while thinking on thanks

I wish I could say that this has been a tough fall and not feel conceited, lazy, or inexperienced in dealing with suffering.

This fall has been tough in non-persevering, non-suffering, non-trying ways. It's just been gray and chaotic. Like the sky before an autumn storm. I've been anticipating a storm that hasn't come in full force. I'm wearied from expectation.

The trouble with my troubles is that they are the troubles of will and spirit. They aren't concrete. They are in the upper echelon of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which feels like something that should be celebrated. And yet, I simply want to throw the contents of my office, my closet, my cupboard onto the sidewalk and stroll away, never glancing backward.

Can I be thankful and disdainful? Can I be thankful through abandon? Can I be thankful and turn away?


sometimes, i write to myself.

I write a weekly message to the leaders in our Sunday School program at church. It connects to the weekly theme and story. More often than not, I write it to myself. I write it to pick my melted self off of the floor and to tell myself that there is greater, deeper, better hope.

Here's this week's, based on Joshua 3:1-4:24 where the Israelites cross the Jordan River into Canaan:

Thanksgiving is a verb, an action, a movement. It’s more than a day. Certainly, we get together and partake in whatever family or friends traditions we have. Some eat Chinese food, some watch 2948 hours of football, some have pie making competitions (I’m coming to your house). Yet, at the core, our activities are centered on things that we are thankful for. This can be difficult at the end of a year filled with lost jobs, sick friends, lost sanity, and a whole lot of rain that just seems to aggravate the malaise.
Our young people aren’t oblivious to these troubles. They know when the adults in their life are hurting. They know when we are wandering around in a proverbial desert waiting for God to show us the river to cross. God acted mightily in the lives of Joshua and the Israelites. He dammed up a river and they walked across. Finally, their wandering was coming to a miraculous end. Tomorrow, when we wake up, this life will not change. And yet our response can change. We can look forward in life at the malaise and see the miraculous promise in the end. We can see forgiveness, healing and meaning in Christ. Our joy is independent of our sorrow and circumstance. For that we give thanks and build our 12 stone altars.



You wake wanting to scream, but somehow you don't.

You lay in silence, a bit awed at the exhaustion from running through unknown European back alleys.

You stare blankly, upwardly, afraid that the person you grieved has actually passed.

You toss, scanning quickly the darker corners of your room, ensuring that the blackened silhouette is just a lamp.

And then you wait for the nightmare to become real or to reveal itself as less than. Sometimes wide-eyed. Sometimes in dreams.