Archive - guest blogger RSS Feed

God doesn’t want your BS (a repost by Jason S)

I’ve been in ministry for years now, but I officially became lead pastor of our church way back in December of 2008. It has been thoroughly wonderful so far, and I am so blessed at who and how God has put us together as a church here in Juneau, AK to see His purposes accomplished.

I am amazed though at how much I feel like a politician. I have to motivate people, inspire, encourage, make (only) positive changes, share a vision for the future, and deal with people—some of whom feel I have not lived up to one or all of those things. I live and learn while raising a family and working a full-time job besides the one pastoring our church.

One thing I’m not so good at, and for the most part refuse to do, is BS people. I know, I know—a politician who can’t BS is done before he starts, but I think the church has been filled with it for too long (so has politics, but that’s another post). In fact, a lot of churches are so filled you can barely get in the doors on Sunday (nice visual, huh?).

We have tended toward not dealing with things, faking it ‘til we make it (which never seems to come), concealing disappointments because anything else is a “lack of faith,” and so on.

We’ve settled for pretending Christianity instead of living and experiencing it. You didn’t get the job you wanted? Well, let me regurgitate a bumper sticker I read once that I don’t really believe (because my life proves it) but will hopefully make you feel better. You just heard you have Ovarian Flu? It’s okay, just trust God and He’ll make everything better.

I’m not saying this as condemnation, but I know the temptation is always there. It’s easier to BS than to walk with somebody where you don’t want to go.

Romans 15:15 & 16 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

That’s not easy. Neither is Jesus’ command to love each other as He loved us. That’s the point, it’s divine and supernatural work. I love that the verse says, “live in harmony.” We’re not all robots spouting the same clichés and going through the same experiences. We flow together to make something new, that’s what harmony is: diverse sounds coming together.

The beginning of Romans 15 gives us the template to live above the BS. We offer our bodies as living sacrifices. It’s in surrender that we can make a difference and truly walk with people. God’s not buying it and we’re not helping anybody, so let’s put the shovel down.

Just the other day, I was tempted to BS. I was writing about a great church event we had that went very well, but didn’t draw all the people I thought it should have. I wanted to gloss that over and put a “spin” on it then I thought, “why do I want to do this?”

The sad answer that has plagued mankind since the beginning was staring me in the face at that moment: pride.

Pride says I need to be recognized, I need to have all the answers, I need a big church to be important, I need 100 comments on my blog post. That’s why we BS and try to make ourselves look better, but better to whom?

We already have God’s heart and attention, what more could you ask for?

What do you think? Are you guilty of piling on the BS or are you working hard to get it out of the church and/or your lives?

***


Behold the power of the sweater vest!

To read more not BS from Jason, check out his blog, Connecting to Impact and follow him on the twitter at @br8kthru.

Another Allegory (by Jeff Holton)


I love the blog carnival. It introduces me to the writing of so many great folks here on the internets that I might have otherwise missed. I suppose this bi-monthly extravaganza has become Bridget Chumbley and Peter Pollock’s bloggy equivalent of Kevin Bacon. That’s how I first came across Jeff Holton…

Jeff Holton is an instructional designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He works full time, teaches high school Sunday School, lives with his wife and two young children, and still somehow manages to find time to blog at Big Planet. Small World. Once publicly maligned by the religion editor of Newsweek, he still nonetheless spends far too much time identifying other people’s typos. He has never climbed Mt. Everest, and most likely never will. And he’s okay with that.

Jeff sent me a story that he wrote way back on November 30, 1993. An oldie, but a goody!


image courtesy of photobucket.com

A friend of Sigmund Freud once asked the psychoanalytical theorist if his almost constantly present cigar was a phallic symbol that somehow connected with a repressed oral fixation. Siggy responded, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Keep that in mind.

The lake shimmered seductively in the high summer sun.

He sat on the dock with his legs dangling over the side, his toes just dipping into the water below. He wiggled his feet a little, causing tiny ripples to emanate from the center of the disturbance. She sat next to him.

“My feet won’t reach,” she said, as she turned to him with a smile. “My legs are too short.”

He quickly turned to her and exclaimed, “Good!”

“Good?” She looked puzzled. “Why good?”

“Think about it,” he began. “What is this?”

She adopted a tone of voice that was slightly condescending as she stated the obvious. “It’s two people sitting on a dock just off the shore of a lake in the summertime.”

“No, no, no. I don’t mean that. I mean much more generally, what is this?” he asked again.

“Um…it’s a story?” she answered, seeking approval.

“Exactly. And what kind of story?”

“Um…fiction.” She thought for a moment and then added, “You know, you’re really ruining the suspension of disbelief by having the characters admit that they’re not real.”

“Just hang in there for a few minutes. You’ll get the point,” he said.

“How do you know?” she asked.

He responded with a wink, “I asked the author.”

“Anyway, getting back to my question,” she remembered, as the stream of consciousness returned to its origin, “why good?”

“Oh, yeah. Well, in fiction, what does water represent?”

“You’re sick!”

“Just answer the question, for the sake of the readers.”

“Alright,” she took a deep breath, not wanting to say this. “It represents repressed sexuality. It has Freudian overtones.”

“Precisely. So you see, you’re not supposed to be able to touch the water. Women in fiction represent purity and innocence.”

“Oh, and I suppose you’re playing the part of the typical macho male jerk?!”

“Not exactly, I–“

She shot to her feet, stood up, and exclaimed, “Alright Mr. Know- It-All! Let’s see how you respond to this!” Throwing aside all moral symbolism, she dove headfirst into the lake, and as she surfaced, reminded him that she didn’t know how to swim. “It’s freezing in here, and I’m going to drown,” she said calmly, “but realize that if you jump in to save me, the implications will be easily spotted by the educated reader.”

He looked up and down the length of the dock for any sort of life preserver, but there was none to be found. This was going to have to be an unprotected rescue. (Apparently, they often are when they are done in the heat of passion.) Being the archetypical hero, he bravely shook free of all convictions which hindered his necessary and heroic actions, and dove in headfirst in a magnificently graceful arc to save the young lady.

Later, as they lay on their backs on the dock drying off in the slowly sinking summer sun, she said, “I can’t believe you did that. I can’t believe you dove in headfirst and sacrificed all your morality and purity in such a foolish motion. Do you realize that the reader will never again be able to respect you as the protagonist of this story?”

“Honey?” he said, with a tone of voice that showed he was obviously quite annoyed with her.

“Yes, dear?” she said, bracing herself for an argument.

“Sometimes a lake is just a lake.”

***

To read more from Jeff Holton, visit him at Big Planet, Small World and follow him on the twitter at @JeffHolton.

The Darwinian Evolution & the Ink Panther (by Rob Johnson)

Some of you may be wondering (or not – I don’t know) what the qualifications are to guest post on Hey Look a Chicken. Well, they’re pretty loosy goosey actually. They are people I have found through twitter and/or other blogs and I like their writing. That’s pretty much it. The first question I get is typically, “Is there any topic in particular you would like me to write about?”. My answer? Anything you would typically post to your blog. I found Rob Johnson through twitter. If you follow him (and you totally should), then you know he’s very funny and often ridiculous. (Not at all like me.) Here’s a sampling of some recent tweets:

Post Lost spoilers & I will come to ur house, stop up ur toilets, let ur dog out onto the street, & erase ur DVR settings. I mean it.

@fotomaven No. I don’t drink either. In my mug you will find horrible tasting water. In its defense, however, it’s gin.

When Tweetdeck gives me a Mention without the little ‘chirp’ sound I feel cheated.

Okay, so maybe he’s like me a little…

Anyhoo, when I asked Rob to send me a guest post, I was expecting ridiculous/funny. This is not that at all. It’s like all smart and stuff. And I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have. (Even if my brain hurts a little.)

My Take on Darwinian Evolution in About 500 Words

I want to thank the lovely and talented Kathy Richards for the opportunity to make a guest blog post here. I enjoy reading this blog and the positive spin it takes regarding God. It has inspired me to revisit a subject many non-believers use as a crutch when they think of the world as we know it: evolution.

Darwinian evolution was an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection. However, evolution via random and gradual mutations can’t explain some very complex biological systems. Contrary to Darwinian evolution, it appears (and is widely accepted by scientists), that biology itself shows signs of a “designer.” This deduction is arrived at via design deduce of the physical structure of a system.

Aspects of biology strongly appear to be designed. Even Richard Dawkins says, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” (The Blind Watchmaker 1996, p.1) Dawkins doesn’t believe biological structures were a product of intelligent design, but he admits they “overwhelmingly impress with the appearance of design.”

There are structural obstacles to Darwinian evolution, coupled with physical reasons to think that Darwinian evolution can not do what its proponents claim for it. The structural reasons are “irreducible complexity.”

Irreducible complexity contradicts the premise that evolution could operate slowly and gradually one mutation at a time. An irreducibly complex structure cannot evolve that way, for this simple reason: you have some system and it has a number of parts and they act on each other and they are all necessary for the function to exist. You take away one or more of the parts and the function is no longer present.

Think of it this way, and by example, the mousetrap has various parts: a spring, a wire hammer, a catch, a board that holds it all together. Take away any part and you have a meaningless and purposeless collection of parts. There is no way that it could slowly evolve into that complexity.

Another example is a bacterial flagellum. The flagellum is a whip like propeller that a bacterium spins to move. Any part of the flagellum apparatus, without all the rest, is purposeless. Like a mousetrap without one of its necessary parts, this one would be broken as well.

Critics and militant atheist’s responses to irreducible complexity are wishful thinking. They argue that someday they will be able to explain them by random events and such will contradict the designer postulate. Nevertheless, they continue to make grand Darwinian claims as if this evidence already had been discovered. Such claims are urban legends.

Evolution can explain many things, but not everything.

I believe in multi-verses; worlds without number and without end, each of different degrees of glory and far more glorious than that in which we reside.

How utterly horrible would it be, to believe that Life begins, and has its ending, in this temporal sphere. I believe in an Intelligent Designer. One who has my best interest at heart, if only I have Faith. And yes, my faith has evolved. But that is a discussion for another time.

***

To read more from Rob Johnson, visit him at Rob from the Internet and follow him on the twitter at @InkPanther.

Daily Miracles (by Michelle DeRusha)

A Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska in 2001, where she found gargantuan grasshoppers, looming grain elevators and God. She’s raising two rambunctious boys with her husband, Brad; works part-time for Nebraska public television and radio; launders Sponge Bob briefs on a regular basis; and writes about finding faith in the everyday on her blog Graceful and in a monthly column for the Lincoln Journal Star.

***

“The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.” ~ Virginia Woolf

I’m always on the lookout for miracles. The Bible, I’ve noticed, teems with them. A raving lunatic witnesses his demons funnel into a herd of pigs. People rise from the dead and start doing jumping jacks. Peter slides across a roiling sea.

It’s not easy for me to choose blessings, miracles, over mere coincidence. In twenty years of “unbelief,” doubt became my natural, instinctive reaction. Doubt was my default. So choosing to see the blessing, the miracle, has had to become a conscious choice, one I make each day.

This fall as I was watering the garden I suddenly heard my son Noah yell: “Quick, Mommy! Come here! Come here! Hurry!” his voice urgent, pressing. I walked over to take a look.

Floating on a gentle current along the tops of the phlox was a most curious bug, a miniscule creature about a quarter the size of my pinkie nail. To me it looked like a thin shred of paper; the kids decided it resembled a teeny piece of Kleenex. The insect bobbed along the bee balm for a bit and then floated over to my sons, navigating its linty body between them, as if to take a closer look at their big bauble heads.

My youngest, Rowan, named the bug “Klee Klee,” the word he uses for Kleenex. We sat on the curb next to the flower garden and marveled at the insect as it gracefully inched its way over the mountainous folds of Rowan’s tee shirt, its snow-white wings wispy and ragged.

I would never have noticed this delicate creature of course, so bent on watering the drooping coneflower and deadheading the bee balm, wrenching the ivy’s suffocating grip off the phlox and pulling the weeds. But the kids insisted I look, squealing and bellowing so persistently I was forced to tune in, if only to quiet the racket.

And when I did I was overwhelmed with gratitude and awe.

In her book Expecting Adam, Martha Beck marvels over her son Adam’s uncanny ability to teach her a fresh way of seeing. “He is constantly reminding me that real magic doesn’t come from achieving the perfect appearance, from being Cinderella at the ball with both glass slippers and a killer hairstyle,” Beck writes about Adam. “The real magic is in the pumpkin, in the mice, in the moonlight; not beyond ordinary life, but within it.”

Sitting on the curb with my two kids, awestruck by Klee Klee — the delicate ruffle of his body, the gentle tickling of his feet over the fine hairs on Rowan’s arm — I witnessed God’s way of illuminating the extraordinary within the ordinary. I uncovered real magic. I chose to see the miracle.

***

To read more from Michelle DeRusha, visit her at Graceful and follow her on the twitter at @negraceful.

What’s in His Name? (by Kelly Langner Sauer)


Kelly Langner Sauer is a wife, mother, writer, poet, photographer and a self confessed rambler. Her photos are, much like her writing, often beautiful, soulful and breathtaking. I am so pleased she agreed to write a post for me in the midst of the joy and chaos of new motherhood. Here’s Kelly:

Her name was Bethany.

It was such a big deal that her name was Bethany. It still stands out in my mind. I get into names.

She said that God had given her that name.

She said that she had known God intimately, the way I wanted to know Him.

She said that God had taught her to surrender fully and completely.

She said a lot of things.

But she never mentioned the name of Jesus.

Just over a year ago, I received an email from a reader, asking me about the poem I have posted on my blog by S. Lewis. (The poem was written and given to me by a dear college friend during a very rough time in my story, during the beginning of the end of my misconception of God.) She identified with my then-description of myself as Gomer, Hosea’s wife.

And she referenced something I had said in a recent ramble-post, something I was chewing on, something I had scribbled out without too much thought, something about God calling us to do things sometimes that the rest of the world couldn’t endorse.

I had been talking about His calling on my life to love someone. I had been talking about His leading me out of “church” and into Himself.

I was neck-deep in a Flickr addiction at the time. Closed off to my husband. Putting off my daughter. Battling every day to do better before I inevitably gave in and gave out and gave up. Pushing God away for the guilt of it all. The crushing guilt.

At first, Bethany’s email was another distraction. A flattering distraction. I pursued the correspondence, looking for more affirmation, looking for her story.

I got her story all right.

And then some.

She said she was a member of what many have termed a cult.

She said she felt she could talk to me because it seemed I was the kind of person who was willing to listen.

She said God had told her it was all right.

She gave me the website for her organization.

After looking at it, my husband and I agreed with the many.

And we weren’t so certain that God was behind her invitation to engage her in conversation about her “church.”

In fact, I was certain that I was not to engage her. God gave me permission only to speak the name of Jesus.

Billy Coffey wrote about the thin places this week. The places where dark and light collide and mix into inky halflight, the places in our world where there is a crack into another world, the places in ourselves not yet yielded to God in this war between principalities and powers in the strongholds of the spiritual.

I was living in a thin place when Bethany wrote to me.

I had been too willing to pursue knowing God because it was the right thing to do, too willing to leave off Jesus because speaking of Him made me uncomfortable. Embarrassed.

I was living on the edge, and I had no response to her “have you ever surrendered your whole life to God?” I had no answer for her, “I have done that, you can too, if you’ll just do what I did.”

For two days, my husband and I talked. And talked. And talked. Our conversation was long and deep. We talked about spiritual warfare. We talked about who I was in God, about my misdirected passion. We talked about my failure. I named it as the sin it was. We talked about grace. We talked about Jesus.

Her name was Bethany, a name given to her by the spirit who possessed her.

Her testimony was her surrender, her “higher” right, her knowledge of “God.”

My testimony was Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

I had no answer to her story, to her argument, to her deception.

I had no justification for my own sin, my lack of surrender, my thin-place-dwelling.

She needed nothing more than what she had found.

I needed everything. It was a choking, desperate need for redemption.

This is how I learned about the Gospel. This is how I encountered the Truth who is the Way and the Life, the Word who became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain for my justification, from whose hand I can not be removed. This is how I began to speak the name of Jesus, to discern the Holy Spirit from the subtle lies of other spirits.

Bethany had obtained the ultimate surrender. She had become a slave to her god. She was moved by a spirit. She had fellowship with something more powerful than herself.

I had not surrendered everything to God. I still haven’t. I still struggle to offer myself willingly to Him, to let go of the things in me that would identify me as a slave to righteousness. I don’t always recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. I don’t always feel the nearness of God-fellowship that I want.

But I know this: I am justified in Jesus. Because of Him, I reckon myself dead to sin and alive to God. I am already crucified with Christ, yet I live. My faith is not something I have dredged up through trying to have more faith. It is the gift of God. My redemption comes by this faith in the Son of God who became sin for me.

I still sin. I still fail Him, fail my family, fail myself. I am every day desperate in need of a Savior.

Her name was Bethany, “house of figs.”

Jesus cursed a fig tree once for bearing no fruit.

My name is Kelly, “warrior.”

Kelly Anne.

Anne meansgrace.”

His name is Jesus. Immanuel.

“God with us.”

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.

Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

“As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– Romans 8:31-39

(Image © Informal Moments Photography)

***

To read more from Kelly, I invite you to visit her at This Restless Heart and follow him on the twitter at @arestlessheart.

A woman on a mission

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Matthew 28: 18-20

Do you believe that all the world is the mission field? I honestly do. I think we all can be ambassadors for Christ in our homes, at our workplaces, at the grocery store, anywhere.

Having said that, I think it takes a special person to give up the comforts of home to travel to distant lands and be the hands and feet of Christ. My friend Sarah Salter is one such person. She has been on several mission trips in her young life, and now she has been given an opportunity to go on another one to the Sudan. Here’s Sarah in her own words:

Isaiah 61:1 has always been one of my favorite scriptures…

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”

As much as this is a scripture about Christ, because I’m a follower of Christ, I also accept that it’s my personal calling as well. The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD has also anointed ME to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim freedom for the captives. Because of this calling, when missionary Rose Boyd came by my office the week before Christmas to invite me to come with her to minister to the refugees in Sudan, I immediately felt compelled to say yes.

From July 11-25, 2010, I will be joining Rose and a team of ten from Operation Teaching Tools and Every Nation Education to travel to Sudan and minister there. We will be doing Vacation Bible School with the refugee children, as well as doing teacher training and evangelism and a bit of construction.

In order for me to take part in this trip, I am responsible for raising my own support, in the amount of $4,050. If you believe that God would have you to give a tax deductible contribution, you can contact me at smsalter78@yahoo.com. If you wish to send a check, please make checks payable to Operation Teaching Tools and mail them to:

Sarah Salter
PO Box 54
Falcon, NC 28342

On behalf of the team and the folks we’ll be ministering to, I would ask that you pray for us. Sudan is a severely impoverished, war-torn country who is in its third year of drought. The needs are great, but I know that your prayers will give us strength, wisdom, and favor to take Jesus to this part of the world. Thank you!

***

As I mentioned before, Sarah has been on several mission trips. It is part of what God has called her to do. She is also an excellent writer. On her blog, she has chronicled three such mission trips:

A Priceless Hope
Her name was Hope. Okay, well, sorta. Her name was Esperanza, which in Spanish, means “hope.” She was nine years old and cute as a bug’s ear, with a smile that would make Oscar the Grouch’s heart get soft. But the day that she was carried into our mission clinic in Concordia, Argentina, she was far too scared to smile. She sat in her mother’s lap and buried her face in her mother’s neck. continue reading

When There’s Nothing You Can Do
”Did you see Nightline on Thursday night?” Chrissy sat across the table from me last Saturday afternoon helping count out 25,000 adult multivitamins into packets of 30 for an upcoming mission trip.

I shook my head and glanced at her to let her know that I was listening as I tried not to lose count.

“I thought about you because I know you’ve been to Congo a couple times….”
continue reading

The Water, The Widowmaker, and the “Why”
When I was very young, I had a strong desire to do mission work. I didn’t think that I’d ever be a strong enough Christian for God to use me. I managed to spend a week at a teen missions camp when I was about 15, but then I put the dream away. Then, when I was 19, God opened the door for me to go on a construction team to Galeana, Mexico. I spent several days, shoveling gravel into a cement mixer (and learning how to spit to keep from swallowing the gravel dust). And that was all it took for me to be hooked. continue reading

Instead of Dying (by Maureen Doallas)

I used to think poets were high brow types. People who would look down their noses at me with disdain. I don’t think that anymore. Getting to know Maureen Doallas and other gifted poets and writers through blogs and twitter has been much fun for me. Because much to my surprise and delight, they’re very down to earth and just a little on the crazy side. Which, in my book, is a very redeeming quality.

Here’s Maureen:

This is the time of year when some seriously, and many not, set about making resolutions, stating their intentions to do something, accomplish something, during the coming new year: perhaps learn a new language, volunteer at a local shelter, be kinder, try harder, make amends to someone.

This is a story that doesn’t need that kind of resolution. It’s about a beginning following an ending that failed to happen.

The story begins where he starts: by making fun of himself in front of people who go to a comedy club for drinks and maybe a good laugh, if he’s having a good night. Giving them all he’s got is just his way of getting the obvious out of the way.

What’s obvious he acquired in 2007, some place in Iraq we won’t ever be.

What’s obvious is his face, a tracery, a pattern of lines pieced together like a collage, the only kind of art his doctors could make when the U.S. Army convoy truck he was driving lumbered too near an unseen roadside bomb.

His face is a map of hope. It reflects what’s worth having the intention to do, which is to live, to give back and not up.

His burn scar covers most of his face and head. His ears are missing a few pieces. His left eye doesn’t open well because of scar tissue. He could be described as bald but for the few hairs that still grow in place. He gave up his left hand and forearm below the elbow. His body took a lot of fire.

Because the bomb happened, his body gave up a lot. What he didn’t give up was his self, which found a way to turn what might have been an ending into an awareness of what can be learned when a person finds and uses the strength to drive on.

The ending that we know happens over there never did in his case. Staff Sgt. Robert Henline didn’t die of wounds received in Operation Iraqi Freedom. There is no marker in any military cemetery bearing his name and rank and the year of his birth and death.

Instead of dying, Bobby Henline lived and began telling jokes.

He started during his months of recovery in the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio, Texas. He kept going through dozens of surgeries and many months more of physical therapy — the kind none of us can imagine taking for 15 minutes, let alone days at a stretch.

As Henline is quoted as saying, “So, of course, the first thing I do is usually get the pink elephant out of the room and make fun of the way I look. I’ll start off with a zombie joke. . . .”

Of course; haven’t you ever made fun of the way you looked? And gotten a laugh, too?

As Henline’s quick to add, “I always try to get that out of the way first, to let them know it’s OK to laugh at me.”

They do laugh. They laugh during open-mike night at San Antonio’s Rivercenter Comedy Club, where Henline goes as soon as Friday comes around. The club is the place an aspiring comic best starts out when, as Henline tells it, the only other position open to you is “a modeling job at the Halloween Super Store.”

The club is where laughs help heal invisible wounds whose pain is let out in the words that reverberate through a microphone. It’s different from Army gigs, no doubt, but it’s a place to practice a new kind of occupation. It’s a place for focusing on a new routine that offers a way to get past the result of an ending that never happened. It’s a place where we learn, even while we’re laughing, that a negative can be positive, too.

Henline, like the men I wrote about who create art from their uniforms, shows us that stuff happens and life goes on, that hope and strength and something ineffable can be brought from the inside out and make a difference.

The difference Henline is making doesn’t take a New Year’s resolution. Or need one.
_____________________________________

Purple Heart recipient Robert Henline, age 38, is married and has three children.

This post is inspired by visits to Henline’s MySpace Page and his blog, which is accessible there. You will find many pictures of Henline on that MySpace page.

Henline is the subject of numerous profiles, including a series of interviews with NPR, as well as OperationHomeFrontOnline, Texas Public Radio, and MySA Military.

A moving YouTube presentation, also available on Henline’s MySpace page, is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YugOhSOz4b4

***

To read more from Maureen, please visit her at Writing Without Paper and follow her on twitter at @Doallas.

An Open Letter


I just finished the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s about overcoming and avoiding the roadblocks we face in any creative endeavor.

Inspired by what I read in this book, I posted an open letter over at Brian C. Russell’s place today. You should check it out. It just might have been written to you.

A Mother’s Love

A few weeks ago, my friend Peter Pollock hosted a blog carnival on Grief. My friend Annie had sent me a guest post entitled The Winter Trail which I thought was perfect for the topic. This week’s carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley on the topic is Love, and Annie’s follow up to that post is fitting as well. Here’s Annie:

For over five weeks I had avoided going into her room but I knew sooner or later I was going to have to face the daunting task of packing up the things she left behind.

I looked around the room and took in the few items left hanging in the closet, mainly the old clothes she didn’t wear anymore. The desk held a few nick knacks, school supplies and stuffed animals. The walls had been left mostly bare except for the remnants of her high school volleyball days and a random tack here and there.

I climbed up on the bunk bed and began taking down the volleyball shirts one-by-one. Player number on the front, name across the back. One shirt had the words ‘Team Captain’ boldly printed across the chest, and I had a flashback to the moment she told me she’d made captain. There were bags she had hung that had been decorated by her ‘secret bear pal’ and given to her on the days we played our cross town rival. Pictures of her with the team, the saying, ‘you wish you could hit like a girl’ and the ’10 Reasons I Play Volleyball’, all came down one at a time along with the memories I had of her volleyball days.

I climbed down from the bunk bed and began going through the items on her desk. There was an Angel jewelry holder that she had painted at a little pottery studio we had visited and I carefully wrapped it up and put it into a box. I gently tucked the stuffed animals into the box along with jewelry, pictures, old cell phone chargers, books, and school projects that she had worked so diligently on.

As I cleaned off her desk, I noticed the tiny white Christmas lights that she had strung around her desk and up the bunk bed. I plugged them in and continued working.

I went to the closet and began opening the drawers of her dresser, a hand-me-down from when I was a little girl. As I opened the top drawer I smiled at the mismatched socks in it. We had always laughed about the fact that she never wore matching socks. And there was not a match in the drawer. I closed the drawer and left the socks as they were.

Other drawers held old high school sweatshirts that I packed along with the volleyball shirts into a box. The jewelry box she’d had as a girl that was tucked safely away in the third drawer down was just going to stay put. For now.

As I surveyed the room, I hadn’t realized how late it had gotten and the room was becoming dark except for the white Christmas lights. I glanced over at her desk and my eyes landed on the blue dolphin lamp sitting there. Blue was her favorite color and she’d always loved dolphins. I reached over to turn the lamp on and it lit up as mini lightning bolts raced through the dolphin. I stood there for a moment watching the lightning show…and then the tear fell.

And it fell for the emptiness of the room.

And then another fell for the hurt and sadness of my daughter walking out the door and not looking back.

And another fell, for not seeing her in those mismatched socks.

And then the tears came.

For wondering how the dreams for ones child could go so wrong somewhere along the way and for feeling like I was packing up all the memories I had of her 17 years into a few boxes.

And for missing the hugs, the kisses and the ‘I love yous’, the laughter, the quiet moments, singing Lady Gaga in the car, being goofy, baking cookies and watching movies.

And they fell because I won’t watch her graduate from my old alma mater, and because don’t want to miss out on her future.

And they fell because I’m afraid she doesn’t know how much I miss her.

************************

As I sat there letting the tears fall I knew it was only the beginning. There will be many more tears in the coming weeks, and who knows, maybe months because there is a lot of healing in our relationship that needs to happen, for both of us. But, there is one thing that I am certain of where my daughter and I are concerned. And that is no matter what the differences are, or what trials we face, or how mad and disappointed we are with each other, she knows I love her and I know she loves me.

***

Be sure to check out the rest of the entries in the blog carnival over at my friend Bridget’s blog, One Word at a Time.

Christmas Memories

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Right? Yeah, well not always, and not for everyone. I’ve had my share of blue Christmas memories. To read what God taught me (and is still teaching me) through these experiences, follow me over to my friend Jason’s blog, Connecting to Impact.

And in case I don’t touch base with you guys before Friday, have a safe, blessed, wonderful Christmas, and thanks for hanging out with me this year. It’s been a blast.

Page 4 of 7« First...«23456»...Last »