is the title of a book of poetry i read for a class several years ago. can't say i was particularly drawn to the poetry, but the title, oh the title. there are so many things i like about it.

the other night i had a conversation with a friend i hadn't seen in awhile. we caught each other up on recent stories of life and dating. mostly dating. that's just the kind of friendship bond we have established. last fall we had semi-regular venting sessions as we sat in bluestem bistro. poor rachel, she often got the brunt of our bitter diatribes. though our therapeutic sessions were most likely and most often not without good reason, i can't say that they were the most healthy. though in his defense, he's had some pretty unreal things happen to him that are just beyond belief. you can hear about them in his forthcoming memoir. you think i'm kidding.

one question he expressed is one that has come to my mind many times over the last few years: why is it that some people had it so easy? this could be asked of many life situations, but in the present context it is about those people who just seemed to meet someone, date, and then get married. so simple. sure there were complications and questions and such, but never any real heartbreak. never any unrequited love. why did they get it so easy? sure their hard times will come, but they were still spared a lot. implicit in that question is the idea that i haven't had it so easy, that the road i've been given is much rougher. me and this friend of mine, and many others--we've taken our hits.

it makes me think of those old battles, like in the civil war and such. they just stood there in a line and who's to say which one of you will take a bullet? do the fallen look up from the ground, wondering why the man who was next to him is still standing? why the bullet strayed over to his spot and not another?

it's a self-pity thing really. which is such a powerful and destructive emotion. perhaps so because there is so often truth at its center--you have had a rough time. you have gotten the short end of the stick. the problem is that it only looks one way. it doesn't consider all those who've had it worse off than you. not that that would be all that much consolation to you though. it doesn't decrease your pain.

perhaps part of the problem is the lack of pity itself. to pity someone is seen as denigrating. but true pity is the affirmation of another's pain and misfortune. and it at least seems as if it can only be given by those who somehow have it better than you. for if they have it worse, then they don't pity you, they just resent or at best accept what you have. but they cannot pity you. that must come from someone willing to look outside themselves and down the other end of the stick. to not look up to those who have what you do not, who haven't experienced the suffering and pain you have and somehow have it better--but to look down at all those with worse hands from life's impartial dealing. how we'd rather delight in counting our own chips while figuring out how to get more of our own.

do people want pity though? no they would rather hold themselves in their own independence and simply secretly envy the others. pity done in love with understanding is not only acceptable i would say, but maybe even necessary. to see your pain affirmed and acknowledged--it is to take some of its burden and power away. but no, we are too proud for pity. pity is for the weak. or at least from others, so we turn to self-pity. the thoughts run deep and often they are hard to recognize for what they truly are, for we are so often comparing ourselves to others, comparing our lot with those around us.

i want to learn to fight those voices. to fight the excuses i create because so and so has happened to me or i've had it such and such way. to ask that question about others. to not let myself be dissatisfied with the way my life is because it is not filled with what many others have, because i have had such a painful road where others have been spared. when all the while the voices in my head is the spoiled brat that refuses to acknowledge the millions who have had it far worse, who have suffered far beyond anything i have experienced. or even also to ask the question if maybe perhaps they were better off because of it. or if i am somehow ever more enriched because of those trials and disappointments. the problem is, character-building experiences never seem to come close to comparing with those who have what you have been denied, who have been spared the pain you suffered.

i'm 26 tomorrow. i can't say that this is where i thought i would be at this point. i could never have imagined these last three years and how they unfolded, only to end up where i am now. it's hard to understand so much of it. it's hard not to see so much of the battle as all for nought. the losing side makes the greater sacrifice, giving up more men and not gaining the field. but then to see what i have gained. to think what still might await me and where i could be in another 3 years. self-pity teaches perpetuation, believing you are in some vicious cycle or that it's all tied to who you are and how that cannot change. and indeed it can become self-fulfilling.

but hope.

a yes, hope. you are greater than the envy and self-pity. and somehow you rise up from the ashes and are born once more. a weak frail youngling, you still somehow find your wings and jump out of that nest once again. will you fly this time? or fall once more? somehow it doesn't matter. because we are learning to fly. who knew it would take so many crashes? but still we leap. and we'll worry about the destination later.


edwin h. friedman

The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. If you want your child, spouse, client, or boss to shape up, stay connected while changing yourself rather than trying to fix them.


alli rogers

"come now my love"


availeth much

everyone thank you so much for your prayers! please tune in to fox 4 news tonight at 9 or 10 to see the coverage on marquita and her family that came from the letter of two posts ago. continue to pray that the coverage and help of the news team will bring justice to this situation. more when we know more.


zee avi

"just you and me"


to whom it may concern

please pray for marquita, our neighbor who came by tonight because she wanted our help to write this letter:

To whom it may concern,

“This is coming from a family that is paying rent on a house that is being put up for foreclosure, and this house has took a lot of money from the newborn and the eleven kids that live in the house. Our mom has been through a lot of stress thinking about what’s going to happen and we’ve been trying to get a hold of the landlord but he never returns our call. The father that’s in the house has been going out to sign a lot of applications for jobs, but it’s been hard to get a job.“

This letter is coming to you from an eleven-year-old who wants someone to hear her story. Her mom doesn’t know she’s writing this letter; she wants to surprise her. Her mom, who she lives with, is actually not her birth mother, but someone who has custody of her and has taken her into her home as her own daughter for five years now. She has opened her home to many children, who have had nowhere else to stay, and now she and her husband are in need of someone to care for them.

“Because of us paying so much money to the landlord, the newborn doesn’t really have that much.”

In fact, what she did have has been devastated. There is a hole in the roof of the baby’s room, which the landlord has not fixed and the window only has a screen on it. The whole in the roof rained on all the baby’s clothes and they were ruined, and people have broken in through the window and stolen what necessities the baby did have at the time; diapers, lotion, baby wash. They left a dent in the car that they jumped on to get to the window.

“God always said do good things and good things will come back to you.”

The police have put out a warrant on the landlord for not fixing the window, when they responded to the break in. Any maintenance on the house has ceased, since the landlord quit paying the man who used to work; so the holes in the roof go unfixed and the window stays mainly useless. As we sit here, we ask her what she would want if she could have anything; all she wanted was a hug. Or lots of money so she could take care of her family. She dreams of being a psychologist so she can help people with addictions. She wants to make the world a better place.
What does she dream of?

“Being rich to help a lot of people in the world, including the family that took me in for five years. “

So what do we dream of? Do we dream of making the world a better place and helping other people meet their dreams? I like to think that we have dreams too. That our dreams are bigger than white picket fences and fancy cars, and that this thing that we call the American dream runs deeper than the commercials and magazines tell us. I like to think that our dreams would be awakened by the heart of an eleven year old girl who wants nothing more than to help the mom who has taken her into her home.

“I really want to say thank you to whom it is concerned.”

Will you be concerned?



i learned something new recently, and i cannot help but pass on the information to keep you all from remaining in the dark. it may shatter your fragile illusion of the innocence of childhood and all that is sacred, or may just think that it makes sense. but apparently, the word on the street is that...

the ice cream trucks deliver drugs.

it's so sad i know. who would have thought? yes it would seem an effective form of transportation, but have we lost all respect for preserving the sanctity of an american pastime and childhood icon? apparently so. i'm sorry if i melted your innocence a little.



i've been watching the hbo miniseries "john adams" the last couple days. it's very well done--not quite as good as "the wire," but still interesting in its own way. i always find myself somewhat convicted when i watch patriotic historical movies/shows that depict the forming of america. i love the patriot, but find the same tension that i've experienced watching john adams. all these ideals, the formation of this "great nation," this "new world," the thing is--i believe it is so misguided.

i get a similar but much less intense feeling watching braveheart. it is my favorite movie, and i love the themes and devotion and story--and the scottish cause for freedom is a little greater than simply taxation without representation, so i'm more understanding. it was about throwing off oppressors--but our revolution and the french and russian and other enlightenment revolutions were much more focused around the idea of "rights." yes there was some oppression and suffering--but enough to justify so many violent deaths?

i'm fairly convinced that some of the worst problems with christianity and perhaps the world as well come from placing rights above love. i don't know that there is such a thing as an inalienable right. it is a selfish idea to think that anything we have is more than a gracious gift--whether you believe it to be from God or cosmic fate. we did not earn anything, and any rights we believe to possess--where do those supposedly come from?

consider also that often the greatest spiritual advancement comes when rights are abused and people suffer persecution. it is a forced surrender and sacrifice in which people turn to God. but then why don't we let our rights be taken away willingly? then maybe we would realize that we don't actually need them to live a decent life. indeed they only seem to get in the way so often. we just don't seem to be able to willingly and consistently inflict this upon ourselves. why would we? why get up early when you can sleep in? (to use an example of much less significance)

i realize i'm speaking all of this from a place of almost total freedom. these words would be very different coming from the midst of not having rights--like the ability to express these thoughts freely. but that still doesn't change my belief in this reality, i just maybe should be careful what i ask for.

but then look at it aside from the external. what are my internal enslavements? and aren't those a far greater danger than the external ones that cannot steal my heart and soul? i must seek freedom from these oppressions. and that freedom does not come from revolution--i don't think it can be that quick. maybe there are many ways to that freedom. i don't know. but i know that at least one way to finding true freedom is through the desert, not comfort. and we very quickly want to go back from that desert, especially when we feel the discomfort and have come this way somewhat of our own will. just hit the snooze again, or reset the alarm for later. but usually there is no turning back from the desert. and you know the way back is just a return to slavery. we must be freed from our enslavements.

and our enslavements are not taxes or rights and their abuses. real freedom is not just getting what you want to live less encumbered by externals. exterior freedom ≠ internal freedom. exterior control ≠ internal enslavement. though external order can yield internal freedom, as can exterior and internal suffering.

real liberty is being able to do the good i would like to do--to love like i would like to love.

how do i find that liberty? not, how can i try to change people's actions by laws and external controls. they will just fight for their own "rights." no, true and meaningful change only comes when people of themselves surrender their own rights for love of others--or when they are persecuted and they realize the rights were only a hindrance in the first place. is this too overstated?

though perhaps too often the problem is not that we are fighting for the wrong things, but that we in truth aren't really doing any meaningful battles at all. what are you fighting for in your life? what is its ultimate value? indeed freedom is a value that i believe is so vital--it inspires me so much. it is a deep american value. though perhaps we fight for the wrong kind of freedom. and, believing we have achieved that freedom, we celebrate it and sit back with a beer and watch fireworks rather than realizing that maybe we are far more enslaved than we know. or even if we know or have an idea of it, why do we not fight with the same passion of our revolutionary forbearers? because ours is such a comfortable slavery, like falling asleep for a few more hours--only to find the day gone and yourself unable to rise much at all.

__it's interesting how i'm getting a lot of my major recent spiritual insights from television shows. the redemption of all things people__


it's friday

sitting at home alone on a friday night, i ponder my evening. somehow, even living with 8 people everyone has found somewhere else to go or be. that's ok, i'm no social butterfly--i am perfectly fine with a chill and solitary friday night. still though, i wonder, where are all my other friends? oh right, they're married.

no matter. i have the blogging world. yes, you my friends. i can be with you now and you'll be with me (or at least my thoughts) come some future date and time. let's spend the evening together. that is if you can be so kind as to not judge me as incredibly lame and pathetic. don't worry folks, i'm here for your reading pleasure--this all will have a purpose. so i'll just carry the computer around with me for a bit and see what happens.

of course that would involve going somewhere. well it's kind of late, maybe i'll get some dinner. taco salaad. leftover. and i'm sitting alone at a table for 10. the sound of my own chewing is way too loud, let's put on some music. how about the fun. album? it sounds a little like the format, but different enough to be a new band for sure. not quite as good.

all done. i'm going to clean up and then maybe write a couple emails. oh shoot but in the kitchen i thought about dessert. i'll save ice cream for later and just have some fruit snacks for now. you all remember how much i love fruit snacks. is it bad that i want a ginger ale and rum? is it bad that i already had a rum and coke? what is it they say about drinking alone? the red ones are the best, by the way. they're usually dinos, not sharks.

i'm a back to having nothing to do. maybe i'll check the royals score. ouch--7-1. poor royals. i walk back to my room. i've had this seabird song stuck in my head, though they didn't play it at the concert last week. it's quite singable. i sing it walking around the church a lot. the acoustics in here are actually pretty good, depending on the room.

ok, 8:45. what now? and this is boring. i'm going to go watch a movie.

if you're thinking all that was pointless, well, in part you are correct. and if you've come to that realization you can now go shut down your own twitter account. if you don't have one, kudos. and i won't subject you to this sort of semi-humorous banality again. goodnight all.


so a friend of mine has posted this before, but it was awhile ago and i was just recently showing it to some people. it's too funny and worth another watch--or definitely a first if you haven't seen it.


david bazan

"curse your branches"


guest blogging

well folks, i've never done this before but i've had a request for a guest blog appearance. this either means one of two things--that my blog is super cool and other people want to appear on it, or that this person's blog is so lame that no one reads it anymore but he wants people to read this. i'll let you decide. so here you go, a blog from the graham ripple:

Humbly Confident & Confidently Humble

[Walking home on down Mass St. Friday night I exclaimed that our evening was so eventful that it almost made me want to reinstitute my blog. I quickly retracted my statement but somehow convinced Luke to allow me to be a guest blogger on his. Thanks Luke! I'll try to make it utterly amazingness!]

A little known fact about Luke Healy: he's a music hipster. He may not seem the type, but he always seems to be ahead of the curve of what's coming & what's good. A text last week prompted me to join him Friday night at the Jackpot Saloon in Lawrence to see Seabird, Meese & Barcelona. Luke was there to catch Seabird; I was there because I love the Jackpot & always enjoy an evening with Luke.

Seabird was amazing. Great stage presence. Solid music. I am even listening to their album as I type (Ok, I am intermittently listening to Seabird and TLC's Waterfalls... I rediscovered it on my iTunes yesterday and currently find it somewhat irresistible).

Barcelona was also legit. Between them singing happy birthday to a fan & scratching their set list to have the audience vote between songs, I was sold. It also helps that they were really talented musicians.

Meese was also good. Talented musicians. Pretty good songs. A young band but with potential. Tragically though, even during the warm-up, it was apparent that in the most unfortunate of ways the lead singer was trying way too hard.

An elaborate mic-check that involved "clicking" was the first tip-off During their first song, I turned to Luke and commented: "Dude, he's trying too hard." He laughed & then it just kept coming: introducing himself & his brother (Meese brothers) and then introducing the band (Meese) while not introducing the other band members... Multiple self-referential comments about his height... An elaborate description of a leg kick that he normally does while playing the piano sitting down, but since he was standing up... Name dropping their last tour (they opened for the Fray, FYI)... handing us Meese magnets & stickers as we left...

After about song 3, we were ready to hit up the patio and wait for Barcelona. A couple minutes later, Luke and I overheard this girl going on and on about this "D-bag" and then starts referencing all the things I had noticed: the mic-check... the height comments... the name dropping...

Yep. Definitely referring to the same singer from Meese. Being the non-shy guy I am, I quickly joined their conversation to share my pretentious observations.

What I found so fascinating about the experience was the reason I was repealed by Meese' posture was because it was utterly unnecessary. They had no reason to try too hard; they had already proved that they are a legit band: they've signed a record deal, their first album was out last month & now they're on, at minimum, their 2nd tour. And frankly, their last tour was with a really well known band. Their apparent lack of self-confidence made me want to dismiss their success as a fluke or just luck, though really, I think it is neither. In truth, I think they are a good band with a solid sound and lots of potential.

On Sunday evening, a friend reminded me that last summer I referred to her as "humbly confident and confidently humble." We talked about that statement for a little bit and how deeply wrapped up it is with identity: humble confidence & being confidently humble is possible only as you know who you are. As soon as you know who you are, you no longer have to try being that person, you just are. Or, in other words, there is no reason to represent yourself as something, you just get on with the business of being someone. As we talked, I, of course, was reminded of the lead singer of Meese and what I perceived as his trying to hard. Possibly that is just this guy's stage presence & I misunderstood. But more than anything, I wanted to tell him to stop feeling an obligation to be a performer & just be a musician; I have a hunch his music would be much more potent and he would have a lot more fun.

Honeslty though, I do the exact same thing in my contexts: socially, as a leader, as a pastor, as a thinker, as an artist. To be real with that experience I have to evaluate the areas that I am legitimate, successful or talented, but see myself as lacking and therefore represent myself as such. In what ways have I forgotten who I am and therefore am trying way to hard to represent myself as someone rather than just being that person?

As I reflect, I am reminded of the simplicity of being formed in the image of God with his breath within me. There are a bunch of other things that I am as well, but as soon as I forget this simple, core truth, I tend to start trying way too hard.

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being."

Do check out Seabird, Barcelona, and yes, Meese. I do think they are all worth your time.

And I will say this, despite our experience with Meese, Luke must have been impressed with them: he definitely had 2 of their magnets on his car as he drove home...