Miyah On the Monkey Bars

•October 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Miyah wanted to show me how good she is on the monkey bars on the playground at her school today when I picked her up…

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U2 in Raleigh!

•October 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been a huge U2 fan since the mid-80s when my friend, DJ, got me into them in our freshman year of high school. His older brother was in college at the time and was into the college music scene. DJ would learn about all kinds of music from him and we’d check out the bands.

Some other great music that we got into in those days: The Smiths, R.E.M., The Cure, Billy Bragg, and Violent Femmes.

Even though U2 have become one of the most well-known bands in the world today, I still think of them as the alternative, anti-establishment band that I was introduced to back before The Joshua Tree put them on the map.

The first time I saw them live was in 1987 during The Joshua Tree tour… and I haven’t seen them again until last night when they played at Carter Finley Stadium (home of NC State Wolfpack football).

It was great to drive 15 minutes down the street and to get to see my favorite band and one of the greatest bands of all-time! It was even better to get to see them together with my wife, Cherie.

The show was excellent…. with the highlight for me being “Walk On” with a snippet of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” that was dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi – the democratically elected Prime Minister of Burma, who has been under house arrest since her 1990 election by the military-controlled government of the country.

Also, “One” has always been a huge favorite of mine (especially the version with Mary J Blige)… so it was great to hear that song live. And the song, “Magnificent” from their new album, No Line On The Horizon, has quickly become a new favorite of mine. It serves as a worship song of sorts for me, with my favorite line being,

“Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar”

It was definitely a memorable night!

Zumba Class (For You… Not Me)

•September 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Our good friend, and Guatemalan native, Maria Elena, teaches Zumba classes here in the Raleigh area… and I think you should consider joining her class on Saturdays at 1:00pm.
She is an incredible person… and he has more energy than anyone I think I’ve ever met.
The classes take place at 241 Horizon Dr in Raleigh.
You are sure to have an incredible time as you get a great workout! Contact Maria today at tarheel.zumba@gmail.com or by calling her at 252-402-6002.

Idea Camp – Behind The Scenes

•September 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

ICDC Behind the Scenes from The Idea Camp on Vimeo.

The Idea Camp – In Review

•September 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I was in the DC area (Arlington, VA) Thursday night through Saturday of this past week for The Idea Camp DC – Justice Edition. From the workshop facilitators gathering at the home of a staff member of International Justice Mission on Thursday night… to the closing session on Saturday afternoon it was a great event to be a part of.

Here are some highlights:

  • Driving to DC and sharing some great conversation with my soon-to-be neighbor, Chris Marlow of H.E.L.P. and Randy Lawson of Agathos Foundation.
  • Meeting Eric Stowe, of A Child’s Right, in person. Eric, while working for Faith International, was our primary contact person through the adoption process of our daughter, Miyah, from Nepal. Our family considers Eric to be a special person because he was our lifeline to Miyah while we waited… and waited for the adoption process to be completed. He helped to keep us sane. What a crazy coincidence that Eric and I ended up at the same event in DC (especially since he lives in the Seattle are)! It was very cool to see him and to learn about the new work he is involved in with A Child’s Right. You just have to take their Clean Water Challenge!
  • Meeting Scott Page of Fellowship Church of NW Arkansas. Scott and I realized we have a mutual friend whom we work with in Guatemala. It was great to hear about the passion that the Fellowship community has for La Limonada. I’m looking forward to staying in touch with him.
  • Spending some quality time with Donnie Long, a fellow Lemonade International team member and my good friend, Damon Reiss, who is with Thomas Nelson Publishers. Good times!
  • Spending time with Ray (Lemonade Int’l board member) and Carole Strecker and sharing some meals together… enjoying some of the workshops together… and walking several blocks together through Arlington.
  • Seeing and talking with others from the church community we are a part of in Raleigh, Visio Dei. They have a huge heart for human traficking issues!
  • The “Guerrilla Warefare” (not what it sounds like) session with Hyepin Im of Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD). Hyepin shared some powerful tools for effective fundraising from her experience with KCCD.
  • The “Open Source Influence” session with JR Kerr of Park Community Church in Chicago. JR vulnerably shared from his years of experience as a “Task Force Leader” and how God has reshaped his views on leadership from being more of a dictator to being a facilitator… or what he calls an “Open Source Leader”. I loved his passion and transparency!
  • Sharing a discussion in a workshop with a great group of people on “Micro and Macro Views of Compassion & Justice”. I loved the passionate exchange!
  • Listening to Leroy Barber of Mission Year talk about his passion for “neighboring” (yes… he turned “neighbor” into a verb!). That’s a guy I would like to get to know more!
  • Meeting Todd Hiestand of The Well, outside of Philadelphia, and getting to learn about his heart for Guatemala.

The Idea Camp was the most unique conference I’ve ever been a part of. There was no “show”. It was simply people… gathering together to share their common passion for issues of compassion and justice… sharing thoughts and ideas on how to live out the Gospel in a substantive way in our cities and in our world.

Thoughts on Becoming Human by Jean Vanier

•August 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Thanks to the encouragement from a few friends, I recently read Becoming Human by Jean Vanier. I had read a few books by Henri Nouwen, who was deeply influenced by Vanier, but hadn’t read any of Vanier’s work until Becoming Human. He is known for founding L’Arche, communities of men and women with intellectual disabilities, which now exists in thirty-five countries around the world.

There have been several times in my life when particular books came along at just the right time, and that was defiinitely the case with this one. Through it, I have been reminded that every human being is to be valued, regardless of social or economic status, beauty, intellectual abilities, eloquence, artistic abilities… and that each person is created in the image of God.
Vanier takes the reader down a path of greater understanding of the lonliness we expereince as humans and the pain such lonliness causes. He then highlights the importance of belonging to a community of “others”, while also drawing attention to the fact that communities can also be dangerous if they become exclusive.
He then focuses on the power of healing that comes from open, honest relationships. He says, “When we are in communion with another, we become open and vulnerable to them. we reveal our needs and our weaknesses to each other”.
His words challenged me to consider what it really means to be human, when he said, “We tend to reduce being human to acquiring knowledge, power, and social status”… instead of realizing that it is “love that reorients us from our self-centeredness, revelaing to us and to others the basic beauty of humanity, empowering us to grow”.
Finally, Vanier encourages the reader to pursue forgiveness, which removes barriers we put up to protect us from being hurt in relationships again (which is inevitable). On forgiveness, Vanier says, “To forgive is… the greatest of gifts, because it is a gift of liberation from all the hurts of the past, hurts that prevent us from living fully and loving others”.
I’ve been encouraged by the words of this book to seek greater freedom in my life from expectations of power, success, control and a self-centered life (even though I believe the challenge to fight these things is a lifelong pursuit), and to seek to be open and honest in relationshps with a community that is inclusive, and to fogive and release others to live free of unforgiveness.
“To be free is to put justice, truth, and service to others over and above our own personal gain or our need for recognition, power, honor, and success. When we cling to personal power and success, when we are frightened of losing social status, then we are in some way denying our humanity, we become slaves to our own needs. We are not free.”

Miyah’s New Thing

•August 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

All of the sudden, about a week ago, Miyah just started climbing up the frame of the doorway into our living room… on her own. Cherie and I were talking to her while she was doing it this morning and when she got about halfway up, she turned to us and said, “I gotta stay focused” (with a serious look on her face).