Thursday, June 29, 2006

For Annie, Lucy Grace, and Zoe Kyle...

Of all the beautiful things in the world, adoption has to be up there in the top ten.

I never had to wonder whether or not I was adopted. Walking into a Nash or Coleman family reunion was like walking into a room full of mirrors. I knew my blood flowed from the same stream as all those people.

I also never really wondered whether or not my parents loved me. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt there were times they were annoyed by me and upset with how I acted, but I always felt loved.

I think, however, many people growing up at some point have wondered whether or not they were wanted. But this question has been cut off at the source by those who have been adopted. And this, I believe, is why adoption is so beautiful and such an appropriate (albeit not altogether complete) metaphor for God's redemption of humankind. God, like an adoptive parent, has pursued us. The story of Jesus shows the great lengths God will go to get us.

Today I had the honor of attending the adoption ceremony in which Greg and Tracey Fields legally received Zoe Kyle Fields as their daughter. It was five minutes of legal mumbo jumbo, but it was so much more than that. It was five minutes of explosive meaning in the life of a little girl, a family, and a community. Coming home I shed a tear at the beauty of it all.

So Annie, Lucy Grace, Zoe Kyle, three of the most beautiful girls I know, dance for joy. You were wanted. You were pursued. You have parents and a support group who thinks you are the world.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I was just browsing through some very old posts of mine and found this from Wednesday July 21, 2004, after attending Dr. Conyers funeral at First Baptist Church of Waco, the same place that just over a year later was where we said goodbye to Kyle...

There was something special about being at the funeral of a man I hardly knew because it gave me the opportunity to examine my own life and to be affected by the words of others and learn again by the words of those close to him the things that are really important.

Sitting next to Jason and in the same room with Christy and knowing that Kyle was also there somewhere, while listening to Dr. Conyer's brother and son and lifelong friend made me think about this: One day, hopefully many years from now, I will stand up at the funerals of friends, and they will stand up at mine, and we will give an account of each other's life.

We will speak of years spent together.

We will talk about how we made each other laugh and how we tried our best to help each other find God.

We will remember the little things said that the sayer forgot, but that altered the course of our lives forever.

We will speak of the silent moments together, the moments that needed no words to legitimize as holy moments.

We will openly tell of our love for our friends, and yet silently regret the many missed opportunities of verbalizing those words.

We will remember the special seasons of friendship, and yet grieve over times of estrangement when circumstance and misunderstandings kept us apart.

Mentioning the quirks and oddities of our friends will bring laughter to the room, each one pointing to the things we lack and long for in ourselves.

At that moment we will understand the brutally intense power of words that seemed to be just mere words before that day: Loyalty. Laughter. Grief. Tears. Friendship. Love.

And the best I can hope for, and work my ass off ensuring, is that years spent in relationship will be worth the sentimentality of that moment.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

H-E-B made a fool of me and if it weren't for their superb selection of coffee, trail mix, and fig preserves, I would be so done with them right now. First they get rid of the Chinese Kitchen, which should have been enough for them to loose my business, then this happens.

The biggest nuisance about shopping at the Wooden Acres H-E-B has always been that damned narrow bread aisle. Seriously, what is the one thing that EVERYONE buys? Bread, I'm telling you! And apparently bread is also the thing that everyone wants to purchase at the same time, for it is always the most crowded aisle. And, seriously, I love old people, but I never want to throw one of them under their moving buggies like I do when they are shopping for bread, reading the ingredients, smashing it to see the freshness, then moving on to every other loaf of bread in the store just to go back and purchase the first one they destroyed. It just really chaps my hide.

So I was in H-E-B a couple of weeks ago as they began their remodeling and what do my joyous eyes behold? An expanded bread aisle! The clouds lifted and the old people, perfect in voice and harmony, sang the most beautiful rendition of the Hallelujah chorus I've ever beheld. I went to work and told people of the expanded bread aisle. To everyone I saw I gave a great big embrace and shared the glorious news of the expanded bread aisle.

On Saturday night I got off of work around midnight and decided to do a little grocery shopping. I'm telling you, the devil was working her magic at the Wooded Acres H-E-B that night. When I arrived to the aisle to get my 12-grain bread and the previously mentioned fig preserves, Satan's minions were adding another row of groceries where the wide open spaces had previously been. Even worse, the damn bread aisle is MORE narrow than it was before.

I sung their praises and gave my friends the impression that they can shop for bread with more freedom than before. Some of them probably were so excited that when they need bread next they will think to themselves, "You know, I should really check out this expanded bread aisle at the Wooden Acres H-E-B." They'll get there and see the newer, more narrow bread aisle, and all my credibility will be lost.

I'm just too fed up to type any more.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


My first experience with the word expatriate occurred ten years ago as I was reading a travel guide to Estonia, the country in which I would spend my summer. The book was describing bars and coffee houses in the university town of Tartu and spoke of some of them as great places for expatriates to hang out and visit. From the moment I laid my eyes on the word I sensed it would become my friend and would stay with me for the rest of my life.

Expatriates are those who stand on dirt they choose, not on the ground in which they belong and which belongs to them. They make a home out of that which is not their home. They find those in similar circumstances and they gather around each other to share stories and in the sharing they hear echoes of a distant land that they either cannot or will not return to just yet.

I've realized the feeling I've been feeling the few weeks is a result of being an expatriate, a resident of many lands but a citizen of only one. There are others. We meet in bars and coffehouses and homes and we share the stories and we hear the echoes and our laughter and tears serve as the sails that catch the breath of God that leads us home.

Sutton Lake, armed with the impatience of a child and the knowledge that his dad is in that distant land, is prone to occasionally make the comment, "Heaven is taking too long to get here." It's natural to feel pity and sorrow for such tragic innocence, but after I shed a tear I pick myself up and remember what the greatest Christian thinkers (Sutton's dad included) have said about the Kingdom of God over the years. This kingdom Jesus spoke of more than anything else is one that is here, but not here. Already, but not yet.

And this is where community (the word we've talked about being a cliche' so much that talking about it being cliche' is itself becoming cliche',) unlocks the keys to heaven. In grasping for a vibrant community centered around the person of Christ we are putting our arms around the Sutton Lakes of the world, those who have experienced the greatest of all losses, and telling them we know, heaven is taking too long to get here. But while we are waiting how about we try to imagine what it will be like. Let's try an audacious experiment. We'll try to make a little heaven right here on the dirt we are standing on. We've already got the King of the Kindgom with us, in our souls and in our midst, so why not?

I've felt the experiment working lately. I caught a glimpse of that kingdom when Tom and Beth walked through the Dugan's back gate, arm in arm, Beth's ring finger sparkling in the Texas sunlight. I heard the echoes of home in the dedication of Josh and Lindsay's house this evening. Every time I remember those I love who are in far off lands and know our kinship, our love that really does transcend place, I'm reminded how far this kingdom reaches. The quick glances and the hugs and the tears and the suspicion that we are all in this together for the long haul-- these are the notes to our national anthem, our colors and our seal.

And we sing, we laugh, we cry, we play. In all this we realize heaven isn't really that far. In fact, some of it is right in front of us....Laughing, laughing, laughing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Here's a funny story that happens to me about once a month. While in my car the other day I was scanning through the radio for something to listen to. I stopped at this catchy little tune that I started singing along with. It was all sort of semi-subconscious because I ended up stopping and asking myself, "Who is this and how do I know the words to this song?" After a few more lines I realized I was singing along to "Wholly Yours" by the David Crowder Band, those rascally folks who lead worship at my church.

All that was a segue into this interesting little tidbit that requires your attention and action. The David Crowder Band has been nominated for MSN's Artist of the month. Go HERE and vote for them. (Thank goodness neither Brad Paisley or Dierks Bentley are up for the nomination. Oh, what a moral dilemma that would create.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Kyle...

How I celebrated Kyle's birthday...

1. Woke up and had coffee.
2. Spent an hour this morning at work.
3. Returned home for breakfast of Total cereal with blueberries.
4. Worked out and ran five miles.
5. Gave blood.
6. Had a lunch of leftover fajitas from watching the Mavs game last night.
7. Went to see Cars with Harris and Matt.
8. Read Honeymoon With My Brother for about an hour.
9. Spoke with Kyle's parents and siblings on the phone to give my love.
10. Went to Ninfa's with Jen, the kids, and about twenty other assorted UBC'ers
where I
a.) Danced with Avery, Sutton, and Jude in the restaurant foyer which
blared the mariachi music loud and clear.
b.) Distributed zerberts to the boys.
c.) Watched Avery do a cartwheel and pretended to do one myself.
d.) Consumed two Ninfarita's-- because it was Kyle's birthday, and more
e.) Also consumed cookies made by Tracey and Amanda.
11. Went to the first UBC Monday Night sno-cone trip of the summer.
12. Purchased the Cars soundtrack and Time Well Wasted by Brad Paisley.
13. Now I will go to sleep and I will most definitely sleep well.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sporadic Blogging...

I'm tempted to follow the leadership of El Mol and just check out of blogging for the summer. I've been too busy the past week to do any writing. Unlike the two weeks from hell where the spawn of Satan invaded my work territory, the busyness of the past week has been good and productive and actually quite joyful. I'm in the middle of a four day weekend where I've countered the previous few weeks of hard work with an equal amount of hard play, but I've been active through it all. Two days of UBC garage sale, helping Josh and Lindsay move into their new place, several continuous hours in the Dugan's pool, one or two or four or more bottles of good Texas beer, and the nicest tan I've had since childhood have made a great couple of days. This morning I preached at a small UCC church out in the country and I'm about to head down to Austin with the wonderful Carneys to help them pick up a washer and dryer. Tomorow I'll be busting my ass to make sure I celebrate Kyle's birthday in a way that is worthy of the great big ball of life and vibrancy he bestowed on me for five and a half years.

My ride is here, got to go. See you when I see you. Be blessed, be strong, be together.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Thanks to everyone who has sent emails and called during my two week funk. A lot of stuff had to do with my work situation. But reflecting on things I've realized it's more than that. The past few weeks have ushered in the first summer without Kyle. Summers with Kyle meant sneaking away to movies in the middle of the day and playing hours on end of Mario Cart at the church. Margaritas and hanging out at the pool and getting away to his family's ranch on the spur of the moment. Everything that makes a good Kenny Chesney song was what went into being friends with Kyle in the summer.

There's an interesting thing about this process of grief. During the first few months after the accident I would cry and feel extreme anguish over Kyle's absence. But I'm slowly starting to realize that a lot of the pain now has to do with his presence. Weird, isn't it? There was a time several months ago when just the mention of his name in conversation caused all our eyes to well up and throats totighten. Now we talk about him as if he'll just walk back around the corner any minute now. It all seems a little backward to me. But hey, I didn't invent the rules. I just have to live with them.