my hero

a month or so ago, i got word that eric olsen was leaving his position…as the camp pastor/director at luther heights bible camp…after 30 years!!!

in honor of his work and service, i would like to re-post this dedication to him…

Godspeed, eric!

outside of my father, there are a handful of men that have been and continue to be (in some cases) mentors to me…i consider it an honor and a privilege to have known these men…because they are…

men who have made me a better man…

iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another…

one of “my guys” is affectionately known as “big e”…his real name is rev. eric olsen…and he runs luther heights bible camp in the sawtooth wilderness (in central idaho)…he’s been the camp pastor/director there for more than 25 years…i was fortunate enough to have worked closely with eric over the span of 6 summers…a short, but highly potent and influential time in my maturity…

the term “big e” is fitting because he is a big guy…nature made him that way…he’s the kind of guy who can crush boulders with his bare hands and pull fully grown pine trees out of the ground without breaking a sweat…

ever hear of paul bunyan? this guy trained paul bunyan, folks…

no, but seriously…

you won’t see him on the front cover of a magazine or hear about him on twitter…but he’s the kinda guy you should see and hear about there …because he’s a good man, a man who has dedicated his life to the service of others…and when you’re around him this is unmistakably clear…

you won’t know what he’s about by what he says, he speaks sparingly after all…

you’ll know it by what he does…

by his faith…he lives it out every day…

by the way he treats people…the kindness and love he shares with his family, the staff, the campers, the supporting congregations and individuals from those churches…

by the way he works…whether balancing the books, repairing a leaky roof, rebuilding a trail, building a new cabin, recruiting and guiding staff members, raising money for the camp, navigating relationships with the forest service, or digging out the composting toilet…(yes, he’s the big boss…but, he doesn’t leave the gritty, grunt work to someone else…he doesn’t shy away from the dirty jobs…he shows up–every single day)…

working alongside big e is a lesson unto itself…if you can keep up, you can learn a lot…

so, thank you, eric…for everything…you made a difference in my life…you gave me trust, responsibility, and most of all–grace (and there was more than one time when i needed that;)…for a ‘gentle giant’…you were a powerful presence in my life and in the lives of many other people…and i know i’m better for knowing you…

cheers! peace. dett.

i swear

i have a language problem, and anyone who knows me knows it’s true–it’s no secret…it’s been something i’ve been trying to work on since we’ve had children–and there was one day, in the not too distance past, when i knew–things had to change…here’s that story…

it was a day after many long weeks–we had sold our house and just moved into a new house–and at the same time that we were dealing with that major life transition, my wife and i were trying to keep up with our kids and our jobs…anyways, one day after work, i picked up our kids from daycare and headed home–they were tired from all of it, too…and it showed in their behaviors, as they were crabby with each other and with me for the whole ride home…

[author’s note: when we got home my kids were demanding snacks and juice and having to go to the bathroom and 100 other things…meanwhile, i was running through a mental checklist in my brain of what we had in the liquor cabinet, because daddy was going to need some “juice”, too!  🙂 ]

so, here’s what went down on that fateful day in october…

jack: daddy, i have to go poopy.

me: go ahead and head into the bathroom, i’ll be in there in a minute.

he goes into the bathroom and gets to work and i get grace some juice and a snack…

jack (after a few minutes): daddy, i’m done!

daddy (walking towards the bathroom): o.k., i’m coming. 

jack: can you wipe me?

daddy: yep.

i say this as i turn towards the toilet paper holder…unfortunately, i don’t see any toilet paper on the holder…i look to the basket where “backup paper” is kept and it’s empty, too…then, i hear my son’s voice again…

jack: can you wipe me, daddy?

me: yes, jack.

then, i hear my daughter crying for more snack from the other room…and i shout to her…

me: in a minute, gracie.

feverishly, i start going through the cabinets, looking for the almighty tp…it’s not looking good, i can’t find any…and i hear jack again…

jack (impatiently): daddy, i need to be wiped.

daddy (more impatiently): i know.

frustration is mounting on all sides when i go to the last cabinet…no dice…no toilet paper in there either…and that’s when i say it, that’s when i swear…

me: fuck!

i realize i’ve said it “out loud”, but it’s too late…because jack speaks up again, to my chagrin…and this is how it goes…

jack: fuck!

[then again]

jack: fuck! fuck! fuck! fuck! fuck!

[then]

me: no! no! no! no! no!

eventually, i locate some tp in our bathroom and use it on him and get them their snacks and juice…and eventually, everything settles down…

but, deep down, i know that parent fail #76 just happened…

in the months that followed, i tried, really hard, to regulate my language…that experience was enough to startle me into some efforts for better behavior…i mean, having my son mimic me like that, like a little mockingjay–what the fuck?! 🙂

then, recently…i was startled again, when i heard my daughter say…

oh my God!

when i heard her say that, i stopped right in my tracks (again, i was making them their after day care snack) because she said it like an expletive–not in a praise to the Almighty kind of way…

here’s our exchange…

me: hey, now…we don’t say that.

gracie: oh, o.k.

me: we say, “gosh” or “golly”, right?!

gracie: o.k.

me (not really wanting to ask): where did you hear that?

jack and gracie are silent and then look at each other…then, gracie sings…

oh my God, i’m coming home.

at first, i don’t get it and am a bit confused…

me: what? wait?! from the song we play?! 

[we have an i-home where we play all kinds of music, and what i realized–in that moment–was that she was referencing a song called, “Oh my God, I’m Coming Home” by the christian musician david crowder.]

after a short conversation about the differences between singing it like the way he does and using it in everyday life as an expletive, my kids go off to play and think/say nothing of it going forward…

but, i’m still worked up about it, i’m still ticked…mostly at david crowder…mr. pop-christian musician...in my mind, i envision confronting him and throwing down…damn you, crowder, damn you!

since the most recent incident, i have mixed up the playlist…and substituted in–“Mama I’m Coming Home” by ozzy osbourne…

rock on!

🙂

vows

so, i had this dream (about a week before the “good friday” story in the last post)…

i was wandering around some foreign land…and met up with stephen (one of the youth pastors at our church–the upper room)…he brought me back to the church, to his office…which was completely bare…no office supplies or wall hangings or much of anything…just a desk and a chair…and a Bible…

i didn’t say anything…

but stephen said…

God knows what you have promised.

then, he said…

it’s right there in Psalm 36.

then i woke up.

a couple of things:

  1. as surprising as it sounds, i don’ t usually dream about stephen;)
  2. i don’t usually have “religious dreams”…and i didn’t grow up in a faith tradition that focused on that kind of thing.

when i woke up, i was rattled…and i couldn’t resist looking up Psalm 36…and, believe it or not, there was some stuff in there for me–stuff that’s important for me as a husband, father, son, brother and teacher:)

disturbing the peace

at the ultrasound, the sonographer told us, “yes, you are pregnant.”

we rejoiced.

then, he said, “wait a minute, there’s something…”

we froze. 

oh no, something’s wrong.

then, he said, “there’s another one, you’re going to have twins.”

we were shocked, floored–on the floor (literally)…we called family and friends and shared the news…a few days later, the aftershocks of what we were told started to hit us…it was an amazing, unexpected thing…and full of unknowns…

and, of course, “the unknowns” bothered me the most…

i had been dealing with some moderate levels of anxiety and panic before we got this news (details of which are best saved for another post or venue)…but, this news–the thought of having twins, two babies at once, ratcheted up the anxiety to new heights (as you could expect)…

i thought about going away for a night, to get my mind right…before the epic life change of “fatherhood” arrived…so, my wife, in her wisdom, mentioned a retreat center called pacem in terris–peace on earth–it was a place she had been to years before…a place where you can experience peace and quiet and solitude…

my wife, when telling me about this place, said that she had been there once (a while back) for a similar reason…for quiet solitude…she also told me that while the time away was good, she left back home before the full day was up… she told me that “the quiet” was too much for her…

i didn’t know what she meant, i didn’t know how powerful “the quiet” could be–until i went there myself…

so, i packed an overnight bag and a few snacks and headed up to pacem in terris…my wife had told me that all they provide is fruit, cheese, and bread–she knew better than most about my freakish metabolism–importantly, she knew that if i didn’t have a little extra sustenance i would first, shake…then tremble…and ultimately–implode…not good…

anyways, after a short drive (just north of the twin cities), i arrived and went to the welcome center…here, i was greeted by a sister (the place is faith-based and of the catholic variety–franciscan)…she welcomed me and visited with me for a short time about why i was there, some of the “rules of the hermitage*”–and she gave me a chapter from the bible to contemplate, if i wanted…it was psalm 139 (she told me that reading it over and over and over, like a meditation, was often a good thing to do)…

[*the little cabins on the property of the retreat center are called ‘hermitages’; and while you stay in an individual hermitage, you’re referred to as a ‘hermit’–there is no cost to stay there, though donations are appreciated]

she also told me (rather forcefully) that…one of the most important things about the hermitage was that it was a holy, peaceful, quiet space…and that, while i might see other hermits around (as i walked the footpaths of the property), i was not to speak to them, nor they to me–silence was the rule of the day, for every day..

so, i gathered my things and headed out to my hermitage…it was a tiny cabin, with a sink, bathroom, bed, and desk…on the desk table sat a basket that contained fruit, bread, cheese, and a welcome card…next to the desk, was a small burner, tea-pot and cup…after getting settled, i went about my day…i spent it sitting and journaling, reading a little henri nouwen, thinking about my wife (our life and twins), reading psalm 139, and walking on the footpaths…i only saw one other hermit on the trail…and we passed in silence like we were instructed to do…

day went on into night and i slept a quiet, restful sleep…before falling asleep, i thought to myself, my wife was right, it was difficult to stay quiet for that long (though i had only been there about 10 hours before ‘hitting the hay’)…but, i had made it to bedtime, with determination–all i had to do was sleep, wake up, and spend a few more hours at the retreat and i would accomplish what i set out to do…

waking up the next morning, i felt rested and alive and refreshed…this has been good, i thought…

so, i gathered my toiletries, towel, and a change of clothes and headed to the main building of the retreat center…it was the only place on the property that had showers for the hermits to use…i took a shower, washed my face, brushed my teeth, changed clothes, gathered my stuff and headed towards the bathroom door (it was a large single bathroom with a shower, sink, mirror, and toilet)…i was feeling good…

until…

i unlocked the latch, twisted the door knob and tried to open the bathroom door…

it wouldn’t budge…i jiggled the knob–no dice…i tinkered with the lock–nothing…i pushed/pulled on the door while jiggling the door knob–still nothing…

i looked at the door–stared it down, in fact…as if that would help…then, i looked around the bathroom…for anything, anything that i could use to ‘pop the hinges’ with…it wasn’t ideal, i didn’t want to ‘jack up’ the door, or worse, have to drop $200-$300 on a new door for the sisters…but, at that moment, it was better than the alternative…it was better than the unthinkable…

so, i scoured the bathroom…top to bottom, side to side…and found absolutely nothing to use…i also double-checked my shaving kit–nothing good in there, either…so, i put the lid on the toilet seat down, sat down, and chuckled to myself for a moment, thinking, i can’t believe this is happening?! then, i thought, my phone?! 

like a sweaty-toothed madman (shout out to ‘dead poets’, yo!), i searched my belongings…and found…my phone…i powered it on and found the number to the retreat center, i called it and got–the answering machine…the nuns were out…i cursed them under my breath…then immediately “crossed myself” and begged for forgiveness–sorry, sisters

i called again and again…finally leaving a message…

uh, yeah, hello, i’m one of your hermits and i’m locked in the bathroom in the lower level of the main building…if you get this, can you please come and let me out… 

i sat back down again and thought to myself…

maybe God is trying to tell me something…like i need more time alone?!  or maybe, my wife needs more time alone back home?! 🙂 …subtle, real subtle, big guy…

time went by…

then, i knew what i was going to have to do…the unthinkable…

make some noise…

let me say that again, if i wanted to get out of there i was going to have to break the unbreakable rule for pacem in terris and “break the silence”-

so, i got up and walked towards the door…i tried to open it once more–no luck…i pressed my ear to the door, listening, hoping that another hermit might be passing by…i didn’t hear anything or anyone…so, i called out…

is anyone there? i’m locked in here.

[i used a medium level tone/volume–i wasn’t fully committed to ‘sounding off’ in the silent world of pacem in terris]

all i heard in return was absolute silence…

i cursed under my breath again…and pumped myself up for the next round…thinking…

i’m gonna have to ‘get loud’.

so, this time…i took a deep breath…and then shouted and banged on the door…

no more peace.

no more quiet.

i went on for about 10 minutes, until he showed up…

he said: hello, in there.

i said: are you a hermit?!

he said: no, i’m the maintenance man.

i thought: praise Jesus!

i said: great, i’m locked in here can you help me out?

he said: yep.

he tinkered with the lock…for exactly one minute…then, it popped open!

i thanked him (enthusiastically).

not too long after that, i packed up my belongings and headed home…on the drive back i thought a lot about my time there…especially, the last little bit…

and one of the things i was reminded of is that God has a sense of humor…and that sometimes, we are so very serious about our lives, too serious…especially us religious folks–and especially, us christians…on that day, i was reminded of the importance of not taking ourselves too seriously…and that, while some things are indeed sacred–it’s important to laugh at ourselves once in a while…

regardless of what new, “unknowns” await us on the horizon…

beyond tradecraft

“you do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going…what you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”
― thomas merton

one of the toughest kids i ever worked with (he’s on my top 25 list of all-time toughies-coming in at #25) was a high school student i encountered at summer camp…the place was the outdoor lutheran camp called luther heights bible camp (mentioned in several previous posts) and the summer was 1995…

note: just because you’re working at a bible camp doesn’t mean all the kids you meet are angels 🙂

anyways, up until this point, my experiences working with kids included working one-on-one with an at-risk, elementary school student in an after school mentoring program (for two semesters in college) and coaching soccer at sports camps (for four summers)…i had not yet delved into the world of juvenile justice, church youth work, or teaching…

i was an apprentice…

at herding cats

and he was a master…

at defiance 

and he was in my cabin group for the week…meaning, i was his counselor for the week…so, i was responsible for leading him and about 12 other high school boys through each day at camp (at the same time, there were about seven or eight other on-site cabins filled with the same number of high school students and a counselor)…the days would include games, challenge activities, morning/evening worship (a super-scaled down version of what you might encounter at an elca lutheran church on a sunday morning–to this day, i still prefer it to the formal sunday church stuff;), hikes, an overnight, special interest activities, talent show, bible study, etc…

usually, high school week is one of the best weeks of the summer…i mean, you’ve got kids who you can reason with and have relatively serious conversations with…ones who get your jokes…and often, ones who are really engaging and give you hope for the future of the world at large;) …but, this week was a tough one for me…because of carl (his name has been changed for this story)…

and no one could predict or foresee what was to transpire…at the end of our week together (and beyond)…it was unimaginable…it was unbelievable…or, so i thought…

anyways…

right away, when he got to camp, he had a major attitude–especially with anyone in authority–which revealed itself in an edgy tone and (sometimes) harsh language…i got the feeling that he had come through some hard knocks…given this, carl took up most of my time and energy that week…it began on sunday afternoon (that’s when the kids arrived–the typical week went from sunday – friday)…and each day his demeanor seemed to get progressively worse…no matter what we were doing–he opposed it, was non-compliant…and worse, tried to get the other guys in the cabin to follow his lead and join his rebellion against me…interestingly, he was quite charismatic and had a bit of charm–(his face reminded me of a young leonardo dicaprio–i didn’t care for the young dicaprio much either;)…so, he had some influence among the other guys…which doubled-down on the challenges for the week…

funny thing–this was summer camp…about as far as you can get from the responsibilities of work or school or home…so much of what we did every day was really fun…and it was that fact that made the whole week together so much more exhausting…in retrospect, carl’s behavior was a lot like that of my 2 year-old son…who says ‘no’ to just about everything i tell him to do…even if it’s the most fun thing in the world…that’s exactly what carl said to me…’no, no, no, no, no’…for 16 waking hours a day for an entire week…

by mid-week, the rest of the staff knew what i was up against…there were a couple of instances when the program director (kt) met with him and he received consequences for his behaviors…but, he was undeterred…he kept coming…

and all i could think about was friday…when the week would be over…for me, it couldn’t come soon enough…

over the course of the week, my fellow counselors supported me the best they could and i tried to keep a positive attitude…and hang in there with him…but my resolve was fading…

he seemed unreachable…

then, thursday night arrived…

we came to the final evening worship of the week…the one that usually carries a little more weight, because it’s the last one of the week and the kids will leave the next morning…and go back home…

honestly, i don’t remember worship being anything special that night…that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was lacking in any major way–more likely, it was because i was lacking…i was fried-stick a fork in me, i’m done! 

so, worship came and went…and we were dismissed to our cabins…

as i was herding my group towards the trail that led to our cabin, i realized that carl was not with us…so, i looked back to the fire ring where we had been seated for worship…and i could see him in the firelight, sitting there, like a statue…my first thoughts were, what now?! are you serious?!  so, you’re gonna take it to the limit?!

quickly, i caught the attention of one of my fellow counselors (one who was on support staff and didn’t have a cabin that week–all of the counseling staff had to serve a rotation on support staff…where they would help with cleaning dishes, maintenance, meals, leading random games and activities, preparing campfires, etc) and asked him to take my guys back to our cabin…

i watched my guys head back up the trail for a moment, then i turned back to the fire ring…i took a deep breath and walked back to where carl was sitting…and sat down right next to him…

i asked him…

so, what’s going on?

there was a moment of silence…then, i heard him…

carl started crying…it was the full-on, shoulder-shaking kind…

so, i sat there…waiting…

after a while, he said…

i’m so sorry, i’m so sorry for the way i’ve been acting–for the way i treated you…all week…

[i couldn’t believe what i was hearing, i was floored]

after a moment, i said…

it’s alright, don’t worry about it…

we talked for a little while longer…and he gathered himself together…after a while, we headed back to the cabin…the next day, it was like he was a whole new kid…no attitude…we were good…except for the fact that i was in complete and total shock at what had happened…

later that morning…his ride came, we said ‘our goodbyes’ and he headed home…

i thought that was the end of the story…but, it wasn’t…

one year later…

i was walking through camp (i went back again, in the summer of 1996, for tour #2) when i heard someone call out my name…

hey, dett!

[since there was another dave working at camp they called me ‘dett’–short for my last name: dettmann]

in response, i turned around and was surprised to see a face i would never forget–it was carl…so, i spoke up in earnest…

hey, carl, how’s it going?!

we talked for several minutes, he was enthusiastic and positive…then, he said…

good to see you, dett…hey, i’ve got to go…got to get back to my campers…

i was confused by what he said, so i asked…

campers?! 

he responded with a smile and said…

yeah, i’m one of the counselors for my church group that’s up here this weekend…look, i gotta get back (some churches utilized the camp for their own programs at times during the summer-usually when we were running a smaller camp on-site–as was the case this weekend)…

immediately, he took off after his campers…and i stood there in the middle of the trail, dumbstruck…

to this day, i am still struck by what happened all those years ago…by the realization that while we can do great things in the world…sometimes, what happens is beyond anything we can do ourselves…or, beyond any special talent or skill we might have…sometimes, what happens is truly extraordinary…

so, in closing, i would like to share this poem with you…forwarded to me by my friend/pastor katie sanders…i think it comes the closest to capturing what this experience means to me…

a future not our own

[by ken untener]

it helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
the Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

we accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
no statement says all that could be said.
no prayer fully expresses our faith. no confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
no program accomplishes the church’s mission.
no set of goals and objectives include everything.

this is what we are about. we plant the seeds that one
day will grow. we water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
we lay foundations that will need further development.
we provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

we cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
this enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
it may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
we may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

we are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs.

we are prophets of a future not our own.

school prayer

as an american public high school teacher, i pray a lot…

i pray that i will be patient, i pray that i will be kind — to every student (and yes, i have to pray this prayer!), i pray that my students will hear me and understand what i’m talking about, i pray that my students will ‘make it’ and ‘survive their situations’…and occasionally, i pray that my day will end — sometimes, it goes like this…

dear Lord,

please let it stop…please, oh please, let this day end–right fuckin’ now!

amen.

i prayed this prayer regularly last semester (out of earshot of the students), often times when i was in the process of crumbling to the floor in the fetal position…no lie (see ‘hard lessons’ post:)

days, like these…when i’ve uttered prayers out of sheer desparation…are usually followed by multiple traffic violations …as i speed, like a bat out of hell, towards the nearest bottle of jack daniel’s…and then, i pray again…but, this time, it’s one of joy, thanksgiving and praise…

dear Lord,

thank you, for this bottle of jack d…

here’s to you…

amen.

[Jesus and jack daniel’s always get me throughheh, heh]

anyways, i digress…

despite all this, i don’t believe in public, ‘out loud’, demonstrative prayer in our public schools…and it’s not because i believe that students couldn’t benefit from some kind of spiritual time during their day, they could–no doubt…

but, my questions fall along ecumenical lines…

what prayers shall we pray in school? what meditations shall we do? shall we do the christian ones? i mean, i am a christian — so, i pray that way…well, what does that way even mean for a christian?  there are a thousand different types of christians out there and a thousand different types of christian prayers–there are even some christian prayers that might get you in some ‘hot water’ from other christians…i can hear their voices now…hey, that’s not the right kind of prayer to be praying in school, because it’s really not ‘christian-enough’, you know?

and hey, look, we haven’t even got to all the other great religions and faiths of the world…

at the end of the day, i guess i’m really glad that there are private schools out there, all kinds of ’em, that give people the option, the choice — to pray — if praying, intentionally & ‘out loud’, is something that they believe they should do in school…

peace be with you…

 

 

hot pursuit

i grew up in a lutheran family…we were church regulars (every sunday)…it was important for us, growing up…we would pray before dinner and at night before bed; we would talk about religion and faith (in addition to politics) at the dinner table…and my sister and i actively participated in “youth group” (monthly meetings for kids at church where we would do a variety of activities–some faith related and some not)…

but for me, when i was thirteen, the main reason why i got up and ready for church every sunday wasn’t for the love of Jesus–and it wasn’t to deepen my faith

it was because i thought the pastor’s daughter was ‘hot’

she was two years older than me and i had the biggest crush on her…so, every sunday…i really, really wanted to go to church–crazy, right?!  i wanted to, though, because…i hoped to catch a glimpse of her…a glimpse of beth is all i wanted…and sometimes i did see her there…when i did, my heart would start to beat a little faster and i would see (and hear) blue birds flying around and chirping (the cartoon version)…everywhere…zippity do da day…

and, i tried to get close to her and talk to her–i wasn’t subtle…

i was thirteen…

my motivations, my intentions had to be blatantly clear to everyone… including beth…in fact, anyone who saw my face on those sunday mornings knew what i was feeling, knew that i was love struck

to give you an idea of my mindset…let me take you to a prayer we used to recite at church (nearly) every sunday…the Apostle’s Creed…the opening line went like this…

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; 

my version went like this…

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and beth;

🙂

well, time went by…and beth and i became friends…nothing more, nothing less…it was an infatuation that came and went…though it took up a lot of my ‘mind time’ and focus at that point in my life…especially, on sundays…

years later, i realized that while i had been going to church…i really hadn’t ‘been there’ (fully)–at all…i had spent a lot of that time focused on the wrong things…not that relationships and romance aren’t great…they are…i am a hopeless romantic, after all…but, my heart and mind were always preoccupied…caught up in the ‘shiny object of a teenage crush’…

at the same time, i realized that as intensely as i was seeking out and pursuing beth…God was intensely seeking out and pursuing me…i was just too foolish to realize it then…still, God (through the Holy Spirit) was laying the foundation, working on me, whispering to me…and it stuck…a lot longer than what i had hoped for with beth…

but, it is a greater love, after all…

when i think back to that time, i think of an onion…and realize that, back then…when i was  at church or contemplating my faith…i was just living on the surface…enamored with the ‘surface things’ of life; the superficial and material world around me…over time, i began to see the layers, see what i was missing out on…

and, go deeper…

and, eventually, turn to and embrace the God that had been pursuing me for years…

that doesn’t mean that my gaze hasn’t faltered or my faith hasn’t wavered since that realization…it has happened, periodically, througout my life course…when it has, i find myself on surface again…apart from what’s really important…distracted by other shiny objects that come along (whether it is something from within, like my anxiety and fears…or something outside of myself, like my career, household projects, sports, media and entertainment, or other material pleasures and possessions)…

thankfully, God’s gaze does not falter, God’s faith does not waver…

God does not give up the chase, He continues the pursuit…the desire to know and love me…and the world…

i know this because it’s in these moments when He calls me ‘to go deeper’, to come back home (sometimes with a whisper, sometimes with a shout) and return to His loving embrace…

and, somehow, some way…i make my way back…

[and now, as parents, becks and i are passing on our faith to our kids…slow and steady like…because we know what that relationship means to us; how important it is in our lives…how it has and continues to transform and change the way we see and love people…and we want that for jack and grace…so maybe, just maybe…as they get older…they’ll see what’s below the surface, see the layers, see what they might be missing out on…and, go deeper…into the loving arms of God…who is relentlessly pursuing them (and has been doing so, since the day they were born)…]

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