I wouldn't trade the past year for anything.  Beauty for ashes.

For those of you who were written into my story of the 25th chapter -- thank you for walking with me.  We are sojourners on mission with others.  My life is blessed because of you.

Mat Kearney says this in one of my favorite songs of the year... "that was the real you singin' hallelujah lookin' down a barrel."

It's been a bit of a "lookin' down the barrel" year in many regards.  But, I resolve. 
Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

Rejoice, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.  Indeed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Call Me Maybe

The Olympic Opening Ceremonies start tonight.

So, to get you all in the mood, I thought this video from the 2012 Swim Team might be perfectly appropriate......

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mom Jeans

...because it's hilarious.  And because if you haven't seen it, you should.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Living the Dream

All we were trying to do was transform a tiny little college campus in the Northeast corner of Ohio.  We had some really good news about a God who intervened in our lives and we simply wanted to talk with our friends about Him.  It's kinda like when you find a really good cupcake shop, you don't want to just hoard it all to yourself -- you want to share it with your special friends.

And, so, we were on mission together.  We were committed to inviting everyone to the "cupcake shop," who would be willing to try it.

And, when that happens...when you find something you're passionate about, and you find others to join you on that journey...those "others" become some of your dearest friends in the world.  You share in the struggles, the sadness, the frustrations, and the heartbreaks of the journey with those you travel with.  You also rejoice together, and sing songs together, and laugh, and dance together.  You do life together -- the beautiful and the ugly.  And those "others" on your journey see you at your best and at your worst.

That's precisely what happened with some of my sweetest friends, Ben and Shaina.

We met when I was a freshman at Mount Union College (they, seniors) when they simply opened up their home to me and invited me over dinner.  That one small dinner changed the trajectory of how I would live my life.  We were excited about God together and we wanted Mount Union to taste of the gospel and consider it good.

The Thompsons now, still some of my dearest friends in the world, are living a story they never could have created on their own -- even if they had tried.

The story God is writing through the lives of Ben, and Shaina, and their beauty Chaia, is epic and majestic.  And way larger than any of us would ever dared imagine as we sat in the measly Mount Union College chapel praying for a campus years ago, or as we sat around the dinner table in a one bedroom apartment swapping dreams of the things we wish to come, or as we sat on college futons in freshman dorms planning campus-wide Capture the Flag, or as we were skipping class to grab lunch with a friend to hear about their thoughts on God, or as we stayed up until 3AM (blowing off papers) talking about the cost of following Jesus -- and better yet -- the rewards of following Jesus, etc.  We dreamt a lot together, we had mighty dreams for future years and we had hearts that begged for God to use them, and we thought we were crazy.  We thought our dreams were so massive and so unattainable.  

And yet, yet, here's this story of my sweet friends who dreamt like crazy -- but the story they're living now is way wilder than they ever thought possible.  The costs and the losses and the pains are deeper.  ...and so are the rewards and gains and joys.

I am so privileged to be a part of Ben and Shaina's lives.  I couldn't have picked a greater couple to have been mentored by, brought up in, and shepherded by.  

I love what they're doing in Columbus.  
Columbus and Ohio State are receiving some of the greatest people in the world.  

May God bless you and keep you and may He be gracious to you.  May his face shine upon you and give you peace, Ben & Shaina.  I believe in you.  "This is not the end." --Gungor

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Green meadows & peaceful streams.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings.  
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Influencing the World

Pat Summit is fascinating and totally lovely.  Her story inspires me.

You'll want to be sure to watch this little film as Pat's life unfolds before you and captures your heart.

(It's a little on the long side [13 minutes], so settle in with your Diet Pepsi and a box of tissues).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wildwood Caught on Film

Where did we leave off?  About 4 weeks ago?  Caught on film: the rest of Wildwood Summer Project, CRU Staff Style...

Snaggin' a little Chick Fil-A on our staff day off for our southern folks' fix.

Taking an evening to relax from "normal" project life...putt putt'ing and eating lots of ice cream.

Our students doing a little teamwork activity.  Preppin' for the staff to leave.


Our staff's final Wildwood Women's Time at the Tea Room. this guy is a champ to lead Wildwood so graciously with me.  

Our full staff team on our final night together.  Aren't they lovely?

I got to train these gorgeous women this summer -- Chelsea, Lara, (myself), and Megan.

While the team of 30 CRU Staff have departed from Wildwood, the 60 students still remain there.  They are leading mentoring relationships, spiritual conversations with friends & co-workers & internationals, they are leading small groups and weekly meetings and community outreaches, etc.  I'm proud of our students' leadership and owning the vision of Wildwood Summer Project.  We have passed on the torch -- and we could not have passed it on to any better students.  

Wildwood Summer Project 2012.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Gift of Friendship

"I've come to know the friends around you are all you'll always have."  --Ben Howard, Old Pine

While not altogether theologically spot on for the Christian, I love the lyrics here in Ben Howard's Old Pine.  

The last few weeks have felt as if I've been living in a fog.  And I'm not quite sure when the fog will lift.  My chest feels heavy.  Dreams seem as if they are now broken, ragged pieces of once-beautiful pottery strewn all around me.  Hopes seem as if they dangle on nothing but a small, thin thread.  Faith feels like it now lives in a far-off distant world I may never travel to again.  Laughter comes and goes -- but never without an acute awareness of its ending soon.  Joy, somehow mysteriously, remains in the deepest chambers of my heart.  Selfishness, sadly, seems to have convinced me that it itself is the good life.  I'm grabbing for something -- but not altogether sure what it is that I'm grabbing for.

But what I do know is this:
Friendship has been the balm to my wounded soul.

Friends have been God's grace toward me.

Friends have sat with me in the dark.  Friends have prayed with me.  Friends have been patient with me.  Friends have cried on my behalf.  Friends have listened without saying a word.  Friends have, when precisely time-appropriate, have called me out of darkness and into light.  Friends have bought me more Hot Tamales and Swedish Fish than I ever thought the world even offered.  Friends have song psalms to me.  Friends have written notes and sent care packages to me.  Friends have counseled me, and loved me, and made me laugh, and pointed me to new songs, and urged my heart to worship God, and instilled courage with me, and convinced me of faith, and affirmed the miniscule mustard seed of faith I've had, and used up their Verizon minutes just to say "I've been thinking of you," and read Scripture to (and over me).  The list goes on and on.  

It's been a hard summer.  And the fog still lays itself thick over me.  But I do not sit in the fog alone.  Friends, with their strong shoulders and their Swedish Fish and their arms around me, sit with me.  They, too, allow the fog to wash over them -- but, they, they, are not overcome by it.  

I am thankful for friendship.  It is changing my life.  

I am carried by my God.
And I am thankful that the hands of my friends represent to me the hands of my God and the strength of my God to bear all things.

[Friendship is to make conversation, to share a joke, to preform mutual acts of kindness, to read together well-written books, to share in trifling and in serious matters, to disagree, though without animosity -- just as a person debates with himself -- and in the very rarity of disagreement to find the salt of normal harmony, to teach each other something or to learn from one another, to long with impatience for those absent, to welcome them with gladness upon their arrival].  ::Augustine::

[Friendship is being with the other, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow].  ::Nouwen::
Thinking fondly of these friends as I remember their faces.

From BG to Wildwood, NJ -- love in a box.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Jams: Old Pine

My summer jam:

I cannot stop listening to this song.  And this video is nothing short of perfect.

(This post made possible by my music-snob-kindred-spirit-friend, Caroline

Monday, June 25, 2012

Shattered Dreams

I've been perusing and re-reading Larry Crabb's Shattered Dreams lately, and his words have been particularly sweet for me.  Maybe for you, too...

[Most people go through their entire lives never speaking words to another human being that come out of what is deepest in them, and most people never hear words that reach all the way into that deep place we call the soul.  We almost never hear words that stir life within us, that pour hope into those empty spaces deep inside filled only with fear and frustration.  We rarely hear words that draw our soul into the soul of another human being and, together, into God].

[Shattered dreams are never random.  They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story.  The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream.  They are ordained opportunities for the Spirit to awaken, then to satisfy our highest dream].

[God is always working to make His children aware of a dream that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream, a new dream that when realized will release a new song, sung with tears, till God wipes them away and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts].

[We can count on God to patiently remove all the obstacles to our enjoyment of Him.  He is committed to our joy, and we can depend on Him to give us enough of a taste of that joy and enough hope that the best is still ahead to keep us going in spite of how much pain continues to plague our hearts].

[The richest love grows in the soil of an unbearable disappointment with life.  When we realize life can't give us what we want, we can better give up our foolish demand that it do so and get on with the noble task of loving as we should.  We will no longer need to demand protection from further disappointment.  The deepest change will occur in the life of a bold realist who clings to God with a passion only his realistic appraisal of life can generate].

(Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing

I love stories of people making a difference.  These people are changing the world.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Capturing Wildwood 2012

2 weeks underway, and so I bring you...Wildwood Summer Project 2012 in snapshots.  Life caught on film.  Capturing the moments that mark our lives.

An almost eerily quiet Wildwood boardwalk.

Student Arrival Day

Student Arrival Day

Our first meeting all together.  

Spendin' the night with one another at our friend's beautiful lake house.

Connecting and swapping stories with one another over s'mores and a beautiful lake backdrop.

Sunset Beach Night of Reflection.

With my sweet friend, Caroline.

Words from a seasoned, wise man, John Mackin.

Women's Night -- Capture the Flag.  Blue won!

Spending the afternoon on the dock.

Baptizing a few folks.  An outward sign of an inward reality.

Men celebrating the baptism of their dudes, Alex & Riley.

Girls reading in their hammocks.

Spending time with Penny & Alexa.

Celebrating our dear friend, Megan's, birthday.