Life Posts

Life, Death, and Dogs

We said goodbye to our dog of seventeen years this week. Getting a dog was one of the first ‘grown up’ things we did as a married couple. I couldn’t have imagined she’d live to be that old and that we’d share so much of our life with her. We got Chloe before we even had kids and now we suddenly feel the missing piece.

Admittedly, I was a bit surprised by how much her death wrecked me. I’m not necessarily a dog person. Especially once we had a kid (and then four more), our dog seemed to be further down the priority scale. Yet her death put many years of connection into perspective for me. The dog who never showed aggression toward any of our kids, despite the sometimes rough play with her. The dog who walked neighborhoods with me at night as I listened to audiobooks (and went through the Harry Potter series in two different states). The dog who was constantly walking around our house so that the sound of her nails on our floor was the soundtrack of our lives.

Chloe had dramatically reduced eating her food and had become somewhat of a skeleton. Her hearing went out long before that. Most recently, she stopped being able to climb our stairs and then struggled to even make the half step up into our house from the backyard. Her breathing was labored and we often felt pity for what she must be going through. She had a heart murmur and was developing cystlike growths. We started talking about the fact that she would die soon so that our kids could begin processing it. They started asking us—and others who came over to our house—if they’d see her again in Heaven (my answer is yes).

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The Angry Chef

My threshold for risk in attempting a new book is pretty high. If any part of it catches my attention I’m in. Especially when I’m in a physical bookstore like Powell’s in Portland and they have books on sale. Oftentimes this leads me to books I will quickly forget about. But sometimes you find a gem.

Such was the scenario that recently caused me to buy a book called The Angry Chef by Anthony Warner (see: Amazon link). One of the negative side-effects of reading a lot is that it gets harder for books to impress you. I’ve often heard of the ideas in them before. But it also means I’m truly grateful when a book blows me away and exceeds my expectations. This was the case with reading Warner’s book.

Anthony Warner is a chef who likes food and science and takes issue with much of the way we think about food today. He especially takes issue with the diets that popularize the ways in which we eat or don’t eat food. Personally, I’ve spent much of this year changing the way I eat and work out and I want to understand both better. Warner’s book is a gift in this regard.

I think his argument can be succinctly summarized in this quote: “The more you learn about diet the less interesting the final message is. Eat everything in moderation and move around more. That may not be the most interesting hot take on eating, but dang if it’s not a good perspective to live by.

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Unfinished Symphonies

I turned 38 this week. That means the big 4-0 is now within striking distance. Rather than lament this, I actually like aging. I want to be a person that is perpetually learning and growing and becoming a better version of myself. This past year has offered me numerous opportunities to attempt this.

In his book Strength to Love, Martin Luther King Jr. made this poignant observation: “One of the most agonizing problems within our human experience is that few, if any, of us live to see our fondest hopes fulfilled. The hopes of our childhood and the promises of our mature years are unfinished symphonies.”

King famously had a dream of what could be—and was more successful than most in making it come to pass—yet so much of his life was an unfinished symphony. And so it goes.

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Find the Underdogs

I had the chance to spend the week with a handful of pastor friends of mine from around the country. We meet twice a year and share both the highs and lows of ministry. It’s always encouraging to have the chance to be vulnerable with others and to experience others being vulnerable in return. One of the takeaways was how hard it is to lead a church in this season… and nobody thinks it’s going to be anything but more difficult in the future.

As could be imagined, our conversations over the week covered a variety of topics. Many of the topics are widely polarizing issues. On many of the discussions it seemed that to say anything into these discussion was to invite criticism from others who see it differently than we do. To be honest, there were moments it felt like there was no win in sight.

One afternoon we had the chance to talk with Danielle Strickland who happened to be in town. One of the things she shared in her time with our group was about her desire as a kid to always cheer for the underdog. Admittedly, I don’t do this when it comes to my favorite sport. As a Yankee fan, they normally don’t qualify (this year they are exceptionally bad and may be earning underdog status).

But when it comes to real life, I’m a big fan of the underdog. As I process the conversations from this week I’m left with a new strategy I want to pursue. Whenever we think of an issue, what if our desire was to find and align ourselves with the underdog in that situation?

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When One Door Closes

When One Door Closes

The phrase “When one door closes, another opens” has become commonplace in our conversations whenever we experience life change. Many even think it’s a verse in the Bible. We often tweak it to say that “When God closes a door, He opens another.” It’s not actually in the Bible and as far as I can tell the earliest reference to this idea is from Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote. Published in 1605, Cervantes wrote: “When one door is shut another is opened.”

Today most people attribute this phrase to Alexander Graham Bell. What we often miss when we quote this idea from Bell is that it was only the first part of his sentence. In 1935, after his passing, Bell was quoted in The Winona Times as saying:

“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

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Life Axioms – Part 1

I’m going to begin a new blog series on something I’ve been thinking about lately. We all have ideas that shape how we act and why. I’ve been trying to recognize what those are for me and put words to them. Once you recognize what they are in your life, you can decide if you like them as is or if they need to be refined.

I’m still working on my list, but I think they’ll make for an interesting blog series. These are in no particular order, and I’m not even sure how many I’ll ultimately have. Without further ado, here’s one for you.

Life Axiom: Talk to people in your home only when you can see them.

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