A Gift Experienced

While spending this past weekend with my family in Keystone Heights, I was pulled aside by my cousin for a confession. “Mike, I’ve messed up, and I need your help” (not exactly the lite-family-catch-back-up level of conversation I was prepared for). Anyway, my cousin had been in trouble before, and I braced for a story that might end up with him driving away in the back of a squad car.

As it turns out, my cousin had knowingly bought some stolen lawn equipment for his upstart landscaping buisness from a friend who worked at the local hardware store. Now he wanted to set things straight, realizing that doing so could mean being arrested or putting himself in danger by naming the source. The following is a brief play-by-play of the next thirty minutes.

My dad called the manager of the hardware store, whom he had met before, and told him that my cousin was coming by (and why). My cousin and I drove to his house where we loaded up the stolen equipment. We then drove to his bank where he withdrew $700, pretty much draining his account. Next was the final stop, and at this point my cousin’s fear was dizzying. We walked into the store and the first person we saw was the guy who’d originally stolen the stuff. Fortunately, he was busy, and we then met the store manager who escorted us to the back office. We were ready for the axe to fall.

But the first words out of the manager’s mouth were, “I just want you to know that I’m not planning on pressing charges, but I’d like to find out what happened and how.” My cousin was still having GREAT difficulty talking, so I took the moment to thank the manager for his gracious spirit. After a difficult and lengthy time of gathering himself, my cousin began answering questions, and slowly the story began to unfold. After the telling, the manager assured my cousin that he would remain annonymous, and that once the equipment was paid for, we were done. The total was $637.41, and my cousin took the money in his shaking hands and began separating it into groups of $100. Finally he had the total amount ready and handed it to the manager.

I thought we were done, and I was already thanking God for the amazing kindness of the store manager, but just before we got up, the manager said, “Aren’t you paying monthly installments on a tractor mower?” My cousin nodded, his eyes still fixed on the floor below. The manager then handed $140 back to my cousin, and said “You’ll be needing this in a few weeks. Thanks for being honest with me.”

What began in mortal dread ended as one of the most grace-filled experiences I can remember, and I’ll be shopping at Ace in Keystone Heights for my hardware needs from now on thank you very much…

Now What?

KindergartenIt’s been a week now since we returned from Honduras, and I suppose the dust is beginning to settle. Not being able to make better sense of the trip or tell some amazing story of transformation is still bugging me a little. To make the whole “trip interpretation” even trickier is the fact that I’ve been buried in stress since returning.

Perhaps it’s the obvious lessons that come from a week of living a simpler life that need to sink in and stay with me. My life is tangled in knots of over-committment… mostly due to extra work… mostly due to a need to pay the bills… mostly due to a standard of living that we can’t afford on my salary alone… mostly due to desire for a more comfortable and convenient life.

During our time in Roatan, we joined our host family’s congregation for a Wednesday evening time of worship. The passage of scripture for the evening challenges me ditch the baggage that weighs me down…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Headed to Honduras

This August it’ll be time to consider the whole Honduras thing first hand. The plan is to stay for a week and work with the children of Ninos de la Luz in La Ceiba. Part of what our team will do is construction, the other part with be… playing soccer (or something like that). I’m currently trying to think of a theme for the trip but don’t really have any idea. Details to come…

Marcion

I don’t really know that much about Marcion, but after reading about Moses and the Israelites (or would it be more clear to say Moses versus the Israelites) in the first five books of the Bible, I have to say that I can see why Marcion had questions about the Old Testament. Though I don’t agree that there are irreconcilable differences between the Old and the New, I sense the confict and quesitons.

As a piece of dry grass proudly daring to approach the sun, it is a terrible thing for uncovered man to experience the intense, consuming fire of G-d’s holiness. Pride is humiliated and returns to the dust from which it was formed. Yet we are not without hope. In Christ, we are covered. In Christ, the bush burns eternally yet is not consumed.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho…

The “nine to five” part of my life’s been pretty busy lately. Too busy. Maybe it’s related to my obsessive side, but when there’s a problem that I’m partly responsible to solve, I can’t just let it stay at the office. As a result, when I’m home I’m not all the way home – just “mostly” home… and “all the way” tired.

Not only do my busy times at the office diminish life at home, I’ve noticed that my motivation for change seems to be reduced as well. No nagging questions about simplicity or community. No desire for the people of Honduras. Hopefully, the “stirring” is still there… somewhere latent within. Is it so tied to my career that it will not resurface until things at the office are slow again, and I start feeling bored?

Will’s crying in the other room. Time to go be a dad.

An Easter Thought at Christmas Time

An excerpt from “Following Jesus” by N.T. Wright:

It is because of him that we know – we don’t just hope, we know – that God will wipe away all tears from all eyes. And in that knowledge we find ourselves to be Sunday people, called to live in a world of Fridays. In that knowledge we know ourselves to be Easter people, called to minister to a world full of Calvarys. In that knowledge we find that the hand that dries our tears passes the cloth to us, and bids us follow him, to go to dry one another’s tears. The Lamb calls us to follow him wherever he goes, into the dark places where tears blot out the sunlight, the places where tyrants pave the grass with concrete; and he bids us shine his morning light into the darkness, and share his ministry of wiping away tears. And as we worship, and adore, and follow the Lamb, we join, already, in the song of Revelation 5.11-14, the song that one day the trees and the mountains and the whales and waterfalls – the whole world, reborn on Easter morning – will all sing with us:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…
to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and blessing!

To him who sits on the throne and the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and power for ever and
ever, Amen.

Donde esta Honduras?

Sell the house. Sell the cars. Sell the boat. Learn to speak Spanish. Build homes. Help physicians care for folks. Play guitar. Teach English. Fish. Play. Purge. In short, move to Honduras for two years.

Can’t really say that I feel “called” to do this. Then again, I can’t really say that I’m not. It’s just one of several ideas on the radar, and of the companion possibilities, it’s the one that seems most interesting or exciting at the moment. Something in the back of mind says that I must be able to answer the question “why” before doing something so… crazy, big, and different. Well… Mr. “Gotta-Hava-Reason”… howsabout you answerin me this one:

Why not?

Why do I do what I do?

Before starting my day at the office, I usually read the latest entries on several design weblogs. This morning, an entry on the Stuff and Nonsense site caught my eye, and I thought I’d try to answer the question it posed – why do I do what I do?

With that said, here are some random thoughts:

  • I’m a hopeless organizer/categorizer.
  • I enjoy the satisfaction of explaining (at least when I’m able to communicate clearly and get the sense that what I’ve said makes some sense).
  • I’m OK at drawing, singing, and playing the guitar.
  • I’ve been in web/cd-rom technology for over 15 years.
  • I love meeting people from other places.
  • I feel most alive when contributing/serving.

I guess the list above doesn’t really contain answers to the question. Maybe they’re best held in contrast… the real question being – what should I be doing?