Sunday, November 07, 2010

Happy Birthday Grandma Theda

As I clicked on my Google Calendar this afternoon, I was reminded that today would have been Grandma Theda's 76th birthday. Had I the privilege of being with her today, I would have given her the biggest "lower back slapping hug" she's ever received. I would have sang Happy Birthday to her..."organ hymn style". I would have made her as much food as I possibly could. I definitely would have made her an angel food cake with strawberries on top. I would have made her a t-shirt quilt. I would have raked all the leaves in her yard. I probably would have played a rousing game of "The Quarter Game" with her and the rest of my cousins in hopes that Grandma might tackle me to the floor as she sought out her greatest desire in gamesmanship...a victory!

All of these things only begin to scratch the surface of memories of Grandma. Mostly, though, I would have sat her down and asked her more about her life*. I would have asked her why she served the way she did. I would have asked her how she accomplished so much in a day. I would have asked her how she stored up so much love for her grandchildren. I would have sat and listened to her (and I would have made her stay focused). I miss my Grandma and I wish I could tell her today that I love her.

I hope she knew she was loved. Now, I know she KNOWS she is loved!

*Please take some time today to tell someone you love that you love them. Step away from what can become "our routine" and step into someone else's reality. Ask someone about them. Show them you love them.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Two months from today.

Blogs are blogs. At least I used to think this. In fact, I've often thought blogs are the pinnacle symbol (okay, Twitter has definitely passed this up) of the Narcissistic culture we've come to embrace as normal.

Pictures, stories, thoughts, and words all about us. I believe human beings have always been self-centered at our core, but the media outpouring of me, me, me has reached an all time high. We no longer have to read about stars in weekly magazines or watch the nightly gossip entertainment television. We can be the stars of our own lives and we can tell the world how great we are.
Okay, I'll stop being cynical now. If I went on any longer, I'd only further my status as a blog-writing hypocrite. After all, I update my status on facebook. I write on this blog...occasionally. I read my friends blogs, look at their facebook pictures, and occasionally see a twitter feed. These can't be all bad. There is, in reality, much good about this technology. We, as broken human beings, take all good things (and most things possess good) and figure out how to abuse, overuse, and idolize them (but more about that another time).

The reason I can no longer say, "Blogs are blogs," is because I'm getting married two months from today, and one far from insignificant part of me meeting, dating, and now marrying such an incredible woman is because of this blog.

I thought it time to notify the watching world (who am I kidding :)) via devices other than "Facebook's relationship status" and wedding "STDs (save the dates)" that I am marrying KELSEY GRACE TRAVIS on December 30, 2010! How could I not post about this, since it was about 15 months ago that Kels stayed up late one night reading this entire blog, a bit about the life of the man she would soon meet, learn to love, and eventually wed.

No, I do not believe it is because of this blog that I am marrying Kelsey. We believe in a big God, who was gracious enough to allow us to meet at the right time. Much of our relationship has been long distance, therefore we are incredibly grateful for technologies such as Skype, Gmail, and Google Voice. But, because of our time together (in person AND virtual), we have extreme peace, joy, and excitement about sharing life together for our days left on this earth. We have much to be thankful for, notably that blogs aren't just blogs. And if my blog got me a girl this good*, ya know what, I'm okay with that.

*Don't worry, Kels, I know (hope) this isn't true.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Life just happens...

It was raining this morning when I woke up. I sat and talked to my mom about the recent, sudden death of my grandma, her mom, just 3 weeks ago. I hopped in the shower before taking my new suit that I needed for a wedding to a nearby seamstress's home in Syracuse. I carried the suit in, we became acquainted, and I put the suit on only to find that my un-hemmed pants were literally 4 inches too short...not a big deal, but it got me thinking on the way home.

Sometimes life just happens. We can plan, prepare, and perspire all you want, but so often we're left asking, "Really? Did that just happen?" You can think you're on some ordinary errand to get your pants hemmed only to find out you're going to have to spend the next week chasing down a properly manufactured pair of trousers ("pants" are undergarments in Ireland). A simple, unobtrusive example of how life seems to alter its course when we least expect it...

The death of my Grandma has had me thinking often about how I live each day. She was on her way to a graduation open house, simply seeking to encourage and love a graduating senior girl and her family, when she was struck by a car. She was gone in a moment. We weren't "prepared" for this. Grandma wasn't prepared for this...or was she? Can we be prepared for the unexpected that life brings?

I believe Grandma was, because, more than about any person I've ever known, Grandma lived each day as though it were her last. I believe I've heard a quote something like: "Never save for tomorrow something you can/should do today." That's how Grandma Theda lived. And, because of Grandma's obvious and surrendered faith in Jesus Christ's ability to save and redeem, she was living with hope, purpose, and a fueled determination.

So, while Grandma had no idea what was going to happen to her on June 5 (none of us could have), she was, in the most important ways, prepared. And, for those of us left to mourn and grieve, we must seek to live life "prepared" for the things that no can really prepare for because, sometimes, life just happens.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Way in Which

The blame game is easy. The blame game is natural. It's never my fault. How could it be? It's so nice to never be the one responsible when something goes wrong. And, especially when I am personally offended, maybe even severely suffering, it's great to know that I certainly did nothing wrong.

I don't claim to have faced the worst of trials. I haven't had a lot of really terrible things happen "to me" in my life. But, we all know that each day brings us frustrations and hurts and annoyances in hugely varied forms.

So, my point is not what happens to us. My point is that "the way in which" we respond to these things is what we can control. I'll let a man speak on this matter who, in fact, has had immense pain and oppression thrust upon him through his experiences in Nazi concentration camps.

Viktor Frankl, author of A Man's Search for Meaning, said:

The way in which
a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity - even under the most difficult circumstances - to add a deeper meaning to his life...Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not...His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

This lesson struck me painfully close to home as I read about this man's response to his circumstances. I stop. I look around me. This is where I am. This is what I have. This is what I'm doing right now. Whatever it is. Good or bad. Difficult or relaxing. Frustrating or smooth sailing.

How will I respond to what's in front of me...right now?

I think Frankl would support a mantra that I have been reminded of a lot recently: Do hard things. And not just to do them. But I'm guessing, if you push through, in reliance upon a God who is way bigger than the biggest of difficult circumstances, you'll be better off in "the long run".

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"Inconvenience." An Epiphony.

Today. Today was a good day. I can say that now. Now that I have thought about it and realized what an idiot I can be.

About a year and a half ago I was taking one of those personality tests, for the 17th time, and I realized something...I realized something in my mind but I'm not sure it transferred into my reality. This test revealed me to be quite task-oriented (as opposed to people-oriented). I had scored this way before and it really bothered me. I know for a fact that I really like people so to be labeled as one who seems to "orient" themselves around the opposite end of the spectrum was frustrating.

I then began to accept the fact that I may in fact like to accomplish tasks. I then burst out of the "personality type box" by beginning to understand that I might just be task-oriented in my interactions with people.

Okay, I do have a point to this narcissistic discussion of my personality.

Today, I felt like I was inconvenienced or interrupted constantly. This frustrated me. I got annoyed. I got cranky because I couldn't do the things that I had set out to do when the day began. By golly, I have a flight to Norway tomorrow and people were getting in the way of all that I had (or thought I had) to do before I left*.

I get up this morning and on my way to my office I run into two of the ladies who work at the YWCA. Phenomenal conversation, but they delayed my arrival to my office.

People were in my office. I couldn't get things started so I went inside and hid in the living room.

Someone found me in the living room and we chatted for a few minutes.

Then someone else found me and we actually worked on a task (not so bad of an inconvenience).

By this time, more people came in and we got to chatting and it was time for lunch.

As I was eating my lunch, the butcher came by. I owed him money and we talked about his holiday to Spain.

I went back out to the office to write a report and my former boss and professor (who probably will read this) was on Skype with Laura. Two hours later, while still on Skype, I took a very welcomed phone call from someone in the States.

Then, I tried to head to my office when the neighbor boys asked me to play with them. By this time, I was catching I wrestled around with them and shot them with rubber bands...and I had a blast.

Right around the time I thought I could squeeze in an hour of work, one of my students returned from England and he needed help sorting through his luggage.

Then, it was time for dinner out with some friends. A long dinner. A great time.

I got back to find that I needed to take another student into Bray because her phone didn't work and she was stranded at midnight with no lift.

And, now, at 1:32 am, rather than do work, I thought I would use this blog to teach myself a lesson.

People were getting in my way?? Whaaaattt?! Who am I? People are more important than tasks**.

And, hopefully, for the rest of my life, people will continue to "get in my way" and maybe, at some point, I will begin to see people as way more than an inconvenience, and more of a blessing.

*For those who "inconvenienced me today, please know that I really do like you. And, at the time, I probably wasn't just tapping my foot wondering why you had to mess up my day. I am just realizing the way I can be.
**I do realize that, at times, tasks are very important.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blogs to check out...

I don't think a lot of people are frequenting this blog (which is totally fine) but I thought I'd post a few blogs on here that I think are worth checking into....with all of your spare time:

City Grace : Joel Hamernick (This guy is living in the south side of Chicago and has great thoughts on the beauty of the city and the gospel of peace, as well as challenges to the way Christians live and think).

The Transformation : Kory and Ali Lantz (I'm biased. This is my brother and sister ("in law") and tells of their life and ministry in South Bend. I love them and am proud of them and you can hear honestly of their need for prayer).

Road to Adoption : Julie and Alan Briggs (This is an incredible couple of people living what they say they believe. This blog chronicles their journey, currently, toward adoption of two beautiful Ethiopian children...they can always use prayer and money to support this).

Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strenght : Heather Dawes
(My cousin is finishing up a semester in Zambia. She's been challenged and has a great story to tell).

AC to the Max : Adam Cramer (Despite his blog name having his initials in it, this kid is a dear friend who has been in Africa for a year and has great thoughts and I love the way he serves. He also is one spot below me in the current fantasy football standings).

If you have a rainy day, here's some reading material.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Names of God

I was putting together a solo experience (time alone with God) for tomorrow morning for my students when Kelsey pointed me to this video. It is incredible and a great way to just meditate on the characteristics of the Almighty. Take three minutes and thirty-eight seconds when you have a chance to just be and enjoy...

...and now go buy it on iTunes. And, listen to it when you need to be reminded of these things. It's written and sang by Laurell Hubick (note: all the links in this article are to a different Laurell as she is no where to be found on myspace). She can sing.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

the latter.

"At the end of ten days the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah" (Jer. 42:7).


Be still.

Give him time,
the space.

To speak.

And listen,

He will

Will you hear,
by waiting?

And in your hearing,


Maybe the latter is really my

"So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah" (Jer. 43:4)

Sunday, November 01, 2009


you. are. massive.
birds. seas. rocks. horizon.
so far. so wide.
waves. moon. clouds. blue.
millions. of shades.

people. kids. dogs. walking.
cared for. lonely. loved.
empty. empty. empty. full.
so creative. so vast.

where are you? there. here.
now. always. then.
mountains. hills. green.
rolling. majestic. thank you.
light. lights. noise. sight. smell.
of salt. of sea. of life.
of hope. aheadness. faith.

breathe in. again. lifted.
of burdens. oh. so sweet.
hard. reality. worry. doubt.
handled. held. heard. hurled.
upon. your back. amazed. flat.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wealth in Smallness.

Sitting across from William yesterday at dinner time was an incredible chance to hear from a seasoned Irish man who has read a lot, thought a lot, and had more wisdom than I could ever hope to attain. Yet, I passed him for the first 4 weeks with mere “hellos” and “how are yas?” One of my students reminded me of the cool and crazy reality that every single person we pass in a given day has an incredibly detailed story – perhaps just waiting to be told. I got to hear a few more pieces of William’s story and I, once again, realized my enjoyment of hearing stories.

William shared a quote he had heard recently that struck me and I wrote it down. We were talking about wealth and the way people in Ireland and the US approach money and prestige. The Frenchman Francoise de La Rochefoucauld said:

“Wealth can be measured by the greatness of what we have or the smallness of what we want.”

William is obviously further down this road of wanting less and I yearn to get to a place where I am truly wealthy because I desire very little that this world has to offer.

As I begin my second month in Ireland, my desire is to be marked by a consistent contentment and satisfaction in the here and now because I know the source of my hope and joy.