An Honest Survey

Last night I posted a new status update on my Facebook page and, after rereading it this morning, I’ve decided to post it here on my blog, too. I’m doing so because I’ve realized that there really is a big picture sense of truth underlying each step in my existence. Surely, others have experienced far worse than I have and I’m sure there are higher peaks yet to come on the other side of eternity, but, it is clear to me that God is faithful. As Jesus explained in the sermon on the mountain in the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew, we are all blessed in our brokenness. We are never alone. He is always there for us, waiting to take our hand, if only we will accept the offer.


For many of you who know me in the flesh, as well as those who’ve been my Facebook friend for any length of time, it isn’t news that The Hands & Feet Project has become a notable focus in my life over the past five years. I realize that I may even run the risk of turning people off from paying attention to my posts due to the sheer frequency of my Hands & Feet Project-related posts. But, it’s almost as if I can’t contain it inside of me! Some folks just don’t realize the magnitude of change that happened and is continuing to happen in my life! It is a transition that I firmly believe God has been orchestrating behind the scenes from well before the day my biological mother put me up for adoption.

While it is true that my biological mother nearly jumped off a bridge with me in her arms when I was an infant because she didn’t have the mental fortitude to face motherhood, it is also true that God used my soon-to-be aunt to help facilitate my nearly immediate adoption by two parents who provided a sound foundation to grow from.

While it is true that, as a young child, I was sexually abused repeatedly by somebody that, at one point, played a significant role in my life, it is also true that my parents were able to provide the right setting for me to be able to move on.

While it is true that neither of my parents were particularly spiritual, my mom provided me with a religious foundation and surrounded me with a church family that would be able to provide a positive spiritual influence in my life.

While it is true that my parents and I had very rough ride through the years that it took for their separation and divorce to become final, my relationships with both of them solidified shortly after. My Dad went on to become my best man in my wedding and was the best grandpa I could ever ask for for my kids. My relationship with my mom has recovered to a point that is greater than I ever thought possible and I love her dearly.

While it is true that my Dad and I lost everything in a house fire on a six-below-zero January night in 1996, I learned a priceless lesson about how unimportant our possessions really are.

While it is true that I engaged in all sorts of college-aged experimentation and boundary-breaking, a pineal gland brain tumor rupture in 1998 shook me up physically and mentally and, ultimately, helped me to settle down so that I could finish college with honors and start teaching.

While it is true that I was adopted and had never known, beyond infancy, anyone that was my own flesh and blood, I’ve been blessed, through my wonderful wife, with two kids of my own who, despite resembling me in many ways, consistently inspire me to be more than I am. They amaze me!

While it is true that the sixteen months of decline from brain cancer that my Dad went through, and the many months of mourning after his passing, encapsulated the darkest time of my life, they also proved to be the fertile soil out of which a brand new sense of hope and purpose was born — supporting and participating in the critical work of The Hands & Feet Project to care for orphans and keep families together in Haiti.

I’d never sought out or had any kind of prior inclination toward the nation of Haiti prior to the experiences that I was forced to walk through as my Dad’s primary caregiver when brain cancer robbed him of his ability to do anything for himself. I simply fell  forward through doors graciously opened by God working through dear friends whom I’ll be eternally grateful.

I went to Haiti with The Hands & Feet Project for the first time in 2014 and again in 2015 with my wife (her first time). In just a couple of weeks my wife, my kids (for their first time), and I will be in Haiti with Hands & Feet again. We will be there to continue to build relationships, support the long-term missionaries of The Hands & Feet Project, deliver supplies, learn, and further experience the God-given beauty that exists in the land and people of Haiti.

If you’ve ever experienced the gutters of life only to, later, also experience the peaks, you might have an idea of how I feel. The opportunity that I’ve been given, to be able to play even a small role in serving the mission of The Hands & Feet Project has God’s fingerprints all over it. From the connections with people who’ve opened doors, to the opportunities, time, and ability to donate, sponsor, and fundraise, there has been one source: God’s grace.

Jesus never said that life in this broken world would be easy, but, He did say that we can come to Him and that He will take our burdens. If you knew the sheer contrast exposed in my life from the depths of where I’ve been to the blessings that my family and I now experience through our support of The Hands & Feet Project, you’d be supporting them, too.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 1:6

“I’m Not Afraid. No, I’m A Believer,” is an older post from my blog that explains more about the story of how I came to be involved with The Hands & Feet Project.

For more information on The Hands & Feet Project, visit http://www.handsandfeetproject.org

Breaking Breeze

The myth of the tightrope strung high above is breaking
I braced for the crash
but just ended up startled
staring up
from the dirt-dusted ground
Its the fact that I’m still awake
The love that I still feel
The yearning that still haunts me
Hungover or not
That lets me know it is real

Questioning His Limits

I remember growing up and believing myself to be the face of future Christianity. I thought I was going to be a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor. I wore my GOD DOESN’T BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS t-shirt, listened to Petra, Michael W. Smith, and DC Talk sing songs like “I Am On The Rock,” “Place In This World,” and “Jesus Is Still Alright With Me.”
I got out of the pool during swim practice and left my teammates like a good Adventist at Sundown each Friday. I didn’t drink or party with my friends. I had a HE LOVES ME bumper sticker on the back of my 1980 Toyota Corolla right next to an anti-abortion bumper sticker. I read Christian books, attended Christian youth conferences, and even spoke sermon-style to a group of church members at a vespers meeting.
But, there were some issues that weighed heavily on me at that time. They were issues that would continue to weigh on me for years to come: What was I supposed to think about my dear grandparents who loved me, provided breakfast for me each morning before college classes, co-signed a loan for me to buy a car, but, didn’t attend church? What was I to think about the Contemporary Christian Music artists that I so avidly adored and that I perceived to be so sincere, but, in reality were no better than I? Or, wait a minute, maybe they were better. Maybe they were closer to God. No. That can’t be right. They weren’t Seventh-Day Adventists! What about babies born in China or third-world aboriginal cultures where they will never hear about Jesus? Are they going to hell just because they didn’t have the technology to get the Billy Graham broadcast that included an altar call? What about those friends of mine who, though they taught me to get drunk, smoke cigarettes, and do other things I shouldn’t do, also taught me what it meant to have somebody I could rely on?

The truth is that God’s grace surfaces in so many different forms throughout our lives. Nobody in this world is as they should be. We are all lost: The condescending Christian that responds to your apology with an I-told-you-so-type attitude. The Pope, Ellen G. White, Ghandi, John Lennon, Trent Reznor, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton, Bono, Tony Blair, my in-laws, and myself.

If any of us had to lay our hope in our own pathetic efforts to be good, attend church services, pay tithe, perform rituals, or argue our way into heaven, we would all face eternal seperation from God. I don’t know if there is an eternal Hell or if all the damned just cease to exist. What I do know is that our only hope is in God’s grace. His grace and his Love far supercede any church doctrine, any liturgy, any papal mandate, and any governmental law. The Creator knows the hearts of those who have never heard the gospel and He knows the hearts of those who have heard, but, persistently deny the gospel. His justice will be served.

Its strange indeed that anybody on earth would have the audacity to try to outwit God. Instead, I admit my flawed self. I concede that my own direction will only lead to pain for myself and those around me. My hope rests in my faith. My faith built on His grace. God offers his fatherly, unconditional, loving, eternal acceptance to me. I accept it. I pray that you do, too.

“Crack A Smile, Cut Your Mouth, and Drown In Alcohol”

Jesus was in my stereo
I had a sharp suit on
I practiced my handshake with the congregation
My posture was straight as I led them in prayer

The desire to be embraced by the out
Was too much to resist
The seal broke and I bled
My dehydrated soul shriveled as I stubbornly shivered

Though there was a knock
I had my back was turned to the door
Living out my sickness at top speed
Only finding relief in short spells followed by hangovers

Then my impostor world ruptured
Revealing the chasm that used to be a soul
Yearning to be filled
Finally satisfied by a flood of Grace

“In his brokenness, the repentant prodigal knew an intimacy with his father that his sinless, self-righteous brother would never know.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Pp.181)

Your Cell

aIn a recurrent moment of knee-jerk reactions
I recline paralyzed in a mixture of fear and hope

Not knowing how to respond
I don’t respond at all

Worried about coming across too abrasive
I send only my silence

You are swallowed by your problems
You are cocooned by your candy shell veneer

Your sight is diverted
Your insight is lost

Instead of fortifying windowless walls
Please open your cell

While you can still hear the knock
We were born to love