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Takeoff and Landing and Life

Flying—sitting in a tiny chair suspended at 30,000 feet—has a way of narrowing my focus to important matters; it puts me in deep thought. I think about the loved ones I left safe on the ground below; I worry that they’re worried.

I think about deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that can form in the legs of frequent flyers and, according to an article I once read in an in-flight magazine, aspirate to the lungs and cause death. But, mostly I think about life.

It’s fragile and painful and wonderful.

To me, flying highlights the experience of living. It represents the journey, the ups and downs, the turbulence of the everyday, the shared vulnerability with complete strangers.

The most beautiful metaphor for life I have experienced on an airplane was on a flight to Pensacola, Florida a few years ago. My mother sat on the aisle, my wife in the middle, and I sat by the window on a crowded plane headed south.

Tanya, my wife, does not enjoy flying, but her least favorite part is the takeoff. And as the pilot issued final call and headed towards the runway, I felt Tanya’s fingers clamp around my knee, eyes shut, teeth clenched. The faster we went, the more she tensed up, and as I looked over to comfort her, I noticed my mother placing her hand into Tanya’s sweaty palm, giving her something else to squeeze.

Eventually, the plane leveled out and reached cruising altitude and Tanya’s fear subsided. However, when we approached our destination, as the plane drew closer to the ground, fear set in again, but this time not for Tanya.

My mother’s neck stiffened and she forced her head deep into the headrest and closed her eyes, preparing for impact. Tanya, calm and alert, noticed this and, without hesitation, reached for my mother’s hand. She held it until the plane landed and slowed to a stop.

The roles had reversed. In less than two hours, the comforted became the comforter, and vice versa. Read More…

33 Ways You Know You Were A Youth Group Kid (From Buzzfeed)

I thought this was funny, only because it’s true. Enjoy.

33 Ways You Know You Were A Youth Group Kid

Have you seen yourself?

What is the one thing every driver has in common?

We all think every other person on the road is a complete moron.

No one can seem to change lanes properly. No one can text and drive quite as good. And when it comes to driving in the snow, forget it. We share the express way with the most incompetent people on planet earth.

It’s as if someone kicked open the doors to a psych ward and handed out car keys to every late-merging, nose-picking, lane-clogging knuckle dragger they could find.

“Get off the phone and drive, idiot!” you yell to the stranger ahead of you sitting at the green light. “Sorry, what were you saying?” you ask the person you’re on the phone with.

People are so stupid. Think about it.

All bosses are clueless.

Most coworkers are useless.

Every other parent is doing it wrong.

If I were the Pastor…

If only others had my knowledge, my world view, my disposition, this world would be a better place.

Consider this: Read More…

The Importance of Unnoticed Work

This past Saturday, I spent all day, over twelve hours, working with two other guys on some much-needed projects at the church. We were busy hammering, sawing, painting, and cleaning. We fueled ourselves with Taco Bell and Starbucks Coffee—not a good combination—and worked late into the night.

The following morning when we joined the rest of the congregation for worship, not one person mentioned our contribution. No one said “Thank you,” or “We love what you’ve done with the place.” Nothing. How rude, right?

Not really. It’s not that we go to church with a bunch of self-absorbed jerks, though I’m sure there are a few in the fold. After all, what family doesn’t have issues? But, that wasn’t it.

No one recognized our efforts because they were hidden beneath the floor and tucked inside a breaker box. We spent the day fixing electrical issues and building wooden boxes for the cold air return vents.

Had we spent our time applying fresh coats of vibrant colored paint or remodeling our classrooms, someone would have taken notice. They would have commented on the work, even if only to express distaste for our color choices.

But what we did made no visual impact. It did nothing for the aesthetic quality of the space. Read More…

What Martin Luther King wanted someone to say

Today is the late Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday (MLK Day). This is a day of reflection and celebration for anybody who cares about equality, justice, and peace. I’m guessing that includes you, so take a few moments and read the words of one of our world’s greatest leaders.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say…I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

“The Drum Major Instinct” (1968)

What do you want them to say at your funeral? Read More…

3 inspirational quotes that are actually ridiculous

1. Failure is not fatal.

Unless, of course, it is. For anyone who has messed up royally—That would be me!—this is like sweet lemonade on a hot summer day.

However, you probably won’t hear this little pick-me-up in med school. I doubt flight instructors include it in their Powerpoint presentations. That’s probably because, in many instances, failure is actually fatal.

Now, I know the intent behind this phrase is to remind people that there is life after mistake, that your failure doesn’t have to define your future. Thank God for that. But we toss it around too freely. Just ask a divorce attorney if failure is fatal. It certainly kills enough marriages.

2. When God closes a door He always opens a window.

I’m not even sure what this means. Is God pulling pranks?

“Hey, Peter, come watch this dude try to fit through this window. The poor fool doesn’t even know he’s two stories up.”

The only story that comes to mind about God closing doors is Noah and the ark. God slammed the ark door shut, but He made sure the windows were closed too. And then He flooded the earth. Read More…

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