Friday, March 30, 2007

Household Critters: Part 1

One of those fun things in married life, and life with children, I would suppose, is finding the new household critters that become part of daily life. The latest and most interesting one so far has to be the Fema-Hair-o-Phlox, or FHP, for short.

I remember my friend Nathan discovering the wonder and brilliance of girls' hair - saying that it was an element on the Periodic Table. I tend to agree, along with the smell of honeysuckles, dirt, and Pad Thai (my Periodic Table is rather simple). But when girls' hair escapes their heads, it begins a new life as a creature of darkness, clinging to everything and colonizing the most obscure places. I just came upon a colony while changing clothes a minute ago. It had clumped together into a completely new organism and was staring at me from the floor. I turned and saw it, almost jumping out of my skin, since it had decided to resemble something an entomologist would capture. Not a spider or an ant, but one of those things you'd make with Creepy Crawlers, and eat when you were a kid. I'm forced to add this to the lists of small inhabitants in my house, but I'm not sure I can get away with calling it a pest.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I've told you about Liz, now let me tell you what she told me.

They've formed a ring around you, jeering, with their voices raised like shaky bricks in a falling wall. Every inch of you feels three times as noticable, three times as gawky and unglorious. You want nothing more than to hide, or to react, or to call down fire upon them all. Maybe they've even pierced your hands and your feet...

So why do you pray for them? To heap burning coals on their heads? Nope, we could merely ask for that and it would be done for us. Why is it that Jesus says to us, "Pray for those who mistreat you," in that way that is heard a bit too often to ring so sharply anymore? "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." -1 Cor. 3:16-17

Up walks your dad, wading into the fray of vain and careless adults. You, his child, are a cowering ball of fear at the center of this implosion. His response to those who have ringed you around and shouted and jeered.......I'll kill you. My response to those who would hurt my wife, my family.......I'll kill you. Your response to those who would harm your children.......I'll kill you. At this juncture, most, if not all, of us are capable of murder. I know I probably wouldn't hesitate. The reason is not because I'm murderous, but because I would desire vengeance for my wife, my children, my family. Immediately. This, out of my poor love for those close to me, is still the most poignant response I can come up with. How much more, then, our Father in heaven? These children, these are mine. You lay a hand on them, and I'll kill you.

But we are called to stand in that gap. To follow our Lord, and Stephen, in saying, "Lord, do not hold this against them." Oddly enough, while typing this, I found myself listening to a song by Derek Webb...

I will protest the sword if it's not wielded well, 'cause my enemies are men like me.

-D. Webb

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Bricks of the Kingdom

Have a seat. Grab a cup of tea.

If you stand out on the cliffs at Arbroath, just up from King's Drive, with the tilled fields behind you and the gorse bushes grasping the rock face like the yellow beards of old men, you can lean out into the screaming wind, over the crashing salt billows of the North Sea, over sixty feet of empty space - the wind will hold you up. Then you can walk back into town, towards the harbor, and get fish and chips, pulled straight out of the sea. So went my Sunday afternoon, the day after St. Patrick's Day, at the mouth of the Firth o' Tay, Scotland.

From the beginning, we, the seventeen misfit ringers of the mission bell, were forced to rely upon providence, upon hands that we couldn't hold or kiss. Half our group got stranded in Newark beneath the coming face of a blizzard, half in Knoxville, helpless but to pray. So we did. We arrived in Edinburgh - after watching the sun rise from 30,000 feet above the fickle North Atlantic - greeted with cold rain, and warm hands and eyes. Bruce White and Peter Mansfield from Elim Church drove us to Dundee through the countryside that's everything you've imagined. From that point, and from beyond, I began to find the beauty in discovering believers, brothers and sisters, on the other side of this small world. We didn't, we don't, agree on everything, and I was blessed to find that I don't agree with every dear heart that left American shores to follow Christ across the waves. But we're family.

We were well fed all week, from haggis, 'nips, and tatties, to fish and chips beyond counting, plus gallons of tea. Ted Reed and I stayed with a wonderful lady named Liz D-, who is a professor of crafts, currently working on a doctorate. Most of the art in her house, as is consistent with crafts, is meant to be touched, interacted with. I got most mornings to a wonderful cup of Lapsang Souchong in the sitting room, with the sunlight streaming in through the picture window of her flat, looking out over the Tay to Fife beyond the water. Conversation is not often as blessed as ours was with her.

It was also a delicious feeling to experience the graceful humiliation that comes of having prejudgements and predispositions torn from the framework of your mind. One of my tasks was to play a concert for the group of 18+ year olds who met for Bible study at Central Baptist, in the city centre. I was quite content with knowing them to be reserved people of a dry personality and faith (this was roughly what I had been told). But I will never forget praying with them, talking to them, knowing them for their disciples' hearts. We also walked through the slums and on the nightfallen streets, talking to families and children, and club-goers, who all taught me to have no time for fear. We ended the week with the lot of us, plus some folks from Elim, packed together in Bruce and Caroline's house on Kinghorne Terrace, on the south side of the Law. We ate together for one final time. And when we'd had communion, and sang a hymn, we went out into the night.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Something About the Journey...

It's less than 13 hours until I leave on a jet plane. I'm awaiting the whirlwind.

I've got a burdened post brewing about foreign policy (not the government's, but yours, and mine). I think I'll wait until I get back for that. Might do it while I'm there. We'll see.

I planted some herbs yesterday, and prayed a farmer's prayer, my dusty untrained hands hating the hurt I must be causing in my lack of experience. Now, spearmint and lavender sit outside in the fog and the rainy blessing falling out of the hidden heights of sky. They're only tiny black seeds, promises under earth. I feel more like praying for them when I think of them. The haphazard gardener has stepped into the path, surprised to find it meandering so well-worn. I shall leave them to Patience, and she will come to me. God bless her, the hard-nosed quiet woman, bending me like a river bends a tree.

From this whole period of recalling what happened at work, I've found that it's really strange to see your own blood on the ground, red and bursting with desperate life. I keep remembering God's instructions to the Israelites

You must not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.

Deut. 12:23-24

And now that, too, has been redeemed. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. Goodbye for now, dear friend. I will see you ere the waxing of the gibbous moon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Storm Before the Storm

Let me premise by saying that I'm currently on the injured list. Be glad I'm typing.

I can't imagine the insanity from the past several days being anything other than Jesus Christ having a hand in our lives. I was at work Friday, and a fellow was playing with a pair of scissors (didn't we all learn something in kindergarten about that?), and my hand got cut. My left hand, on the inside of my thumb. Now, for you non-guitar players out there, we'll suffice it to say, that's bad news. So, after seven hours of bleeding (yep, seven), Kat finally said, "I'm taking you to the emergency room. Get in the car. Now." Thank God for intellegent wives that marry stubborn men. I am currently typing with a glued digit, and feeling somewhat like Frankenstein's monster. It's ugly (you know it's ugly when you, your wife, and two different nurses say so), but it's healing.

But today is packing day, and cleaning day. And also a day of appreciating how much I use my thumbs. Every task seems to go a little slower, from towelling dry to turning pages. Plus, Kat has taken ill in the past couple days, coughing and walking around the house in a fever-induced and zombified state. Curse you, scissors! It's harder to take care of a sick wife with a bum finger. I still can't believe that we're both leaving in three days. We feel quite at the mercy of Jesus right now, and it's a little frustrating, but I won't say that it's not the best place to be. I've prayed for brokenness, and I'm glad that it has come. Also, we understand more and more that there is a presence that does not want us to live out the Great Commission, and it feels good to know that we are threatening that presence.

I've learned a bit about overseas travel, and about travel with an instrument. I was paranoid beyond all reason for a while (somewhere between a rat in a snake pit and Dick Cheney at a Green Peace meeting) about my guitar being anything but carry-on. But after talking to some folks who've travelled with guitars, and praying a bit over it, I'm more accustomed to the idea. Furthermore, I can't pack more than fifty pounds in my checked luggage (per bag, and you only get two bags). So, my souvenir was going to be a native Scotsman, but I don't think I'll be bringing one back. I'll have to settle for a book or something. I've also learned that waiting sucks. I'm not patient at all. This, I'm sure, is on the list of things to be changed.

Added to all this, I've got a few shows popping up in places - including places that I've desired for a long time to play. I've had little time to walk in the quiet and think. I believe I'll take some of that today.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Quick Ketchup

I apologize for the lack of updates and such. Very quickly, though, I'm off to Dundee, Scotland in about a week. I'm beyond excited and anxious to see what God will accomplish through us. I'll have to really get to that more when I get back, and there will be some great stories to tell, I already know. I'm also writing again. After saying back and forth that I'd take the Spring months off to record, I've come to commit the work to God (oddly, the motto of my clan), and really begin to try to pursue music as a career. This includes not being picky about playing at venues - something I have to learn. I'm also going to see if I can't find a publisher for a volume of poetry this year. We shall see what the Lord has in store. More later.