Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: community (page 1 of 2)

A Gift Called “Together”

We heave and breathe and pour sweat, and bump fists.
And we chant audacity (in the form of “oh yes you can!”) and mouth corners upturn under flaming cheeks. And we cut another minute off the mile, add another mile to the course.

We flop down in green grass and laugh.

And I realize that what I once said would never be, is.
What I always said I’d do only for the sake of relentlessness, I do now for the love of the doing…

That changes everything, you know?

I soak up blue sky and run fingers through grass while we stretch; listen to the student of strides give us the latest science; quip that we need a team dietician.

And running isn’t anything like it used to be.
It used to be heart-pounding, step-sounding solitude where the only one there to believe I could was myself.

But it isn’t the love or the running that strikes me so deep.

It’s that together word.
That’s the gift.

Apart, some are fast, some are slow.
Others never try. Never know what they’re made of.

Oh, and don’t get me wrong. There’s a place for solitude. I was born a loner, after all…

But I’ve been given a gift I hope to spend the rest of my life passing on to people around me who’ve never tried. Or who’ve quit believing.

And I dare you to do the same.
To be the same.

To the lonely soul; To the trembling child; To the one who wants, but is afraid to dare; To the one who would, if one soul would care–

I want to be together.

Because together, everyone gets stronger.

Her Name Was Mary

“Ok, tell me everything you know about this girl.”

I’m on a quest of discovery. And I’m after everything my friend might know.

“Well, she’s a really pious woman.”
                                                “Or… wait.”

–  –  –

Yeah. My thoughts exactly.
Almost without exception, her contemporaries thought differently.
For after all, she was the girl who’d been robbed of parents before she was ready to stand on her own, and had subsequently turned to find love where it can never be found. She was the one who, whether intentionally or accidentally, had thrown away her innocence, her youth, her purity, her piety in the crime-soaked business of human flesh for sale. And to boot, seven times she’d bowed to the dark side, and become a currier for the worst kind of darkness.
She was.

But then, then there was that awful day when she was caught in the act… Dragged from the bed to the street, and thrown in a cowering heap before the Lord of Glory.
And there was that beautiful moment when her broken shame, her stripped-bare necessity, appeared in the shadow of the undiluted Love of Infinite Eternity.

And she got it.

She got it.

Of course the pharisees would always maintain that Jesus regularly ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at a prostitute’s house.
Of course they’d say that what was could never be fully erased.

Of course, we say the same of others. We say the same of ourselves.
You know, that a crippling past must necessarily have a strong effect on one’s usefulness future. That this girl should never know as she might, what it is to trust. Or that, at the very least, it might take a lifetime to learn. And love? Well…

Yes. We often say those things.
And of course, there is an element of truth to them.

But there’s a reason this girl named Mary (which name means “Rebellious,” by the way) is my new favorite Bible character.

Because her story is the story of the power of grace to overcome, and to turn my past into my greatest advantage.

Let me gently remind the world that the home she shared with her big brother and sister was the place Jesus always came to when it was time to rest. That these were, apart from His very own, His best friends on earth. And that after her turning, this girl gained eyes for things everyone else missed.

Because the brokenness of her past was the richest possible backdrop for the truth about Grace, and the power of Love.

Remember that in the midst of the noise of a traditional Jewish party, while everyone was consumed by the festivities, one girl had the presence of mind to anointed her Lord for burial. That when everyone else was consumed with the protocol, this one girl sat at the feet of the Desire of the Ages, and watched Him, all ears, all eyes, all heart.
Remember that on that dark friday, she was there. When they carried Him to the tomb, she was there.

And let me remind you that on resurrection morning, Jesus appeared to one, and only one friend. And that friend was neither Peter, James, nor John.

Her name was Mary.
And she was a former prostitute.

I can’t help but wonder, might it be because she understood something about Love that everybody else missed?
And might that be because God makes “all things work together for good…”?

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

 “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Ro. 5:20

–  –  – 

Shoes kiss the pavement over and over. Rhythm of breathing and stride. We push miles behind us one at a time, while the truth is soaked in silence.

And I? I’m so taken.

“So, you see why this story, this girl . . .”. . .

Here We Go!

Promise for the day:
Psalms 81:10 “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it…”
Don’t take my word for it. Prove Him.

Charge for the day:
You think we know 10,000 people between us? I do.
And every one of them should have the chance to dare with us.
So, tell them. Text them. Facebook them.

Encouragement for the day:
It does get easier. It does.
But you’ve got to be willing for it to be hard first. 🙂

I declare this week coming to be “Pray-for-each-other-on-ScriptureTyper-week.”
Let’s see what God can accomplish.

Click your ST tab above and let’s go.

— [excited beyond belief. :)]

My Word of Honor

Sometimes my most lucid moments emerge from the calm of profound exhaustion. Not sure why.

Happy tired. Listening from the back seat to the cheerful chatter of people I just love, my head against the window…
“Ketchup please.”
“Lime or strawberry?”
“Did you get your fifth?” 
Rubber purrs on pavement and we whistle along. Ski slopes behind, home before. Backdrop of sunset and rolling hills covered with a fir coat of pine.
“What page were we on?”
The book opens and the story goes on. An old fashioned tale of a century ago, alive with meaning and simple joy. I listen, but only with half of my head. Because forthwith I’m snagged by this old-fashioned story, and an old-fashioned concept that shouldn’t be remarkable, but is.

His word of honor
Used to be, a fellow was slow to make a promise, because a promise meant something
Mhm, mhm, yes. Doesn’t it still?
I don’t know. You tell me. 
When I say a thing, can the world set their clocks by it, and keep good time?
When I say I’ll ____, do I actually deliver, or do I just try?
  I’ll pray for you. 
     I’ll be there at 6.
        I’ll remember.
           Sure mum, can do.
              I will. 
                 I won’t.
                    I promise. 

Darkness gathers over the high country. I pulse this resolve.
To treat every “Sure, I’ll…” like an old-fashioned promise.
My word of honor.

Thanksgiving [Because I Belong.]

It occurs to me that without a few key gifts in this life, all others are rendered meaningless.

The eve of Thanksgiving. I flop into bed with Romans 8 on my heart, fresh from neighborhood youth Bible study.
And as I ponder, as I set to counting blessings once again, I suddenly see how this one gift makes all others worth counting…

You’ve read the stories– Joe Wheeler style.
You know, the ones where some little orphan waits for Christmas, wants nothing more than someone to belong to. Someone to want them.

I’ve always read them with somewhat of an “awwww!, poor kid.” reaction.

But you know, I’ve recently found out that that poor kid is me. 

– – –

I look up from my Bible and my friend’s lip trembles, and I catch it in an instant, because my heart does the same.
It’s this word– “Debtor.” 

I’m a debtor. Romans says so. (and my heart tells me the same.)
I’ve never seen more selfishness in the mirror in my life. Nor foolishness. Nor pettiness. Nor pride.
It’s awful.
A debtor I am.

But right on the heels of this word with such weight, on this eve of Thanksgiving, comes this other word–


I’m adopted.

I’m a debtor, not because I’ve sinned, but because I belong.

– – –

My head finds the pillow. My tears join my friend’s.
I shake my head in silence, and though orphaned I should rightly be, I fly again at open arms.
And my Thanksgiving prayer is simple:

Thank You for wanting me.

– – –

Thanksgiving tradition: All kids in the kitchen. At once.
feast for the eyes
pilgrim zone
best ever: sharing the all-American holiday with Australian friends and sweet neighbors
no indians this year…

Gift of Bravery

But I’m afraid.

Oh, but why?!
It’s fear, you know, that gives these giants (my enemies) all their strength.

Destroy the fear, destroy the giant.
They’re made of paper anyway…

– – –

I cross rocky hillside to a favorite old spot. The boulder sits just where it did last time, warmed by the mountain sun.
Some things never change.

Years change though. And ages.
And I’m here both to ponder and to give thanks.

It’s strange how much birthday wishes can move a soul. (or is it?)
I give thanks for them. And for the friends that gave them, and for the promises they have claimed over this little life.

But even more, today I’m thankful for one thing:

For blue-green eyes more than a fist full of years my junior, brave enough to stand up to me and say they expected more, better, higher, from me their friend.

And I reel and wince, and then I melt. Because I know they speak the truth.

For a little voice, rarely heard, barely raised in the babble that broke my stressed-out reasoning into pieces.
That broke me into pieces–

“In brokenness we find blessings.”

And I stop and stare, and then smile. Because I know they speak the truth.

For another, strong and quiet, warning me of my own fearful power to destroy while I treck across western plains.
Half “I’m right here with you,” half “you have absolutely no excuse.”

And I realize, I need more of this. I crave more of this.
I might need it more than the rest of the world put together.
I need to be pushed, challenged, reminded.
And not just by my critics.

I need it from my friends.

I need more brave friends.

These three? they’re keepers.
And they’ve given me the best of the best this birthday.

thanks guys.

Almost Obedience [of lights, lanes, and a lecture]

It’s pouring rain. 
I’m half in your lane because the only way I can keep out of the standing water is by straddling the yellow line. 
I’m all lit up, and have been watching your headlights oncoming for the last three miles– 

and you’re going to play chicken. with. an. Ambulance.


–As my dad would say:

“Work with me.”

I have to laugh.
We rumble along. I just raise my eyebrows as they go by, me fully in my lane, driving in deep water.
(because we prefer smart driving to brave.)

The rain slows and we pick up pace again. And three drivers in a row have their cars in park a half mile before I get there, and the next driver just crosses the white line enough to spit gravel everywhere and endanger my windscreen.

I can’t resist a little lecture in the moments before we meet and part.

Eh hem…, driving with one wheel barely over the white line still verily qualifies as being on the road. Especially at that speed, bro. And driving with all but one wheel on the other side would too. Know what I’m saying?

[car streaks by]

This ‘almost off the road’ thing is really a misnomer. 
You’re either on the road,

or you’re… off. the…


And suddenly, it is as if He is sitting in the passenger seat, pointing towards the next car– the one that is almost stopped, and almost all the way off…
It is as if He turns a kind face from it to me, locks with my eyes and just raises His eyebrows a bit and smiles a little, that smile that betrays a bit of something like sadness and a whole lot of Love– That smile I’ve seen too many times to count…
So… whose idea was the lecture. mine, or Yours?

–  –  –  –  –

His, I think.
I suddenly see how they are one and the same. The guy who blazes past, and the guy who almost stops. Both still on the road.

And I think of the times I mostly obey…

God’s Fortress

“…It’s not even American young people and European young people working together–“

“We’re Adventist young people.”
I sit and listen, fidget while tingles play tag up and down my spine. I brush tears away; squeeze fists together tight till my forearms bulge. 
I’m watching stone walls generations old crack before my eyes.
I’m watching the sun dip low on the heyday of materialism, secularism, postmodernism. 
Yes, even on the continent.
I’m watching a generation wake up and decide all those things are empty and they’ve had enough.
I am one of them.
Oh, and I don’t mean to say we’ll win without paying the ultimate price.
But I am saying, it’s as good as over. 
We can’t lose.
. . . .
I recline early, book in hand under soft glow of christmas lights that grace my office year-round. (Jet lag in my favor, I’m bright and eager at 0200)
My eyes hesitate at the end of this phrase, retrace and return. Revel:
“The church is God’s fortress”
 Acts of the Apostles p.11 | photo: JN


There are the schedules, the checklists, the trips, the itineraries, the suitcases, the sermons, the songs, and the symphonies of Heaven heard by exhausted servants…

And then there are the rest of the moments that make up life. 
Moments that are often skipped when cataloging mileposts…
The colloquial, the common. The spontaneous… 
The blink-twice-and-they’ll-be-gone opportunities. 
…to love people.
Here’s to those. 
Sabbath night with the neighbors. 

Just Like Your Father

Radio in my lap, yellow lines blink by out the driver’s side.
The feeling is familiar, but the road… not so much.
I’m not coming from home. And I’m not wearing my uniform.

I am, in fact, wearing light blue with french cuffs. And my tie is branded Kenneth Cole Reaction.

But just the same…

“Catron S.O., 2466 on Davenport”
“On Davenport, go ahead.”
“Yes ma’am, we’re on scene at the rodeo grounds.”

I loosen my collar a bit, single windsor slightly adrift.
And I push open the back door of the ambulance to smile down at a mother and two seriously good looking little boys.

“Hi there…”

“Hello, my son hur– [gasp]

You must be Dr. Nebblett’s boy!!”

And I wish you could have seen her smile.
I wish you could have seen mine.

“Yes ma’am, I am indeed Dr. Nebblett’s boy.”

I sit on the gurney, across from the brave little boy with big dark eyes. He with his cowboy hat, me with my cufflinks.
And I examine, and poke, and ask questions, and watch his eyes. And compare and consult… and tell his mother what she should do.

And we are instantly friends.
And someone pulls a pack of instant ice out of the cabinet, and I squeeze it until the bubble breaks, and it transforms in my hands.

And when he steps down from the ambulance, his mother tells me to tell my dad I’d seen them, and that they sent greetings.

And I did. And my father lit up the same way she had…
Because those boys were his friends, who’d moved away. The ones that would reach for him whenever they came to the office, starting at 4 months of age…

I watch them go for a quiet moment. And I turn to Jared, stethoscope around his neck–

I think I look like my dad.

He smiles; man of well-chosen words.
“You think?”

–  –  –  –  –

I ponder. I wonder

That reaction– Do people see in my face the likeness of my Father?
Is that likeness striking enough for them to catch His features at first glance?
Even when distracted by some other stress?

Even if they’ve never met Him?

Older posts