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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last time I talked about some of the fears that have come into my life since the tragedy. I wanted to continue that thought by sharing another. I think everyone who goes through tragedy asks themselves at some point or another "Am I normal? Are all the things I'm thinking and feeling exactly what they should be?" I remember the first time I thought that--literally within days of the accident. I had already had several recommend counseling (which I agreed with and would recommend to anyone). The problem wasn't their recommendations. It was that there were so many so soon. It made me wonder if something were wrong with me--with my crying, my hurting, and my questioning. I remember reading before the accident that personal grief is like a fingerprint--unique to every person. I thought I understood that when I read it the first time. Then, I came across that statement again just the other day. Man, what a difference time and circumstances make in your perspective. I have come to discover that it's not what you feel as much as the fact that you are given the freedom to feel it without regret. Surrounded by people who love you and care for you, feelings can be shaped into the form they need to take. They can become helpful, healing and constructive emotions. I come back to the importance of transparency and support. It's no wonder that my church (Ridgeview Community Church) has such a community orientation. We value so much the importance of "doing life together" and sharing the journey. There is no way that I could have made it through the last 2 years alone. I dare say that no one can recover from tragedy by themselves. It is the reason that God gave us relationships and made us all to be people who are wired for intimacy with others. I pray you have found your significant others--family, friends, believers and even skeptics--that can help shape you and rebuild you as you face life. Praying for all of you who read today. May you find peace that only He can give.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August 29, 2006

It's truly amazing the fears that can enter your thinking after an event like what my family went through. Since that day, I have dealt with loneliness in many different forms. On top of that have been other fears that I had never really experienced, especially with such intensity. For instance, I had never really feared dying. Because of my faith, I just always knew where I'd be if something were to happen. I had no apprehensions about "what lies beyond". I still don't. My fear now centers around the children I would leave behind if I were to go. They have already been through so much. My prayers for safety for all 3 of us are more intense than they used to be and are, honestly, more self-centered as I worry about what they would do if something were to happen to me. Watching the reports on the plane accident in KY yesterday did not ease those fears. As much as I travel with my position as a pastor and speaker, I have to be on the road alot. With family around the SE, the travels are expanded. And with every journey there is this deep passionate cry to God, "Please keep us safe--please keep me safe. Don't let these kids be alone." I know He could handle it. If that were the story that were to be written for them, He could turn it into a beautiful picture just like he has with this loss. I have to trust that the God who knows the future can handle it...all of it. My job is to pray and to live and to trust and to know with confidence that, whatever happens, He will still be God.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

August 17, 2006

Tragedy comes into every life. That's part of living in a world where sin has been allowed to exist. Tragedy does a lot of different things to different people. For one, it may be the reason to trust in God more. For another, it is the sole reason for them to deny God's existence. As it has been said, "The same sun that melts wax also hardens clay." The difference is not in the level of the tragedy or the source of the tragedy. The difference is found in the substance of the person who is touched by the tragedy. What I mean is this...how you and I are changed by the events of our life have far more to do with who we were before the tragedy ever occured than it has to do with the tragedy itself. The make up of our spirit, the confidence of our heart, the strength of our faith and where it is placed will all determine if we are melted or hardened, built up or destroyed. I am very thankful for my background, my family and my faith for all three constructed in me the things I could not give to myself. Because of that, the severe tragedy that struck my family shook us, to be sure, but did not destroy. And all of that, to me, proves there is a God who is not shaken by our catastrophes or blown away be world events. I cannot explain all that He does or does not do, I can only know what I have experienced--the steadfast nature of His hand and the wisdom of all He does.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The reality is that we all worship something. Finding out what that is can tell us a lot about where our time and energy and resourcs will be spent in this life. If success is the focus of our lives, we will spend all we have in order to attain it. If we seek fame, we will muster all of our talent and resources to reach a level of notoriety. If family is the most important thing, we will sacrifice other events and goals in order to keep our commitment to that very thing. And...if we say that God is our priority, it will be revealed by how we embrace this world and what we bring into our lives. The comings and goings of life will be touched in every way possible by the things we most love.
I find it interesting that the root word for our word "priority" was always a singular word. There never was such a thing as more than one priority. In other words, it was either your priority or it wasn't. Today we list numerous priorities in our lives but we can only worship one--only one thing or person or goal can occupy the top spot in our lives. I think its fascinating to watch as people try to convince themselves (and everyone around them) that this thing or that is a priority for them. All the while, even the most casual observer can see that they are only fooling themselves. They may say they love "A" but it is obvious that "B" or "C" is the center of their lives. How much easier it is to find and know what you worship. To not chase the wind or follow after things that really do not matter in the grand scheme of things. How many wasted hours could we save or fruitless dollars that would not be spent if we would live what our hearts reveal to be true about us? That is true integrity--when what we say is most important really serves as the very center of our being. Till next time...

Monday, August 07, 2006

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8 NLT.
More times than I can remember over the last two years, these words and others just like them have brought me great comfort. How amazing it is that the God of the universe feels the loneliness that has invaded my heart from time to time over these last months. I could not have done it alone--friends, family, church and God (not necessarily in that order). I have learned that going through a tragedy of these proportions necessitates a transparency beyond the norm. It is no time to hide behind walls or to keep people at arm's length. Welcome the love, the embrace, the encouragement, the support--no time for pride. And...rest securely in the thought of knowing that every tear, whether it be from anger or sadness--is welcomed and counted by God.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

August 5, 2006

I just read an interesting article. It talks about the loneliness that seems to be growing in a nation of almost 300 million people. How strange it is that we have better tools for communication and more ways to do it but that we have forgotten what it means to trust someone. How strange it is that we watch reality shows that supposedly take us inside the "private" lives of so many people (that's a subject for another day) but we can't walk across the street or across the yard to share a moment with our neighbors. I see it every day in the faces of people--wanting to be known but afraid to drop their guard. Wanting to be on a new level of intimacy with someone but afraid to find out that they might be different or weird. It's a sad state for us to exist in. It's part of why I do what I do as a pastor. I really feel like that the church community, when it's done right (and it's not often done right), can be such an answer to the loneliness and isolation that fills our hearts. It's a way to find travelers who are moving in the same direction, sharing the same fears and looking for the same help to get where they are headed. I love it when those breakthroughs come--when a face turns from deep loneliness to that sense of belonging. At our church, we call it doing life together. And when you've done it that way, I don't know that there is any other way to do it. I hope you find that place, that community, that someone who can know you beyond all the layers you put up. It's the only way to really "do" life. Till next time...

Friday, August 04, 2006

August 4, 2006

There's something kind of scary about doing a blog, as if you are somehow opening parts of yourself to people you may never know or ever see. My hope is that something that is written here will help to make sense of life for some reader (and probably the writer as well). If you continue to read over the days ahead, you'll hear more about me, more about my story. Some days, what I write may make sense to know one but me. Other days, I believe I may write words and phrases that help bring life into focus for some other traveler. Whatever the case, I want the words to be God's so He can use them to write what He will into the minds of those who read (all 3 of you). About me...I'm a single dad with two great kids. We are just two years removed from the loss of my wife and youngest child in a tragic accident. Much of what you read will be the musings of a man who has known success and tragedy, love and loneliness, heartache and joy unspeakable. I'm a church planter (a guy who starts churches for those who aren't familiar with the term). But, way before that, I am a son, brother, father, and follower of Christ. I hope that whatever those phrases mean for you, you will set them aside and see what we can learn together from the journey. So, as your friend and fellow seeker, welcome to my world. Till next time...