Thursday, December 24, 2009

With Us

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times. Micah 5:2

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child & give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

Words written. Words of prophesy. 700 years before. The birth. Of a baby boy. In a stable. In Bethlehem. To a virgin. A sign. Given us. Immanuel. God with us.

God with us.

God with you.

No matter. What. You go through.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent Attitude

My amazing wife, Melanie, writes...

Advent: Preparing one's heart to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Take time each day to contemplate what this glorious season means. I have tried to explain some of our Christmas traditions to our children in relation to their own birthdays, something they easily understand. We decorate one room for a day or two when we celebrate their special day. For Jesus' birthday, we decorate the whole house - inside and out - and leave the decorations up for over a month! On their birthday we have a few friends over to celebrate. For Jesus' birthday we get together with friends, church family, neighbors, co-workers - all kinds of people! On their birthday we make a cake and sing "Happy Birthday." For Jesus' birthday we sing all kinds of carols and eat a wide variety of special treats. On their birthday they receive presents from friends and family members. For Jesus' birthday we give gifts of love to friends, family, and even people we don't know - all because of the grace gift that God gave us in Jesus.

As you consider the task of decorating your house to prepare for the Christmas activities this week, remember to take time to prepare your heart as well. Try not to get frustrated with the lights that don't work, the ribbon that's starting to look a little faded, or the tree with a missing branch or two. Remember who's birthday party you are getting ready for, and smile because you have an opportunity to celebrate! We are celebrating the glorious birth of our Savior!

I'm getting excited just thinking about it all! Have a blessed Advent-ure this week, dear friends.

The proper Advent attitude is to humbly, thankfully remember the simple reason why we celebrate Christmas in the midst of all it has become. God loves us & sent His only Son to earth as a baby. A Son that would give his life to free us from sin, provide us abundant life now & eternal life in heaven. Thank you, Melanie for allowing me to share this. Thank you, God, for loving us as you do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou are with me; thy rod & thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 KJV








God's gift to the broken states, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." Not death, but it's shadow. Not a pit, but a valley. Not staying, but walking. If in despair you have pitched your tent in the valley thinking you'd don't deserve to get through or you are not strong enough to get through or things will never improve to get through, then break camp, pack it in, & hike out of the valley. You can get through. You will get through.

How? So weak. So tired. So depressed. So lonely. So drained.



Look up.

Ask God to show Himself. Ask again. And again.



Look around.

God is with you. Always. Take His hand.


Ask for a friend.

Take their hand.

Walk through the valley together.

We can make it through. We will make it through. Kindred of the Broken. Walking together. Walking through.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Don't Cry

Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman's only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, "Don't cry." Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, "Young man, I tell you: Get up." The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother. They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, "God is back, looking to the needs of his people!" The news of Jesus spread all through the country.Luke 7:11-17, The Message
Don't cry.
You are already a widow.
You only son has just died.
You'll have no means of support in our society.
Yet, I tell you, Don't cry.
"Don't weep. Don't sob. Don't wail aloud," are more accurate translations & more accurate for this situation. Have you been there? Let your memory of the past or your imagination of the future take you there with that widow. Have you ever been so heartbroken? Too many questions? Few answers? Life smoldering about you? Stability banished? Uncertainty stalking? Weeping like breathing? Pain unbearable?Yet, Jesus. Yes, Jesus was there in Nain. God in flesh. And "his heart broke." Splanchnizomai (splanhk-nid-ZOH-my) in Greek from the root of "spleen" or "guts." Translated as, "compassion, heartbroken, take pity," or the like, it is used in the entire New Testament only 12 times. Other than in Luke 10:33 of the Good Samaritan, a parable of the character & actions of Christ followers, all 11 other mentions are of Jesus himself. Jesus was stirred up. He alone was heartbroken this way. Sick to his stomach. Moved with compassion. By suffering. By pain. Yes, Jesus. God in flesh.
My daughter skins her knee while playing. In her pain, she'll weep & wail loudly. My built in Daddy response is, "don't cry." I can hold her. I can clean & bandage her cut. I can comfort her. But my abilities stop there.
When Jesus says, "don't cry," he alone has the ability - the power - to change the very situation. He can heal. He can restore sight. He can raise. And, for the Widow of Nain's son, he did. As God willed, Jesus did. Jesus raised the dead man.
This doesn't mean God will remove all my pain, or heal me, or make everything in my life right whenever I ask. Jesus didn't heal everyone or raise all the dead he happened upon either. Those are questions of God's providence that I can't understand. He is God. I am not. Based on this Scripture I do understand:
God knows my pain.
He, the God of the entire universe, is moved with compassion for me.
God. Heartbroken over me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

broken hearted good

a broken heart hurts

yet it

forces frailty
demands dependence
heightens humility
subdues stubbornness
produces patience
welcomes wisdom
trains tenderness


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two Ones

John Mark is at it again. Reinventing the English language.

Markese, we call it.

His latest Markese phrases: happy noodle; two ones.

Happy noodle is a whole other post. Two ones today.

Two ones uses include...

John Mark, would you like a piece of candy?
Two ones, Daddy! Reaching open handed.

Let's go get Seth & tickle him, John Mark.
Yeah, tickle him two ones. Trotting toward Big Brother.

But the best is...

I love you, John Mark.
I love you two ones, Daddy. Hugging humbled Daddy.

Two ones.

Live Markese. Loving your Ones.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Mary Elizabeth is a kindergartner now. Still hard to believe as I watch her little pigtails bob walking to class holding hands with a friend each morning when I drop her off. She loves it. She's thriving.

John Mark, however, has a new experience too: Lots of time alone with Mama & Daddy. As one of three that time may have been limited before, but he's embraced it in his linebacker way. He loves it. He's thriving.

He came up - unsolicited - and put his arms around his Mama this week & said, "Ah luh yew veyree much, Mama."

"Thank you. I love you too," Melanie replied while giving him a hug.

He pulled away a bit, then pulled in tight patting her on the back & said, "Ah luh yew 'gehn."

I love you... again.

John Mark never stopped loving his Mama. He simply said it again.

How often do I need a love that never stopped?

How refreshing is it when that love is spoken... again?

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1

Again. And again. And again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Light a Fire

Poems. Lyrics. Books. They have origin stories.

I just learned the origin of my favorite hymn...

On the evening before Easter in 433AD on the Hill of Slane in County Meath, Ireland a former slave lit a fire. He lit a fire & sang a hymn. He defied a royal decree.

Lighting a fire any other day was, well, normal. Expected. Necessary. But this evening before Easter & the Spring Equinox was exceptional. High King Logaire of Tara had ordered that he alone was to light the first fire that night beginning the Druid spring festival. Lighting that fire before the King was equivalent to declaring war on the Druids & the rulers of Ireland.

The former slave was born Scottish. Captured by pirates at 14. Enslaved in Ireland. Escaped years later. Committed his life to Christ's service. Returned at 30 to lead the Irish people to the One who had captured his heart. Lit a fire & sang a hymn.

High King Logaire is said to have been so impressed with the former slave's arrogance that he let him continue his missionary work. By the end of his life, the former slave saw over 2000 churches started & more than 100,000 Irish people come to faith in Christ. The former slave changed Ireland forever.

The hymn he'd composed & sung, translated into English verse in 1905 by Eleanor H. Hull: Be Thou My Vision.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art:
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom and Thou my true word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord:
Thou my great Father, I , Thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance now and always:
Thou and thou only first in my heart,
High King of heaven my treasure Thou are.

High King of heaven my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart whatever befall,
Still be my vision O Ruler of all.

Saint Patrick, the former slave of an Irish person became a slave to Christ for the Irish people. With a great vision set & a small fire lit, Saint Patrick changed history.

Though I am free & belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible... I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:19, 22b-23.

How am I enslaved?

What is my vision?

What fire should I light?

(Hear Glad sing Be Thou My Vision here. Disc 2, Track 3.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dat Be Cool

Our John Mark is talking. Like a crazy man. All the time. In his own language.

His current fav phrase is, "Dat be Cool."

We don't much say "That'll be cool." We don't often utter a plain ol' "cool." Don't know where the boy got it from, but got it he has.

"Dat be cool, Mama," as he joins his Mama at work in the kitchen even though she didn't ask & really would do better without his help.

"Dat be cool, Seffee," as he invades his brother's room becoming the ultimate destructive force in Seth's Star Wars universe.

"Dat be cool, Mehnee," as he removes a baby doll from his sister's arms to cuddle her more than Mary Elizabeth.

"Dat be cool, Dahdee," as he plunks himself into my lap to read a book even though I was already reading the paper.

A self-affirming mantra. Not mean or ugly, "you do it my way because I'm a stubborn toddler or else." But kind & enthusiastic, "even though I didn't ask to join you, watch out here I come because I want to & l love you."

It's more than assumption. It's as if he is certain of the outcome.

It's more than expectancy. It's as if he knows it will happen.

It's more than hope. It's as if he is confident it will be.

Not yet three year old or three foot tall John Mark has got the sort of faith the Lord Jesus welcomes.

Jesus said in John 14:13, "I will do whatever you ask in my name."

Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20 that Jesus, "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine."

What do you need, friends?

Then pray. Jesus' will. And pray BIG.

Dat be cool.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Aaron's Rules

Nonrunner mustread too...

If you know me, then you know I offer propositional truth. Regularly. Even unsolicited. A buddy picked up on this habit in regard to running & began to say something like, "There's another of Aaron's Rules for Running." In his honor, I decided to record a few.
  1. The Unalienable Rule. We hold these truths to be self-evident that NOT all runners are created equal. We have the right to life, liberty & the pursuit of PRs, but we all do not possess the same physical abilities. So, inasmuch as we measure running by time, distance, calories, & other metrics, we must remember that we are not all created equal. Noncomparison is the first rule of happy, lifelong running.
  2. The Failure Rule. Failure to plan is a plan to fail. Have a training plan. Your plan may be determined by your personal fitness goals or preparing you for your next race. Have some variety & purpose to keep it fresh. This rule has a negative sounding name to remind you of its positive value.
  3. The Elephant Rule. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, states the cliche. Consistency is key for running success. If you are going to run a marathon for instance, then you need six months to a full year's training. You need a plan. Rule #2. Followed day after day, one bite at a time, to be properly prepared for the distance. Africans don't like to eat elephant. This is just a catchy phrase to remind us that consistent effort accomplishes much.
  4. The Nike Rule. Just do it! It rings true, that is why it's one of the greatest marketing slogans of all time. If you have the miles planned, the time, permissible weather, & no illness or injury preventing you from running, then just do it! If you make an excuse now, then you can make one later or some other aspect of life will crowd in. Rule #4 is the will behind Rule #3.
  5. The Mailman Rule. Don't be a sissy! Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor gloom of night get out there & run. The more challenging, the better. Running against the elements & proving yourself versus nature is one of the joys of running. Get out there with the right gear, however. Be sure to refer to Rule #7.
  6. The Hamster Rule. If you must, then get on the mill. Some folks like treadmills. Climate controlled, predictable, TV. Don't take my last rule with too much machismo--sometimes it's just smart to stay indoors. Just in case you need examples: ice; thunderstorms; temps or windchills below zero; tornadoes; hurricanes; etc.
  7. The Paine Rule. As in Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense. If in doubt, use your common sense. Something hurts? Your body is telling you there is a problem! Slow down or stop. Ask for advice or assistance. Icy surfaces? Take care. A little fall could cost you a lot of running & cash too. Head-cold?As long as your congestion is from the neck-up you can run. Double-pneumonia? Don't even think about it!
  8. The .92 Rule. Yes, you read that right. It's 92/100th. It's less than one. But it is a BIG one to obey. In short it can be interpreted as: know where you are going; follow the map; don't follow the guy in front of you; don't get lost. Benefit from my experience & have a laugh too.
  9. The Shrink Rule. Sweat equals sanity. There may never be a need for a psychiatrist or counselor in the life of a runner as long as we can get out & run. We are creatures of habit & familiarity of the miles provides a sanctuary to process life with no shrink or couch needed.
  10. The 12:11 Rule. Avowed nonrunners like to point out that runners don't look too comfortable while running. This is true, but you also hear us gush in runese & refer to Runner's World as if it were the Bible. Hebrews 12:11 of THE Bible states, "At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it is the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God." Running takes discipline, but it pays off.
  11. The Together Rule. Some of us like the solitude & others like a group, but I'd encourage every runner to run with others from time to time. Just remember Rule #1, slow down or speed up as needed, & have fun along the way. Running together has lots of great benefits. Encouragement, learning, companionship, & accountability are just a few. We are better together.
Did you notice how all these rules apply for the race of life too?

You might want to reread my rules replacing run/running with live/living.

Run on!

Live on!

(NOTES: 1. The above photo was taken after running 7 miles at 3 degrees on 12/16/08. It was awesome! And, yes, that is sweat-ice sparkling on my cap & eyebrows! 2. PR = Personal Record. Some of that runese language.)


Have you ever reached the end of your rope? Strength gone.

Have you had it with another person? Chances exhausted.

Have your dreams fallen apart? Wreckage complete.

Have you ever failed greatly? Fixes unworkable.

Have you lost hope? Disappointment much.

Have you said, "I'm Done"? Just Done.

Let me offer a thought as a fellow traveler who has been to Done before: It's okay. Stop. Pray. Invite God in. Ask for some strength. Some rest. Some patience. Some wisdom. Some hope. Some whatever you need.

Done is okay. For a moment or a day.

Done is okay.

"God is attracted to weakness. He can't resit those who humbly & honestly admit how desperately they need him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for his power," writes Jim Cymbala.

I don't know about the rest of you who like to drive your own lives, but when I get to Done I get desperate. And desperate. When it humbles me. When I sober up to the reality of my much limited humanness. When I honestly admit my infinite weakness. When I recognize that my map was wrong. When I turn to Sovereign God. That is not a bad thing. He can do great, immeasurable, unsearchable, abundant things.

God will meet you at Done.

Hand Him the keys.

He will take it from there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Eye Keem

- No. No. No! No buy shoes. Eye keem. Stated my emphatic toddler.

Elementary school open house tonight. School starts Wednesday. My little princess will be a kindergartner. That's a whole other post... My big boy goes to third grade. I'm feeling old now. That's another post too... So, Melanie had floated the idea on the way there, "Anyone want to get ice cream after we go to school?" You can guess the response.

School was filled with people. Friends. Neighbors. Teachers. The new year ahead like the new kindergarten wing with everything bright, shiny & smelling of paint & clean carpet. There was some tugging of parents down the hall. Some calling of kids back to the family fold through the crowd. Yet, surprisingly no begging for ice cream.

Back in the car. One family member had his face firmly set.

- You guys wanna go to Zesto? Mama asks.

- No Zehtoh. Eye keem.

- John Mark, Zesto is where we get the ice cream.

- No Zehtoh, Mama. Eye keem!

- John Mark, we go to Zesto to get ice cream.

- Eye keem. Ah wahn eye keem. No Zehtoh.

- Okay, John Mark, we'll get ice cream.

Satisfied with no mention of Zesto & only ice cream we motored along talking about other things. Until. Melanie noticed a good, old - stress old, folks - pair of shoes she was wearing had an all the sudden hole in the long faithful leather. I said, "We gotta go buy Mama a new pair of shoes." You've already read the response that received.

- No. No. No! No buy shoes. Eye keem.

John Mark wanted to hear nothing but eye keem. Talk nothing but eye keem. Go nowhere but eye keem. He was not ugly or pitching a fit. He was kindly insistent with precious pronunciation.

I had to wonder. Even though I know that I can not change God's mind. He desires my faith. He is loving. He will give good gifts so much more. He answers my persistence. Can I pray? Can I act? Can I be as single-minded & persistent as my young son? About things that really matter? About following Jesus? Loving my family? Serving my church?

Zesto was closed. Broken machine sign said. McDonald's for eye keem.

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:9-11 (italics added)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

All the Way

  1. Fanny J. Crosby wrote these words in 1875 after receiving the answer to a specific prayer. She was in despreate need of five dollars & had no idea where to obtain it. She followed her habit & began to pray. In minutes a stranger arrived at her door with the exact amount.

  2. Mrs. Crosby, blind since infancy, was keenly aware of the need for guidance amidst a life of stumbling uncertainty. What if I recognized my blindness & trusted my Savior's guidance?

  3. All the way my Savior leads me,
    What have I to ask beside?
    Can I doubt His tender mercy,
    Who through life has been my Guide?
    Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
    Here by faith in Him to dwell!
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well;
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well.

What have I allowed Jesus to do for me?
  1. All the way my Savior leads me,
    Cheers each winding path I tread,
    Gives me grace for every trial,
    Feeds me with the living Bread.
    Though my weary steps may falter
    And my soul athirst may be,
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see;
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see.

How have I experienced such joy?
  1. All the way my Savior leads me,
    Oh, the fullness of His love!
    Perfect rest to me is promised
    In my Father’s house above.
    When my spirit, clothed immortal,
    Wings its flight to realms of day
    This my song through endless ages:
    Jesus led me all the way;
    This my song through endless ages:
    Jesus led me all the way.

Where have I followed myself & not my Savior?

Monday, July 27, 2009

in a name

Why did you choose to call your blog "extra/ordinary aaron"?

Good question.

What is in a name?

Did you guess I might have an answer?

If you have forty-four minutes, then you can hear - a lot - about what is in this name. Preached back in April, Ordinary to Extraordinary is about the Twelve Disciples, but applies to Christ followers today. Just like you & me.

You see.

On my own I am.

Exceedingly plain. Tremendously weak. Ordinary in extra degrees.

Yet through Christ.

I can be.

Exceptionally graced. Completely empowered. Thoroughly gifted.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Life

My amazing Melanie wrote this.

She's allowing me to share it with you.

Anybody who knows me well knows that I LOVE surprises. A general rule of thumb at our house is that you don't buy me a gift unless it's a surprise. If you have to hint at it or ask about it, you'll just have to save it for another time. (Just ask Aaron about the bicycle story.)

We moved to Lincoln, NE, almost four years ago. If I only knew what surprises God had in store for me here! Friends that I treasure, growth in my marriage, a new little Householder...just to name a few. One of our first surprises was the house that God provided for us, brand-spanking new with not a tree in sight. We wanted a house in an established neighborhood, lots of trees, etc. God had other plans. He placed us here on South 59
th Street and has allowed us to love and learn from some wonderful neighbors.

As on most streets with lots of young families, we have seen much new life. I would have to stop and think for a few minutes to count all the babies that have been born in our short time here, but I am amazed each time I see them. Ella,
Embrie, Lewis, Will, Owen, Lauren, Jacob, Will, Peter... plus all the toddlers and preschoolers who are growing way too fast.

Last week was a difficult week for me, one that made my mama want to drive fourteen hours with my sister and her two not-so-quiet little girls, one that left my pillow wet, my heart hurting. God, knowing how I love surprises provided for me. Looking out my front door last night there was a full rainbow and out my back window the sun was peeking through the clouds. Today, in the midst of new houses and small trees God reminded me of His great power to bring new life into the most unlikely places. A robin chose to build a nest in our tiny oak tree (Aaron's father's day present last year) in the backyard. Now there are three baby birds peeking out of that nest in that little tree. Three houses down, a bunny chose to burrow down in the new sod of a brand-new lawn with seven baby bunnies!

I praise God for the new life He gives. I am amazed at the places He brings it forth. I am humbled that He has given me renewal in my spirit, peace and joy when it makes absolutely no worldly sense. If we are willing, He will renew us, revive us, breathe new life into weary and tired, apathetic and cynical souls. And the world will marvel at the newness of life in the most unlikely places.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009



Let's think about what that really looks like, why don't we, mister saleskid?

From our dear friend, Andrea, I bring you a salute to Mamas everywhere.

I don't think I've written on here yet what I have often said, "The world would stop spinnin' without women!"

Yes, I've oft imagined the human race would cease to exist if all the housework & especially the childbearing & childrearing were left to men. Sad to say. Yet true I believe.

So, keep "active" ladies & thank you for keeping the rest of us moving too.

Melanie & I read Andrea's latest post last night & she had us rolling in laughter. I asked Andrea if I could share the link with you. She said, "You absolutely may!"

Andrea, wife to dear Dave & mother to a fantastic foursome, has an inspiring outlook & is an honest-to-goodness transformed by Christ sorta gal. Challenging & humorous. Honest & funny. Searching & encouraging. She is a lover of life & a blessing to all.

And, Andrea, I hope your picture here isn't too big for your liking. I couldn't get this silly thing to make it smaller. And I sure don't wanna do anything that causes you to call me "bucko" when you're calorie deprived. Eesh.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Moon Over Soweto

September 9, 1992 I landed in Johannesburg with my sleepy eyes wide open. A Journeyman Missionary. For the next two years. In Soweto. Twenty-plus formal & informal settlements that made up the SOutherWEstern TOwnships of apartheid-era South Africa. Over one million Africans. Add this one Texan.

I hit the ground running. Soccer on day one had the low-altitude Texan gasping dust at the altitude higher than a mile. Samp -- spicy, smashed lima beans -- & Ginger Beer -- think ginger ale with a wicked ginger punch -- on day two had me praying the missionaries prayer, "Lord, I'll put it down if you help me keep it down." And driving on the other side of the road on day three had my boss praying anything he could muster while he rode in the passenger seat!

Six weeks into my term I was past the "tourist stage" where everything different that was quaint a few days before is now an annoyance because "These folks just don't think or act or talk right! Agh!" Then I had a wreck.

Guy behind me is googly-eyed with his girlfriend. I stopped. He didn't -- soon enough. Swerve. Skid. Then. That terrible sound. Crushing metal.

Every Journeyman has heard the phrase. The Career Missionaries may not even realize how it sounds so contemptible. "Just a Journeyman." Implied -- not a RLM -- Real Life Missionary. As if because you are younger you are somehow less responsible. Any misstep gets you labeled as "Just a Journeyman."

My wreck. Not my fault. My first big failure. Wasn't even my fault. But. Brought the label. Just a Journeyman. Brought the shame. Just a Journeyman. Brought the despair. Just a Journeyman.

All the ideals. All the hopes. All the dreams. All that. Can be crushed. Just like a door in the way of collision bound Googly-eye.

We were having revival meetings for our little squatter camp church that week. A big yellow & white striped tent sat in the shack church yard. Yellow & white shining like the sun. Amidst brown, grey, dingy, rusty squatter shacks. A symbol of the Gospel. A symbol of hope.

Yet that night I stood outside the tent. Outside in the cool evening. Wanting to shelter my ears from the boisterous revival singing. Wanting to hide my eyes from the joyous faces. I had no joy that night. Only despair. Only regret.

I stood outside the tent plotting. To give it up. To go home. Face down. Dejected. Then I felt like a cartoon. As if two little beings alighted upon my shoulders. Redsuit devil guy with tail & pitchfork on one shoulder. Blond haired & haloed headed angel girl in a white robe on the other. Both whispering in my ears.

"Go home. You're a failure. You aren't made for this." Said redsuit.

"God called you. You can. You will make it." Said halogirl.

"You don't belong here!," said redsuit.

"Look up!," said halogirl.

"These people don't really like you," said redsuit.

"Look up!," repeated halogirl.

I interrupted the cartoon argument. "I don't wanna look up. I just wanna go home."

"LOOK UP!," she demanded.

I did.

I saw the moon. The moon rising over one million souls. The moon filling the horizon. The moon glowing molten nickel. The moon over Soweto.

Cartoons gone. The Holy Spirit of God spoke with authority Psalm 8:3-5.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon & the stars which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory & honor.

He continued. Speaking words just for me. From the Father.

I made you.

You are mine.

I called you.

You will love.

They will love you too.

That moon you see is the work of my fingers. You, my son, are made a little lower than angels. You are my creation. You are mine. You are called. Now serve. Now love.

I did not go back in that big yellow & white striped tent.

I stood there.

I could see the joyful faces of enthusiastic singing as I looked in. Yet I was in a quiet place all unto myself.

I wept.

The God of the universe loves me. He made me. He has called me. And now... now... He has affirmed me.

He loves you too. He has called you too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Some Reasons

Kristen Armstrong wrote in Runner's World:

There is an underlying purpose & meaning behind my training, always. It isn't about the next race or the next workout. It's about fitness & fortitude for the next test around the next corner that I cannot see. Everybody will face a challenging experience, whether we want to acknowledge its inevitability or not--the doctor calls to say he needs to discuss the test results in person, or a police officer has news at the front door, or you find a lump in your breast, or you lose your job, or your child is diagnosed with something, or your spouse walks out the door. When my next moment comes I want to be strong & centered enough to handle it with some measure of grace. But perhaps more importantly, I want to be fast enough to be first on the scene when a loved one needs me, and I want to be fit enough to carry the load for as long as it takes to reach the other side... Runners are doers by nature--we're not people content to sit back & let life happen passively. We want to move act, contribute, stand for something.

Why do I run?

Some of those reasons.

And more.

Why do I follow Jesus?

Some of those reasons.

And more.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Along about April while training for my anticipated second marathon in four months I was looking pretty slim. Slimmer than normal. Slim even for me.

Running 30 miles per week. Doing core work on the big purple ball that is too hard to hide from the kids. Making smarter choices in eating. Expecting six-pack abs to appear soon. Hearkening back to high school days & being as ripped - if you can call it that for a skinny boy - as I'd ever been. Thinking something like, "I won't be another bulgy belly daddy at the pool this summer," in my average-American-unrealistically-imaged vanity.

Then came six days of a stubborn kidney stone & a few other set backs that have had me running much less in the past two months. Still eating the same however. The pounds became sticky. The bulgy belly emerged again.

(Reader time out: Before you bemoan the skinny boy with the little bulgy belly issue, please hang on. We are moving toward a point. Don't get lost in body-type comparisons along the way. Okay? If you are past that, then you can resume reading.)

So, we're at the pool yesterday. Seth in swim lessons. JM & I sitting on the side of the kiddy pool. ME splashing around in front of us. I bend over toward her. She recoils scaredy faced. Transfixed by bulgy belly.

"Daddy, you've got a chubby tummy," floats out with a giggle. Popping my pride with a BANG.

I made some fatherly, "It's not nice to say things like that about other people's bodies even if it is true, Mary Elizabeth," comment. You have to add the "even if it is true" with ME due to the five-year old honesty she'd just exhibited.

Yet, while instructing her I was praying too. "So much for my pride. Thank you, Jesus, for having my innocent little sweetheart bring me back to your reality."

How about you, friend?

Not your body-type.

Your pride.

Is it skinny?

Or chubby?

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
1 Peter 5:5

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:10

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Wrapping presents after midnight. Sleeping a few hours. Waking with the birthday boy's excitement. Challenging conversations at the office. Enjoying a special lunch with family. More challenging conversations. Returning home balloon-laden. Partying superhero style with a dozen kids. Talking with friends into the evening. Bathing the kids after a day's play. Praying good-night with the sleepyheads. A full day.

A day like this one begged for some runtime. Sultry & still it was as I slinked out the door. Uncommon. Feverish feelings in my first running steps. Immediately sweaty & clammy. Like a sickness you don't want. Uncomfortable.

Yet within the passing miles arrived new thoughts. Familiar streets. Familiar turns. Familiar hills. Familiar footsteps. Familiar breathing. Familiar pace. These things are familiar. This is my 5k course. There are other runners in the neighborhood, but no one else would run this route. It's mine.

And in the familiar I find comfort. Safety. Security. Predictability.

Life is change. Life demands choices. Life leads to the unfamiliar.

In my run. On my course. Through the night. With new thoughts of the familiar. I pray something like this...

Father, I thank you that your character is unchanging from everlasting to everlasting, yet your mercies are new every morning. I celebrate that facing unfamiliar I can rely on you as familiar. I rejoice that you will never leave me or forsake me. I embrace that you hold for me a future & a hope. I rest from my burdens & labor under your gentle hand.

Running on. Praying further. The uncommon warmth of tonight somehow becomes comfortable too. As familiar as waking rested, warm & snuggled together with my wife on a cold winter's morning.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Melanie 24-100

Two years ago I wrote this to describe a day-in-the-life of Melanie in 100 words or less for a Mother's Day writing contest.  I publish it here today, however, for a special purpose.  June 7th marks twelve amazing years of treasuring this incredible God-given gift of a woman as my wife.

100 words. One day.  One wonderwoman.

Quiet. Sleeping. Still. One.

Cold. Snuggling. Warm. Two.

Dreaming. Wonder. Tossing. Three.

Crying. Baby. Nursing. Four.

Peaceful. Perfect. Rest. Five.

Sunlight. Footsteps. Children. Six.

Coffee. Husband. Breakfast. Seven.

Clothes. Dressing. Toothpaste. Eight.

Kisses. Daddy. Bye. Nine.

Buzz. Downstairs. Laundry. Ten.

Reading. Daughter. Laugh. Eleven.

Backpack. Son. School. Noon.

Blanket. Searching. Found. One.

Napping. Doorbell. Package. Two.

Stirring. Awake. Snack. Three.

Carpool. Home. Smiling. Four.

Fridge. Cooking. Supper. Five.

Dishes. Running. Backyard. Six.

Bath. Pajamas. Books. Seven.

Bedtime. Prayers. Goodnight. Eight.

Couch. Unwind. Novel. Nine.

Heavy. Eyes. Closing. Ten.

Bleary. Diaper. Changing. Eleven.

Quiet. Sleeping. Still. Midnight.

Melanie. Wife. Mama. Day.

And in case you are wondering: She won the contest.  Go, Melanie!

I love you always, Aaron.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Sweet, little Mary Elizabeth has been sick.  Not strep.  Not flu.  Tested for those.  Just a virus that won't let go.  She has had no desire to eat.  Feels yucky.  Little she does eat.  Won't stay too long.  Listless & hollow.  Wish I could make it all better.

Mama was taking ME to the Pediatrician today.  Infected cut on her hand may be complicating her virus recovery.  Weak immune system thing.  So, Mama, ME & John Mark did a little shopping before Doc.  I met them at the Docs office to take JM home just before noon.

Raiding the fridge at home this hungry Daddy says, "I'm gonna fix some lunch."  JM's toddlerspeak, "I wuhn to eee luhn too-ooo, Dah-dee!"  Fix me a sammy.  Fresh lunchmeat.  Sharp cheddar.  Good stuff.  Fix my boy a quesadilla.  Cheese only.  Microwaved.  Easy stuff.

JM is my linebacker toddler.  The boy can eat.  3/4s of his quesadilla.  A dozen cherries.  Dad knows we need fruit.  And a few bites of Dad's sammy too.  Did I tell you the boy can eat?

About then his Mama calls.  Doctor went well.  Going to get Rx.  What are we doing?

"Just ate lunch," I said.

"John Mark ate again?"  Is the not-too-surprised Mama question.

"I didn't know he ate the first time," I reply looking to see if my boy's belly is bursting.

"Yes, he had SEVEN McNuggets at Walmart.  What'd he eat this time?"  Comes the not-surprised-at-all-now Mama question.

And I told her the story I just told you.

My boy was hungry.

My boy ate.

My boy didn't tell me he'd already had lunch!

My boy.

Had to ask myself.  Am I hungry?  Like Mary Elizabeth with a sickness that keeps me from wanting to eat?  Or like John Mark who can't get enough?
Text Color
And, what am I hungry for?  What do I come back to the table for?  When I've already eaten?  Can't get enough of?  As the Daddy, the adult, what drives my life?

Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.  Matthew 5:6

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer of '89

Nineteen years old.  Idea brimming.  Enthusiasm crazed.  Anything ready. Flying in.  Full of faith.

First vocational ministry position.  Summer Youth Intern.  Faith Baptist Church.  Anchorage, Alaska.  Land of the Midnight Sun.  Views as above from Lake Hood with Chugach Range were out my office window.  Float planes constant.  Mountain splendor ever present.

Serving under my former Youth Pastor & dear friend Sam.  Living with Sam, his wife Cheryl, & one-year-old Samuel.  Eating Cheryl's amazing Alabama cooking with a bread for every meal & deserts too except brekafast.  Driving the Green Machine.  BIG green GMC 4x4 stepside pickup.  Meeting a moose face to grill on my first drive in the Green Machine.  Suffering from "Midnight Fever" as I hardly slept for the first two weeks with latenight sunsets & gorgeous weather.  Experiencing God coming through on choir tour getting us a new church & big crowd in hours time.  Sharing the Cootie Awards as later on choir tour we had a lice outbreak & made the best of the long drive home by giving each other silly awards.  Paying my phone bill in apple juice.  Samuel drank lots of it.  I owed $22.  Drugstore had .99 cents sale on apple juice.  I bought 22 bottles.  Packed for me in liquor boxes.  I carried out with a pair of seventh grade boys.  It was the summer of '89. Learning about life, ministry, & myself all at the same time.

The lessons hold true twenty years later: love Jesus; pray hard; love people; preach the Word; ask questions; laugh out loud; cry when needed; sing for joy; try new things; take life as it comes; give yourself; walk in grace.

Great lessons.

Great place.

Great times.

Great friends.

Great experience.

Greatest God.

What a privilege to serve.