Monday, December 29, 2008


Brief time lines have never provided much of the intimacy and depth that we tend to desire as those who are image bearers of the Creator.

This is my one hundredth post.

I started blogging on May 18, 2006. That's roughly 956 days which equals a post every ten days or so. My first blog title was, "A Fresh Sort of Start." The post was about how there were no fresh starts... it was about the baggage we carry. It was written two weeks after my friend Eric Harless died. It was written one year and 2 weeks after my Dad died. It was written shortly after my sister told me that she wished I had died.

It was written one year, five months and ten days after my new life started with Laura.

When I read it I thought, "Wow...not a lot has changed sense then." Seriously, if you've kept up with me over the years, you might have thought that this sort of baggage might have been lost on one of my many trip mishaps.

But no.
It's still here. is a new year. A year ago, Mayor Nutter promised it that it was a new day for Philadelphia. A little over a month ago, President Elect Obama promised change for our nation.

And we? We hope? We hope that these guys are right?

More so...maybe we hope that these guys are right in the sense that change is needed. Maybe there is something deep within us that cries out that this life is not as it should be. Maybe the shock and awe of death, destruction and the currents of the "American Way," are convincing us of the truth that most of us (if any of us) don't have it together.

There's hope there because the reality of realization speaks to this sense that there is something more perfect for us to grasp. The sort of raw sense might be looked at as Plato and his Forms, or maybe...more sadly...Hegel and his Dialectic.

The sense that holds more hope for me is the idea of Jesus... of how he comes and says, "'re don't have it together." It's the same thing he told his disciples. It's the same thing he told all the Jewish people. It's the same thing he told the whores and the self-righteous priests. It's the same thing he told the poor and the rich.'s the same thing he's telling us.

And that's hopeful.

On the less serious end, below are the 99 words that started my last 99 posts (titles not included).
  1. My
  2. When
  3. That
  4. There's
  5. Right
  6. In
  7. Without
  8. A
  9. Laura
  10. One
  11. My
  12. If
  13. When
  14. If
  15. Sometimes
  16. Something
  17. In
  18. I
  19. When
  20. We
  21. With
  22. We've
  23. What
  24. A
  25. This
  26. I'm
  27. In
  28. La
  29. What
  30. I
  31. I've
  32. I
  33. I
  34. I
  35. What
  36. It's
  37. NPR
  38. No
  39. Official
  40. A
  41. The
  42. Before
  43. I
  44. If
  45. I
  46. Park
  47. Blessed
  48. If
  49. On
  50. Yes
  51. For
  52. There
  53. Working
  54. My
  55. Everyone
  56. Many
  57. I
  58. We've
  59. Spending
  60. No
  61. The
  62. I've
  63. Sometimes
  64. Lately
  65. Screaming
  66. I
  67. For
  68. So
  69. Tonight
  70. A
  71. Rule
  72. If
  73. Last
  74. Nothing
  75. Unfortunately
  76. If
  77. No
  78. Thought
  79. What's
  80. In
  81. We
  82. I
  83. Lately
  84. I'm
  85. Your
  86. For
  87. As
  88. So
  89. Four
  90. You
  91. I
  92. Crown
  93. Update
  94. You'd
  95. You
  96. If
  97. There
  98. Seriously
  99. Last

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cookies = Ticket to Heaven (with a Jehovah's Witness anyways...)

Last year, Laura and I gave cookies to out neighbors for Christmas. They weren't just any sort of cookie...they were hand made and home baked.

This year, the pressure was on. I literally had neighbors walking by and asking if we were making cookies again.

We were (and did) but, you might ask, "What's the big deal?"

The big deal is that when I talk about neighbors, I mean our whole street - somewhere around 46 households.
We baked around 6 cookies per house.
We are still cleaning.
The words, "Why did I ever do this in the first place," came out of my mouth frequently.

It's always an interesting time though. Some people are very thankful. One kid (he was probably a teenager? mid teens?) gave me a high five. I received a chorus of "Thank You's!" from one house. If you remember our earlier travails, what we received this year is a much more welcome sight than the trash and tickets of yesteryear.

But one person gave something that I would like to share with you: the story of Jesus as seen through the eyes of the Watchtower.

Not really (I mean, he did give me The Watchtower).
Namely, because I don't believe what Jehovah's witnesses believe regarding...well...pretty much almost anything.
But I'll share the story (of how he went about giving it to me).

I stopped by a man's home that we'll call Allen (because...his name is Allen...). No one answered the door at first, so I did what I do with most of my goody packages - hung it out of his mail slot and inadvertently allowed cold air to flow into people's homes. I was a house or two down when Allen poked out and said, "Hey! Thank you! Wait one minute, I have something for you!"

I didn't know what to expect.
Another neighbor gave us a pot of gold for Christmas (I'm not being snide or sarcastic - it's a box of Hershey choco's with that title) and referred to my wife as "27," (we live @ 1427). We've gotten Christmas cards from some neighbors. So, I waited not knowing exactly what was coming out of the door.

Allen came out with a big smile on his face and said, "This is especially for you." I looked down...and being disingenuous as I usually am in situations like this voiced a, "Thank you."

"Well, I hope to see you again real soon," Allen said.

Which is, altogether, kind of funny considering the fact that I live only a few houses down. He could presumably come over any time he wants with another copy of the Watchtower. These situations happen about quarterly with us (not necessarily with Allen) and Laura, I think, always prays that we'll be busy as I always enjoy a good debate in discussing why I believe Jesus doesn't believe the same thing that Jehovah's witnesses believe.

In any case, Merry Christmas Allen. Thank you for adding to my pile of recyclables and blogging experience.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Bells Are Ringing...

Seriously. If you're reading this, you're probably in the bracket of "middle class."

Times are hard for people like us.
In fact, our new president elect and his team are currently working on ways to focus on the middle class and to infuse our economy with some c*a*s*h because things are just that hard.

But if you are in the middle class, you probably have some wiggle room too.
You probably didn't go to bed hungry tonight.

You probably have a place to sleep.

You probably have clean water to drink.
You probably are an American - someone who is a resident and citizen of the richest country in the world.

This is a late plea, but this Christmas, please think of (and pray for) those who Jesus essentially said embodies Him (remember...whatever you do to the least of these?). Overwhelmed by your charitable choices? Check out Charity Navigator to ensure your cash is going to a responsible place.

There are a lot of reasons to think about this and to mention it here, but I'll mention only one. For most of us, the poor are invisible. In fact, the tone of conversation during the election went from talking about the poor (sometimes people were also referred to as, "The Working Class,") to discussing the middle class.

And we loved it.

And we welcomed it.
And we voted our hearts into it.

Remember, however, that Jesus came to we who were and are poor to make us rich. There is this restorative sense of Christ making things right that we tend to neglect in the midst of our own sorrow and desperation.

And so we neglect them.

And so we tend to "our own."

And so we despise them.

This Christmas, please remember the least of these. Please remember that in their humanity, they too are image bearers of the Creator of all things. Please remember that anything you can do to help might mean a meal for someone tomorrow.

It might mean a warm place for someone to sleep.

It might mean a move towards self sustainability.

It might mean the world to someone who will never have as much physical wealth as you may right at this very moment.

As one who tends to have a somewhat orthodox view of Christ, Christmas means a lot to me. At the very least, it means that there is a God who decided to enter into a broken world at a fixed point in history to really show us that He means to do us good. It means that there is a God who is actively involved with the brokenness of creation and that he cares enough to hurt with us. It means that there is a God who has decided to enter into our story...not because he needs us, but because we need him.

In your own [spirtual] poverty this Christmas, please do well unto your fellow man and give what you are able.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lord, be good to us...

There is this guy who I gave a ride home to every now and again.

His name is Lamar.

We were talking a few weeks after the Philly’s won. I’m not usually one who is much for sports, but everyone else around me seems to be. The Philly’s, if you don’t know (or don’t remember), won the World Series.

It was their second World Series win… in 125 (yes, one hundred twenty five) years.
Needless to say, most people remember where they were when the Philly’s won…

Lamar remembered where he was.
He had only just left the hospital…
Right after they pulled the plug on his cousin…
He died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

It’s a jarring thought, I think. Few within my age range deal with death in any tangible way. Fewer deal with it as a reference to the reality of the violence practiced by one man to another.

I didn’t think that there was much for me to say.
I don’t think that there’s much for me to say.

For the rest of the ride that night we sat; we would talk but the conversation never came back to Lamar’s cousin. Towards the end, I really felt that the impetus was on me to ask what I could be praying for Lamar’s family (including the obvious loss).

Just pray that life would be good for us.”

I thought about this on my way home and I prayed for Lamar and his family in North Philadelphia. I thought about my own experience with death – about how, beginning with my Aunt when I was in college, every Christmas and Thanksgiving seemed a little less joyous every year. I thought about how fewer and fewer seemed like they were filled with the joy that usually comes with the holidays. It almost seems as if every year has produced some sort of tragedy (friends who have died, my dad dying, other family members who have died…)

But back to what Lamar asked… isn’t it what we all pray in unnecessary and complex ways?

“Father, I beg you, be good.”

Because frankly, sometimes it doesn’t seem like He is being good to us. Sometimes life doesn’t seem like it allows the room or freedom for goodness to happen. Sometimes (and I really have been wrestling with this in different ways), it just doesn’t seem as if God cares.

Intellectually, I acquiesce to the Apostle’s Creed. I pray the Lord’s Prayer with the Church and I mean every petition (I consciously think about what I’m praying every Sunday with people around the world because I don’t want the word’s to be dead to me). When I speak with God, I ask (in words much less specific), “Lord, be good to me and my family.”

No doubt, things have been good for us in a physical sense.

Though, more often than not, I feel like we have everything we would want…except for a listening ear from God.

God…please be good to us. Amen.