Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Longest Night

Today is the winter solstice, the darkest 24-hour period of the year, where night settles in, hunkers down, and exerts it's stubborn refusal to be shooed away. It is dark. And our immediate reaction is to turn on all of the lights and hide from all that scares us out there in the long and terrifying night.

This has been a year of extreme darkness in many respects for me personally. Great loss compounded upon great loss resulted in heart-heavy weeping in the middle of long and fearful nights. I have longed for the light of day this year, but the nights only became longer as the year stretched on. I ached for that sunny, solar religion where everything would be just fine if I only prayed enough, if I just said the right penance and attended enough feel-good, Sunday worship services. "There's always a silver lining," or "keep you chin up" were the cliched phrases of well-intentioned parishioners. But grief is not like that. Things aren't always just fine in the end. It was only dark, and the grotesquely bright sunshine of the Sunday, solar experience made my grief feel like a circus and sucked the legitimacy out of my pain.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Showers are Overrated

Friday! It's almost Friday, ya'all!! Eeek! This Friday I'll pick up my hiker's backpack, into which I've packed my little life, tent and all, and head back to Mozambique for some serious camping adventures. Yeah, that's right...CAMPING. IN MOZAMBIQUE. OMG. What's the purpose of this craziness, you ask? Manchester UMC, in it's total awesomeness, funded a primary school in the middle of the bush at their partner church, Mabumbuza UMC. The building was recently completed and we are going to both dedicate the building and engage in conversations with the Bishop of Mozambique, the leaders of the Mabumbuza community, and government officials about the next steps in increasing access to primary education in the country. Because of the great travel required to Mabumbuza, camping is sort of our only option in achieving our goal of spending significant time with the community...showers are overrated anyway, right?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Life Abundant

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”.  
-Rev. Howard Thurman

I talk a lot about how hard I work and how this job is a lot to keep on top of and how I'm exhausted a lot of the time with all the travel...and all of this is true. But when it gets down to brass tacks, mostly, I do this job because it's SO MUCH FUN!! Like, I really super-duper love it. And it makes me so very happy. It's where I shine.

I've been doing a little personality exploring and took this awesome, super quick Meyers-Briggs-ish test. I landed with the following results: ENFP. Nailed it. This description completely nails it. They sort of sum this personality type up with this oh-so-true statement, "ENFPs are fiercely independent, and much more than stability and security, they crave creativity and freedom," which could not be a more accurate description of me. I also found this little gem describing the 25 Struggles Only ENFPs Will Understand. Brilliant!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Year of Yoga (Recovering from Post-traumatic Church Disorder)

As I walked into Urban Breath Yoga Studio last week, like I do roughly 3-5 times per week now, I realized that this month marks my one year yogiversary.

Last year at this time I randomly stumbled into this yoga studio searching for a little peace of mind and some exercise just in time for the beginning of what they called the "Omtober Challenge". I was intrigued. If you signed up (30 days for $30 as a new student), you got unlimited yoga classes for the month, and if you managed to complete 30 classes during the month of October, you had the opportunity to win a drawing for a free yoga membership. I thought to myself, "what the hell", and signed up without much thought.

And I went to yoga class that day. And then I went the next day, and the next day after that, and although I didn't quite make the 30 day challenge, I came close.
And so I signed up for an ongoing membership and have been going regularly ever since.

What was it about yoga that hooked me?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Singing is not Necessarily Prescribed

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”   ― Mary Oliver

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why This Stuff Works

I believe in the work of the Mozambique Initiative with all my heart. Not just because it's my job and I'm paid to say that. And not because, in theory, it sounds like a great idea to help people who are poor in the remotest parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (although it does) ...but because what we do WORKS. What we do is actually impacting lives and changing communities. And not just in a temporary, band-aid-on-a-gaping-wound kind of way, but like, really, truly, helping communities to become healthy and self-sustaining. You see, our ministry is HOLISTIC and LONGITUDINAL. It looks not just at the individual, but at the health of the entire community. And instead of expecting a one-time gift before getting the hell outta dodge so that God doesn't acidentally call us to Africa or something crazy like that ...we actually expect engagement in partnership with our brothers and sisters in committed, long-term relationships. And it turns out that long-term, holistic investment in people and their communities actually changes stuff!! Here's is a perfect example of why it works and what I'm talking about from my last trip:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Surrendering to the Great Abyss (by Adam Miller)

I saw a video a month or so ago showcasing one of my favorite filmmakers, Salomon Ligthelm. In this beautifully-shot short narrative, Salomon talks about his experience as a filmmaker in the secular world, and how the talents he's been given is not for himself, but for others. The point of creating, building, making, is not for the artist, but to serve everyone else. That is something I must continually remember when shooting, editing, directing, etc. Any gifts God has given me is not for myself, but for other people. It is a surrendering of those gifts. Salomon would ask it, "Have you surrendered yourself to the Great Abyss?"

Friday, July 25, 2014


"In the beginning, God created..."
The opening line of that well known and little understood book...drum roll please...the Bible. I think this text often gets lost in the whats and whos and whys and hows, "...the heavens and the earth," or "...Adam and Eve," or "...that gosh darn, pesky apple," etc. and I think we often lose the impact of that first line: In the beginning, God CREATED. The action. God created.

cre·ate \krē-ˈāt, ˈkrē-ˌ\ : to make or produce (something) : to cause (something new) to exist :  to produce (something new, such as a work of art) by using your talents and imagination    

God created. Creating. To create. In the beginning, that's kinda what God was up to, and it's kinda what God keeps being up to in our lives. Imagining, plotting, dreaming, producing, making something from nothing. Creating.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Trio of Heartbreakers

If you've been following the Mozambique Initiative's goings ons in the last month, you've probably heard about this jazz trio that was here visiting all the way from Mozambique, bumping around the state in a church-van-turned-tour-bus. For three weeks my mission was to cart around three amazing musicians and one full-time representative while not losing any of them or accidentally driving off of a cliff. Mission accomplished! My job duties ranged from band manager to bus driver to translator to lead singer depending on the circumstances. Easy, right?

Monday, April 21, 2014

What if?

What if we've got this all wrong?
What if it's about becoming small instead of becoming big?
What if we actually need less rather than more?
What if the least is really the greatest?
What if success is measured by stepping down the ladder rather than climbing up it?
What if we became acquainted with the poor rather than with campaigns with pretty pictures of the poor?
What if we spent time with our neighbor rather than theologized about our neighbor?
What if we lived where we could make a difference rather than where we felt the most comfortable?
What if we chose to be participants rather than consumers?
What if the one guy in the front who talks the most really doesn't have the answers?
What if the one talking doesn't have to be a guy at all?
What if the last one was first?
What if we have big questions and live them out loud?
What if we've been lulled to sleep by the drone of mediocrity?
What if we wake up?
What if we wake up?
What if we wake up?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Education Station

I'm a huge fan of education.  Like in a big way. Clearly, I would never have endured the lunacy of getting a doctoral degree if I didn't feel a deep commitment to the educational process for better or worse...and it IS sheer madness to even wade into these dark and dreadful academic waters (anyone who tells you differently is trying to get you to apply to their doctoral program). My love of education is not about the degrees that ensue or the letters I find strung behind my name like some unintelligible caboose at the end of a train.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Because it's Funny

I posted something snarky on Facebook the other day after receiving this nasty and biting email (names and identifiers have been changed):

How many times does it take to get you to change my e-address from this one to Maybe "third times a charm."


Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Light of the World

AfterHours Church Denver

I spent an hour on the phone yesterday with a foul-mouthed, rockabilly, former-comedian-turned-pastor who does church by feeding homeless people in a park and having drinks with the local riffraff in neighborhood bars. I was at the end of my rope with many things about how people do "church" and "christianity" and needed an infusion of reality. Ask and ye shall receive.

We talked about how sermons suck and how neither of us could give one hot damn about what some white, middle-class dude says from a shiny pulpit. We talked about how we don't want to hear about Three Steps to Finding Your True Self, or Why Jesus Wants You to Have a BMW, or How To Feel Comfortable in Suburbia. It's empty. And our generation knows this in its core, but it seems that our lethargy and desire for comfort get the best of us.

You see, everyday I work with people who are literally, LITERALLY fighting for their lives because they lack safe water and food. Because their government is corrupt and 13 year old children carry around guns. Because they are ridden with malaria and typhoid and hepatitis and HIV/AIDS and there is no medical care. My job centers on not only helping to provide water and food and safety and medical care, but also asking WHY these people don't have water and food and safety and medical care, and working to change this system. One step at a time. My sincere hope (and ALL of my eggs are in this freakin' basket) is that our FAITH tells us something about how to do this. That the Spirit is the catalyst to changing our world. That somehow, light will shine in the darkness, and darkness will not overcome it. I need a faith that speaks to these realities. I need it. I'm desperate for it.

What I want to see from our "churches" is how faith compels us to live differently. I want strategies for loving radically and living out loud. I want people to learn not just how to give their money, but their lives, and their hearts, and their time, and their energy. This world is dark, where is the light? How, in God's great name, do we shine??  What does this man called Jesus, who hung out with sinners and drunkards and prostitutes and people who are poor have to say about all of this?? My hunch is that I'm more likely to find answers to these questions while talking with a foul-mouthed pastor who hangs out in bars than in a pew in suburbia-land.

Between F-bombs and crass jokes, my rockabilly pastor-turned-dear-friend seemed to be on to something. Maybe it's not about a new flat screen TV, and light shows, and great sound boards, and perfect sermons. Maybe it's more about simply hanging out with people who are lonely and poor. Maybe it's about being church, as opposed to going to church. Maybe it's about living church, as opposed to attending church.