Random Thoughts for the Weekend

1. Grace laughs at the law with head thrown completely back and ribs grabbed.

2. Yesterday at work, I got to talking to a guy about books. And we talked poetry a little. And it was the best day at work ever.

3. There have been a number of articles lately about the things people say to pastors. And things you shouldn’t say to pastors. Ways pastors are criticized. One article was about how it hurts Pastors when people leave. 

I’ve now been on both sides of this coin. Can I write an article of what pastors should never say or do? It all seems a silencing. What would I love to hear from pastors? Posts asking for feedback with a chest behind that can handle it.

4. I listen to Ryan Adams a lot. And one of the reasons is how absolutely at odds his personality is with his songs. He is a foul-mouthed, pinball playing, comic book reading, silly boy-man. And he writes songs with incredible melodies and lyrics that rival some of the best modern poetry for beauty and insight into the human condition.

5. Last night we spent an evening laughing and eating and drinking with our best friends. We talked of our joys, our hurts, and we laughed at ourselves till we hurt. Each couple brings a dish. We get together every month at least once a month. But we try for more. We have a group text that we live on that’s been going for years. It’s full of inside jokes, prayer requests and plans for time together. It’s used every single day. We care about each other’s kids like our own.

No “small group” could compete.

6. My Ray Charles records are treasures. Found cheap and listened to more than any others.

7. My love for BBQ is without boundary.

8. Fear adds complexity.

9. One of the things that surprised me while working in the bank is how much people eat out. And how much money they spend doing it. And how they complain about not making enough money.

10. Last night while at our friend’s I looked over and watched my wife sit and talk and laugh in all her beauty and thanked God for such a gift. Her laughter is better than gold.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. I dreamed last night that I preordered Marilynne Robinson’s book of poetry.

The only problem is she doesn’t have one coming out.

2. I’ve worked three days at my new job and I haven’t needed to listen any angry music with bad words on the way home.

3. There is no place in Christendom for snobbery about coffee, beer, or whatever.

4. Yesterday I sat with a lady at her desk as part of my training and on her desk was a copy of Homer’s The Odyssey. That would have never happened in the branch.

5. I looked at the mobile versions of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox News and could find nothing on the newest Planned Parenthood video, even though it features a live baby killed for its brain.

6. When you do violence to words, you can expect violence against people.

7. I’ve been reading this huge book of interviews of the poet Seamus Heaney. At the same time I’m reading a book of Wendell Berry’s poems. Early on the two were similar. But fame changed one of them.

8. I wish my middle son liked school more because I remember disliking every single day.

9. There’s a lot of laughter at my new job. I hope I never minimize that.

10. Missy’s homemade pizza with Supper Club.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


  1. Yesterday was a hard day. Bittersweet. I was so glad to say goodbye to a job I’ve been struggling through for nearly four years. But man, I loved the people I worked with.

2. I have never studied nor even read on the subject of brand identity. So all of my thoughts are born of observation and speculation. But I cannot help but think modern western culture identifies with brands in an unhealthy way and very different from the generations before us. Before, men and women identified with their vocation and what they actually created and did. Now, we identify with what others have created and done. It’s odd, really.

3. Churches are guilty of brand identity also. And they are also guilty of encouraging it.

4. Looking forward to my wife putting my new lawn mower together.

5. It is good for your neighborhood to have a few foreclosures in it. Why? Otherwise you probably live in the neighborhood version of a high school cool kid clique with all the drama and snobbery and competition.

6. Protip: When someone buys something new, don’t talk about how bad it is and what a bad idea it was. They’ve bought it. Telling them it won’t work out is nothing short of cruel.

7. On my last two days of work, we had a problem locking the vault, which kept me at the bank way late and then my final customer was someone who brought me a document I was not able to notarize. Pretty good summation.

8. To suggest explicitly or implicitly the main work of a Christian is evangelization is to be completely out of step with the Scriptures. And when I say completely, I mean completely.

9. The blackened shrimp I will eat tonight.

10. Man, I wish my parents were able to share in the good news of me changing jobs after waiting so long.


Random Thoughts on a Sunday Night

1. I cannot remember a time when Sunday night was not a time of anxiety and dread. Till now. A few of you can possibly understand. But not many.

2. Listening to Van Morrison while the Cicadas sing their songs out of doors, while we sit around listening, makes for a good Sunday evening.

3. My wife’s leftovers are better than most meals.

4. Finding two of Heaney’s books of poems at the used bookstore is better than finding money in last year’s winter coat.

5. Believe it or not I’ll miss some parts of my job. But I suppose that even soldiers once in the hell of war miss the companionship and friendships made and lost.

6. Last weekend we celebrated the new job with friends. We congratulated each other as a joke. But it was the kind of joke with depth of meaning and it meant more than gold could ever mean.

7. Why not all the Van albums on vinyl?

8. No hope in a politician. None.

9. My daughter, who used to sleep soundly on my chest, got her ears pierced today. She starts 7th grade on Thursday. (Reaches for Xanax)

10. American Christianity has produced an environment where the head of an evangelistic ministry who also heads up one that targets the poor the world over, makes $880,000 a year. And hardly anyone thinks that’s a problem.

May God have mercy on us.

A Question For Those Who Don’t Want To Defund Planned Parenthood


I have a few friends who are not all that eager to see Planned Parenthood defunded. I’m not sure why they think like they do. They are confessing Christians, so it is hard for me to understand. I can only guess as to why.

But I do have a question for them.

What would it take for you to want Planned Parenthood defunded?

How many hours of unedited video? How many videos of intact dead babies? How many times would you have to hear someone exclaim, “Another boy!” before you thought about defunding Planned Parenthood was a good idea? How many times would you have to hear the cold statement, “it’s all just a matter of line items?”

What would you have to see or know?


Random Thoughts for the Weekend

Celebrated Irish poet Seamus Heaney pictured in the green room at the Guardian Hay Festival 2006. Picture by Justin Griffiths-Williams. 29/5//06 All rights ©2006 Justin Griffiths-Williams Tel:02085339882 Mob:07850053473

1. I’m reading For Whom the Bell Tolls right now but I’ve been thinking a lot about The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway insisted it was just a story. By that he meant there was no metaphor, no deeper meaning to be mined by those who push their glasses up their nose after saying something they assume everyone will be impressed by. It was just a story about an old fisherman and a fish. I think when we are always looking for metaphors and deeper meanings in something we miss what is actually there. We can write impressive, smart sounding thinkpieces. But sometimes it’s just a fish. You can kill something by making it an object lesson.

2. I bought the newest Jason Isbell album on vinyl. It’s a double album and was far more expensive than the CD. This has forced me to do two things. It’s only 11 songs split between four sides, so listening to the album straight through is a physical activity. You have to turn the album over at the most after three songs and after the second side, you have to put it back in the sleeve and then remove the second album from the sleeve, etc. If I’m not sitting or laying on the floor right beside the record player, I’m getting up from my chair every 10 minutes at the most. That’s one. But also, the expense has forced me to say “no” to other albums. I talked about this the other night with some friends. Remember back when you were young and you saved up your money to go buy an album and you had no idea if any of the songs were any good outside of the one or two you had heard on the radio? It was a real investment. It could be a month before you would be able to afford another album. So you listened to every song over and over and gave it a chance. Nothing was delete-able.

3. Repentance and apology that engender applause should always be suspect. Have I pointed this out before? This kind of repentance is a public relations move. And it will never be enough. And just like every other PR move, it will need to be repeated again and again, world without end.

4. Just minutes before Seamus Heaney died, he sent a text to his wife, “Noli temere.”

5. My favorite part of getting a new job is the excitement of my wife.

6. And Five Guys to celebrate.

7. The evangelical church cares so little for the poets it is no wonder the prophetic voice has given way to the stratagems of the CEO. Look at the prophets of the Old Testament. What do you see? Poets.

8. I’ve read none of the recent spate of dystopian novels. But it would be hard for me to imagine one with a storyline as disturbing as what is being revealed about Planned Parenthood. Why do you read those novels, but to watch those with power abusing it in disturbing fashion, fall at the hands of those who see things as they are?

9. Maybe it’s old age, but my enthusiasm for new technology is disappearing. It over promises and under-delivers. Almost all of it is glitchy. Even my apple products seem to have become so complicated and full of features that I can no longer do the simple things without something going wrong. There is no substitute for a dusty book and some Van Morrison on vinyl.

10. This morning (Saturday) I ran in the gift of an Autumn-like morning. The air was crisp, almost cool. Not like the blues, but cool like a stream for a weary traveler. Even the ducks and geese seemed to enjoy themselves in the reflection of the cobalt blue sky on the lake’s shining surface. All of us runners greeted even the walkers in the joy of breathable air. Even the blues I listened to had the glint of unbounded smiles for the day ahead.

Random Thoughts at the Beginning of the Week


1. Being a parent is hard. There is always some issue. Something to make you worry. Something requiring a brand of faith you cannot afford without some serious assistance. Something pushing you into bigger arms as you are pushed to be those limbs so another small life can rest in them. The world is big and full of trouble. Blessed is the home who can worry about the troubles in the wider world.

2. My wife is better than me at all the things that matter.

3. Far too many christians are worried about their freedoms in this country and not enough are concerned about restricting other’s freedom in Christ.

4. The new Wilco album is fantastic. And totally free. Just like grace. Until I buy it on vinyl and then it costs money and thats more like law and I’m not really sure where I’m going with this.

5. Those who know me best never ask if I’m hungry.

6. Seamus Heaney’s poetry.

7. Speaking of Wilco, am I the only one who thinks Sky Blue Sky sounds like Abbey Road?

8. Speaking of being a parent, I love my kids but does anyone want one of them?

9. You’re probably a slave to the news cycle. As soon as the media outlets quit talking about whatever they want to get you outraged over so they can get more advertising dollars, you will probably quit caring about it. Repeat.

10. From the far reaches of your front yard
Breaks the moon’s playful beams,
For which we’d pay full fortunes
Were they shut off from us in the dark

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. I wish I wasn’t so encouraged by the random encouragements on my running apps. Sad.

2. You know that person that says complaining doesn’t do any good? I can’t stand that person because so much of the Psalms and the Prophets are the blues.

3. When people ask for help on writing, I tell them to read Hemingway. If they aren’t willing to read Hemingway, it is hard for me to believe they could ever be a good writer.

4. I heart pizza.

5. I have an interview tomorrow. So if you’re the praying kind…

6. I was told that if I became good at my job, I’d like my job. That has not happened.

7. I artery pizza too.

8. It is painful to say “Stay gold, Ponyboy” to someone and they don’t know what you mean. 

9. I would never be able to take seriously the opinion of a person who does not at the very least think Planned Parenthood should be investigated because of that video. And before you tell me it was edited, there is an unedited version also.

10. There is so much joy to be had. This is why the debris field of our broken-hearted moments is so hard to walk over. We see in those shards things as they ought to have been. Could have been. But things are not as they were created to be. And so a dream unfulfilled here, a failure there, and life cut short at your feet. You’d kick at the pieces in anger but something inside sees a beauty when the light turns just right on the jagged edges. You remember, it’s not over yet. If there can be dancing in a valley of dry bones, then all these can too be made new.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts


1. The most punk-rock event in all of history was the Son of God hanging bloody on a cross and saying, “It is finished.” Sid and Nancy got nothing on the homeless Nazarene.

2. I took a spiritual gift test and it conclusively said mine was putting leftovers from dinner in a tupperware seven times larger than is needed.

3. I normally wish I was at home all day with Bethany and the kids but I’m really feeling it today. I can’t imagine the difficulty for those who are miserable at work and at home.

4. I’m not sure guys like Ken Rosenthal understand that the All Star Game is about what players are doing in the present and not what they’ve done in previous seasons. That’s why it’s an – wait for it – *annual* game. By every metric, Carlos Martinez deserves to be in the contest over Kershaw, even though we all have a mancrush on the 3 time Cy Young Award winner.

5. Why did I wait so stupid long to buy The Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt? Because God knew how great it would be to have it on vinyl.

6. The most counter-cultural thing you can do in our day and age is stay married to someone of the opposite sex.

7. One of the unexpected joys of writing a book is hearing from people and getting to sit down with them and hear their story. But there is some fear too. Will they like me? That question buzzs in the background. I assume this is just a fraction of what goes on in the head and the heart of the truly famous. It’s probably terrifying. Can you imagine what it’s like for stars who have lost their luster? They were so well-liked and then forgotten. And they realized it wasn’t them so well-liked actually. Gotta be hard for them.

8. Is there no accountability among those who package bacon? The reckless disregard for those of us who just want the package opening experience to be reasonable continues unabated across brand lines. Which presidential candidate will stop this madness?

9. Tomorrow we will be home-owners again. Much thanks to my in-laws and my parents, who are still providing for us after they have gone on ahead.

10. Remember those summer nights when you were young and dusk hung in the air like heavenly kisses and the fireflies lit the yard of freshly cut grass and your dreams were bigger and brighter than the mirror-ball moon hanging among stars you pretended to throw into the night sky? One day. One day, my friends. It will come with no end. And our parents in all their strength will lay down their newspapers and their dish rags and join you in the joy as the screen door slams shut behind them. The ice cream churn will hum and the smell of the community pool will shine thick upon your sunned skin and it will crave the breeze traveling like the trains you hear down in the valley. It will come with no end. And the tears of cancer and the tears of Alzheimers and divorce and all the broken hearted moments will end and give way to an unending string of those moments that taste like that memory of dusk unending.


Through the Glass Darkly


This morning I woke early. I’ve had nightmares all this week. None have been the kind you laugh off later in the day. Each has been the kind of nightmare only a parent who has watched their child hooked up to machines can understand. You wake up and know there is no more sleep to be had.

An early run, I thought. But rain was falling in sheets. And there was more thunder than I thought was tolerable. So I waited till the rain slowed. I figured if I couldn’t run between the raindrops, I could run between the storms.

Yesterday I read that a young mom from our church is now in hospice care. She will go on ahead of her young husband and young daughters. Into what we only see through a glass so darkly.

The nightmares and that reality were in the passenger seat on the way down to Star lake where I run. And this morning, in a cruel rain.

On the way down the mountain I heard what I could only call a hymn. I’ve listened to this song by Bill Mallonee a hundred times but this morning the words snuck in through the broken parts.


Well, I think we’ve got time for just one more
Before that bartender counts his tray
There’s a million reasons to walk out that door
But only one to stay

Through the glass darkly
I’m just hoping to make it to
To that place where we’re all made new
When it’s all over and through

Are you listened to when you call in the night?
Are you held inside your dreams?
Is it something like an anchor in the raging storm?
When the world turns cruel and mean?

Through the glass darkly
I’m just hoping to make it to
To that place where we’re all made new
When it’s all over and through

One more round for the round of confusion
Its always dogging our steps
One loud hosanna and a victory cry
Shouted while you wept

Through the glass darkly
I’m just hoping to make it to
To that place where it’s all made new
When it’s all over and through

Through the glass darkly
I’m just hoping to make it to
To that place where we’re all made new
When it’s all over and through


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