Alabama

Alabama

“I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”

It’s the busy season in my line of work, which means tons of driving time. Add that into the mix of what is the most chaotic season I’ve known, it feels a bit like a pin ball machine. I’ve caught up on a couple podcasts while driving and I noticed a theme among all of them. Those famous lyrics sung by the great country group Alabama sums up the message I’ve heard this week.

We are living life at a wild and rampant pace. And by we I mean the world. We have sped things up so dang fast, that we have created a standard of living that is utterly exhausting. I find my heart, mind, soul, spirit, work, faith and relationships all winded. Much of it I chose. And much of it is almost unavoidable because it is our culture. But it is so toxic. We are all tired, distracted, trying to be more productive and fit more in. My counselor reminded me that we are finite. We can’t do it all. Even the really good things. Just because it is good, doesn’t mean we should do it.

We have filled all of our margin and transition time with distraction, meaning we almost never have moments of rest. Nor are we ever all-in. Multi-tasking isn’t possible. But we try anyways. Between my wife and I, this week we killed a possum and got pulled over for “multi-tasking”. Go ahead and judge if you like. I rarely see a driver not looking at a phone these days. In all our “down” time like driving, sitting on the toilet, waiting for take-out food, waiting for the light to turn green… We fill all our transition time with distraction. Our brains aren’t resting. Our kids and wives aren’t getting all of us. Only a distracted, half-***ed version.

This week I’m cutting more and more from my schedule. In the most chaotic times, Jesus ALWAYS made time to head for the wild to pray. I don’t make time for that. And when I do, I’m often accused of “escaping responsibility”, because our culture prefers productivity, checking boxes, going 100mph sun up to sun down. “Our souls were created for 3mph”. Time to slow it way down.

Location: Lake Wenatchee

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100 Days

100 Days

It’s been 100 days since returning home from a life-changing month at a depression recovery center. It was the most humbling, humiliating, hardest and scariest thing I’ve ever done. We all thought “what if it doesn’t ‘work’?” In a lot of ways, it was a last ditch effort. Not that my life was going to end if things didn’t change, but my life as I knew it would change. PRESSURE.

Today I’ve been thinking back on when I used to teach about a president’s “100 days” evaluations. It’s a free-for-all criticism on our nation’s leader. There are moments when it feels that way here and now, 100 days back into real life. It certainly was a bubble there. No emails, no phone, no clients, no diapers… We are in agreement that I’m not as far along as we hoped or anticipated. They remind us on our way out that people often expect you to come home “fixed”, when often it was their behavior that broke us.

I didn’t believe that a depression clinic was the final straw. I fully believe Jesus is the only one who can change and heal. But I had to choose incredible vulnerability to set in motion healing. Healing of trauma, depression, PTSD, anxiety, all symptoms caused by abuse, abandonment, a colorful palette of traumatic life events. The bubble burst loudly upon my arrival home. It’s been 100 days straight of chaos, curveballs, trials, failures, super hard choices, hard relationships getting harder… All things ringing the same tune to what broke me down in the first place. I have this horrific drive for perfection – it’s either A+ or F. Nothing in between. I was reminded by my friend last night the importance of grace for ourselves. No, I’m not where I hoped I would be 100 days back. But it sure isn’t for a lack of trying. I’ve put in the hard work, stayed committed to the “plan”, and have a laundry list of ridiculous stuff that has happened to try and throw me off. All which has strengthened me. Growth is evident. Part of the trial is Jesus continuing the refining process. Part of it is the devil throwing darts into barely closed wounds. I can confidently say to myself today that Jesus’ grace is sufficient, even when I didn’t believe. He is enough.

Location: Lincoln Memorial

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Words Are Life

Words Are Life

I’ve given a lot of attention lately to teaching my kids how important words are. I’ve come to learn over the years that words are either LIFE or DEATH. There isn’t anything in between. The words we speak to each other either breathe life or death. Of course, the greatest way I can teach them is by SHOWING them. They honestly don’t care two shakes about the words that I say, especially if my actions don’t back them up. But they definitely care about my actions. It’s amazing how much we communicate without ever opening our mouths. My wife knows how I’m feeling based solely on my body language. I can tell just how much she doesn’t like what I’m saying simply by looking at her eyes. My kids know full well from my face when I’m close to rage from their well-perfected non-listening skills.

It’s strange how much importance we put on teaching these fundamental principles to our kids, but us adults, have all but lost the ability to use clear language with one another, speak kindly to internet strangers, discuss hot topics without getting red-faced… “Sharper than a 2-edged sword”. Do we not care anymore? I can make or break my wife, kids and peers with my words. I’m either building them up, or tearing them down. There is a fine line between encouragement and shame. Meaning one or two words spoken with the wrong tone can royally hose things up. How we speak as husband and wife when the kids are (and aren’t) watching.

I sometimes fiend for some lemonade, especially in the summer. A few years back I opened the fridge and there wasn’t any and I pathetically exclaimed “I just want some d*mn juice!” to which 6 seconds later my 2 year old comes flying around the corner: “I want some D*MN juice too!!”

Oops. I didn’t even know she was there. Someone is ALWAYS watching. Not just our kids. We are showing on-lookers what life and death looks like. We need to stop cutting down others, rebuking their beliefs with our opinions. Especially dads, husbands, leaders. I constantly see Christian “leaders” cutting down other Christians in casual conversation for who knows what reasons. Life vs death. We can’t afford to be careless, or to think it doesn’t much matter.

Location: Gordon Family YMCA

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Fleeting Feet

Fleeting Feet

I’ve been doing creative work full time for 10 years. What a wild decade it’s been. My job has mostly entailed capturing the most important moments in people’s lives. Some of those moments were their greatest. Wedding day, baby’s 1st birthday, the moment an NFL player earned a Super Bowl birth, marriage proposal, launch of a rad new product, kid’s graduation…

I have also been tasked with documenting some folk’s worst moments. When my friend and her kids buried her husband, their daddy and my friend. When our friends held their newborn moments after their baby went to see Jesus. When a young man and his little kids paid tribute to their mommy and unborn child in front of hundreds after they were killed by a driver who fell asleep. The final moments a family spent with a loved one who was hours away from dying from cancer.

In the highest of highs, and lowest of lows, only a couple things are absolutely certain. We all know taxes are. And so is death. But so is the LOVE of Jesus. And His goodness. A few moments ago I was explaining this week’s calendar to my wife in great detail (our careers make calendaring an Olympic event). She stopped me in my tracks and said we need to pray – our friend’s newborn needs a miracle or will be seeing Jesus’ face before sundown.

I was reminded again that our time here is so finite. How we spend it can be so meaningless, or so incredibly meaningful. We have often heard “where you spend your time and your money – that will show you what you really love”.

How am I spending my time? We all have fleeting feet. Here one moment, in eternity the next. Here I am trying to best steward my time this week (really just fretting over mostly minute details). And yet eternity hangs in the balance one text away. We spend time punishing each other about politics, sports, inconsequential theological debates, how others should abide by another’s values. What I need to do is spend all that frivolous time and energy simply LOVING others. Eternity hangs in the balance at all times. Each conversation, text, Facebook comment. EVERY moment is an opportunity for me to show Jesus’ face, or to not. Challenge accepted.

Location: Slab City, Niland Ca

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Water Ball

Water Ball

We were 123 yards out on the short par 4 13th. The ground was soaked from a tremendous thunderstorm the night before. ESPN cameras were everywhere. It was the final round of PGA Tour event The 84 Lumber Classic, just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I found myself on the bag of friend and pro golfer @ryanmoorepga. We started out the 4th round in the final group, tied with the lead, and were coming down the last stretch of holes aiming for his first PGA victory. I was quite out of my league, having little golf experience, especially at that level. But where I lacked in experience, I was full of enthusiasm, stoke, and at that moment, adrenaline. Good thing I was simply carrying the bag and shouting numbers.

There was a giant piece of mud under the ball as it rested there, waiting to be hit up onto the green for a hopeful birdie putt. Though it rained buckets overnight, the tournament disallowed “Lift, Clean and Place”, a rule that allows a golfer to mark a ball in the fairway, clean it, and place it back. We had no choice but to play as it lied. A chunk of mud like that adds a lot of weight, no doubt. But it’s really a guess.

The ball took off like a rocket. No, a ballistic missile. It traveled nearly 165 yards and all we saw was that fateful splash from over the green. Stunned. At first, I thought I gave the wrong club. We realized the mud, slightly hidden under the ball, was way more than we had hoped. We ended up with a double bogey, and didn’t have enough holes to make up the difference. A 6th place finish on the Tour is nothing to balk at. But we smelled victory. We never saw that coming. Nor could we have guessed what the ball would have done. The rule shoulda been in place but it wasn’t.

It felt like the most potent of failures. To have that momentum, be that close, and then to crash that hard. We didn’t do anything wrong. So many of my “failures” have been like that – I didn’t actually fail at anything. Circumstances simply didn’t allow THAT success. Yet I still identify as a failure in those moments. Why? I want it my way. But I need to trust God’s way is MUCH better. Because it is. Always. But trust means giving up control. 😬⛳️

Location: Chambers Bay

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Other Side of the Moon

Other Side of the Moon

We used to be “dog people”. Buy them Christmas and valentines presents. Tuck them in at night. Set the thermostat for them, not us. We adopted a 1.5 yo Aussie, and then a couple years later adopted an Aussie Mini puppy. Still not sure what I was thinking, though my intention was to wildly surprise my wife for Christmas. Those two dogs because inseparable, much to the dismay of the older, Rusty. All he cared about was me and me only. Bauer, on the other hand, was glued to Rusty at all times. He has some gnarly separation anxiety, so Rusty was, and still is, his comfort blanket. Rusty had knee surgery years back and had to spend the night at the clinic, and you would thought Bauer was being electrocuted for those agonizing 24 hours. Didn’t know a dog could squeal so much. We later had kids, no longer had the ability to care for them, so some family adopted them and they have lived happily ever after.

I’ve experience some significant abandonment wounds, and they have manifested themselves in very strange ways over the years, even still today. Now I am seeing the longer affects of my being gone for a month for treatment is having on my kids, particularly my son. He wants to be with me 24/7, which I LOVE. But when I am gone, he is unconsolably sad. Today it was similar to when Rusty left Bauer. For all my son knew, I was on the other side of the moon, never to return. He is often trying to win my love and approval. Some of it natural for his age, but some out of desperation as he fears me leaving again – believes he is why I left. Oh man it’s so hard to watch. And I can’t promise for certain I will always come back, because I can’t control when my time here is done. This is a tough one to navigate. Another opportunity to lead him to Jesus. Remind him who is ALWAYS with him. He doesn’t fully understand it now, but when he does, I pray it prevents the damage I’ve seen abandonment can have. His fear is normal and natural. Kids at that age need us as parents. And some kids go through wildly painful loss. Nothing is guaranteed aside from Jesus’ love. That’s the most important thing I could teach him tonight. The rest is covering him in prayer.

Location: The Museum of Flight

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King’s Too Soon

King’s Too Soon

News out of Florida this week is incredibly disturbing as we hear about high level, we’ll known public sporting figures that are being charged for involvement in prostitution and, inevitably, human trafficking. I don’t know the facts, nor will I make judgements or accusations as I am not there and don’t know the full story. What I do know, is this is nothing new. And that is not a good thing. As long as we view pornographic content in secret, as long as we watch Netflix shows with heavy sexual content, as long as we go to similar movies, as long as we use women (and men) to sell products through advertising, as long as we don’t stand up as men and say anything, as long as we don’t protest, as long as we feed our flesh, human trafficking, prostitution, sex addiction and sexual abuse will be a problem.

If we aren’t ACTIVELY part of the solution, we are part of the problem. The little choices we make in the evening when selecting an MA-rated Netflix series or clicking on IG accounts we probably shouldn’t… We are either a statistic that helps the trafficking industry grow by the clicks we make, or we are part of the solution by making better choices. No “winningest owner in NFL history” title will ever make us immune to the fall. In fact, that limelight and pressure and expectations will make it that much more difficult to live a pure and holy life.

I have been far from perfect, hence why I can’t pass judgement. But as a father, in a season where I am teaching my kids about the importance of wise choices, I too, need to be making wise choices.

Many of us become business leaders, pastors, mayors, presidents… whether we are ready or not. Will we have the foundation that withstands that pressure? Or will the little choices we make now contribute to our collapse? We need to shout loudly for what is right, for the sake of those being sold for sex, as well as for our own sake so that we don’t find ourselves on the news later for the wrong reasons. Many have become king’s too soon – power, money, fame – before any strong foundation was in place. We need to show our kids how to make wise decisions so they, too, don’t end up in the wrong industry.

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Going Through The Motions

Going Through The Motions

I am definitely not a “motions” type. When engaged in something, I like to be present, focused. Give me one thing to focus on and I will give it my best.

Faith is one of the anomalies that I have had such a difficult time with. My whole life I have strived to have “great faith” – to be confident of my identity in Jesus. But that confidence has rarely been a pillar of the foundations of my faith. I’m more like a “build your house on the sand” type. Usually doesn’t take much to wash everything away. And since I’ve spent the majority of my life in the path of hurricanes, tornados, flash floods… – all the storm seasons in America, my foundation is usually either being washed out or rebuilt. It hasn’t ever been completed. This isn’t in any way due to lack of God’s faithfulness or grace, as those things have always been abundant. I’ve been given the chance to rebuild time and time again. Yet, I keep choosing to rebuild in the same dang spot.

This came up in conversation this week as I was overcome with doubt and frustration – specifically regarding a prayer that I read. “After all the growth I’ve experienced lately, I still really don’t know if I believe what I just prayed”, I said. But I was quickly assured that that is ok. It’s ok to go through the motions at times. Or most times. No matter how stale, lifeless, uncomfortable it gets… just keep doing it. Keep journaling. Keep praying. Keep taking communion. Keep opening up to a friend, pastor… Keep pressing in. While I’ve strived for this “great” faith, Jesus reminds us that we only need faith of a mustard seed. So even if that is all I have, and I just keep trying, I never know when God will speak next. The clearest and loudest times He has spoken to me was in situations where I first chose to be obedient. No matter how reluctant I was. It’s not the greatness of our faith that He desires, it’s our obedience – particularly in hard times.

This week I feel like I am just practicing. Not even in the game. I never cared for practice in sports. Let’s just play. But I feel like my faith has been in practice mode for decades. Still, I just need to keep at it. One step, one breath.

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#metoo

#metoo

In the age of social media, information, stories, opinions, news, lies, causes and movements spread like mad. Information has never traveled so fast. And much of it leaves as quickly as it came. People are up in arms about something one day and something else the next. Unified one day, divided the next.

Certain social and cultural movements are frivolous and fade off. Other movements MUST withstand, yet they too, fade off. Remember when the #metoo movement started? One brave woman stepped forward, in the face of tremendous adversity, and shared some terrible secrets about being abused. This sparked a movement that has been in the making for centuries. Woman after woman stepped forward and brought light to a world that only shame, and fear, had resided. Men, many whom were in power, used that power to coerce and abuse women. There has never been much accountability. While much has changed, much has gone unchanged. Why? Because men haven’t joined the cause vocally. Few have quietly supported, yet many raucously rioted.

This isn’t a political post. It’s a confession. I, too, sit here saying #metoo. Sexually abused, on multiple occasions, by older men. While it didn’t appear to be abuse at the time, and while shame did it’s job to silent me, I have recently chosen to hide in the dark no longer. This isn’t to take away from a predominantly women’s movement. It’s only to say, I too, am a victim. And I too, am part of the problem. And I too, am part of the solution. The more of us who share our stories, the more movement we will see. Like a fire lookout, hatches open, letting the summer light in, baring all shame and hurt. We can’t be a fire lookout in the winter, cinched tight. That does NO ONE any good.

Speak truth. LOUDLY. As brutal as it is. Abused or not. Nothing fun about sharing our garbage. But if it gives courage to someone else, then we need to speak up. Abusers act out of pain and brokenness. They, too, need hope and healing. We all do. Light brings truth. Darkness harbors shame. And just maybe, you’ll find the ability to forgive in the process. I didn’t think it was possible, but it is. It starts by raising your hand. Even to just one person.

Location: High Rock Lookout

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I’m out

“I’m out”

Our kids are sharing a room tonight for the first time as my son’ room is under emergency construction. Shenanigans were to be expected as it’s basically like a spontaneous camping trip for him. Sleeping in big sister’s room is quite the treat!

Regardless, he is still recovering from a brutal week with an asthma attack, violent food-allergic reaction, demo-ing his room to rid the carpet… He is wiped. I’m wiped. Getting to sleep was important, but since camping happened, sleep didn’t. After way too many trips out of his bed, which was met with patience, I needed to be a little more stern in my tone so he understood the importance of getting some sleep and not waking his sister.

“Dad, if you are mean to me, I’m gonna march outside and find a new family.” Well, that hurt. While I know his 3-year-old self didn’t mean it, it still felt like a cheap shot. I thought, “if you only knew the literal blood, sweat and tears I’ve shed in the last 72 hours to save your life, improve your life, spend hard earned money on unexpected who knows what to get you healthy…” Sounds harsh, I know. And I didn’t say it. Well, I guess I just did. I’d like to say he stayed in his bed after that but he didn’t.

As I thought about the tone he heard that prompted his response, I know I wasn’t even remotely out of line. And he’s smack in the middle of that 3yo phase of utter defiance, independence, finding himself, his boundaries, what he can get away with… War of wills. And yet, he is also the sweetest little dude I’ve ever met. I know he didn’t mean it. Yes, it still hurt like a mother, and it’s ok to validate that. Too often I am swift to invalidate his feelings, my own feelings, my wife’s, friends… How we “feel” isn’t wrong. Emotions aren’t bad. It’s what we do with them… Had I sent him down the street like a bowling ball, that would be a problem. Biting my tongue in the moment, giving a hug, staying gentle, that’s dang hard sometimes – especially after sleepless nights and chaotic days cleaning puke, calling 911, demo/ dump run/ Home Depot to improve his living space. Moments of weakness are real. But they don’t define us. Grace given and Grace received.

Location: Commencement Bay

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