Thursday, May 31, 2007


Old people can be either the greatest or the worst people in the world. Working retail, I normally encounter the latter. Today, however, a couple came in that will go down as two of my all time favorite customers. Neither could have been a day under 80. I asked if I could help them find something. The wife said, "Yes, this joker wants some kind of book that will help him solve this silly game of his." I asked which game and the gentleman replied "Rubik's Cube."

They both stood before me with the most innocent, childlike faces, and the corners of my lips couldn't help but slowly elevate to the sky. I haven't smiled like that at work in ages.

I looked some stuff up for them, and there was absolutely nothing we could get. I told them there were a few that are now out of print, and there is one coming out later this year. The lady leaned forward and whispered jokingly, "We may not be here that long!"

We had a nice conversation for what probably amounted to less than a couple of minutes. I told them about the scene in The Pursuit of Happyness where Will Smith solved the Rubik's Cube so quickly, and the elderly gentleman told me he used to be able to do that. The lady said they don't go to the "picture shows" much anymore, but their daughter did have one of those new things that you play movies on, DVD's.

They made my day, on a day that needed to be made. I've been thinking about what a terrible old person I will probably become. This damn knee has been bothering me again, and all I can do is complain. As far as "trials and tribulations" are concerned, I've seen very little of what can pass as hardship. Yet at work I can hardly go through a day without moaning and groaning. Most people know me as a calm, genial person, but as the years pass by that seems to fade away.

Maybe I should go purchase a Rubik's Cube.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I'll be honest, being an older person at UBC has its downfalls. One of them is the question that gets asked a lot around this time of year, which is, "So, what are you doing for the summer?" My canned reply, complete with laughter so as to give the impression that I'm approaching my answer with some degree of detached silliness, is that "Once you graduate college, the question 'What are you doing for the summer,' has no relevance." I pretend like this doesn't bother me, but I actually miss those good old evangelical sub-culture summers.

For six years I worked at a camp (THIS ONE, to be exact,) and although the hours and labor could be quite grueling, and the pay equivalent to that of a third world peasant, it could sometimes feel as if we weren't working at all, but rather enjoying a nice retreat from our everyday worlds. This is, of course, an oversimplified and romanticized view of things, but it's what I remember.

Our days were planned out for us. We met, as a staff, at 7:00 for Bible Study and then breakfast. The next couple of hours was spent serving breakfast for campers and cleaning up. We would repeat the meal duties for lunch and dinner, and in between, perform various tasks from recreational sports to moving heavy steel beams from one place to another.

Our meals together were filled with stories, planning the day ahead, silence, and boisterous laughter.

We were young and, in a sense, learning about how the world worked, but from the confines of our safe plot of land in a valley carved into the East Texas forest. Looking back, it almost felt like we were playing pretend. Like children play "house" or "doctor," we had one foot into reality with the other in our imaginary play world.

For all practical purposes, we were monks and nuns, but of the Baptist variety. Those who came to visit us looked up to us. Because we wore Jesus on our shirts, and sang the pretty songs, there must have been something that seemed "set apart" about us. This, of course, was not true.

For most of the summer, we lived and worked together. We fought, formed our factions (mine= The Holier-Than-Thou faction,) and would often get swept up in the conflicts of adolescence.

But we were also family for each other. This, of course, was another exercise in pretend, because all young people love to treat others who are not their family like they are. This, perhaps, helps assuage our guilt for how we really feel about, and treat, our real families. If we're lucky, though, it also can serve to assist us in dealing with those in our gene pool.

We are all over the map now. Geographically, Philosophically, Theologically-- most of us are in places incompatible with the culture of that old world of ours. But we miss it still. Some of us continue to talk, but mostly our contact is relegated to the once-every-few-years run-in. When these happen, there's remembrance and there's understanding. We ask about so-and-so, tell about how we ran into this-or-that person years back, express our regrets that certain people couldn't make it to the funeral.

This summer I'll be doing what I did last summer, and every other season for that matter. Working hard. Trying to find ways to take stock of my life-- where it's been, where it's going. Maybe I'll crack open the bible some mornings at seven. There'll be meals with the same laughter from years past. (Some will include beverages that were unmentionable back then.) Songs sung, jokes told, we'll come out of the other side of the heat-season different. Transformed. Closer to the real thing than when we started.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Weather Advisory...

I learned very early in the summer of '96 that Estonians have little tolerance for small talk, especially where it pertains to weather. I mentioned to someone about how pleasantly sunny, yet cool, the day was. He told me he never understood why Americans, and especially Texans, talked about the weather so much. He has eyes and skin, he informed me, he can see and feel what the weather is like. No one needed to tell him.

Being young and impressionable, and going through the new-traveler phase that believes anything different from America was automatically better, I began to believe small talk was an unnecessary tool of unintelligent people who only concerned themselves with trivialities. Like many other things learned that summer, I'm quite sure I annoyed quite a few people upon my return to Texas with my statement that I didn't understand why we always talked about the weather.

I can assure you, I am once again fully Texan.

In case you haven't heard, the rain has been coming down hard in Waco for the past few days. Some people are annoyed, but I'm actually enjoying it. The past few summers have been horrible as far as drought is concerned, so it's a good thing to begin the heat season with a few deep puddles. Through it all I've been wondering if Lake Palestine back home has been filling up. I'm not sure why this concerns me so much. For the past few years I only drive over that bridge on State Highway 315 once, maybe twice a year. The level had been steadily dropping for a while, making it to where you could practically drive across the lake-bed. Maybe it's full now, who knows. The streams here in Central Texas are doing well. Perhaps too well.

I overheard a conversation about the rain today. From our recent precipitation, I learned that this one lady's neighborhood is beginning to look like a jungle, because no one can get out to mow their yards. I could tell from her tone that it's pretty important on her block to keep your grass at a respectable length. I also learned that the guy she was talking to is a cyclist who is preparing for a multi-day race, with one of the days including over 100 miles. He seems pretty proud of his athletic prowess.

Weather can dictate how we feel, expose what we value, and, in places of extremes (like Texas,) reveals our level of toleration. But mostly, weather can be an invitation to tell our stories.

So, yeah, it's raining here in Central Texas. It'll probably continue throughout the week, letting up just in time for Tom and Beth's wedding on Saturday. Oh, and in case you haven't heard, after they are married they will remain in Waco. That's a fairly new development, one that may have inadvertently put me on the road to home ownership. I mentioned in a previous post that I'm looking for a place to live, which caused several emails asking if I am leaving Waco. I'm not. In fact, I may even be planting the roots deeper into the ground. Which, with the rain and everything, is a good thing.

So how's the weather where you are?

Friday, May 25, 2007

they buried him
under a cloudy sky
and since then
i've learned
every hello
is a potential goodbye

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Community, or something like that...

I spent Monday trying to figure out where to live. Somewhere in the midst of the phone calls, meetings, credit checks, and applications I realized I was really making decisions about who I will be.

Several years ago, before the word community became sexy, I had this idea that I'd move back to Marshall, buy an old house, fix it up and have several people live together. We'd be friends and we'd be Christians and somehow we'd try to figure out how to be like Jesus together. There would be meals and we would read the bible together and do a good amount of praying. We would hold each other accountable, because that was something we talked a lot about in the late 90's. God's light would shine upon us-- not to put too fine a point on it.

I ended up in Waco and found out there was a church in town that did just these things. They took it a bit further, though, choosing to pool a lot of their money together for food and other household expenses. They are a little more stringent than I would have chosen with the amount of time they require of the housemates. In addition to that they fast. A lot. They fast when they are praying for something and they fast when they feel God telling them to. From what I've heard, (reliable sources,) they also fast when one among them, well, um,... when someone enjoys their time alone a bit too much. Yeah, they fast a lot.

It's a mixed bag, this choosing to live lives in close proximity, both physically and personally, to others. How much is too much? When does "submitting to one another out of love" become nothing more than allowing the strongest personalities in a group to walk on the weakest? Where is the balance between group unity and individual liberty? Community is a pretty word to look at, and a fun one to talk about, but a hard one to live.

A few weeks ago there was a fascinating series of articles in the Waco Tribune Herald about Homestead Heritage, a religious community north of town that takes living in community seriously. Blending elements of Anabaptist (read: Amish, Mennonite) and Pentecostal theology and practice, Homesteaders, as the are called around town, home school their children, attempt to limit the amount of control modern technology has on their lives, and dress in a simple manner reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie. Most live in houses on land owned by the group, drawing obvious comparisons to another well known religious group that Waco has become synonymous with. But Homesteaders are not Davidians by any stretch of the imagination. Their lifestyle, though puritanical by contemporary standards, doesn't appear to reach the level of dangerous fanaticism that Koresh's followers embodied.

There are former members, however, empowered by the internet and an organization that seeks to locate and expose cultic activity, who are raising their voices, trying to alert the community that Homestead Heritage is not all it appears to be. They claim that the idyllic image the group presents to those on the outside is a facade that belies the real truth. The real Homestead, they claim, is a place marked by grueling work standards, angry tirades by the elders of the church at behavior that doesn't meet the high standards they have set, and a poor environment for children, who often lose their parents to meetings and preparations for the annual Holiday Celebrations that bring thousands of people from the outside every year. Even the worse critics don't believe there is anything illegal or dangerous going on, but they claim all sorts of spiritual and emotional abuse occurs.

With all the information and accusations, you are left with the obvious dilemma-- Who do you believe?

With this, I have to remain neutral. Most of us know what it's like to not be understood. Our beliefs and experiences lead us to live a certain way that others may see as strange, but which we are convinced is the best way for us. We ask others to withhold judgement, because without walking in our boots, they could never know everything that goes into how we choose to be and act.

On the other hand, I've seen firsthand the dangers that occur when churches paint a pretty picture about what it means to be a part of their group, then, after reeling converts in, treat them as nothing more than cogs in the wheel of the ego-centric machines of the leaders.

I suppose, as in all things, we are left trying to create an ideal situation out of less-than-ideal circumstances. I've been learning to never be surprised. Groups of people, especially religious people, should never be surprised, or even upset, when others (including ex-members) try to draw them in a bad light because of differences with the mainstream. This is what people do. They try to understand, and in trying they will always miss something key about what really makes the group tick.

In the same way, those seeking to be a part of a community should never be surprised when what they saw on the front end never lives up to the filth that comes out of the other. I've been a part of a lot of churches, and every last one of them has very well meaning people, trying the best they can to lead, but at the same time using every weapon in their self-preservation arsenal to keep important decisions and ideas in the hands of the smallest amount of people possible.

It may seem that I've lowered my expectations, but I don't see it this way. Years reveal reality, and the best I've learned to hope for is to live in a place, near a group of people, who believe, more or less, the same things I do about the world and God and where we are heading. Who, by virtue of their affection for one another, wake up and wade through the muck of work, disease, conflict, and the general state of our human condition, and decide at the end of the day that it's all worth it just for a few moments of laughter, beer, and maybe even a slice of apple pie. I suppose that is a pretty good thing to hope for.

** Thanks, Amy, for the suggestion.
*** You can read the Trib articles HERE. About midway down is a window called "A Homestead Divided," and you can read each ot the three parter. I think you'll find it interesting. Big time props to Cindy Culp for wonderful reporting.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Checking in...

Just so you'll know, I'm working on a couple of posts that were prompted by Ashley and Amy.

In the meantime, I've been busy. I was busy on my eight day stretch of work because of work, now I'm busy getting caught up with other things (like sleep.)

I really have nothing else to tell you. I'm just always afraid if I don't post something you'll take your things and go home. How insecure is that? The answer: very.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Turning Our Eyes...

When I was younger, I believed that if we would just turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful face, then in the light of all that wonder and grace the things of earth would begin to look strangely dim. The sad thing is, they did become dim. Was it really the face of Jesus we were looking fully into, or had we simply created a deity from a composite of what we believed to be our best qualities? In the light of this, it was advantageous for us to have the world begin to look strangely dim. Once that happened, we could celebrate how bright we perceived ourselves to be.

Yet when I read scripture and consider the testimony of the saints, I get a different picture of what happens to "the things of earth" when the face of Jesus is looked fully into.

Martin Luther King had an experience with Jesus in his kitchen. From that moment on the things of earth took on greater significance in his life, not less. He saw the injustices going on all around him, indeed they were being done to him. But after praying and feeling the physical presence of God in his midst, these things of earth began to become clear and textured, and he realized it was he who was being called to lead the American people out of the wilderness.

Saul didn't intend to look fully into the face of Jesus, he had it forced upon him. To be sure, for a while anyway, the things of earth did grow strangely dim. Yet, with the assistance of Ananias, something like scales fell off his eyes, and from that moment on Paul saw everything on the earth for what it is, a testimony to the goodness of God.

Mother Teresa would have looked strangely at the thought that looking at the face of Jesus made the things of earth dim. For her, the broken things of earth were meant to be waded into, touched, and lived. Looking directly into the things of the world was looking into her master's face.

Perhaps no one looked more full and intently into the face of Jesus than Peter. Just a chapter after Paul regained his sight, Peter was told to see the things of the earth that he had once considered vile and dirty as a gift from the almighty.

Marx's view of religion as opiate seems dimly strange in the light of these women and men who saw Jesus clearly. Bright, full of texture, significant and wonderful are the things of earth in light of His wonder and grace.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I just finished day six of an eight day stretch of work. I'm becoming very cranky. Perhaps this is why I came close to calling my boss a complete moron today. I didn't use the word, but my tone implied it.

This is also why the posts have been sporadic. It seems like this every year about this time. Late May everyone is beginning to take off to places other-than-here, leaving me with a lot of work, and not much inspiration to write.

I may need more ideas, so send them my way. What would you like to hear from me?


I just finished day six of an eight day stretch of work. I'm becoming very cranky. Perhaps this is why I came close to calling my boss a complete moron today. I didn't use the words, but my tone implied it.

This is also why the posts have been sporadic. It seems like this every year about this time. Late May everyone is beginning to take off to places other-than-here, leaving me with a lot of work, and not much inspiration to write.

I may need more ideas, so send them my way. What would you like to hear from me?

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I've fallen in love with a language.

Some officers with Waco's Crime Scene Investigation Unit meet at Common Grounds before work for a cup of coffee and a discussion about the day ahead. Being an expert eavesdropper, I listen. I began listening a few weeks ago. Normally I sit and read or write with music in my ears, but a few weeks ago I found myself taking the earphones out to listen to the chatter of early morning in a place that sees most of it's action at night. From behind me the officers began speaking, and I was mesmerized. What they said, I can't tell you. I don't remember, and most of the words I don't know anyway. But when a lady, who seemed to be a supervisor, began to talk shop, I felt a melody in the language that took me to another place. I closed my eyes and marveled at these words that meant something, that seemed to drive future action, devoid of the bells and whistles.

Last night at work a couple of young guys, friends presumably, began to talk history, trying their hardest to impress each other and, based on the volume of their talking, everyone else. I heard something about outside forces slamming into history, and then someone mentioned something about God. They got in an argument, but a civil one. Later one of them was perusing a table of Religion books and announced, to no one in particular, for his friends were somewhere else, that he's sick of books on gnosticism. His friends returned, the conversation resumed, and I remembered how I much I used to love talking like this, back before I started paying my own bills.

I've discovered in the dissonance between these two examples of discourse, that words can be profound or they can be consequential.

I'm striving for the latter.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


This has been one of those days where I've sat down a half-dozen times to write something, only to get two sentences down before thinking about something else. Which means there are a half-dozen saved drafts waiting for completion.

I'll be fighting for time to complete them, as I'm about to begin an eight day stretch of working beginning tomorrow, including my first Sunday opening in a long time.

I gave blood today. If you do this once they hunt you down when the clock strikes twelve on your first day eligible again. I give what's called "double red." This means they take my blood out, separate all the components, and keep the red blood cells while they put the plasma and platelets back in. It takes longer than actually giving blood, but the time between when you can give again is also longer. I like people to think I'm more of a saint for giving "double red," but it's really so they are only calling me three times a year instead of six.

I guess now is as good a time as any to share a secret that perhaps only one other person who reads my blog knows about... In college I used to donate plasma. But "donate" really is just a kind word for "sell." Sometimes whether or not I paid bills for a month depended on whether or not I could make it to the plasma "donation" center. They give you money for this. Two times a week, something like fifteen or twenty bucks a pop. It was nice having cash in my pocket, but I usually walked out feeling like a prostitute. If you ever want to see the underbelly of society, visit one of these places.

Not much else to talk about. It's a busy week coming up with Mother's Day and Baylor graduation. I'll try to get some stuff posted in the next few days.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I suppose I'm officially at the age when I begin to think that kids have it easier, and complain much more, than we did when we were children.

Yesterday I went to Jude and Sutton's T-Ball game. Sutton was out in right field chasing a dragonfly. I had to yell for him to put his glove on. After he did, and gave a respectable thirty seconds of attention to the game, he began running from his position, straight across the field where the play was still going on to where I was sitting.

"Sutton! What are you doing?!" I screamed.

Without a second of hesitation he replied to my question, matter-of-factly, "Sweating!"

Sunday, May 06, 2007

For Bob...

The church I mentioned a couple of posts back was the first one I was a part of as an adult. Between the latter part of my senior year in high school and the end of the summer, I slowly transitioned from the traditional Southern Baptist congregation I had grown up in, to one in another town that was embracing change. The baptist worship wars of the 80's and 90's were in full swing, and the battle for this church in Lindale, TX was quickly won by the Praise and Worship armies with their guitars, drums, and intricate clap rhythms that accompanied extremely formulaic songs that usually climaxed with the hands of those truly in tune with the spirit lifted to the heavens. Palms up or down, well, that was left up to the individual. One hand in the pocket wasn't yet in vogue, but would eventually become the choice for many of us.

In the spring of '94, after a brief tenure at an out of town university, I returned home to attend junior college and be closer to this church that had revolutionized the way I thought about God and Christian community. During this time I also became a part of the leadership of a student ministry on campus whose director, Bob, was a man in his early forties who was deliberate about taking young people wanting to enter the ministry under his wings.

One day, after hearing me, for probably the dozenth time, enthusiastically share with others in the building about how most churches have lost their way and are no longer relevant, and that the way my church did things was the way they were done in the book of Acts, and therefore the way they should be done, Bob pulled me into his office for a talk. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life, where I wanted to go after junior college, and about my church. After I gave him my Christian-rhetoric filled talk, he made a comment that angered me.

"Craig, I'm worried about you. One day soon you are going to have your teeth kicked in by people you really think highly of, and I'm not sure you are ready for it."

How dare he? He didn't know me and he didn't know my church, and here he was presuming to know what would happen in the future. I assured him this might be how other churches worked, but that ours was different. We were all about relationships. (Community wouldn't come along for a few more years.) Unlike more traditional churches, we didn't argue about doctrine or what color the carpet should be. We loved God and loved each other, and everything was just fine, thank you very much.

Two years later I found myself retreating to a small, more traditional country church. My teeth had been kicked in, and it took me many years to nurse my wounds. It turned out "loving God" and "loving each other" wasn't enough to keep people from doing what people have been doing for eternity, which is hurting each other. Bob didn't know my church, but he had been around the block enough to know that the utopia we dream of, and create facades of, just doesn't exist. He didn't know me, but he had seen years of idealistic "ministry boys" who exhibited great naivete when it came to putting church leaders and structures too high on a pedestal.

For years I thought about this conversation and came to appreciate his honesty and foresight. But I always saw it as a more mature believer taking a kid aside to prepare him for the fall. I supposed it was all about protecting me from the initial shock of being hurt by people I had come to trust.

Lately, though, I've been thinking that maybe Bob wasn't just trying to shield me from the natural course of human relationships, which inevitably lead at some point to disappointment. Maybe he was also shielding those whose carelessness would eventually hurt me from ME. He had been in ministry, and life, long enough to know that our actions, deliberate or not, sometimes have unintended consequences that cause others pain. Perhaps he was telling me to take preemptive action in letting others off the hook, before they had even done anything for me to put them on it. Or, maybe it was even that I should go ahead and disassemble any hooks to start with and acknowledge that people disappoint.

There's a new song David Crowder is singing that says "here we are, the broken and used, mistreated and abused." Today, as the song was playing in church, I thought back over years of being hurt, but also of the ways in which my actions, or lack thereof, have hurt others, both on personal and societal levels. The great message of this "good news" that Jesus proclaims, and that we cling to, isn't JUST that God accepts those that are hurt, but also those that do the hurting. This is the scandal of the gospel that many of us find so hard to accept. There should be a second verse that says "here we are, the breakers and users, mistreaters and abusers," because we've all been on both sides of the metaphorical boot to the teeth.

There should be a double-columned sign on every church door that reads on one side "Welcome: This is a safe place. Jesus has his arms open wide, and has been awaiting your arrival, no matter who you are." The other side should read, "Welcome: People get hurt here. Enter at your own risk." Preachers, when introducing new members, should go ahead and ask forgiveness for the ways they will disappoint, and tell the new people that everyone else in the church forgives them in advance for the ways they will offend.

These are the risks we take when choosing to worship and serve in proximity to each other. I've found they are worth it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

For Jane...

If you live in the Waco area and are in the market for a little extra love and companionship(and who among us isn't?,) then stop by PetSmart this weekend for their annual adopt-a-thon. The event is being held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Cats are $60, dogs $80. The price includes all initial vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and the installation of a microchip for permanent identification (which may not necessarily be a good idea if the dog or cat is a fundamentalist Christian, but it's required anyway.)

I told someone who works there today that I would spread the word, so I did. Do it for Jane.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good Music...

After the summer of '96, I left a church that I had worked as a youth ministry intern for. Theological issues, along with a disdain for the secretive and unilateral ways in which the decision makers ran the show made it hard for me to stick around, so I hit the road. It was a good decision, because, as in so many other events in my life, it set off a chain of events that probably led me to where I am now.

There were (and are) people in that church who I remained close to, so for a while I made a habit of popping in every few months. On one of these visits I ran into a lady who also worked with the youth. Although we were often on different pages when it came to our ministry, we were nonetheless friendly to each other. She had a personality of gold, which made it easier to forget our differences. We had a great conversation, just your general catching up on what's going on in each other's lives.

At the time I was in my last year at ETBU. She told me that her daughter, although just in 8th grade at the time, was already thinking about where to go to college, and was considering ETBU. She was a singer and had heard about the wonderful choral program the college offered. Ever the evangelist for my Alma Mater, I put on my recruiter cap and talked about how we had a world class choir whose director was nationally recognized, and all that jazz. Somewhere in the conversation her daughter walked up and began to listen. She was a tiny little girl. Long, straight blond hair on top of a cute face with a magnetic smile, and shy. If I remember correctly, she was wearing one of those sunflower type dresses that only pre-pubescent East Texas country girls, and Kindergarten teachers wear.

By the time I finished my sales presentation, I felt good about the possibility that in a few years she would end up at ETBU. Both her and her mother seemed to love what I had to say, and were already talking about the possibility of visiting the campus when she made it to high school.

But in the end, my advice wasn't heeded. That little girl started playing the guitar and over the next few years found herself traveling all over Texas, singing in dives and honky tonks, perfecting her songwriting craft into something truly special. I would like to personally thank her and her mother for going against my wishes. Yesterday I downloaded Miranda Lambert's second CD, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, which will solidify her position in the top tier of all country female artists.

Before they found religion (through politics,) the Dixie Chicks sang humorous, if a little hoky, ditties about girl power and killing abusive husbands. Martina McBride, the gold standard of all female vocalists, also sang a song celebrating what happens when the other half pushes back against violence committed out of an excess of testosterone. Carrie Underwood is taking her keys to the truck of her cheating boyfriend. Yet no one pulls off bad-ass, beer drinking, strong woman like Miranda Lambert. Females will flock to her independence, men to her beauty, and everyone to her ability to write and deliver a classic country song that is not Nashville-slick, but Texas-as-hell.

If you're looking for a test-run, download Gunpowder & Lead and Down for salty. For sweeter, more Dolly-esque traditional country ballads, try Love Letters and Love Your Memory (which is actually from Kerosene, her first album.) If you want a picture perfect description of what it was like growing up in small-town East Texas, check out Famous in a Small Town. It's my favorite, if only for the fact that I know exactly where Turnertown is.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007



Growing Up...

Every last one, route one, rural hearts got a story to tell...
-- Miranda Lambert, Famous in a Small Town

Sometime around the early part of this century, about a half-dozen UBC'ers were in JD's Coffee House over on Austin Avenue discussing the importance of writing down our stories. Some of us had kept a journal earlier in our lives, but had fallen out of the habit. Others shared how they spent almost as much time writing as they did living and that, in a sense, their writing had become their living. And then there was a strange confession.

One of the girls in the group said she didn't journal as much as she'd like, but she did spend time getting some of her thoughts down on her blog.

Silence and confusion filled the room. The rest of us looked around to determine if we were the only one left in the dark about this new word she used. I believe it was Kyle who shared the question we were all thinking.


She explained, and a few days later, on May 2, 2002, my blog was born. The text of my first post was quite profound:

Alright, here is my first "This is a test" message.

I guess all great expeditions begin with a testing of the water.

I've made a deliberate decision not to delete or obscure any of my old posts, even though looking back on some of them makes me cringe. I had been in Waco for a couple of years, become part of a great church, and met the people that would shape my life. All that aside, I wasn't in a good place. I was living an unhealthy life and working at a job (teaching) whose stresses I was not prepared for. Spiritually, I was pretending to be the rebel, but I was unable to pull it off. This resulted in writing that was not much more than contrived authenticity, if such a thing even exists. Keeping these posts available for the world to see constantly reminds me about perspective, that no matter what we know to be true and real and good at any given moment will one day, with the light of time, be exposed for what is-- A snapshot of who we were and what we did, simply making use of the best available information and the world of emotions swirling within us.

Sometime late '03-'04, I began to change. I had spent the previous couple of years making up for all the drunkenness and revelry (it wasn't that bad) I missed out on as an over-churched adolescent. I was now in a job I loved, was encouraged by renewed and new friendships, and also finally coming to terms with growing up. I believe my writing began to mature beyond filling a simple need to put a crude spin on my daily frustrations.

Then in late '05, the death of the one who first asked "What?" upon hearing the word blog, changed how I approached this tiny window filling my computer. On October 29th, the day before Kyle died, I wrote a post about the death of my grandmother and how it is the seemingly insignificant things you remember when you lose someone you love. The day after he died I logged onto my blog to find more than thirty comments on that post, many from people I hadn't heard from in years and would have never dreamed they even remembered me, much less knew my blog address.

It was during the next few months that my writing transitioned from documentation to therapy. All my time that had previously been spent throwing around ideas, sharing frustrations, and just laughing about absurdities with Kyle, were now spent in front of this thing. I've been asked many times over the past year and a half if I ever received grief counseling, and I haven't. In a sense, this blog has been my grief counselor. I'm constantly in disbelief at the people who tell me it was theirs, as well, for a few months.

I now consider myself a "writer," if an illegitimate one. In the age of the blog, we are all writers. There are those who have written things for years and they probably look at me and say "You're not a real writer," and they are probably correct. Ann Lamott has made it ok for those of us who write for attention to admit it, and then move on.

So here we are. My blog turns five years old today. It will be starting kindergarten soon, and I'm excited to see it grow up. I've still got more stories, so as long as you keep reading, I'll keep sharing.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I'm coming out of a funk-filled few days (as you could probably tell from my two previous posts,) which was characterized by what Ann Lamott calls "bad mind." I decided that when this happens I'm just going to go all out Evangelical and "give it over to the Lord." Kyle used to talk about thought space and how you shouldn't waste too much of your thought space on borrowed troubles. I need to remember this more.

I read a quote from Rich Mullins that I really enjoyed. He was talking at a concert and making fun of how, when he was younger and going to youth camps all the time, he would "rededicate his life to the Lord" every year. People laughed, but then he told them that if they are young and doing this, then to keep doing it. Because when you get to college you'll find you need to rededicate your life about twice a year, then later in your twenties it'll be every month. By the time you reach your 30's and 40's you'll be rededicating your life four or five times a day.

I'm supposing I need to keep that in mind.

Alright, I'm off to work. Tomorrow is a very special birthday, so stay tuned.