Category Archives: Archive

From the archives- Confession Time

This is from Sept 14, 2011.  I feel this way still sometimes when I am asked where the group feeding our houseless community is from.  I don’t want them to think we feed because of guilt or obligation as Christians, but we do it because we want our friends to have food! It also now includes a few more words and a picture!

I have something to confess.

Sometimes I am scared to be open when talking to people.

When people ask what I was doing in Asia, I hesitate.  When they ask what I do in my free time, what books I read, what podcasts dominate my library, I hesitate.

I take that back. When non Christians or people I assume are not evangelical Christians ask, I hesitate.   I don’t want to be one of “those Christians”.  You know the one that defines the word in your head.  I can’t just come out and say… I go to church groups… I listen to sermons… I was a Christian missionary.

“Christian” is one of those words that people harbor feelings, memories and maybe images with. And missionary, even more so.  We all do it.  Think of what is associated when I say “beggar” or “low-rider” or “environmentalist” “hippie” “redneck” “obese”.  We all have images, memories and maybe even smells associated with some people.

These are the things I think of when someone tells me that they are Christian

Free Breakfast, Bad signs, VBS, Legalism, Hypocrisy, Justified killing, judgment, Jerry Falwell, Mark Driscoll, Bill Bright

When I just Googled “Christian” the first image was a tacky cross clip art collection and the first link was sponsored by a dating site.

When in fact I should think….

Jesus, freedom, redeemed, family, “I am Loved”

Last year, I was hanging out with a coworker and her friends.  She left for some food ordering and I was left at the table with a guy I barely know.  He is feeling me out…what do you do?…where are you from?… ”What’s your story?” is basically what he’s asking.

He mentioned going to Korea to teach soon.  I got excited and mentioned I have thought about going back to Asia as well.

“Back?”  He asks.

Yeah, I lived in Malaysia for 2 and half years.

Oh, what did you do there?

<Pause> Well, I worked with local churches and sat on the beach a lot.  Ha…ha…ha…h…a

Oh cool.  So you are Christian?

<Pause> Yeah, but not one of those…

Ha-ha, yeah I dig that.  I was raised Christian…kind of

He went on to tell me about his time in the Catholic church, struggles with Mary versus Jesus, the Pope, politics, and his tilt towards Eastern religions currently.  He also said he appreciated people with personal faith. One point!

Now I know this might upset some readers but I told him that’s awesome.  I wasn’t going to get all Jesus freaky on him. I’d done that in the past with others and he had already experienced that from others.   I also let him know I didn’t believe I knew him well enough to judge and challenge him.  He knew his mistakes and gifts better than I do. He had read the Bible, and it is doubtful as we ate pizza and beer he was going to have a supernatural heart change that necessitated me preaching to him.  Partially I was not about to tell a man about sin, when I was most likely going to be drinking the rest of the night and might start showing him more about my sin than God’s redemption.

Mostly, I wanted to be associated with the term Christian in a positive way.  I want to be the salty, bright light in people’s lives that they know will listen and help if there is a struggle in their or another’s life.   I want them to think of me instead of the pamphlet throwing, condemnation dispensing street preacher when they think of the term Christian.  Think of me- The broken, messed up, sinful, just trying to get through today and tomorrow but BLESSED beyond all comprehension Christ seeker I am.  And maybe then when someone is feeling like they need a change i.e. are ready to change their life, they won’t be afraid to ask a Christian friend for help.  In that moment, a lost soul is saved but until then I am not the one to judge who is lost and who isn’t.  I solidly believe in those moments I am simply a conduit God is acting through who is just as in need of a savior as everyone else in that bar/ park/ office/ mall/ library. And that is how I define Christian while telling people I am a follower of the Jesus Way.

What do you associate with the term Christian?  Is it positive or negative?  Am I off base on this?  Please let me know.

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Filed under Archive, Overthinking, The Jesus Way, Transparency

Mentorin’

Originally posted Fall 2010.  I stopped mentoring a few months back and share this in the hope someone else will take up the baton.  There is a need everywhere! 
Mentoring—or more accurately, the thought of mentoring— used to really scare me. Here are the top 3 reasons
  1. I don’t like kids
  2. I don’t understand kids
  3. I don’t like kids
Then, I decided to actually check it out. I had financially supported The Mentoring Project for a couple years. I had a little bit of time then –see “Tired” below—and so wrote a couple emails. Then another and another and another over a year or so. I wondered why they weren’t answered at the time, but I think if I went to a class or orientation the first time I inquired I would have left thinking it wasn’t for me. Doing it after having time to think and study, things changed. So when the time was right I became connected.
I still wasn’t fond of kids and definitely still didn’t understand them. But I was ready to give it a shot. So I met with a guy and then another. I sat through an orientation. Filled out forms. Sat in a coffee shop telling someone about how awesome I was and how much I was willing to hang out with a kid.
The entire time I was stressing about how much I was going to mess some kid up. I didn’t return phone calls for days. Or reschedule meetings until the following week. I thought of every excuse in the book. My work won’t let me leave early— but they did (and in fact have put up with 4 schedule changes in the five months thus far). I wouldn’t be matched—but was… very quickly. My friends would think I am weird—actually they almost all thought it was awesome.
Somehow my delays and struggles and doubts didn’t stop me from showing up at the match meeting. Up until that point I could have run away. It was now too late. I remember leaving that meeting thinking “What did I just do? A year minimum with some stranger who is 10 years old and from a different race, culture, city, socioeconomic status…? Really?”
The first week we met he told me a lot of jokes. I told him some and we laughed. Then we played Connect Four for 45 minutes. About the time I couldn’t go on any more, the time was up. As I drove away I was wondering what we would play the next week. And kind of hoped it wasn’t Connect Four.
It wasn’t. We played SpongeBob Sorry. For 50 minutes. And the next weeks more Connect Four, Battleship, Uno and when it was nice outside we shot some hoops. And occasionally we talked. I started hearing about his family, his absent father, over worked mother who loved him a lot, his siblings, his teachers…
It’s been five months now and I look forward to Wednesday afternoons. We still play a lot of board games and occasionally chat. But I am cool with that.
Work was intense a couple weeks ago. There was more to do than hours available and so I canceled on my buddy. Later that day, I realized that Wednesday afternoons at 4 pm is a positive moment in my busy week. I thought I was supposed to be teaching him and listening to him. But he has taught me how to rest. To sit and play a game over and over. To laugh and smile and just enjoy life. To ask permission and take chances. Things I don’t have to do, so don’t very often anymore. But things that are part of the code a 10 year old lives by.
I kind of like this kid, and what he is teaching me. But I still don’t understand them all.

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Filed under Archive, Dreams, Heathen Healers, The Jesus Way

Lone Ranger

This post was originally written on 3/14/11 and I am sharing it because it shows where I was 18 months ago, in contrast to where I am today.  I will be posting Sunday some observations on starting life long community with the beautiful Hannah.

 

Recently I moved into a community home with some friends.  We meet regularly to talk about life, faith and fun.  Not necessarily in that order.  And while it hasn’t revolutionized my life, it has been changing parts of it.  I am forced to share things— like the kitchen and bathroom.  There are chores— well a chore— I am responsible for.  And I am not good at that.  It has been a few years since I shared well. A few years since people depended on me to clean up, or flush, or make sure the shower curtain is all the way in the tub.

I have a natural tendency to become a lone ranger.  And not a Kemo Sabe that can be trusted but a dude that marches to the beat of his own drummer.  And occasionally gets a new drummer because the old beat was tired.  I like to be in control.  To rule.  I know I like my space a lot so force myself to live with others because I would just become a slug if no one was in my life to see me sleeping for a week straight.  Or the house was still quiet when I didn’t go to work.

I think most of my old roommates would say I ran the house.  Not because I was given the title, it was just something I took.  I decided when the lone ranger’s house was too dirty, or too cluttered or too bland and needed art from the street.  I mean I did have seniority, but I am not oldest, most of the time.

Here’s the thing… I like being the lone ranger so far as I am in control, but not in charge of others. And I am realizing I am not “good” at living with others.  I like being able to hide in a corner when I come home from work, or volunteering, or hanging.

I am not good at helping.  I don’t know what needs to be done, because “it looks ok to me” or “that is their dish, they might want to reuse it” or “that recycle bin can fit a little more…oh look someone else emptied it”

This occasionally leads me to feel like I am failing my friends and the community.  When I don’t jump in or when someone else does what I was planning to do…later.  But the wonderful thing about community and people that care about all parts of life is that they forgive.  And while it might take a little bit of talking through they are willing to forget your shortcomings.  And are more than willing to admit hypocrisy that they mess up too.

I think I like community living.

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Filed under Archive, Global Community, Transparency

You Look Familiar… June 2011

This is a post from last summer that makes me smile about the randomness of life.  Enjoy but don’t judge! 
Often times I hear that I look familiar. That Timmy’s brother’s cousin or my best friend from college looks and acts just like me. So I am used to that.
The other evening I was having a couple beers with a friend. Discussing life and sharing stories related to a book we were both reading and studying. This actually happens a lot. But the next does not.
Because of the location we were approached multiple times for money or by just random urban camping addicts. I rebuffed most while trying to engage and see if there was a genuine need and if I could help.
One dude had an amazing smile and was pushed back and forth in a wheelchair a couple times while we sipped our beers on Broadway. Finally he stopped and started chatting with us about ideas and then started playing a history trivia game with us. For about 20 seconds I was disappointed because he was taking away some of my quality time with my buddy. Then I realized he was a smart dude similar to me, maybe just a physical disability or accident made him where he was now. I was shocked that he just sat and talked to us for 10 or 15 minutes. On a busy street, with the sun beating down. But I also liked that this dude,  Ronald Washington, was judged as worthy, or possibly more worthy of my buddy’s time.  Ronald wasn’t just some weird dude with a soft spoken voice sitting in a wheelchair.  He had a genuine need– company and respect through listening that we could fulfill for a minute or 15.  The beers were empty and the quiz was getting more random so we decided to move on down the road to our separate homes.
I just missed the train that would have taken me straight home and as I walked toward another stop and didn’t see any trains on the tracks, I decided to keep walking.  And then remembered I had an expiring coupon for a sandwich shop near there.
“Anyone sitting here, seems a crime to be inside right now”
I nodded and smiled as I was trying to read a passage in a book barely looking at her.
“Naw, go ahead”
She set her little purse and drink down and went inside for something. As she walked away I noticed the intricate makeup and her attire and very high heals. She started walking back, so I looked again at my book like a 14 year old.
(In the next exchange my brain will be played by the italics.) Space indicates about 4 minutes between things said…
As she sat down she caught my eye and asked “Ever go to Sparkles? You look familiar”
-No I don’t go to clubs much
“Well, it’s a…”
-…Yeah definitely not those clubs.
How do I ask that? Yeah, I am interested, but I don’t want to be rude or be given any two for one cards that some one later finds in my bag. She isn’t drop dead gorgeous but she is dressed up a lot. Am I being solicited? Do I really look familiar or was that just a line? Keep it simple…
-So you… (STOP STOP you might regret this)…come here often?
“No, I work close and so walk by this place all the time”
There was a very pregnant pause and I was more likely to give birth then her judging by our pants.
-So you work at…(don’t say it) Sparkles?
She agreed in the affirmative and here I was on a Tuesday night have dinner with a stripper. Something the religious me would have been freaked out about. But as I fall deeper in love with Jesus and become a follower of the Way I was excited.
Originally we were both sitting sideways in our chairs, but as the food came we turned to face each other and sit like our mothers taught us. I asked a lot of questions.
So how’d you get into it?  You enjoy it?  Is it more than good money?
You come from…Oregon?  Oh, Yugoslavia, well…How long have you been dancing?
What kind of trouble with the law?
I struggled to not sound judgmental and a little caring, but not caring enough to get invited to her work establishment tonight.  I have more ethical issues with “gentleman’s clubs” than I do with zoos.  Sometimes everyone in them is happy and willingly there, but with my luck the first time I went to see my new friend, the club would be raided under Oregon’s newest trafficking laws and that would be a very awkward conversation with almost everyone in my life, especially bosses!
Initially,  every answer she gave I put through the bullshit screens to see if she was telling the truth or feeding me lines or if we secretly met because I was going to start a new ministry based on having dinner Tuesday nights with gentleman’s entertainers.  I was judging every word to listen for a cry for help, checking her arms out for track marks or bruises.  Was she at her rope’s end?
After a few more pregnant pauses though we were smiling and joking and trusting each other with our stories.  We talked about the quality of the food, our favorite beers or drinks– she did say champagne.  I shared some of my story including why I wouldn’t see her at work and while I didn’t mind what she did there was enough corruption and deceit in the industry to keep me away.
Actually I just compared it to a candy store, and having to keep my hands in my pockets.  Again,  not a great illustration,  but she giggled and agreed and said like being in a candy store with no money.
She kept fidgeting and asked to smoke and if I wanted to join.  I accepted but she only had one left.   She checked her phone which kept buzzing and said she should get going.  And we ended with a cordial. “Ok, well nice sitting with you for dinner.”
No invite, no proposition, my work here is done.
-Nice meeting you. Thanks for sharing.
“Stop by in a half hour if you want. I’ll be up second”
Well, she waited till the end, but still I hope she is okay.
So on an ordinary Tuesday, I met two people who made me really think about my worldview. Who is dirty? Who is disabled? Who is sheltered? Who is alone? Who is in real need?
It just might have been me.
It was.

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Filed under Archive, Storytime, The Jesus Way

Who Dreams Anymore? -Archival edition

Originally published on 17 Jan 11. Amazing to see what has changed in 14 months. I don’t get some of the references either…
Who allows their subconscious to be free enough to let them ride a tiger they caught up with or to jungle trek over Asia borders with Russell Brand and Katy Perry? To envision having that long talked about reunion with amazing friends overseas because they have a Monday off ? Then through the power of sleepy dreams are able to make it from Saigon to Portland for work on Tuesday. Who lets their subconscious predict and plan their conscious life?
So much so they wake from a dream of trekking Annapurna that they look for airfares to Kathmandu? Or asks for prayer about where to live and what to do because what they see as choices doesn’t inspire them much? Because while it would do, it is not the life they dreamt of.
Even more who sacrifices now a days for those dreams? Gives up a good job, house, car or ‘opportunity’ to risk a dream coming true. Will suffer through poor heating or lighting or aesthetics without a complaint to make the art and living they dream about. Not holding onto material possessions but onto the dream of an actual utopian society and community.
Or do we let these wild dreams of belonging and community and risk and potentially massive rewards go when we freak out about explaining them to others. Do we worry about exposing our hidden talents before we rock some classic Monkees? And the community around us joins in to lift our voice as one complete with added ‘duhnah duhnah”s! Do we worry about risking because of the way people might judge us before we even try?
What if? What if you were given the chance to ride a tiger? Or happened upon someone famous in a remote jungle and were given the star treatment with your new friends because of the quotes from Booky Wook you remembered? What if you were a roadie? Or a bestselling author? Or a missional leader?
What if you succeeded in saving money while enjoying time with close friends in a different way? A “let’s cook together”, “Yes, Tuesday night can work”, “Sure, let’s just get a beer at your place” kind of way. Then were able to use that money to travel, drive, help others, donate, explore, learn, love…dream.
It seems like we wouldn’t ask “What are my dreams?” but instead “What is stopping me from turning my dreams into reality?”
PS. Yes, these are all dreams I have recently had. Yes, I have been looking at kayak.com a lot. No, I did not intentionally save this for Martin Luther King Jr. day although I am constantly inspired by his words and work.

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Filed under Archive, Obese Obsessions, Storytime