"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Saturday, November 24, 2012


We are so good at giving advice, aren't we?  There's always something that someone else could so easily do differently that would make their situation, or themselves, better.  And we are all too ready to make an opportunity to inform them of this imperative information you have and they don't.

There are dozens of newspaper columns and magazine articles that are full of advice on how to do something better, how to fix a relationship, how to... anything.  Dear Abby thinks she can fix anything, and Judge Judy thinks she can determine a verdict.  Dr. Phil thinks he can explain things away and get people to think rationally.  We all see ourselves as magi when it comes to giving advice.

And somehow I have it all figured out, while everyone else around me is falling apart.  It then becomes my duty to share the never-ending wisdom to help fix it all.  We say to just do this one thing and you'll be fine.  Or to just change the way you see it.  Or just tell that person how you feel.  It's always prefaced with a "just" as if it is the simplest thing in the world, why didn't you think of it yourself?

Sound familiar?

A twisted way of thinking, no doubt.  But it's real.  Until real introspection begins.  The kind that recognizes even the most deeply rooted issues that make me no different than any of the teens I worked with at Shelterwood or the women I work with now, or anyone else, really.  And in this reality, I remember the depth of grace.

I recognize profound beliefs that are untrue.  Thoughts that reflect inaccurate perceptions of reality.  And feelings that culminate based on those lies.  I am no different.

And here I begin to see my words of advice, at work and otherwise, as empty shells of false hope that, given to the right person who hears it the right way, may somehow make a difference if the Holy Spirit gives them understanding.

So I think about my words to others and begin to see their relevance in my own life.  I've recognized unhealthy thought patterns in my own life that so distinctly reflect those unhealthy ones in others that I work so precisely to eliminate.  I encourage them to use tools to change their thinking, to remind themselves over and over again of truth, to go to the Lord instead of allowing thoughts to rule them.  I rarely, if ever, take the advice for myself that I give to the women I work with.

Who am I to think that I am above those techniques and above those practices?  If it works for them, it will certainly work for me.  If it's beneficial for them, it is certainly beneficial for me.

It's about time I take my own advice.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


This recently popularized fruit has long been a favorite of mine.  Its presence in stores coincides with autumn in full swing towards winter.

I know I'm rich with cheesy analogies, and the pomegranate is a favorite for that reason... it comes with an analogy of which I am reminded whenever I eat one.  Today was no exception.

The bright, sharp knife pierces the peel and I break open the fruit. As expected, the fruit is full of seed casings, arils they are called.

As I see it, there are two ways to eat a pomegranate.  One is to take large pieces of the fruit and bend it a certain way so that all of the arils fall out into a bowl.  This technique allow you to eat more than one at a time.  The second, and my usual method of choice, is to take out and eat the arils one by one.

It's a little bit like life.  You experience it one taste at a time, one moment at a time, one aril at a time.  They take work to get to, but then you are able to savor each one.

I could continue the analogy, but I'll refrain. :)
Your mission this week is to get your own pomegranate, especially if you have never had one before, and try it.  Savor each piece!

Friday, November 2, 2012


Tonight I sat with a girl outside of the sanctuary at church as she sobbed.  It had been nearly a half an hour since she ran out during worship, and there were still no words, but it was imperative that we stay.  It was the first time in six months that she had cried, and finally it all came out.  She had worked through so many things, changed in so many ways during those months, and finally she could verbalize to me that she was broken over the piece that had remained untouched.

I was reminded of the importance of tears.  Sure, I may have spent the better part of my last year and a half at Shelterwood crying over the brokenness of those girls and the difficulty of the position I was in there, but it has been a while.  Once removed from there, the tears shut off - for the most part, anyway.  And so did the processing.  Somehow the two are linked for me, and when I'm thinking through something that deeply affects me, well, crying is inevitable.

We all have something like that, don't we?  I know someone who, when he needs to think through things, takes a bike ride to another state.  Another spends time writing poetry to reflect his thoughts.  Yet another paints until her canvas is full and her head clear.  Still another talks incessantly until every piece of every thought and every possible scenario and solution is spoken aloud.  Each is different, but all are means to an end: clarity.

And we all want it, right?  Nobody wants to sit in confusion.  Nobody wants to remain in insecurity and doubt and pain and fear.  We want freedom and we want understanding.  God gives us means by which we reflect who He is and thus bring Him glory as He works in our thoughts to bring perspective to every situation we may find ourselves in.  Therapists may call them coping mechanisms, but in the wise words of Shakespeare,
"What is in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
So we learn to cope and process and heal in a way that brings us closer to the only one who can bring real healing, and we learn to enjoy Him in our everyday lives that used to bring us farther from the Lord.

It's about time I take this all for myself and begin to really process this new stage of life I find myself in.  A new place, new job, new life, and for no short amount of time.  Oi.