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.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Curious Words of a Saint

I've been reading Saint Augustine's Confessions and I can't help but post some of his words that are taking root in my heart this summer.  I don't know what you, my dear reader, think about God -- but may these words be sweet to your tongue, rich to your soul, and fire to your bones.  And may you consider Jesus, the God-man, as the greatest and most skillful lover of your soul.

"You, my God, are
supreme, utmost in goodness, mightiest and all-powerful, most merciful and most just.

You are the most hidden from us
and yet the most present among us.

The most beautiful
and yet the most strong.

Ever enduring
and yet we cannot comprehend you.

You are unchangeable
and yet you change all things.

You are never new, never old,
and yet all things have new life from you.

You are the unseen power that brings decline upon the proud.

You are ever active,
yet always at rest. 

You gather all things to yourself,
though you suffer no need.

You support, you fill, and you protect all things.
You create them, nourish them, and bring them to perfection.
You seek to make them your own,
though you lack for nothing.

You love your creatures,
but with a gentle love.

You treasure them,
but without apprehension.

You grieve for wrong,
but suffer no pain.

You can be angry,
and yet serene.

Your works are varied,
but your purpose is one and the same.

You welcome all who come to you,
though you never lost them.

You are never in need,
yet are glad to gain,
never covetous,
yet you exact a return for your gifts.

We give abundantly to you so that we may deserve a reward; yet which of us has anything that does not come from you?

You repay us what we deserve,
and yet you owe nothing to any.

You release us from our debts,
but you lose nothing thereby.

You are my God, my Life, my holy Delight, but is this enough to say of you?
Can any man say enough when he speaks of you?

Yet woe betide those who are silent about you!

For even those who are most gifted with speech cannot find words to describe you."

And he says this, "The thought of You (God) stirs him (every man and woman) so deeply that he cannot be content unless he praises You, because You made us for Yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in You."

I'm convinced my heart can only find its peace in God.  Without God, there is chaos, doubt, and clamor that rules my heart.  I want my heart to be at rest.  Where does your heart rest?  Where do you go to escape the clamor and noise of a restless heart?