Tuesday, January 31, 2006

An Open Letter to the Fad of Posting Open Letters...

Dear Fad of Posting Open Letters,

I know, I didn't invent you. I wasn't even the first in my circle of bloggers to use you, I don't think. But we do go way back, you must admit.

Indeed, the first time I considered you as an option ocurred many years before I heard the word "blog," back when the internet was still a young lad. It was the book I read on being an "Ironic Christian" that suggested writing letters to characters in books in which I share my feelings and concerns. In that context, you were brilliant and revolutionized the way I read.

But I forgot about you until a few months ago when I slowly started seeing others making use of the goods you give. From that moment it was on like Donkey Kong. I've used you to contemplate affection, communicate my utter disdain for November '05, and to let the characters of Grey's Anatomy know I'm thinking about them.

You and I, we've had a good run and, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, will have many more good years.

I should warn you, though, I see a backlash coming. You see, most of us are Americans. We love jumping on the latest thing, thinking we will ride it to the promised land. Sometimes the things we jump on are worthy, but mostly we are just looking to crown a new revolution. I think this is why Kanye West is the new "genius of the moment." But then we realize who we have become, blubbering idiots, and seek to make a mid-course correction.

I guess I'm trying to prepare you for the fall but I'm also trying to say that every fad needs someone to stick close to it, you know, to soften the blows. Hopefully Kanye has someone who can do that when people realize he's really just someone who knows how to rhyme and work a drum machine slightly better than the rest of us.

And you, Fad of Posting Open Letters, you have me. I'm sticking with you through thick and thin. Perhaps I will use you to wade back into the stream of posting political-themed blogs after a several month absence. I'm sure you will help me communicate with my friends. I'm hoping you and I can work through things that are yet unknown to me.

I'm looking forward to working with you more, Fad of Posting Open Letters.


Craig Nash

Monday, January 30, 2006

That Damned Cadillac...

As I'm writing my 10 double spaced pages to present my writing group tonight, I look out the window and see two police motorcycles drive down 29th, crossing Austin Avenue with their siren lights flashing. At first I wonder and then, before I can see what comes next, I remember what comes next. That black cadillac designed for one purpose-- To carry the dead.

Why I count, I don't know, but I count eleven cars. I should pity the poor soul whose funeral only attracted eleven cars full of people. But I don't, because by the fifth car I see a pattern. Tired eyes. Grey (and blue) hair. Glasses. The tears are mixed with smiles. This is nothing new to this band of the remnant of another time, another place. They lived life with this person. It has been a lifetime since they were in their thirties. Their kids have grandkids. The coffee shops and bowling alleys have long since given way to to dinner on Friday nights which, in turn, has given way to visits in which they exchanged pies and pickled jellies.

Eleven cars is what is left of their group. It's sad but at the same time, this is how it should be.

I'm sad for the last eleven but I'm also angry with them for the years they had with this person they loved.

They are the lucky ones.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


If the work of a poet is to assign words to reality, then my friend Blake is my representative poet right now. When I first read this I thought, Wow! This is awesome. I read it again, slower and out loud, then thought, "Huh," and then was gripped with fear that there is an ocean of emotion contained here, and wasn't quite sure I wanted to wade in. But these are now my words and the words of those I love.

Blake-- Thank you, thank you, thank you.

An Open Letter to Aaron...

Dear Aaron,

Remember in college when you and Blake used to make up parodies for your voice mail messages like George Costanza? And, remember when you did the one with that praise and worship song "Shout to the East and the West," and the new words said "Shout to the east and the west, Aaron and Blake are not home, please leave a note at the tone?" You remember that?



Friday, January 27, 2006


I was starting to get tired of country acts being so self referential when it came to announcing in their songs that they believe in the simple things and grew up in a small town. It seems like you could be a little more creative in writing ABOUT the simple things and Norman Rockwell American life, (Like Allan Jackson's "Drive (For Daddy Gene,)" or Brad Paisley's "Famous People.")

But I can make an exception with Little Big Town and their song "Boondocks."

That's one seriously fun song.

So my weekend looks like this:

I worked from 10-7 today, went and worked out, picked some stuff up at H-E-B, came home to find Tom had purchased a really big television that isn't as big as the big screen. (I think they call this new contraption a "flat screen hdtv," or something fancy like that. Right now I'm writing this post and about to go to bed.

Tomorrow I work from 7-3. Since there's only two managers who could work tomorrow, I'm going all day without a break until James comes to relieve me. After that I'm going to try to play with the kids for a bit, then come home and cook food for whoever wants to come over. (If you want to come over, come over. Taco Soup?)

No running for me tomorrow. I've done something everyday since Sunday, and I need a break. Will try for 9 miles on Sunday.

Sunday I have church, that run, then will rest. I have to go in to work at 9:00 and stay until the carpet cleaners finish their job. You know what sucks about that? I don't get to watch Grey's Anatomoy with everyone else.

Well, I'm off to bed. I hope everyone's weekend is good. I hope I get to see you sometime.

"Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there." -- Anne Lamott

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Blake made a good point that I should have included an "after" picture with the last post. I don't have any pictures with a full body shot yet, (the Abercrombie and Fitch Catalog I appear in semi-nude doesn't come out until the summer,) but here's a picture Tracey sent me yesterday with her and Wesley. Wesley will LOVE the attention of being on the Web, so here you go:


In other unrelated news:

-- Let me tell you about Sutton Lake, that boy LOVES his chips and cheese. Ben has a video of him on his phone from last Easter at El Tapatios. It is of Sutton giving up on chips and eating a bowl of queso with his spoon. Last night I had dinner with the kids and their GiGi at Ninfa's. When the chips and queso came out, Sutton was hypnotized for the rest of the night. It was the cutest thing.

-- Being with the kids yesterday helped me sleep well last night. I had a dream that Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachay, and Leonardo DiCaprio were on a road trip together across the U.S. I was trying my best to be cool and wisely dance the real person-celebrity dance-- you know, trying to appear interested in them, their careers, their personal life, without coming off as a fan. Let's just say that I am now Jessica's rebound guy and Nick and Leo's new best friend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


When Jason asked me over the phone if I'd be able to make it through giving Kyle's eulogy I joked, "Of course I can make it. I'm a master at compartmentalizing my emotions." It was a joke because it was a lie. When it comes to emotions, go ahead and slap the label "sissy" on me. I'll own up to it. I'm a simple book and I'm an open book.

This has been true of me all my life in every area except one-- My weight.

Don't be fooled into thinking body image problems are the sole possesion of the half with ovaries. Hollywood tells men what we should look like also. But most of us just don't have the discipline to follow through with anorexia and we eat so much that bulimia would take too much of our time and energy. So unless we are athletic or blessed with Brad Pitt genes, we pretty much settle for what settles.

My weight problems began around the age of four, when I realized television was more enjoyable than playing outside with my friends. Shortly after that Atari came out. When that occured, it was all over.

For a couple of years my dad worked and my mom went to school in the evenings, leaving my sister and me home alone to fend for ourselves. But no worries! I watched my grandmother and my dad cook (mom didn't cook,) and I learned a thing or two from them, as well as from the two funny chef's on the Ralph Emery show on the now-defunct Nashville Network. Bacon, eggs fried in bacon grease, spaghetti with a LOT of meat, and the southern white trash classic S.O.S. (shit on shingles,) was my specialty. (S.O.S. is basically cream gravy with hamburger meat slathered on top of white bread.) Seriously, this is the stuff that drove Susan Powter insane. (True children of the 80's familiar with informercials will find that funny.)

The high school part of the story is textbook: Picked last for every team... didn't fit in, which made me want to eat more and watch more television...faced the classic choice, a.) Remain heavy and quiet, b.)Get fit, or c.)Remain heavy and become funny.

I chose the path of Anderson, Farley, and Candy. I developed wit and humor to take the attention off my girth.

I also learned to choose my friends carefully. I rarely had an overweight friend. This seems emotionally counterproductive, to always be around fit people, but it served the purpose of removing me from "that group." I already knew people could see that I was heavy, I didn't need an overweight clique to remind them.

Which brings me to the thing that I think many overweight people struggle with and that fit people never seem to understand. I feel I've always had a healthy understanding of what my friends thought about about most aspects of my life. I was someone who could take your compliments about my humor or my intellect (while understanding that you probably overestimate me just a tad,) and could typically handle any criticism that came my way. But when my friends told me they didn't think of me as their "fat friend," I could not even force myself to believe it was true. In my mind, and in the mind of many in my boat, it was ALWAYS about the weight.

In the summer of '92 I was working 12 hours a day of manual labor at a camp. In the fall was marching band, which is the equivalent of walking two or three miles a day. Then, in the spring, I started working at the camp again. I was 280 lbs. at the beginning of '92 and 190 lbs. at the end of '93. Then the slow climb upward. Two years ago next month I was up to around 290 lbs. I looked something like this:

Actually, I looked exactly like that.

Sometime during that spring UBC went roller skating. I couldn't bend over to buckle my skates... Valerie and Wesley had to do it for me. It was humiliating and the last straw.

I'm trying my best not to make this an informercial for fitness because, here's the deal, and it's another deal you skinny people should know... I've talked to friends who have also lost weight and have heard the same thing-- Regardless of what I look like now, in my mind, I'll always be that guy in the picture. Sometimes it's a wonderful thing to take your past with you, and sometimes it's a bitch.

So where do I go from here? Well, I ran six miles today, am training for this Bearathon, trying to eat healthy, and hover around 200 lbs. But I can't guarantee what I'll look like in two years, and that's kind of frightening. Maybe I need that healthy dose of fear.

(Tara, thanks for the inspiration of vulnerability.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Kyle had two laughs. The first was an "Ahhhh!!!," full-throttle-from-the-belly laugh when something funny happened. The second, and the one we probably all remember the most, was the childlike giggle that occurred anytime something was so indescribably good. It was that same giggle he used when he was up to something mischievous or was about to tell an off-color joke.

I think I've mentioned this, but it bears repeating. The Crowder band has been singing a new song for the past few weeks. And, in the words of Kyle, it is so flippin' ridiculous. All day at work I've had the song going through my head... "You make everything glorious/ I am yours/ What does that make me?"

And accompanying that tune in my mind is that giggle.

Man, how I miss that giggle.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Randdom Bullets...

-- I appreciate the positive comments and emails I've received about the previous post. But, in fairness to Aaron, I must say that I probably created somewhat of a straw man out of his post. His ire probably wasn't pointed to the emerging church. It's just hard to imagine what other people in his world would use the language of postmodernism in such a way as to attract his criticism. I don't know... it's just that most of us are tired of using the pomo words and just want to get on with our lives and it's hard to sometimes.

-- I had a good weekend. Got an 8-mile run in yesterday, watched a wonderful episode of Grey's Anatomy with people from church, saw "Munich" on Saturday, and also had a group of people over for beverages and laughter on Saturday night. Saturday was also the day I discovered what will probably make it to my top 10 events of this year: The H-E-B Chinese Kitchen now has a punch card! That's right, baby. Five delicious Chinese meals, the sixth is free! Hallelujah!

-- Gideon Tsang preached at church yesterday and it was, as usual, simply amazing.

-- Tonight after work I played racquetball with Nathan then headed to my first ever writing group. I'm looking forward to being challenged to "hone my craft." (I have ALWAYS wanted to have an opportunity to say that. Do you think I sound Hollywood? I hope you do, because that was my intent.)

-- Tomorrow is a big music day-- Rosanne Cash's new album "Black Cadillac" is coming out and I'm excited. I remember when "Seven Year Ache" came out in the 80's and fell in love with that girl. Then came "Tennessee Flat Top Box," and my love grew. Two years ago her album "Rules of Travel" spoke to my insides. I can't wait for Black Cadillac.

-- I hope she doesn't mind me sharing this. (If you do, tell me and I'll remove it.) But Janalee's Last Post is one of the most moving things I've read in a long time. (I CRACKED up laughing at #1 and was in tears by #10.) It is just beautiful.

-- I hope your week is filled with life and beauty and love.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Explaining Myself...

Hello, my name is Sky. There is a conversation going on over at Aaron's blog between him, some of my friends, and me. You should probably check that out, including the comments, in order for this to make any sense.

Let me tell you about myself. When I was a kid I realized I was in a car with my family and other people who lived in close proximity to me. We were driving through a forest headed toward the peak of a mountain. When I came to a certain age my parents and the other people began to ask me where I wanted to go. Well, to the top of the mountain, I guess. Good, they said, because that's where this car is going.

For the most part our journey was a good one. I learned a lot about the road we were on, our destination, and others who had already arrived to the summit. We sang songs, played games, had meals together and basically lived life on the way to the top.

There were other cars in our caravan. Occasionally we would slow down and talk to them through our open windows. There were also cars we passed along the way who were going in the opposite direction. We were told their destination was not a good one and that we should always be yelling at them to turn around and go the same way we are going.

Of all the conversations we had, the one thing we never really talked about was the car we were in. It was good enough for those ahead of us, and it has brought us this far, so we never gave it a second thought. Until one day I noticed a group ahead of us getting out of their cars to talk to some people on the side of the road.

These people were different than any I'd ever met. Well, that's not entirely true. Some of them looked and talked a bit like the drivers of the cars heading down the hill. But they weren't headed down the hill. In fact, they said they were going the same way we were going and had, in fact, made it part of the way up by the same kind of vehicle we were in.

Some said the vehicle had hurt them and they just had to get out. Others said the vehicle just broke down too often and, as much as they tried, they just couldn't fix it. There were several, most who had only recently abandoned their cars, who were just downright angry at the vehicle and thought anyone who still chose to ride in them was just plain dumb and closed minded. But a few, some of the older and more calm ones, weren't angry. They knew the vehicle worked for some and that it was still necessary in picking up certain types of people along the way who would not make it up the mountain by any other means.

As I listened to them talk I realized I had a choice to make: Get out of the car or join this crazy looking group of people who talked funny, using words like "postmodern" and "deconstruction" and "community" and "story" to explain themselves, and who, for some reason, had a lot of holes in their jeans.

I chose to get out of the car. I also chose to cuss the car. Oh how I cussed. I'm not really sure why I did this. I think it was one of those psychological things where you create a lot of commotion and treat the people you are departing like they are evil , just to make it easier to leave. I now regret the way I acted because it was that car that got me to the point where I was. No telling what cliff I would have run off of had I not had that vehicle and the people in it.

When I got out I found out very quickly that this strange band of wayfarers was going to become my family and that I should try my hardest to become theirs.

The first thing I realized was that, although these people were walking up the mountain, they were doing so not on the path that was paved, but through trails in the forest. Some of those trails were overgrown with brush, but you could tell they were ancient trails, paved hundreds of years ago by long forgotten saints. Other times we had to beat down the path oursevles.

We saw others heading different directions and we really didn't know what to think about them. However we did know one thing-- That the forest was dangerous territory and we were all in this together. A lot of the times we told them about the way to the top. But, unlike in the vehicle, there were many times when the other people knew more about getting to the top than we did. When we suspected that, we were sure to listen to them. (My friends Ripcord and Aeon are among the many in different groups that I like to hang out with. We watch soccer and hang out in coffee shops.)

Of course we thought the top was the best destination. We believed pretty much the same about that as we did when we were in the car but, to be honest, we were a little more confused about what we thought about "the others" and the value of where they were headed. That's something we still talk about. But one thing is sure, we try not to get angry about those talks.

There are difficult things about traveling through the forest rather than on the road. People who drove the cars kept wanting us to define ourselves. We often resisted that. When we did define ourselve we would often talk about all the things we do that are different from when we were in the car. It was all about who we aren't, not who we are. When those in the vehicles tried to peg us we would get defensive and say "You can't categorize me!" We said that with a very angry voice.

Most of us have given up on our anger and remember fondly our lives in the cars. We recently have tried to be a little more deliberate about explainging ourselves. Surprisingly, there are some who are talking about us both in the media and in the vehicles, so it has taken more thoughtfulness in telling about our the path we have chosen.

We consider those still driving up the mountain our family and know our final destination is the same. I personally miss them and love the times I make it back to the road to talk to them. Occasionally I even get in the car and ride with them for a bit and talk about all our good times.

Some of the people in the cars are still angry at how bad I cussed the vehicles when I first left. They get defensive because they still think I see them as less than me. Some of them, in fact, have accused me of hijacking their car and ramming it into a tree. There are those of us who have done that, but not me. I just wanted out of the car.

I rarely use the those "postmodern" words like I used to. Can't say that I even think about it much anymore. I just know I'm out in the forest with my friends, working our way to the summit. Those words got us out of the car, but they don't occupy our time as much as they occupy the time of many in the car who are still upset with us. I wish sometimes they would lighten up, but I still love them.

There are a couple of things I know for sure. The King of the country we are heading toward is good and has been good in paving the way, both on the roads and off, to his territory. As strange as it sounds, I feel sometimes as if we are in that territory right now, even as we are heading toward it.

I know the people I'm traveling with are good people. I just had beer and laughs and tears with several of them. We love our King and we love each other. One of our tiny group recently ran ahead of us. I can't tell you how much it hurts that he is no longer walking beside us. But his leaving has made us all the more eager to reach the top of the mountain. This fellow traveler actually taught us how to travel, and we are forever grateful for it. He also taught us how to live and to love and to laugh, and we are trying our damnedest to do what he taught us, even with tears in our eyes.

I say all this so you will know who I am. I don't hate the vehicle, it's just not for me. As hard as it is for some to believe, I really do think the car has value and worth and, in some cases, is extremely necessary and vital. Just don't push the car on me.

Eventually our paths will meet up again and, when it does, we will all be running full tilt toward our King. In the meantime, I'll peak through the trees and tip my hat to you.

I can only hope you will do the same.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Understanding God's Will...

I just wanted to let you know that the Waco Barnes and Noble now has copies of the updated edition of Kyle's first book, "Understanding God's Will." I'm a little disappointed the cover doesn't identify it as the updated edition, but you get what you get. There are, however, wonderful new Forwards by Brian McLaren (in which he shares the final words from Kyle's final sermon) and Afterwords by Tony Jones. Go snag your copy today.


Myles has tagged me and I believe the appropriate response is that I am above such adolescent web activity but that I'll (sigh) relent anyway so as to not appear too pretensious. The truth is, however, I kind of like stuff like this, so here are my answers to the questions:

-- Rapelling Instructor @ Timberline Baptist Camp.
-- Staff Assistant for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
-- Residence Hall Director
-- Bookseller Extraordinaire

-- About a Boy
-- Back to the Future
-- Rocky Boxed Set (Excluding V)
-- Love, Actually

-- Ed (Rest in Peace)
-- Grey's Anatomy
-- Scrubs
-- Seinfeld

-- New York
-- Branson, MO. (I'm getting old, leave me alone.)
-- Santa Fe
-- St. Petersburg (Russia)

-- cnn.com
-- ubcwaco.org
-- weather.com
-- wacotrib.com

-- La Fiesta Fajita Enchilidas washed down with Top Shelf Margarita
-- Tom's German Chocolate Birthday cake that is on the counter in the kitchen right now.
-- Bubba Burgers from Fuglers, located on the outskirts of Harleton, TX
-- Cafe Capuccino's Chocolate Chip Pecan Pancakes

-- Installation of a maid
-- A toilet that didn't overflow on the same day each year
(I can't think of anything else. This house kicks it.)

-- Dox Equis
-- Corona
-- Shiner
-- Miller Lite

-- Jason
-- Blake
-- Aaron
-- Jordan

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


It doesn't take a miracle, or a natural disaster, to live in the world that your after, a Change is going to happen to you.-- "Miracle" by Michael Tolcher

Earlier in the week Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans, said God sent Hurricane Katrina to, among other things, punish America for it's evil deeds.

Yesterday I overheard two girls giddy over God answering their prayers: They prayed about changing the time and place of their small group. Then Voila'! One of their schedules changed, making it possible. God confirmed their prayers and made a way.

One guy has suggested, and two have openly asserted, that God killed my best friend.

You name a natural disaster or tragedy from the past few years and Pat Robertson has placed his finger on the direct source-- God, and reason-- usually that the victims were not more like Pat Robertson.

Ask each one why they do what they do and why they believe what they believe and each one will give a variation of "Because I know God." It may take the form of "Because I believe Scripture, which says..." Or, "Because God told me..." But each have their reality. They know what they know and if you would only have the same information they had, or the guts to accept it, then you would know what they know as well.

I remember very well a conversation I had with Jason several years ago when we were still in Marshall. (Actually, it wasn't a conversation. I was at his feet, soaking in the wisdom.) He talked about the Apostle Paul, formerly known as the Persecutor Saul. As I reflect on it I think what was said may have been one of the seeds planted that grew into this journey I've been on for the past five years.

Paul's conversion experience was not, as we often think, a "Turning to God" experience. It wasn't that he didn't know God when he was on the horse and suddenly knew God when he fell off. No, Saul LOVED God! Saul LIVED for God. If you were to ask Saul why he killed Christians, his answer would have been "I do it for God. I'm protecting the faith."

There would be no reasoning with Saul. It took an act of God for him to understand what we now understand-- That those he persecuted were actually God's children.

And this is why it has become easy for me to forgive those who have just been plain mean. Not because I am some great man of faith and understanding, but because I've had jacked up views of God in the past, but I thought they were as normal as the sun coming up in the morning. Hell, I probably have exchanged those jacked up views for other jacked up views.

At the end of the day (and at the beginning, for that matter) I just have to remind myself that I have chosen to follow the path of Christ and that regardless of how little I know about what that actually means, I can at least try to do the small stuff well. I can try to be faithful to God and love his people and, in the meantime, try my best to do no harm.

The harder stuff, forgiveness, actually becomes easy with age.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Can you teach me about tomorrow?

This may
be the cliche'
Of the day:

Time is precious.

If anything is worth saying right now, it's that. I work 40 hours a week, am finding out that training for a race actually takes commitment, am trying to be diligent about writing, and above all else trying to spend what is of most value to me- time, on those I care about.

If you are wondering about the previous post and the one from a few days ago, I'll fill you in. But you have to promise me to have no contact with the characters I will speak of.

A couple of dudes who have direct access to God have felt Him lead them to tell those of us who were close to Kyle that God killed Kyle because of poor theology.

And the anger wells up within me, as it is probably welling up within you now, and one thought comes roaring like a freight train to the front of the line of things to do-- RESPOND, AND RESPOND WELL.

So I ponder and I ponder and I think of the best lines to use and the perfect amount of sarcasm and anger balanced with a healthy dose of spiritual talk placed perfectly so as to create the appearance of building bridges. I write an email and hover the mouse around the "send" button and have the same feelings we have all felt before hitting that button when sending a serious email.

But I choose something different. Ashamed that I have already given those people too much of my life, I hit delete, and I'm here to testify brothers and sisters (can I get a witness!) it is one of the greatest feelings in the world-- The feeling that I am as I was created to be... a creature who can choose who to be and what to give my time to.

They will get no more of my time, and they will get no more of my life.

Of all the quotes on top of blogs, the one that used to be on Myles' is the most appropriate to end this with, from Annie Dillard:

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

Don't spend your lives on anger.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I repeat...

For those involved... The latest email by Mr. Hafichuk and Cohen is even harder to stomach than the first, but the reasoning contained therein also exposes what nutcases they are and how responding to them is not worth our time. I fear I've already given them too much of my life in writing this post.

So again, do me a favor, and just hit delete.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Embracing Beauty...

I've seen some beautiful things.

I don't claim to know how he did it or how long it took, but God kicked some serious ass in his creation of this big green and blue ball. Canyons were carved, mountains pushed up through the earth, and somewhere on a line that runs North and South between Athens and Centerville, TX the vast forest of the American South turns into the prairies and plains and flat and dusty parts of the Great American West. Gone With the Wind gives way to Gunsmoke. If you are easily bored (and, thus, greatly boring,) you'll miss it and probably say how much better everywhere else in the world is better than here. If, however, you take seriously the admonition of Saint Kyle to Embrace Beauty wherever it can be found, your breath just might be taken away. In the long history of the world I am one of the relative few who has seen this geographic transition not once, but hundreds of times, including twice this weekend, and I believe that, my dear friends, is quite beautiful indeed.

I've seen my share of churches where young people experience shame on a weekly basis. For what? You name it-- Not telling people about Jesus, sleeping around, and sitting on the back pew of church and writing notes. This morning I watched a pastor encourage, even dote on, the youth of his church. For what? Just showing up. It's hard being a teenager and it can be hard, even brutal, to muster the energy just to show up to worship with the saints. I saw a pastor recognize that and it's a rare thing but I'm hear to tell you again, my dear friends, it was beautiful.

I've seen the same group of young people told, by one of those "youth speaker" type people at one of those "city-wide-rally" type events, in so many words, that homosexuals are less than human. I saw them filter through such ignorance to find good things in a bad situation and I watched the cool kids embrace those that others do not think are cool, without even being told and I find that quite beautiful.

I've flown (harnessed) fifty feet in the air, felt the wind rush past my face, seen over the Timberline, and felt a physical reminder of the existential feeling of freedom. Again, true beauty.

I passed through Brandon Durham's hometown and was reminded what a jewel of a person that dude is. I've listened to these lines by Michael Tolcher while passing over the River Neches that flows northward toward a town called Chandler: "Get behind my eyes for another view/ Of painted skies beautiful blue/ Don't be surprised if I'm a lot like you/ We'll carve a place for love inside of you/ The empty space, let it flow through/ And then your face can show your feelings true," and if I could stand up and drive at the same time I'd probably have danced a jig. I've thought good thoughts about the people I love and after driving through the city limits of Waco stood at the burial site of my best friend and cried like I meant it, because I did. Two days previous I listened to his twins argue over who would get to talk to me on the phone and, in the end, tell me they love me. I entered back into my world today with the words of Gary Allan ringing in my heart: "Life aint always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride." I came home to emails and blog comments from the greatest people in the world with words of encouragement and love.

And that, my dear friends, makes one beautiful weekend.

Friday, January 13, 2006


I'm around the house this morning washing some clothes and dishes and getting ready to leave for Lufkin. Earlier I read this passage from John, which was one of Kyle's favorites:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

I think the Christian life is about being with Jesus in many contexts and living the way you imagine your life when you are listening to you favorite song, even when it's not playing.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

January 11, 2006

As I'm writing this I'm listening to Michael Tolcher. The other day I watched an episode of Scrubs, heard the song they do at the end when they are wrapping the show up, loved it, googled "Scrubs Music," found Michael Tolcher. I'm not sure if he's acceptable to perceive as cool, but I perceive him cool.

Honestly, it's been a rough week. The holidays are over in retail world, which has left us picking up the pieces. I'm broke. I got pulled over for a burned out headlight last night going to meet someone before church, when I reached for my insurance I saw it was expired, and I also had an expired Inspection Sticker (which I was aware of.) At the Hub I found a new emotion-- the integration of hope and despair. We are spending this semester talking about the Fruit of the Spirit and Singleton and Dudley did a wonderful job at being co-speakers. Very creative and enjoyable and insightful. Seriously. But at the same time, I was sitting there and had this thought... I guess this is "moving on." I don't want to move on. I know we have to in order to be healthy, but I don't want to.

One of Kyle's brothers told me that someone who knows a lot about grief told him that as long as you are eating and sleeping well, and getting plenty of exercise, then whatever other feelings you have are pretty normal. I'm doing all three of those and I feel like, well, I feel as if I've lost my mojo. Does that make any sense?

I feel like Ed McMahon without Johnny Carson. Entertaining? Sure. Efficient, adequate, healty? Yeah. Relevant? Not so much.

I never expected this to be easy, so I guess my expectations have been lived up to.

In the meantime...

-- I'm heading to Lufkin tomorrow for a Disciple Now. Looking forward to it. A little nervous because it's been so long and because I know how bad I've probably screwed kids up before. But I'm a different person and this will be a different kind of DNOw.

-- I just got back from George's with Harris, Matt, Valerie, Laurel, Drew, Lacy, and Anthony. It was nice. Good to see Valerie who is still in town for the holidays. It's great to be around UBC these days.

-- Hey, did everyone see Tim dropped in to leave a comment? Tim is my friend in Germany and he rocks socks. Hey Tim! I miss you terribly and hate it that I never have my phone when you call. Can't wait for you to come back to Texas.

-- I was going to write a creative post about this, but I'll just leave the fancy words to real writers. Call me buddy, PLEASE!! When I wrote that, I seriously was afraid because I knew at least three people who read my blog (Blair, MOL, and Mark Penick) call me buddy. Kyle made it ok, so please, fear not.

-- I'll get my mojo back, don't you worry. But please pray for me. I need it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Path of Truth...

I'm posting this just in case anyone reading this has also received an email from from this guy Victor Hafichuk. My first thought was to work on a detailed reply with Scripture and reason and probably an unhealthy dose of anger but ringing in my ears was "That's not living, and it's not living well." If you happen to receive this email titled "The Path of Truth," please discard it. I feel about this the same way I felt about the Paul Proctor situation.

Remember what your mom told you about ignoring them and they'll go away? Well, where these people are concerned, part of that is a lie. They won't go away. But you will not allow them to be present with you.

Not So Fast...

Although I know this will never be "over," I think I fooled myself into thinking it was and got jolted back into reality today on my way home from work. It was one of those rare days when I gave myself a job to do away from people but in close proximity to silence and thoughts. The thing I had no clue about before was exactly how much space was reserved for Kyle. It sometimes feels now as if my days consist of empty moments waiting to be filled with his laughter and his encouragement and his, well, his presence.

Did I tell you I never liked being called "buddy" by anyone else other than Kyle?

Monday, January 09, 2006

More Where That Came From...

I'm guessing it was the Seis Equis* flowing through my blood that gave my stories the extra pizazz that night, for when I finished spinning the yarn about my car getting towed in Dallas requiring me to take a cab to the ghetto and the wind blowing my tie in such a way that freaked me out and probably saved my life because, frankly, who is going to mess with a crazy guy?, she asked, "Do you have more of those?"

Frankly, I was shocked at how bad that question stung. The next moment was one of those eternity-of-thought-within-a-five-second-period-of-time moments. I stared out the window nervously playing with the peppermint in my mouth.

Yeah, I've got more of those.

I can tell you about going to the store as a child and having to purchase the "Husky" jeans just like Bobby in King of the Hill and how painfully true his emotions rung. I'd make you laugh with my well rehearsed bit about how my Dad loves the show but doesn't think it's funny. It's almost as if he's watching a reality show.

You want sad? Sit back and I'll tell you that The Kite Runner affected me so much because at the end of the novel I felt deeply what Amir felt, the desire to be in friendship with people where the statement "For you, a thousand times over," was mutual and reciprocated and where wrongs were righted and love was shared. I knew Kyle would feel the same way so when he asked me to give him a reading list for his Sabbatical this summer, it was the one I told him he absolutely had to read. He loved it and it was the last work of fiction he ever finished. I can tell you about that, if you want to hear.

I've got stories alright. There's the one about me running naked from a 120 degree sauna to a 35 degree pond and the one about Jude and the bottle of Shiner. I can even tell other people's stories. Like the one Jordan told me about Keely and her new toy or my dad and the Ex-Lax.

Funny? I've got you covered. Earlier in the day at the Southwestern Seminary workout facility I signed my guest pass "Greg Boyd," and laughed at my subtle humor and how it was probably lost and how I should have used "Bill Clinton" or "John Shelby Spong," but how Fortenberry laughed at it anyway. I'll then turn the corner on funny and head down the road to sentimental and tell you how special it was for me to be able to spend time with him this weekend and how I feel we both feel in some ways that we are all that's left.

I've got stories for you.

But when I told you earlier I can't stay out too long because I have to get up early to be back in Waco for church in the morning and you said, "Why don't you just go to church here in Dallas," I realized that you may never know me, no matter how many stories I tell.

I came out of my trance.

"Stories?" I said. "Yeah, I've got stories."

"No, you dumbass... peppermints!"

Oh, yeah, I've got those too. You want to know how I got them?

(*Seis Equis= Three Dos Equis.... I didn't want you to think I was THAT bad of a drunk.)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Here's What's Going On, In My Neck of the Woods...

-- (Anyone catch the Al Roker reference?)

-- My good friend, Ms. Site Meter, tells me people are trickling back to their computers after a winter hibernation. The 80 degree Central Texas January weather is luring people back to their computers, I guess.

-- A couple of weeks ago my friend Tracey's college roommates got their hands on Mavs Tickets IN A CORPORATE SUITE! I got to go and it was quite the experience. They played the Timberwolves, won, and I got to walk around and see all the rich people in their suites watching the game... on the TELEVISION SETS in the suite, with the game occuring just a few yards from them. It was ridiculous. Nevertheless, it's going to be difficult for me to watch a game with the REGULAR people anymore.

-- Speaking of, my old ETBU friend Jason Fortenberry received from his sister Mavs tickets for Saturday night, also against the T'Wolves. She gave him an extra for a friend, and I am the friend who lucked out. (I think it's because all his seminary friends in Ft. Worth are out of town but, hey, I'll take what I can get.) I'm leaving tomorrow evening after work and will be staying with him over the weekend. I'll get up and drive back on Sunday morning to be at UBC.

-- The reason I want to make it back for church is because I'll be away next week for a, get this, DISCIPLE NOW! That's right, people, Craig Nash Youth Worker is coming out of retirement! (Roaring sounds of cheering... JUBILATION!!) Good old Cory has asked me to help lead a group for his youth group. I can honestly say I don't think I would do it for any other youth minister but him. I'm looking forward to seeing how a more seasoned Craig responds to high schoolers.

-- I fully intended for this to be the week I start reading in ernest again, but Monday the sewer began to overflow into our bathroom and I've been busy mopping and staying away from the smell of the house. One of these days I'm going to get a large block of time just to read and when I do I am going to finally get through "Life of Pi," something I should have read years ago.

-- Half Marathon training is going well. I finished a five mile run this morning. On Sunday afternoon I'm going for six. I'm considering starting a blog where I just talk about my training.

-- Speaking of running... If you've been reading the Waco Trib, and who doesn't, you've read about the city being in talks with a development firm out of Houston to build up downtown into a commercial and residential hub. The dream is to have Austin Avenue (the street on which I reside,) filled with more commercial and residential buildings. They are envisioning downtown coffee shops and art houses. This is the street I run on and today I thought how cool it would be to be running downtown and hearing from across the street the owner of a small diner sweeping the sidewalk and yelling, "It's going to be another hot one today, isn't it Craig?" To which I reply, "Sure is Bill, good to see you!"

-- That last bullet point solidified something I've been thinking about for some time, and something I'm coming to peace with. I'm a Wacoan. I've lived in Waco longer than anywhere else, other than the town I grew up in.

-- Since I'll be heading to Ft. Worth tomorrow and Saturday, it'll be at least a few days before I post again. Here's hoping things are going well in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Tale of Two Soccer Moms...

A lower level manager at the local branch of a national retail chain specializing in information and information-related products was called to the front of the store by an employee referred to by said national retail chain as a "bookseller." When other managers of this establishment are called to the front of the store it is generally to provide an access code or to answer a question. When this particular lower level manager is called to the front it is generally to find something that has been lost or to take the verbal blows of an angry customer. Because of this he will, when called, try to take a deep breath and tell himself that Jesus loves the person he is about to see, so he should try to as well. And that violence is never an appropriate response to an upset customer.

"I just want to tell you how extremely upset I am that you have THAT behind the cashier for me AND my children to see!," said she with ire in her voice and a fire in her eye as she pointed to the adult themed information related product. The pointed action was performed with a velocity that caused the cross hanging from her neck, which could be assumed as an identification of the subject of her allegiance, to sway ever so slightly.

"Thank you for sharing that m'am. We actually keep those products behind the cashier because we want to be sensitive to the desires of our customers," said lower level manager. "We used to display them on the sales floor like our company wants, but we had enough complaints that we decided to move them to a more obscure location."

"But it's right there, we HAVE to read it!"

(Do not be fooled by the writer's propensity for bravado. The lady literally said "We HAVE to read it!")

"Thank you for sharing that. I will pass your concerns on for you," said lower level manager, reminding himself about Jesus loving her and violence not being the appropriate response.

So the lower level manager resumed his lower level management duties when he ran into another lady with children in the section marketing information related products to teenagers. Before the previous incident he had overheard a conversation between this family. The young teenage daughter was perusing the products. She saw something she wanted and presented it to her mom for purchase. Her mom told her "OK," but also said the information-related product was of the Fantasy variety.

"You know, sometimes those can have things in those that aren't appropriate. I'll want to look through it first," said the mother kindly.

"Sure, no problem," said the young teenage girl.

When the lower level manager happened upon this family he inquired as to how he could be of service to them. They had a couple of information-related products on a list they were heretofore unable to find. He assisted them in locating said products, thanked them, then left them alone to continue their leisurely browsing.

A few minutes later the lower level manager rounded a corner and ran into the mom who stopped him to look in his eyes and tell him, with gentle sincerety, "Thank you so much for helping us out," the cross around her neck hanging in peaceful assurance of its place.

One mom taught her children that there are bad things in this world and that when corporations peddle evil they should be dealt with forcefully. We are at war and we will not stand by and let the enemy win. Lower level retail manager is a soldier in the army of the enemy and needs to be dealt with. Anger is the appropriate weapon. Make sure they get the point.

Another mom taught her children that there are things in this world that we should be careful of, so lets see life as an exploration we do together to find out what those things are and sort them out from the things we want to be identified with. We might find some scary things, but we can handle it... we have each other. In the meantime, let's treat everyone with dignity and kindness.

The crosses were identical, but lower level retail manager knew which one contained value and which was just fool's gold.

Monday, January 02, 2006

This is a paragraph I fully intended to fill someday with words that will tell you of my faith in a Creator's story of love, fall, redemption, and consummation, reassuring you of my position as a follower of the One who lived, died, was resurrected and is returning. I'll use words that will soothe your ears, my loyal friends from your respective evangelical, charismatic, emergent, Baptist, moderate, conservative, liberal, fundamentalist in good AND bad variety backgrounds. Right now, however, I must tend to a plumbing problem before meeting friends for breakfast and then heading on over to 4909 West Waco Drive to do that thing I like to call "make a living."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hello's, Goodbye's, See You Later's...

John Locke's theory of a Tabula Rasa, or the fact that everyone starts out with a clean slate and can determine their own destinies despite the past, is wonderful when used by societies to push for equal treatment of all persons. It sucks as a theory for approaching the New Year.

Most people think they can erase the past and start over when the clock hits midnight. But being made new does not erase the old. We are our past. We are so much more than that, but in many ways what was determines what is.

I've shared this before, but I just love it. So did Kyle. (I think he used it in a sermon before.) Maya Angelou was talking about Loretta Lynn's song "The Coal Miner's Daughter," and noted that Lynn with that song, and with her whole body of work, took her past and didn't seek to erase it. She also didn't become trapped by it. But she took her past, all that was, the good and the bad, and she let it walk beside her wherever she went.

Is that beautiful or what?

Here's how I spent today, the first day of 2006, in the year of our Lord:

I stumbled, groggy, to the refrigerator to grab a bottle of water. I found the gift JenA brought over last night but didn't want me to open in front of everyone. Smart decision. Homegirl went off and got the recipe for the Blue Mesa Margarita I mentioned in this post, and purchased the ingredients and placed them in a gift basket. I don't think I've ever received a more thoughtful gift.

Kyle always talked about "Kingdom of God Moments." I swear, when I opened that card, I had one right there in my kitchen.

My first breakfast of this year was in solitude and courtesy of The Cracker Barrel. It was the Old Timer's Breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, a sausage link, two buttermilk biscuits with gravy, grits in sawmill gravy and hash browns.

On my way to church I headed to the gravesite, which I try to do at least every Sunday. Some of the raw emotion is gone, but I'm still going. I need to. Everytime I park and walk up to it I still have the same thought going through my mind, that it is still so unbelievable. Sometimes its an unbearable thing to carry and sometimes it's almost humorous in how ridiculous it sounds to say "I went to Kyle's gravesite today." Like a horribly tragic joke you know shouldn't be told, but you tell it anyway.

At church we sang a new song that Crowder wrote last week. Another unbelievable thought occured to me. The song had us all in tears, (except for Ben,) and I realized we were singing a song that will be sung and embraced by generations of people for years to come. One day that song will be in a freaking hymnbook I'm telling you. And here we were singing it, together. Taking our grief of the past year and our joy at being together with old friends who came to visit and some who are leaving and having babies and starting careers, and our hopes and trepidations of the future, and allowing all of that to walk beside us.

Not a bad start for the New Year.