Bigger Joys

This past weekend, on a creative whim, I decided to head to the beach to photograph the sunset.  I had noticed some gorgeous sunsets in a perfectly clear sky over the last few days and decided I needed to document at least one of them.

 

I hopped in my car and headed to the beach and noticed just how cloudy it was getting.  I walked down to the shore and saw this:

 

 

 

It was more dreary than I expected.  I thought the cloud cover would block any good light and the trip would be a bust.  But, I decided to stick around - just in case.

 

After a few minutes, I was struck by the beauty of the sun peaking through the pylons of Huntington Beach pier:

 

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Musings on Dating


So one thing I’ve shied away from discussing on this blog are my experiences with dating.  When I was going through my separation from my wife, I made a conscious effort to not  date, or even really allow myself to consider who I would date if the opportunity arose.  My heart was on saving my marriage, and dating would just complicate things more.  Even when it was clear we weren’t going to reconcile, I refrained from dating.  To finalize our divorce, we had to sign paperwork and then wait for 6 months.  I used that 6 month period as a transition - praying honestly for a marriage revival miracle, but also preparing my heart for a transition back into the life of a single man back in the dating world.  

 

I’ve got to tell you - it was scary.  I was never much of a dater in high school.

Mysterious Ways

Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things you can’t explain
To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky 
Better learn how to kneel
- U2’s “Mysterious Ways”

A couple Sundays ago, I was walking into the 9 am service at my church (I typically think of the 9 am service as the “grown up” service, because the people that go to that service no longer care about sleeping in.  Since I’ve turned 30, I’ve become “those people”.  I’m also contemplating taking a bus to work periodically.  I think this is my mid-life crisis.), minding my own business, saying hi to some friends, and looking forward to being just another “seat filler” for the service.  (I spent my time doing some ministry work earlier this summer, I was ready to just sit back and hear about God!  Cut a 30-year old some slack, okay?)

My Conversion Story

It dawned on me the other day that I haven’t really shared my conversion story.  In the circles I run in, it’s a pretty common question to ask - everyone has one, but everyone is different.  Mine is a pretty standard story - some seeds were planted when I was young, a variety of people and experiences broadened by awareness along the way, and eventually understanding dawned on me and I considered myself a believer.  After the conversion, I sought out others with like mind in order to bolster my own understanding, and began to equip myself with the proper conversations in order to convert others to my way of understanding.  I share the story of my own conversion here, in the hopes that others may also be inspired to see the light.

As a child, my parents made a point of broadening my horizons and encouraging me to try new things.  I was a pretty shy kid, but at some point my parents decided to take me to a weekend activity popular with many families in the area - AYSO soccer. Next thing I knew, I was signed up in the league and practicing a couple times a week for our Saturday morning games.  I was hesitant at first, but eventually came to enjoy playing soccer with my friends.  After a couple years of playing, I even gained a decent understanding of the game.  After a while though, other distractions entered my life and my love affair with soccer - tentative at best - slowly dwindled.  

New Endings and Old Beginnings

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I didn’t mean to take a hiatus from blogging. It sort of just...happened. Kind of like how becoming the foursquare mayor of your local McDonald’s and Chipotle just…happens. You don’t set out to become the mayor but a conflux of proximity, deliciousness, and competitiveness converge and suddenly you find yourself making a point to eat there simply so you can “win”. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go visit www.foursquare.com. You’ll either instantly get it or instantly hate it. You can probably guess which side of the spectrum I’m on.)

Anyway, my hiatus evolved as I began wrapping up some projects I’ve been involved with over the last couple years - the most important of which was my Master’s Degree.

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Overcoming Family

I love my family.  I have two loving, supportive parents who have been married for over 40 years.  I have two older siblings, two older sibling-in-laws, a beautiful niece, and four rambunctious nephews (five, when you include my step-nephew).  We’re blessed enough to live within 20 minutes of each other - and even though we don’t see each other nearly as much as we should (given our proximity!), our family gatherings are fun, rowdy, stressful, and entertaining.  (This is where I should mention that my niece is 9, two of my nephews are 8, and the other two are 5ish.  That’s a LOT of kid energy!).

Growing up, our family dynamic was slightly different than most - I’m the youngest kid by nearly 9 years. My experience of growing up was a hybrid of being the “baby” in the family, while also feeling like the only child - since my older siblings were grown up and in college by the time I was entering 4th grade.  The glue holding us together though, were my folks.  Married young, my parents had a couple decades of marriage under the belt when I came on to the scene.  Though they certainly had their ups and downs, they stuck things out (and still do!) and I’ve witnessed their marriage grow and flourish because of it.

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Effective Friends

Last week, I met up with my close friend Josh for an impromptu dinner at Wingnuts (highly recommend the Blue Cheese Buffalo Burger, by the way).  Josh and I have been friends for nearly a decade, and have known each other even longer than that.  He stood by my side as I said my marriage vows, and I returned the favor last February when he married his beautiful wife.  


In between those two weddings is a story of a derailed friendship, a divorce, a reconciliation, and a redemption.  For reasons that only became clear after years of reflection, Josh and I ceased to be friends about a year after I was married.  Neither of us could articulate the reasons at the time, and even now that we can, they seem minor and petty.  But the reality is by the time my marriage fell apart, Josh was not the one I called for support and counseling.  Eventually, we did reconnect and over time rebuilt our friendship, learning to provide the support and encouragement both of us needed.  

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Celebrate The Day

One of my responsibilities as a blogger is to start dialogue and conversation on controversial topics.  In order to effectively set up these conversations, it is important that I remain truthful, open, and honest.  In that spirit, I have a two confessions to make.  Here’s the first:  I am a choir boy.  

 

When I was in elementary school, my music teacher, Mrs. Neidringhaus (who, coincidentally, just became my Facebook friend last week), suggested I join a local professional boys choir, The All American Boys Chorus.  Lured by the promise of international travel and missed school days, I auditioned.  I was never really a singer before that moment, but that started a new journey for me as a chorister. 

 

AABC Group Photo 

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Listening To The Writer

I haven’t written in a while.  In fact, a good friend and regular reader, pointed out that it has been nearly a month since my last post.  I must admit, until I received her email, I didn’t realize that much time had slipped by.  If I was too busy to post before her email, there was no hope of me posting when her email came through - it arrived in the midst of one of my busiest weeks in a while.  I’ve had long hours at work, a one-day weekend  and events stretching me past the 10:00 pm mark every night.  

 

As my week progressed, my “to-do” list for the upcoming weekend grew.  When your life is always “go, go, go”, even looking forward to knocking out the lesser priorities on a day off or two takes on an appealing aura of relaxation.  I fell asleep last night with grand plans of sleeping in (I was exhausted after all!) and then running errands.  God, it seems, had other plans for me, and it started with a headache.

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The Thick of Pain

 

In church a few weeks ago, my pastor talked about what happens when a person dies within a Jewish community.  The friends and family of those left behind travel to the grieving’s house and simply sit with them.  They don’t make pat comments, they don’t swoop in and try to fix everything, and they don’t come in armed with an array of distractions.  They respect their grief and just sit in silence.  

 

Earlier today, I was watching the movie “Sunshine Cleaning” - a story about two sisters that form a bio-hazard clean up business, cleaning up the messes often left behind when people die.  In one poignant scene, they arrive at a house and find the frazzled widow waiting to give them the house keys.  Amy Adams’ character senses the grief of this old stranger and offers to simply sit with her. She reaches over and clasps the old woman’s hand - just as I imagine occurs in those grieving Jewish homes.  

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About
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things. I'm no relationship expert, but when my marriage fell apart, God's grace was extended through His community. This is the place to explore that community together.


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