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.