Cambridge, England

When I was a student, living in the United Kingdom, I was asked by a family friend to track down the gravesite of one of their relatives. The site was located in the World War II cemetery, right outside Cambridge, England.

After an hour or so, I found the site. I then knelt down and took a photograph, so that I could send the photo to the family friend (for which they were grateful). But, as I was kneeling in front of this site, I paused to look and up and suddenly noticed that I was kneeling amidst a sea of white crosses, all with someone's name on them, and all a reminder that sometimes loved ones sacrifice their life for kin and for country.

You may not think of visiting a cemetery, if you happen to be in England, but every single name is connected to another name that is not known and not written on the gravesite. In other words, someone lost and someone loved and often it's a both/and. When we love, we will get hurt. Why? Because real love gets dirty and messy and under one's skin. And that visit to the cemetery remains a vivid memory because part of it got to me.

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That Important...but Invisible Line

A good friend of mine is the top dog in an outfit that does incredibly good things for the poor wo try to survive in the dusty folds just across our borders. He lives very modestly and drives a used four-wheel drive SUV as is apt for a mission ministry that survives off of the generosity and sacrifice of others.

A life long bachelor, he has given his years to God’s service and the needs of the poor, and as such, has deeply inspired many. So much so that one day a wealthy supporter pulled him aside and handed him the keys to fancy sports car.

“This is for you” he said, “If anyone deserves it, you do”.

For several months my friend drove this gift around, marveling at its speed, handling and luxury.

But the whole time there was a queasy feeling in his gut.

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Locks of Love to Give

Last year a friend from church shared that her 8-year-old niece, Avery, was once again fighting leukemia. That evening, as I shared it with Mark, our then 7-year-old daughter, Anastasia, overheard us. Even though she didn’t know this little girl, she was very concerned - it was someone her age.

Part of me want to change the topic and shelter Anastasia from the fear of children and cancer but a stronger side felt the need to address it and answer her questions, so we did.

Later that night she wanted to pray for my friend’s niece. When we were done she was quiet in thought and then asked, “Will she lose her hair?”

“She already has honey, but I hear she’s about to get a wig.” This opened a flurry of more questions as I explained how people grow out their hair and donate it to be made into wigs.

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American Idolatry

The fact that we have a television show called American Idol is a bit of an indication that we don’t really know what an idol is – or what our attitude toward one ought to be.

I will confess, I am sufficiently behind the pop-culture curve that I have never actually watched American Idol, but because I do not live under a rock, I am familiar with what the show is about, and how it works. (Call it cultural osmosis.) As far as I can tell, it’s a harmless and entertaining show.

I do find the name interesting, however. American Idol. Who will be the next Idol? Lots of people want to be an idol – and millions more are eagerly waiting to find out whom they will idolize next.

But what really is an idol?

An idol is anything that we worship other than the one true and living God.

Baby Steps

I love-hate the old 90's film, "What About Bob." Every time I watch it, I laugh out loud, mostly in a nervous, really uncomfortable, I'm-not-sure-what-else-to-do, kind of way. The character,"Bob," is horrifically neurotic. He has OCD to the nth degree. He won't touch anything without cleaning it and his fears and hang-ups outnumber even the most terrified cartoon character. His only salvation, his only pathway through the bog of his own psychosis, is a pop psychologist who has penned a trite self-help book called "Baby Steps." Bob, like a desperate leech, latches on to the concept and begins to see improvement. He can suddenly take elevators by taking one baby step at a time. He can walk out of his living room because all he has to do is take one step, and then another step. Bob's obsession with the book leads to more uncomfortable, neurotic humor and the audience can chuckle because the scenario is just too absurd to be real. WE are not that crazy. WE obviously have better boundaries. We don't need to take baby steps. Right? RIGHT????

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This morning, I followed my normal pre-work routine.  My alarm rang at 6:45.  I climbed out of bed to turn it off.  I climbed back into bed until the snooze alarm sounded.  I turned that off too, and climbed into bed again.  Finally, after thirty minutes of this game, I was ready to truly get up and face the world.  (Why I can’t just set my alarm thirty minutes later and sleep I’ll never know.)

Next, I journeyed to the bathroom for the morning ritual:  shower, shave, brush my hair (even though I buzz my hair), brush my teeth.  I got dressed, headed to the kitchen and poured myself a bowl of cereal.  I then embarked on a ritual I’ve had in some form or fashion since I was eight - I saw down and read the paper.  

When I was eight, I would literally spend 20 minutes combing through the local paper - skimming articles, checking out the day’s news, reading the funnies.  Nowadays, I migrate back to my computer and skim through the news stories on the website of the local paper.  If I have time, I’ll pop over to a few favorite sites or blogs that are on my newsfeed.  

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