Daniel and his adoring little sister


20 years. Twenty years. Somehow I didn’t think I was old enough yet to have a twenty years of something. Yet here I am, with last Thursday, August 18th marking the 35th birthday of my brother Daniel. This marks 20 years since his last birthday alive.

I confess over the years I’ve striven to focus only on life on this day. To focus on celebrating that he lived at all rather than on his mortality, his frailty, his vulnerability and the inevitability of what comes to all of us. No grief, no mourning the loss, but recognizing the gain. A gain that has outlasted his life here. I’ve striven to be positive in my careful approach towards the day. This an attempt to have some control, to make it seem worth it because I had learned, or grown, or something profound from it. But to be honest after 20 years, I’m not sure I can say with confidence every day that I think it was worth it. Worth him. Yet I have learned more about life from his death, grown more albeit excruciating from the absence of him. I now see life from a bird’s eye view, so to speak, because he isn’t in the midst of the mundane anymore but is in the midst of the eternal. And from this expanded viewpoint, it is ironically much simpler.

Looking back he did always seem fragile in a way, so mortal, so human to me. As if the seemingly robust life within him was one exhale away from vanishing. And it was. Yet for the brevity of the life he lived here, it really is just a simple game of leap frog. He got the first jump in by getting to heaven first. I’ll give him that one. Fine. But I’ll make my jump here at some point too and then we’ll get to play together forever.

So, after 20 years, birth, death, the life in between and the life after, is all one jump after another. And if we can exercise the courage to recognize the simplicity of that, it somehow diminishes our mortality and calls out the immortality in all of us.

A response to http://www.lanciaesmith.com/2011/08/daniels-birthday/

The real power


“Correct theology alone has not enabled us to complete the assignment Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago. The Great Commission hasn’t been accomplished through our vast resources of money or personnel. To see the kinds of breakthroughs that Jesus had we must embrace what Jesus embraced: the Holy Spirit”. A great quote from Bill Johnson’s, when Heaven Invades Earth.

Causes you to think and reminds me that no matter how much money and resources I have, and no matter how much money and resources the church has, the Holy Spirit is all we need. The only resources we need to accomplish the Lords impossible call already lives inside every believer. It is time to release the power and the kingdom because there is a higher reality.

Putting the Rug Out to Dry- A Lesson from Gideon

When I returned to work with the girls a few weeks ago from maternity leave, I walked in with confidence thinking I had all the details of our family schedule nicely ironed out for the fall. But with just one phone call everything seemed to unravel faster than a sweater caught on a nail. My precious schedule in all it’s complexity was looking to be completely undone. Like a house of cards, if one thing went, it all went down. In that one phone call, I was suddenly looking at possibly quitting my job, not putting Ellyana in preschool after all, having to find another job with 2 kids factoring in, and all for just 6 months or so before we leave for the mission field. How was I going to pull her out when I went to all the trouble to get her in? How was I going to find another job on the whim with my circumstances and this economy? How was I going to work out volunteering on Tuesdays with a new job? And the most immediate question, how on earth was I going to find someone to watch Ellyana 20 hours a week for 3 weeks in just 2 days (the phone call)??

I went home completely disheveled and all but frantic. What was this? Was this the enemy messing with me and the Lord’s plan for us? Was this me not being faithful & listening? Was this the world acting well, worldly? Or was this the Lord? My mind spun like a washing machine with every scenario possible and each one looked worse than the last one. But then there was a pause between cycles. My sister called me accidentally that afternoon and after I told her about my predicament she was quiet for a second and then said, “Well, I can’t believe this but I’m looking at my schedule and I’m actually free every morning for the next 3 weeks. I’ll take care of her, no problem.” What?? Within hours God had answered my first question! Done.

But I was still a ways away from learning my lesson. In the weeks that followed I became increasingly more paranoid about the other variables. I started reading into things at work, which lead me to making assumptions, and before I knew it I was all tied up in a spiritual knot. I couldn’t have heard God if He’d been standing right next to me using a megaphone. Much less that still, small voice. Then time was up. I had to make a decision about quitting work or staying because preschool was starting the next week.

As I prayed last night I decided to read Judges chapter 6. I poured over Gideon and the fleece and then a thought came to me. Tell work about the things that need to happen there for you to stay and if they don’t agree then take that as God telling you to quit. If they do, then He’s telling you to stay. Throw the fleece out there and see what He does with it.

So, that’s what I did today. I met with the personnel committee and laid my fleece out there. To my astonishment they agreed to everything I said and even offered me a few extra hours for the fall!

Lesson one: when things come unraveled, address it right away. Don’t stew in it until you can’t think straight.

Lesson two: if you have stewed in it too long and you can’t hear Him clearly, don’t give up. Just give Him another avenue to speak to you through.

Lessons learned.

Judges 6-
36 Then Gideon said to God, “ If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, 37 behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.” 38 And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “ Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground.” 40 God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground.

The Other Side of Worship

At the beginning of the summer we were driving back from a Friday night Fusion meeting, where we had been introduced to Jesus Culture. We had watched (online) as this group of believers from Redding California led worship the way Clinton & I have longed to collectively worship for years. A big gathering with lights & roaming cameras, yet completely void of the pretense & hype of the modern day mega church worship “show”. The worship leader, Kim Walker-Smith, never made eye contact with the audience when she sang, only when she spoke directly to them, as if to say, “I’m here freely worshiping my God. You’re welcome to worship Him too or not. That’s up to you.” Pure authenticity. As we listened to the words of each song, I felt the whisperings of my heart echo through the lyrics. These believers had nailed it. It was quite the experience.

So naturally, as soon as we left, we bought the CD. Driving home, we listened to the words again, each lost in our own musings. My mind wandered to thoughts of God as we praise Him and I wondered what it looks like on the other side of worship. What does He do when we lift Him up? Does He sit on His giant throne, looking regal and omnipotent? Does He smile with pleasure at us doing what we were created to do? Is He stone-faced? How does He respond? This is what I asked Him as we drove and listened, our hearts over pouring with worship and awe. I waited, leaving my heart open and quiet.

Then the first flash came. Then another. And another. One right after the next. Then one on top of the next. The sky began to explode with frayed whips of sheer electricity! No longer a typical thunder storm but an actual lightning storm in all it’s frightening and unfettered glory! My heart remained quiet as I probed the Lord again watching this. Then it came to me. This was His answer. This is His response to our worship. He is not stone-faced, He is not glued to His chair. He is ever moving, displaying in full force, His glory, His ability. Worship is not one sided as I had always believed. Worship is an exchange, between the creation and the Creator. As we move before Him, He moves before us.

“Show Me Your Glory”
Jesus Culture

I see the cloud, I step in
I want to see Your glory as Moses did
Flashes of light and rolls of thunder

But I’m not afraid
I’m not afraid

Show me Your glory, show me Your glory, my God
Show me Your glory, show me Your glory

I’m marked by Your beauty, lost in Your eyes
I long to walk in Your presence like Jesus did
Your glory surrounds and I am overwhelmed

But I’m not afraid
I’m not afraid

Show me Your glory, show me Your glory, my God
Show me Your glory, show me Your glory

I long to look on the face of the One that I love
Long to stay in Your presence, it’s where I belong

Oh how we love You, Oh how we love You
Oh how we love You Jesus