The most memorable Thanksgivings in my life were the ones that didn’t follow the traditional script. The ones I remember most are the ones that don’t come even remotely close to resembling a Norman Rockwell scene, with a mother in an apron placing a golden bird in front of a sweater-vested father eagerly wielding a carving knife in one hand and serving fork in the other while an excited, beaming family looks on with anticipation. Continue reading
“Why am I here?”
That’s what I was thinking as heavy iron doors thunked shut behind our group. Pastor JT Burk and I, along with a few other members of Mount Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church, and our neighbors down the street, The United Church, were following Pastor Chris Ode, the pastor of Living Stones Prison Ministry, deeper into the bars and barbed wire of the Washington Corrections Center near Shelton. I’d never been in a prison before; the closest I’d ever been to incarceration was a field trip to the Tacoma Police Department with the Cub Scouts that included a brief look at empty holding cells. Continue reading
I almost typed “I’m probably racist” but using “probably” felt like a crutch: a qualifier to give me an escape route in the conversation. “Probably” gives me or someone else an opportunity to interject and say “no, probably not”.
But I am racist. I’m certain of it. Continue reading
I won the lottery!
No, not the Powerball and not any of the other lotteries that are played in supermarkets and convenience stores all over the country. Continue reading
I never saw or heard anything until the grenade landed right next to me.
I was able to grab it and toss it away from me before it went off, but it was too late – I’d been caught looking
the wrong way. Continue reading
My mother was joyful.
She had every reason not to be.
She was born during the Great Depression and went to elementary school as the country went to war. For the first 12 years of her life the country struggled with scarcity, rationing and fear. Continue reading
Imagine living with the certainty that you are fully and completely loved.
Imagine living without any doubt about your worthiness.
Imagine living know you are not only acceptable and accepted but cherished.
Imagine living with the certainty that when hard times come, and they will, that you will be consoled, supported and healed.
Imagine knowing that all of this is true, not because you did anything in particular to earn it but is true simply because you are.
Just because you are. Continue reading
I saw this acronym recently and didn’t know what it meant, but from the context of what I was reading it seemed as if it’s commonly used now. I looked it up and found that it means “Fear Of Missing Out”.
Fear of missing out. I can understand that – who wants to be left out? The picture that springs into my head is that of a youth standing on the sidelines of a gym, waiting to be picked for a team and dreading the possibility that they’ll be the last one chosen, or, even worse, not chosen at all. Continue reading
Arroz con Albondigas Soup
1# ground beef
1# ground pork Continue reading
My belief is that good recipes are meant for sharing, not keeping secret. This is the chili recipe I’ve worked on for 7 or 8 years that has won 2 Golden Ladles in a row at the prestigious Mount Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church Chili Cook-off. Continue reading
“My assumption is that the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.”
— Frederick Buechner, “The Sacred Journey”
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge,
that myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts,
that hope always triumphs over experience,
that laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
— Robert Fulghum, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”
“I got you, babe…”
There aren’t a lot of movies I can watch over and over, but Groundhog Day is near the top of a very short list of ones that I can. Which is silly, of course, because a core component of the movie is that the same things repeat over and over and over.
I’ve been thinking about the movie quite a bit this past week. Continue reading
The Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday has stirred my heart more than any other national holiday. Presidents Day is easily forgettable, other than being inspired by words from George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day are powerful, but the tone is more on remembrance and thankfulness. Independence Day is mostly a party. Columbus Day? Well, I don’t see many people making much of a fuss about that. Continue reading
On New Year’s Eve I was struggling.
I was standing in the middle of the gym floor at the Morgan Family YMCA, trying to pull my thoughts and words together in order to record a video I had promised our Marketing Department as part of a social media takeover project. Continue reading
T’was the night before
The night before
And once again
I was at the door Continue reading
I love to tell stories but I have one story that I’m reluctant to share.
I’m reluctant to share it not because it’s embarrassing or because I would feel too vulnerable.
I’m reluctant to share it because it is about a powerful moment. A moment that was so powerful I can still easily recall it today, but it was the briefest of moments and I long to do it justice.
But I’m going to try. Continue reading
I still remember well sitting on our couch, the Sears catalog on my lap, turning page after page and circling all of the items I wanted for Christmas that year.
I remember the anticipation.
I remember the eagerness. Continue reading
A few nights ago I was helping my son with his math homework. It had a lot of fractions and word problems and he was really struggling with it. The frustration was building and it was beginning to boil over into tears, anger and expressions of “I’ll never get this -maybe I’m just dumb!” and “It’s not fair – why is my teacher being so mean?”. As we worked through it I could hear underneath all of that a message of “maybe I’m just not good enough” and a sense of remorse for not being able to get past the emotions and just focus on the task. I’ve been on this planet long enough to know that this is nothing unusual – I can recall having many similar episodes when I was in school as a boy, particularly with algebra or chemistry homework. Continue reading
“You’re welcome.” Continue reading
“I dare you.”
When I heard this challenge I was sitting on my purple Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle with a cracked banana seat on a narrow dirt path that ran alongside my friend Paul’s backyard in Anchorage, Alaska in the mid 1970’s. Continue reading
“If you could choose a super power, what would it be and why?” Continue reading
“n*gg*r…” Continue reading
I wonder how many times I’ve said the Pledge of Allegiance in my life.
I’m betting it’s a lot more than I’ve sang the National Anthem. Continue reading
“GUNNER – COAX – TROOPS!”
Thirty years ago I was an Army Reservist. Most of my weekend drills and two-week annual trainings were at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, a small base just a few miles north of the border with Mexico.
I was a tank gunner on an M60A3 Main Battle Tank and heard the phrase “GUNNER – COAX – TROOPS!” frequently. It was the command my tank commander would call out when we came across the simulated infantry targets scattered throughout our tank gunnery practice ranges. Continue reading
That’s the thought that’s been tumbling around in my head for the last couple of weeks.
Freely given. Continue reading
I was prepared.
In 1992, when I was 24 years old, I could take apart, reassemble and do a function check on a Colt M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol in less than 45 seconds.
I was prepared.
I had qualified as an Expert shot every time I went to the range with the Army, even knocking down my targets while wearing a gas mask. When I pointed a pistol at targets they went down. Continue reading
I had a very simple task to do yesterday.
All I had to do was stand in front of a staff meeting and invite them to visit a few of our locations for an Awareness Tour.
No big deal. I stand in front of this group all the time. I’ve known most of them for many years so there’s no “stage fright”.
And I completely lost it. Continue reading
I can’t believe I’m going to write a blog about farts, but I’m going to because I can’t get this thought out of my head.
My mother once told me that I could fart sunshine. Continue reading
A few nights ago my youngest son was in tears.
I laid down on his bed with him and asked him what was going on and he told me that he’d been thinking that the next time he visited the dentist the dentist would cut out all his teeth. Continue reading
When I was a young boy we went to a Methodist church in Phoenix, Arizona every Sunday. And although we were there Sunday after Sunday, pretty much every week, without exception, I can’t tell you with any certainty anything the minister ever said except for a joke he told one day:
“What do you get when you cross a Methodist with a Jehovah’s Witness?” Continue reading
25 years ago a white Army van dropped me off on the corner of Division and Faith.
I was 25 years old and had just come on Active Duty with the military after experiencing the most difficult year of my life. In the previous year I’d lost my father, a marriage and my job and I was looking for a fresh start. A new direction. A rebirth. Continue reading
That’s a word I don’t seem to hear much anymore.
I hear “OR” a lot. Continue reading
It’s embarrassing to admit this, but one of the most profound ideas that influences my thinking I got from watching “Wayne’s World”.
I don’t really remember the scene or why it was said, but at one point Wayne quotes the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard: “Once you label me, you negate me”. Continue reading
I remember the blast.
I remember the crunchy grass and a setting sun.
I remember the crackling flashes and the eggy, ashy smell. Continue reading
One of my earliest memories is of my father taking me out of class early one afternoon. He had our Y Indian Guides gear with him and we drove over to the newspaper building in downtown Anchorage where someone stood me up on a chair in front of a wood-paneled wall and took our picture. If I ever knew why we did this I don’t remember it now, but I remember the day well because it’s one of only a few times I can recall he and I doing something where it was just the two of us. I have three older brothers, so most events were group events. I remember this day well, though: I remember the dark striped wood paneling; I remember him laughing and smiling; I remember feeling so important and practically famous to be in the newspaper. Continue reading
A few months ago my son and I were driving somewhere and he suddenly asked me “why are there so many buildings with the letter “t” on the roof?”. Continue reading
Today is the day.
Today is the day Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and gave us the command to love one another, even to those who do not deserve it. Continue reading
“The Army is doing this to me.”
I used to hear that phrase, or some form of it, nearly every day. Continue reading
I remember the echoes in the stadium. Continue reading
I wrote a lot this past year. It’s what I do when I’m trying to make sense of things. Continue reading
I really don’t want to get trampled to death in a McDonald’s restroom. Continue reading
There. Got your attention, didn’t I? Continue reading
4 AM again. The Honest Hour.
There’s been so much written already by so many, so I hope you’ll forgive me for loading up the Internet with more. People have all sorts of ways to process information – for me, I write. Continue reading
I just finished filling out my ballot for this year’s election. It took me nearly an hour to fill out but it feels like over a year’s worth of effort.
Like many others, I’m sure, I’ve felt like this has been the longest, bitterest election ever. It’s challenged so many of us in so many ways: beliefs, identities, customs, friendships, to name a few. Continue reading
“Are you a Serb or a Croat?”
“What?” Continue reading
Fred Astaire once sang about joining the Navy to see the world, but what did he see? He saw the sea. Continue reading
When I think of the Christmases of my youth there are few presents I can remember receiving. A gallon of pickles when I was about 10 or 11, because I really loved pickles. A remote controlled airplane that I crashed and destroyed on the playground of my elementary school on its first flight. An electric typewriter, when I was 15 or 16, which I learned to type on while listening to a cassette tape of Sting singing “We Work the Black Seam Together”. To this day, if I’m really in the groove, I type to the tempo of that song. Continue reading
My beautiful wife often asks a question that I really love: “does it bring you joy?” Continue reading