Silent Too Long

Silent Too Long

i’ve been silent too long.

i’ve had a lot to say but i’ve been waiting for the perfect words. i’ve drafted the posts, reworked the wording again and again and again and again. and then i’ve deleted those posts time and time again before tapping “send”.

there’s a lot of reasons for that, but i’m coming to realize they’re all pretty much rooted in pride and selfishness.

i don’t want to be polarized. i don’t want to be misunderstood. i don’t want people to get the wrong idea. i don’t want them to think bad of me. i don’t want to be disliked and rejected.

and it seems that anything that is said these days within the race conversation does all of that and more, the minute you start engaging.

but no more.

no more!

shush

the legitimate hurt facing my friends and brothers and sisters in the black community is grievous to me. and what i now realize is that my silence has actually been speaking for me. my silence has put me in a camp. and it’s not the camp i want to be in.

like at the republican national convention last night.

trump walked out to queen’s song (without permission), giving the perception that the band was part of team trump.

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not so, and they were (rightfully) pissed.

by simply doing nothing and saying nothing, i have said something.

and i’m no longer ok with that.

to those in the black community who are hurting and grieving right now, i want you to know that i am hurting and grieving with you. i want you to know that i recognize that you live with a reality i personally have never had to face in my lifetime. and i want you to know that you do not stand alone right now.
i want you to know that i do not believe we need to just get back to normal, as one politician recently said. normal got us to where we are today. we need to create and carve out and slug out a new normal.

a new normal that gets us all honest about prejudice and preference.

a new normal that attacks and dismantles the implicit racial bias we all experience, whether we know it or not.

a new normal that allows us the freedom to converse without being polarized.

a new normal that somehow brings us to true equality and freedom, the mutual respect and dignity that all humans have been given by their creator.

a new normal that genuinely celebrates and embraces the many different cultures within our communities.

i’m sorry for the silence.

no more.

#blacklivesmatter

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Today We Groan

the world we walk and the air we breathe today is not what was intended. this was not the reality God envisioned for us when he created this place. we groan from the depths of our being for the day when all things will be restored, when all tears will be wiped away, all injustice and all oppression silenced.

today we groan

i consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 

for the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

for the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 

we know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 

not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 

for in this hope we were saved. but hope that is seen is no hope at all. who hopes for what they already have? 

but if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

 

Lead With Grace Before Articulating Truth

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

I heard a talk this morning that so resonated with a lot of my thinking and feeling lately on many issues facing our culture. You can check it out here.
In the talk, Michael Lindsay quoted Timothy George (Dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University), as follows:

“John is such a careful writer that the order of those words [grace and truth] really mattered. I believe that Jesus’ ministry was one in which people came to encounter the GRACE of Christ before they could appreciate the TRUTH he had to offer.”

Wow.

One of the things that burns me up inside is this idea that we in the Christian community have to run towards the brokenness in our culture and shout the truth that we have personally come to realize, without first adequately communicating grace. We have burned many bridges in this process over the years. Bridges of ministry that no longer exist with many individuals, people, families, and entire communities.

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If we want to make a difference in this world, we need to learn to lead with grace before articulating truth.

The Lesson I Learned When My Son Wouldn’t Fall Asleep

last night was supposed to be a night where i got caught up. or, at the very least, it was supposed to be a night where several items on my “get it done or you’re screwed” list got checked off.
a little background: bedtime routines for us have been a tad difficult lately. they seem to last longer than they should and the stall techniques coming out of our 3 year old right now are impressive. i swear sometimes it feels like she’s collaborating with her little 3-year-old friends at MOPS on how to outsmart me after 8pm.
but for some reason… and we’re still trying to figure this out… adelina decided to put herself to bed last night. and quite a bit earlier at that. once we discovered that she was already out and sound asleep, and after we got over the shock of it all, shanna and i agreed i’d put cooper down while she went to Starbucks to enjoy some downtime without the kids. he’s the easy one at bedtime right now. piece of cake.

this was a very rare night, and i was very excited.

[now hold on – don’t judge…]
if you have little kids in your house, you know that you can love them to infinity and back and enjoy spending hours upon hours upon hours with them. in fact when you’re at work away from them you crave that time with them more than anything. but at the same time, stuff has to still get done. the reality is that having little kids means there’s MORE to do and LESS time to do it in. so, on those rare nights when the kids happen to go to bed early, there’s a party happening inside you.
[thanks for letting me clear that up.]
as i was saying, this was supposed to be the night to get crap done.

except it wasn’t.

he wasn’t going down. it was like someone slipped about 54 coffee beans in his apple juice. i sang. i rocked him. i cranked the sound machine up. but the stinkin kid just wanted to smile, laugh, and show me how many things he could climb.

i should have seen this time with him as an opportunity.

an opportunity…
…to connect together with no one else to distract
…to play legos
…to listen to him jabber and watch him learn
…to shape his character
…to influence his heart
…to love more deeply
but i didn’t see it that way in the moment.

i saw him as an obstacle, not an opportunity.

i didn’t engage or interact with him; i kept him from getting into my stuff. i didn’t sit on his level; i sat on mine. i didn’t see it as an opportunity to connect deeper than normal, but as an obstacle to get around.
finally, about an hour and a half later, as i’m finally rocking him to sleep for real, it all hit me.

i don’t want to treat people like obstacles.

i definitely don’t want to treat my family as obstacles.
i want to see every person i interact with, whether it’s planned or whether it’s spontaneous, as an opportunity. if they’re on my calendar, it’s certainly easier to do this… but what about the people that just “drop by”?
i guess the thing i’m thinking today is this: maybe God allows certain people to interrupt our plans because he knew we wouldn’t ever “plan” to connect with them on our own. will we see them as a person to love on and build into simply because they’re there, or will we see them as an obstacle to get around so we can get back to our list?

Dinner Table Game: Good Choice, Bad Choice

yesterday i talked about how we’re trying to make dinner a meaningful point of connection for our family. with little kids that leak everywhere and spill almost everything, it’s easy to find our focus during the entire meal zeroed in on keeping every kid in their seat and every piece of food heading in the right direction.
so how do we make it meaningful?
here’s something we’ve been trying lately that’s been working for us:
kids love games. so we made one up.
(really, it’s just 2 questions that we all ask each other… but since we called it a game, that’s what adelina thinks it is.)
the rules of this “game” are quite simple:
  1. everyone has to answer.
  2. and everyone has to be honest.

when it’s your turn, you have to share one BAD choice you made that day, and then you have to share one GOOD choice you made that day.

 

shanna has been really great about helping our kids focus on choices as either good or bad. we’ve been trying to avoid referring to people and ourselves as good or bad (the theological component of that will come later when they’re older), but rather, as people who either made a good choice or a bad choice, at a point in time.
on top of that, it’s important for our kids to see that we as parents blow it too from time to time. every day actually. and there is something powerful in the faith development of children and teens when they know they’re being led by people who are real and transparent about their shortcomings.

let’s face it… we all know they know we’re not perfect. and us telling them isn’t giving them license to do it, if it’s framed and explained in the right way.

these 2 simple questions have given us many great in-roads to celebrating and praising good behavior, as well as conversations (without being in the heat of the moment) where we can explain why certain behaviors are bad and not something we want to continue. some nights, apologies are given and moods are turned completely around.
what do you do around your table to make the conversation meaningful? i’d love to hear what’s working for you in the comments!

Becoming People of the Table

as a family we try to eat dinner at the table most nights. but if you think for a minute we’re batting a hundred at that each week, you’re quite wrong. some nights the table is too full of junk-that-needs-a-home, and it’s easier to just eat in the living room while watching one of our favorite shows. other nights the schedule just doesn’t allow for it. but, it’s something we’re aiming for and a strike in the “win” column when it happens.
both shanna and i were fortunate to grow up with great memories from times around the dinner table as a family. spontaneous laughter, conversations about faith, and moments of realness were all things we came to expect over the years. of course, the meals often included emotions as thick as the meatloaf in front of us, and there were many nights where we couldn’t wait to get out of each other’s presence and back to our own little corners of the house. in our hurried lives, especially with 2 little ones right now, the dinner table is becoming for us an important point of reconnection.
the mess is another story…

cooper mess

tomorrow i’ll share a simple game we’ve been playing at the table lately to keep the conversation real.

A New Voice On This Blog

my wife – shanna – is incredible, and she has a ton of great stuff to share. we’ve been talking for a while about trying to get a blog up for her to get some of that out, but figured it’d be more fun to write together on here.

so…

you should soon start seeing some content from her, right here on toomuchstarbucks.com!

when you see her posts, you won’t be able to like it, share it, and comment quick enough.

but please try your best.

there are moments where you feel greatness approaching, and for this little blog, an announcement like this puts us in that category.

i’m pumped… stay tuned!

The One Thing I (Almost) Always Pray For Each Night

with 2 kids under age 4, every evening is an ordeal getting the packages securely into bed. we would love to be the parents with always-consistent-routines and self-discipline that never allows for deviations, but those kinds of nights rarely happen for us. most nights, shanna and i look at each other and without words say “i don’t care how you do it, just get this one into bed, and get them into bed quick.” to be honest, many nights we feel like a struggling high school football team just trying to get something on the scoreboard… it doesn’t have to be pretty, just get the ball across the goal line.

whether they brushed their teeth or not, whether i remembered to change his diaper or get her in pajamas, whether they got  2 songs and a story or neither… i try really hard to be consistent with one thing: i try to always pray in front of them before they go to sleep.

the prayer changes from day to day. often we thank God for something we got to experience during the day, or someone we got to share some time with. we sometimes pray for the people we plan to interact with tomorrow, and we even include knock-knock jokes from time to time to see if Jesus will laugh. most everything we pray about changes from one night to the next, but there’s one thing that almost always stays the same. 

with rare exceptions, i pray every night that my kids grow up walking closely with Jesus.

Watch-and-pray

here’s what i know: as parents, we all have dreams for our kids.

and none of them are bad…

  • we want them to be successful,
  • and athletic,
  • and musical,
  • and good looking,
  • with good people skills,
  • and a hard work-ethic.
  • we want them to have just enough self-esteem,
  • but not too much arrogance.
  • we want them to have good jobs,
  • have good friends,
  • be good friends,
  • have a sense of humor,
  • get good grades,
  • go to a good college,
  • and go there with a full scholarship.
  • we want them to not be interested in dating until they’re 30,
  • and eventually marry the right person (that we select ourselves),
  • avoiding every form of pain and hardship,
  • and be self-sufficient enough to support us in our later years.

but to me, the most important thing – more important than anything on the list above – is simply that they get to a point where they understand that life only makes sense through an authentic relationship with Jesus, and that that relationship isn’t the side show in their life, or the thing they do on the weekend, but that it is the life-blood of everything they are.

maybe it’s because pastor’s kids get it rough, and many times come out the other end jaded by the church. and maybe i’m paranoid that my own kids will someday interpret what i do for a living as a job rather than a calling. but i just want them to know the Jesus i know, not because they “inherited” this faith or because they want to please their parents, but because they honestly searched it out themselves and came to the same conclusion that i did one day.

there are many things down the road that will affect this dream, for better or for worse, and more of it is out of my control than i’d like to admit. but i can pray about it. and i can pray about it every night.

Take Your First Step Today Towards Freedom

I’m such a fan of XXXChurch and I lead one of their x3groups every week. If you’re a man or woman looking to get free from porn, jump in now! This offer is good until the end of October.

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4 Thoughts on Balancing Work and Family

a perfect balance between work and family: the ideal we’re all longing to someday experience, while secretly questioning if it’s even attainable. some say it’s a myth… and, while i’m not sure i’d go that far yet, i do think we at least have a goal to shoot for.

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here are 4 thoughts on balancing work and family that i hope can add value to the discussion.

1. we have an opportunity to lead up here.

balancing work and family is generally not something senior leaders are great at. they’re fantastic at setting the bar in so many other areas, but this is usually not one of the strong ones. if you’re in any role in your organization other than the top dog, this is likely one of your best opportunities to lead up and set the example. over the course of time, as your colleagues become more fatigued and burnt out, you’ll seem refreshed and renewed on a continual basis. the change will be evident, and your influence will be noticed.

2. busyness doesn’t mean success; busyness means brokenness.

why are our to do lists always so full? why do we always have to bring our kids 4 different places in the same night? why do we rarely eat dinner together at the table anymore? why do we have to make that presentation not just adequate, but over the top? why do we feel we can’t leave the office when we promised we would? why can we not give ourselves a day off from the gym every now and then?

when we honestly dig into these questions, i think what we end up uncovering is often pretty dark. it’s incredible how much insecurity drives our behaviors and actions. we try to prove our value and worth by our achievements and accomplishments.

this is brokenness.

the nice thing about brokenness, though, is that someone else came to fix it. jesus came to give us worth and value. we don’t have to keep trying to earn it.

3. God calls those who won’t work “lazy”, but those who won’t rest “disobedient“.

thank you, perry noble, for this line.

how soon we forget that the sabbath (a 24 hour period of intentional rest, every 7 days) was one of the 10 commandments. it seems pretty significant to be included in God’s top 10 list. if you think of it, there’s a lot of details to consider when putting up parameters on human interaction, and yet God made sure this was one of them.

if we truly observed this ancient practice of sabbath, i think this discussion on balance wouldn’t come up quite so much.

4. it takes strong accountability to keep a temporary season from becoming a permanent situation.

we all have busy seasons where our engines have to hit some higher rpm’s than normal. the problem comes when the season turns into something longer. do we have people who regularly hold us accountable as we try to phase out of a series of red-lining weeks?

the perfect balance between work and family may not ever be truly found and perfectly sustained, but we can move towards it and stay closer in it with some intentionality.

what else would you add to this list?