It Could’ve Been Me

It is easy to keep one’s head down and to ignore the tragedy in the world.

It is easy to forget the ongoing pain of those that have been destroyed by disasters beyond their control.

It is easy to critique the response to that which is deemed unjust in the world.

It’s easy. Oh, so easy.


It is hard to look at tragedy and acknowledge another’s deep pain.

It is hard to see suffering and allow oneself  to step out of your comfort zone to offer a helping hand.

It is hard to acknowledge that you may not always understand the deep pain that breeds an equally painful reaction and empathize with those that are wounded.

It is hard to acknowledge that it could’ve been me.


That I could have been the one lost in a natural disaster.

That I could have been the one on the wrong side of injustice.

That I could have been so broken that my only reaction is to respond out of that brokenness.

It could’ve been me.


So, as I raise my head and look out into the world that is daily devastated by people’s pain and brokenness – whether an earthquake, a riot, a divorce, a hurricane, a shooting or a suicide – I offer this prayer, particularly for the people of Baltimore and for the nation of Nepal:


“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.


O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love;


For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

It is in dying that we are born again into eternal life.”

[Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi]


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Singlehood is a gift, too. Your future doesn’t begin once you find a “significant other”. It’s happening now.

This is definitely one of those considerations that pops up around Valentine’s Day, though for those of us that are single, it is a daily awareness. I am thankful, however, that there are pastors that remind us that all of the seasons of life – single, married and in-between – are important to the Kingdom of God!

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I can remember fondly reading Charles Shultz’s Peanuts comic strips and finding a kindred spirit in Charlie Brown, particularly when he would throw up his hands, raise his rounded face to the sky and cry out “Good grief!” It was a cathartic release when things were not going his way (which was often).

But, I can’t help but what wonder… what is so good about grief?

It is painful and heavy and a burden that few relish carrying. There is little that seems good about grief. 

Grief marks ends. The end of a life, the end of a relationship, the end of an educational or vocational endeavor, the end of a season… things we are not often ready to say goodbye to or quite ready to let go of.

Grief reaches us at our basest and rawest parts of ourselves. Everyone has the capacity to experience grief, but how we express it is as vast and varied and diverse as humanity itself. 

A favorite Dr. Seuss quote of mine is, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” It’s rare that I would disagree with Dr. Seuss, but in this case I think I must.

Endings are awful. When I come to the end of a book I am reading or a movie I am watching, I am often faced with (minor) feelings of grief, as the characters I have loved and spent time with are now gone. But when those endings are the big ones – death, lay offs, graduations, break ups, divorces – they require a bit more than the “smile because it happened” prescription of the venerable Dr. Seuss. It is more than ok to cry and to be sad because what once was is no more.

We just can’t stay there forever. Grief is like the scab that leaves a nasty scar after you’ve been cut open. It doesn’t ever fully go away and is a reminder of what we’ve left or lost. 

But for every ending, there is potential for a new beginning. Perhaps I would amend Dr. Seuss’s quote to say something like this: “Cry because it’s over and then smile because it happened.” 

Let grief happen. It may come in waves as memories cross your mind, or as anniversaries approach or in a singular moment as bad news is delivered or you’re walking out of a building for the last time… it is a good reminder that we’re human and that everything will not always be as it is now. 

Grief is painful. Endings are terrible. You may not see the good in grieving, but it is better than bottling up tons of pain and sorrow over years and years, because it eventually it will spill over. Let the hurt come. But at some point, remember to smile. 

“I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.” 

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

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Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship

Our job, as worship leaders, is to direct a congregation and their worship to The Lord. We must always point to Jesus, not to ourselves. The second that worship becomes about us, and we begin to point to ourselves, we become like Aaron in Exodus 32, forming an idol out of man made things and then declaring “Here is your god.” I love this short blog post, so many solid insights for worship leaders and pastors.

Worthily Magnify

1Last week I spent a couple of days attending the National Worship Leader Conference, hosted by Worship Leader Magazine, featuring many well-known speakers and worship leaders. The conference was held about 15 minutes down the road from me, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m glad I went.

I met some new people, heard some thought-provoking teaching, enjoyed some good meals and conversations with worship leader friends, and experienced in-person some of the modern worship trends that are becoming the norm in evangelicalism. It was eye-opening in many ways.

Over the last few days I’ve been processing some of what I saw and heard.

Worship Leader Magazine does a fantastic job of putting on a worship conference that will expose the attendees to a wide variety of resources, techniques, workshops, songs, new artists, approaches, teachings, and perspectives. I thought of Mark Twain’s famous quote…

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A Prayer of Saint Patrick.

My view from the pew in Saint Patrick's Cathedral over the summer. One of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country.

My view from the pew in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral over the summer. One of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country.

Christ be with me, Christ before me,
Christ above me, Christ below me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise.

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the heart of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of the Christ.

May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us. Amen.

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Be The Change.

At 26, I am very thankful to live in the generation I do. Had I lived in my parents generation or even my grandparents generation, life would have been very different for me and for my friends. But here we are, 50 years after the civil rights movement, able to live in freedom regardless of race or ethnicity. Or, you know, close enough…

I am certainly not naive enough to say that racism is no longer a problem in the US, because that would be foolish on my part. However, following this Sunday’s Super Bowl, I was shocked and overwhelmed with disappointment at the backlash that Coca-Cola received over their “America the Beautiful” ad. Now, to be completely honest, I had tuned out what was happening on our TV screen by the point that this ad aired (as had most Broncos fans, I’m sure), but viewing it afterwards, I thought it was a beautiful tribute to the tapestry of races and languages that make up America. Because… well… none of us are native to this geographical location (unless you’re Native American, of course). We’re all immigrants.

It hurts my heart to see the ignorance of people all around our country discount the value of others because they have a different skin tone or speak a different language. It reminds me that the fight for racial equality is still happening in our country. It reminds me that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that people would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character is still in process. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was not a black-white issue, it was a people issue. It is still a people issue.

It only takes one person to start change. Be the change.


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Spring Cleaning & A Necklace Metaphor

I have decided to take this first official day of my Spring Break to dedicate to Spring cleaning. Most people would think I’m insane, but cleaning actually relaxes me (maybe that has something to do with needing to control things, but that is another post for another day. :]). Anyway, this has been a good thing because when I get busy, the space in which I inhabit (i.e. bedroom, bathroom, car & office) looks like a tornado has hit it and it would be a ridiculous understatement to say that busy has been a common word in my vocabulary over the last couple of months. So far, I’ve found unread books that I intend to finish before the weeks is out (yeah right!), notes from this past quarter that I can catalogue and a pair of shoes that I have been looking for for at least 2 weeks (insert intense feeling of shame)! I’m not proud of the deep need for spring cleaning that I have, but I’m glad I have at least one day to invest in it before my week gets insanely busy!

During this spring cleaning adventure I decided to take on my jewelry box. I’m not a big jewelry person, but I do have a number of necklaces that I love and will wear, but I’m not always great at putting them away. As a result they tend to get tangled. Really, really tangled. And if you have EVER had to untangle a necklace, particularly one with a very thin chain, you know how awful of a task that can be.

I came upon a necklace that my dad had given me a few years ago for my birthday. It was crazy tangled. The chain was twisted and turned around itself with knots in it all wrapped around the heart pendant. It was so bad that I considered throwing it away for lack of wanting to untangle this chain. That thought was fleeting, and I began to work on the chain. After about 3 minutes, I was ready to give up. It seemed like I was not making any progress and I was sure that the time I was spending on untangling this one necklace could be better spent organizing my desk or folding laundry. But I persevered. By minute 6 I was ready to take scissors to the chain and just buy myself a new chain. By minute 10, I was sufficiently annoyed at myself for having taken on this seeming futile mission to untangle this chain. However, I was starting to make a little progress and I became more determined than ever to get this chain unknotted.

It took me approximately 15 minutes, but I finally got my necklace chain unknotted and put away. And I’m sure you’re wondering, dear reader, why I took the time to recount my battle with a necklace chain. I guess the reason is because the metaphor of the necklace is not lost on me. Having walked through some of the things that I have over the last weeks, months and years, it had become quite evident that what I was doing with that necklace was not unlike what God has been doing in my own life and heart. In my own way, I’ve been trying to help God sort out the plans He has for me, but those good intentions have created more knots and tangles. And then I approach God with impatience and frustrated because things are not working out in my time frame.

But untangling things takes time. Straightening out knots and working out kinks are not things that happen immediately. Like I did with my necklace, God is carefully unlooping, unknotting, and undoing the ball of chaos that my life has become. I fully recognize the accomplishment that came from untangling this necklace is slight when it comes to the freedom that God offers in Christ if I will let Him do the untangling of my life.

It is a good reminder during this Holy Week. The reason Jesus came in the first place was because humanity could never get it together enough to be in right relationship with God. We were too entangled in sin. His sacrifice, His death, and His resurrection was the untangling we needed in order to be free.

Today, I choose to be free.

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