When Death Dies

“That cemetery is really small, isn’t it?” my wife asked, gesturing toward the right of the busy intersection.

She was right; the space was very cramped, almost as if the cemetery were an afterthought. Looking over the lot, I noticed something else. Just past the fence that surrounds the property, glowing through the gaps between the headstones of the deceased, was a big red sign that said, Donut Delight.

A donut shop stands less than twenty feet from the perimeter of a grave yard. I have driven past this for years and have never considered the juxtaposition. It’s bizarre.

I picture a group of old men getting together every week for breakfast. They sit by the window sipping coffee. They split a box of chocolate-frosted eclairs and stare out into the field of death, trying not to number their days.

That is what you call an existential breakfast. It sounds like a Samuel Beckett play.

So, why would anyone surround an old cemetery with restaurants and small businesses?

Because life goes on. One day we will all be in fertilizer, but while we’re here, we all have to eat and buy and work. So, pour the concrete and put up a donut shop. Read More…

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

We don’t need more Christian Music

As I write this, the world is buzzing with frantic anticipation for the arrival of music’s biggest night.

Somewhere, right now, Lady Gaga is being lowered into some kind of pre-civil war, steam punk inspired Transformers costume. Nicki Minaj is sifting through a Skittles bag, searching for the perfect wig color.

That’s right, the Grammy Awards are upon us. Millions of viewers will tune in to see which of their favorite artists will be awarded for their recent musical endeavors. They are looking forward to live performances from some of the world’s most talented individuals.

I am one of those viewers. For a long time I had no interest in the Grammy’s or popular music. It seemed like any pretty face with a gym membership and functioning vocal cords could get a record deal. Lately, there seems to be a resurgence underway, people shifting back to an appreciation for musicianship and strong lyricism.

Great bands like Mumford & Sons have gone from playing small festivals to packing out stadiums. This doesn’t make the hipsters happy, the ones who knew them before they were big, but I love it. I love music.

Having grown up in a religious context, I am well aware of the dividing line that splits many Christians between what we call “Christian” and “Secular” music. I have never done too well with this line, but I understand it. Much of the music that exists, regardless of genre, is pathetic. Degradation of women. Celebration of crime. Promotion of infidelity and promiscuity.

My parents didn’t want me singing along in celebration of these things, and I respect that. The solution? Listen to “Christian” music. It’s wholesome.

But while “Christian” music is void of sex and drugs and stickin’ it to the man, for me, much of it is void of originality, art, and honesty. There are exceptions, which I will cover later, but I have felt this way since childhood. Read More…

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…

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