The Night We Lost Our Marbles

For a good number of my younger years I spent Christmas Eve in the chilly backwater parts of Tijuana, Mexico.

I was part of a group of young people who volunteered to bring Christmas joy to a group of disheveled kids at a dirt-poor orphanage. (Note: as in many countries, an orphanage is simply a term for the place you stick unwanted kids, few there were true orphans.)

We lived a mere twenty minutes from the border so it was easy to pack up a fine Christmas dinner of hot dogs, chips and cold sodas (a treat these kids never got tired of) and get to the orphanage while the dogs were still hot.

Of course we would also load our vans with sacks of donated gifts and as we buzzed through the tourist zone of Tijuana we would snatch a huge piñata and pack it with goodies while bouncing on the rough dirt roads that webbed the back hills.

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Fourth Consideration: Food.

My holiday meals have been described as "foo-foo."  Our brussel sprouts with blue cheese and bacon, two kinds of stuffing, a brined organic turkey.  The triumph was last year's Thanksgiving - making 13 dishes from scratch.  It was a far cry from Stoffer's stuffing and green bean casserole.

I don't say this to alienate, segregate, or manipulate.  We cook this way because first and foremost, I have a soy intollerence, and almost every preservative laden food has soy in it.  If I chose the convenient way, I would be sick almost every day. It's amazing how for so long I chose to live with a stomach ache thinking it was normal.  Secondly, the food made with our hands just tastes better.  As declared on Facebook last night - I'm obsessed with cauliflower.  I used to hate it, but people like Molly Wizenberg taught me how to caramelize it ... there is no going back to ranch dip and dried out veggie trays.

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Requiem for A Hero

This morning I received the news that my friend, Roger Ridley, died in Perth, Australia. Roger is survived by a wonderful woman in Gaynor, and three loving children. All are now grown and making their way to Perth for the service.

Roger and I first met in Germany years ago. We met because his daughter knew us through mutual friends while on vacation. I was being video/web broadcast around the planet for a talk I was doing on strategy, postmodernity, and church planting.  Roger and Gaynor were there and we had a brief conversation afterward.

About a year later, I'm in my apartment in Dornbirn when the phone rang. "Derek, it's Roger!" came an enthusiastic voice through the line. "Roger, who?" I replied. "Roger, in Australia," he said. 

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Third Consideration: The Christmas Letter

Sarah Ban Breathnach writes, “There is a woman still at large – charmed and dangerous. She waves her clever hand over a room and it looks like a page from House Beautiful. She waves her creative hand over the fruits of the earth and a feast appears nightly. Her thumb is green, her herb vinegar is curing, her potpourri recipe is sought, her PTA cupcakes are from scratch, her Halloween costumes are legendary, she still wears size 8. Her celebrity lawyer husband adores her, her five summa cum children think she’s laude. She finished her holiday shopping, wrapping, and sending in November. Now she’s turning her attention to making her own New Year’s Eve confetti out of naturally colored eggshells. I know this because I’ve just received her annual Christmas letter. Be forewarned. It’s speeding its way to your house.”

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Friendsgiving

In June of 93’ my life took a turn. I graduated from the eighth grade that June 17th. As the ceremony ended, my silly Jr. High friends attacked me with hugs and goodbyes. When the goodbyes ended, I piled into my parents car and my family left our home in southern California and moved to Fresno that day.

The move that summer was a big adjustment on not just me, but on my parents and my brothers as well. I’d like to think I assimilated just fine but that’d statement would make my nose grow.

It was tough. In southern California I had my extended family and friends within a bike ride’s distant. In Fresno, I was a decent four-hour drive away. In southern California I enjoyed a consistent 70 something degree-day just about year round. Fresno, however, has its extremes.

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Seargent Pepper Told the Band to Play

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary.

I married at a beautiful 21 year old girl when I was just 19 and we are still married today. In Hollywood years, we're the equivalent of Methuselah. I've spent more than half my life hitched.

As I look back and reflect, I realize how incredibly blessed I am. I dated a lot of girls and had a completely different version of the "girl I'm going to marry" in my imagination at that time. I think I was aiming for combination of Julie Andrews and the girl from that "Cherry Pie" video...but in a Christian version.

What I wound up with was surprising and beyond my wildest imagination.

I married a girl who twenty years later still surprises and interests me. I married someone with whom we don't need kids or context to talk.  (We know everything there is to know about the other person, and still enjoy each other's company). I married a beautiful girl who loves me. She's gives me unparalleled support, encouragement, and patience.

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The time of my life

Time is something we all have in common. We spend it constantly - more than money, emotions, or fuel.  Some use it more wisely, while others throw caution to the wind, throwing it around like it is an inexhaustible resource.

My new year's resolution for 2011 was to let time be time -- to not arrive at the beginning of every month with a worried greeting of, "How in the heck did you get here?" The visitor of next month is one whose impending arrival I always anticipate, but it seems to become a more anxiety-filled journey as the year wanes on.  It feels like sand just slipping through my tightened grip.

This resolution has probably been the only one I have every kept.  As I was slightly caught off guard each month when March 28, July 30 or today rolled around, a gentle nudge caused me to pause and think, "Well, what did you expect? This is time; it's the same time amount you have been given every year and here we are on the precipice of November 2011.  It's happened before; it will happen again."  Okay. And I'm okay, I remind myself as I move through the hours before me.

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"Inspired By Tozer"

Just unwrapped an advance copy of "Inspired by Tozer," officially releasing by Regal November 1st. I'm honored to be a contributor...so much quality content packed into these pages. For all Tozer fans, or those wanting a creative push toward God, here's my November recommendation.

Can God Use an Internet Dating Website to Find You a Spouse?

Dumb question.

If the God of creation--the great Hebrew Yahweh who transcends time and eternity--can redeem my immortal soul from sin, I’m sure he can arrange for you to find a mate from the privacy of your own bedroom while you’re dressed in your 1996 sweat pants. 

Surely he can. 

But does He? 

In order to find out, I might need to examine the issue a bit more. If I were to follow the injudicious punctuation of actual Christian dating sites (It’s fast, fun, and FREE! . . . God’s will is waiting!!! . . . At Christian Date we believe in love before money!), I would surely discover that the ratio of members to actual hook-ups corresponds to the number of exclamation marks in their marketing campaigns. But I don’t think God cares much about punctuation.

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Just sit you silly

“I can see it, it’s just that my feet feel like lead.”

“Are you tired?”

I am on the phone with my spiritual director.  We are working with a vision where I’m trying to get up a hill – to a house – a house where I feel so safe and like there is no other place I belong but there.  However, I can’t get there.

Am I tired?

I look at all I need to accomplish in the next six months and I feel a tad bit overwhelmed, but I am not tired… yet.

I see my younger self up the hill beckoning me to come to her.  She is full of energy and charisma.  Her hands are waving wildly as she doesn’t understand what is taking me so long to get up the dang hill.

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