Thursday, February 28, 2013


It was a dark and rainy Wednesday night at the church.

OK, it wasn't.

It was the normal bland and chaotic night of mid-week programming at the church. Adults shuffling through the required routines, children screaming delight as they run aimlessly, sometimes screaming just to hear it echo off steel rafters, a lone staff person weaving through it all, juggling expectations and volunteers in a barely watchable circus act.

The solo minister is approached by a Deacon. . .

"Hey there, Matt."
"Oh hey, Donnie."
"I was wanting to talk to you about the youth this summer."
"Ok, it's February though."
"I know. We were just talking about Vacation Bible School this summer."
"We were thinking the teens might not need a class this summer, you know, they're getting kind of old for it--"
"I couldn't agree more, Donnie."
"Well, you think the older teens could help out then with the younger VBS classes, you know, like be assistants and help the older teachers?"
"I was thinking the same thing! I think the teens are ready for something like that."
"So you don't have a problem making that happen?"
"Not at all Donnie, I think it's a great idea."

The following Sunday morning was dark and rainy.

Ok, it wasn't.

It was the normal rhythm of a practiced people, an intermittent parade of sincerity, intentions, plaid shirts and patterned blouses. The organ drew them into their reverent stupor, calloused hands ceasing  greetings, hard candy being reached for, and restless children already seeking the confines of imagination only found on the church carpet below the pews.

This Sunday, however, was Nominating Sunday, a particularly Baptist custom, run by the Nominating Committee--which of course, makes absolute practical Baptist sense. Nominating Sunday consisted of the Nominating Committee announcing who had accepted the nominations for the various volunteer positions in the church for the coming year: everything from the Ushers to the Sunday School Teachers, the Senior Saints director to the Holiday Decorating Committee. Unveiled before the church in awkward glorious display came the vast network of ministry labor leadership, a creatively stretched minority of the flock, a select few spirits whose sacrificial demeanor made them perennial favorites of servitude--or targets, depending on your perspective.

Deacon Donnie, chairman of the Nominating Committee, stood shifting from foot to foot, expelling name after monotonous name, waving the fuzzy-headed microphone like a lollipop long bereft of flavor or joy.

I sat in my pew, ready to poke out my ear drums with a carefully pointed offering envelope, but opted instead to grab the hymnal in order to find weird words in random verses of forgotten songs. I never did find "mine Ebenezer", for Deacon Donnie's voice pierced my trance as I heard the following words--

"And we're real excited this year about our Vacation Bible School, our VBS director this year is Matt Orth."

The youth pastor sat stunned for a moment, the hymnal falling from my grasp in slow motion, not unlike the scene in an action movie when the hero's partner (or girlfriend, etc.) is shot by the bad guy and the camera zooms in on their hand releasing the gun/necklace/flower, etc.

Donnie and I made eye contact across the golden-harvest-colored pews, his look letting me know what our conversation had been about and surely I knew that, right?

I laughed, bending over to gather to my wits, and stood dramatically, bursting forth from the rows to stand in majesty with the rest of the assembled ministers, a mismatched crew of excitement and duping. I thought it appropriate that I stand next to the Person Who Counts The Money This Year and the Family Life Center Scheduler, thinking in my heart that perhaps their conversations were something like mine (Do you like money? Good. Have you ever used a calendar? Excellent.) and maybe we were soul mates in the unpredictable world of volunteerism.

The Nominated turned into the Dedicated as Deacon Donnie blessed us with a prayer chock full of KJV pronouns for the "upbuilding of the Lord's earthly Kingdom" during the next twelve months.

I directed VBS that year and I don't remember much about it. I'd guess finger jello, catchy four note songs, and church adults poorly dressed as Bible characters were involved somehow. Oh yeah, and popsicle sticks. I bet there were a bajillion popsicle sticks.

 Over the years, the Nominating Sunday became symbolic to me of what eventually I named the "Warm Body Mentality" in many congregations. The Warm Body Mentality (WBM) is where a church decides what needs to happen program-wise in their church Body life and then they just find any ole Warm Bodies to make it happen. Calling, Gifting, Genuine Needs and intangibles like Faithfulness, Fruit of the Spirit, and Relevance don't enter into the equation of acquisition. What matters is a YES and a Warm Body making whatever the desired event or programming is actually happen.

I firmly believe it is one of the reasons we often sense a lack of vitality in our fellowship and concurrently a reason why so many young people often leave the flock never to return. . .

In the next post we'll cover some sources and dangers of the WBM, as well as some counter-cultural alternatives to combat it. . .

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Loony Tunes Kitchen

There's my sweet little Addi at 17 months. Her older sister introduced her to ipods and ear-buds already, under strict sibling supervision of course, and Addi likes to dance standing next to big sis.

What a sweetie. But Addi the Sweet earned herself another nickname this year, a name given to her from frequent moments she creates in our home such as this:

Addi does not like things in baskets, things in drawers, things in stacks or things in rows. She does not like them here, she does not like them there, she does not like them anywhere.

Kid Chaos does not like it when the room grows too quiet or the adults get too serious. If she senses a state of concentration, a semblance of order, settling into her habitat--she springs into motion, banging, clanging, pulling, pushing. . .or running to that magnetic refrigerator Leap Frog toy of madness:

The goal of the toy is to help babies make matches, learn their animals, pick up the tunes of some familiar kids songs and manipulate chunky puzzle pieces with their chubby little knuckle-less hands. The name of the toy is not Farmer Tad. That's the name we gave it because most times when you push the main button he yells at a decibel level usually reserved for jet planes: "HI! I'M FARMER TAD!" in an electronic voice supposedly simulating the dialect known as "redneck baby animal."

Push the button again and the toy begins to play such classics as The Farmer in the Dell and She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain, again at teenage garage band levels, but now in a synthesized banjo sound which could feature in the computer-animated version of the movie Deliverance.

Addi, aka Kid Chaos, tends to park herself in front of Farmer Tad right when older sister Micah is trying to do her math or when I'm cooking in the evening. . .

When I cook, I like to put on some music and make the whole process an enjoyable, and I don't mind saying, worshipful experience. It's the end of the day, the family is home, God is gracious and food shared around the table is one of life's greatest blessings. . .

I usually don't put on overtly Christian music (sorry Churchfolk) but something singer-songwriter oriented or a band that plays their own instruments and writes their own songs, something with no auto-tune or no sounds coming from a setting on a fancy keyboard.

I had some Avett Brothers on the other night and I was particularly excited about the evening's meal though now I forget what it was. . .and the music was playing, I was chopping and dicing. . .the night was good and full of potential. . .

Then sweet little Addi, the Chaos Spinner, ran to Farmer Tad and camped there, pushing the button repeatedly, sending out one after the other of demonic banjo kid's classics.

Have you ever tried to concentrate when there are two songs playing in the room at the same time? I'm lucky I didn't lose a finger. It's not that there weren't distinct melodies being played, it was that there were two melodies being played, chosen by two very different DJs with opposing agendas.

The dissonance in my kitchen from the competing songs is something I believe many of us live with relationally every day. 

It may be with our spouses, with other family members, with co-workers, or with God.

We have a song, a melody we want to play--that we demand to be heard! Our instrument will trumpet out its tune and it will be up to everyone else to get in line and play our song! I picture us, and myself in my pride, living our lives as one-person bands, strapped all over with many instruments, playing a solo of our own choosing (not unlike our friend Bert) and forcing everyone else to stand in the shadows with their little triangles, permitting them to strike the one note on the triangle whenever we deem best. . .

When good singers sing together, or good instrumentalists play together, they don’t all sing the same notes, but they sing the right notes: it’s what we call harmony.

One of the ways I like to view God is as The Great Conductor, conducting a Symphony of Redemption in the world. . .His wand of Patience and Sovereignty wooing all of our melodies to submit to being part of the music, showing us how we're all really called to be harmonies of the whole rather than solo melodies sending more chaos into the world. 

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Romans 12:16

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers and sisters, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8

The relational dissonance with God or with others often comes from a lack of submission of our "voices" and "instruments" to the Great Conductor. The attitude that others are "lower than us" or their melodies are not as important is not the way of humility and compassion. . .and not the way of those excited to play in the Grand Symphony of Redemption.

As we've said before here on the blog: We must love people for who they are and not for who we want them to be. You have to appreciate others' melodies and allow them to be that, trusting God with the rest. Don’t put expectations on them to be something they are not, do not demand a flute to sound like the saxophone you may be. (This paragraph is crucial for us married folks.)

If we keep our eyes on the Conductor, the notes we sound out won't be the same notes as everyone else, but they will be the right notes. He can masterfully weave our melodies into a myriad  of wonderful harmonies. I like the sound of that much better than the mind-numbing chaos of a loony tunes kitchen full of competing songs.

Matt O

Friday, February 15, 2013

Doggie Dichotomies Part 5

The war between the familiar and the unfamiliar is not new, and it will not be eliminated with some good intentions. In fact, it will never be eliminated; we will always have it with us as long as we have people with different experiences and patterns living in close proximity. . .

The problem for us church folk is we are finding easier and more self-indulgent ways to separate ourselves from each other. We are segregating into our factions of familiarity, personalizing our congregational life by preferences, and becoming our own islands of spiritual practice not just determined by theological differences but by who shares the same security blankets.

The young pups like Caleb denounce the old paths and old yards, mocking outwardly or inwardly the stubborn Dobermans who refuse to change. . .There is so much more out there they bark and yelp. . .and off they go exploring. Yet even the puppies can't stay in a pack--one thinks it's all about chasing cars, another is totally a digging-under-fences canine, and then there's the fetch crowd and the bury stuff in a hole puppies. I don't even have time to talk about the cat-haters and the just lay there and lick yourself types. . .

I agree with you Calebs. . .there is so much more out there. But it will turn to ashes in your mouth, a mist in the morning gone in a flash, empty calories that you thought made you full but left you hungry just a few hours later if you do not first learn the lessons of Buddy the Doberman. . .

You need to learn what faithfulness is. . .and it's not getting the same specialized latte at the same Starbucks every morning. It's those little old ladies who taught Sunday School at the church you now call dead or crappy or other more demeaning adjectives. The little old ladies that if you quizzed them on their theology (the theology you gained mostly from the one or two speakers you love at conferences and those blogs you frequent) you would find them lacking. And their teaching style? Gag me with boredom.  But those little old ladies prayed for every little Charlie and Nancy they ever taught, every week, probably every day. They showed up early for their class, knowing the curriculum, providing snacks, and greeting each student by name with a hug and a smile. And they did it for forty years. . .and no one sent them one email ever on a Saturday to make sure they'd be there in the morning. . .

You need to know that not all fences are an affront to your freedom and individuality. Many fences are what allow you to truly grow up into the awesome dog you can be. When you randomly dig because all fences are dumb, and when you roam off all the paths because you think they're dry things leading to pointlessness- you miss so much beauty, including the untold blessings of having a farmer's patience and waiting for the right season for the harvest to come in . . .

You need to know how to truly listen to someone's story without coming up with a punchline or preparing your own one-up story you can come back with. You need to know how to drink a cup of tea and hold a conversation without any cellular device being in eyesight. You need to look at old family photos, learning some names that aren't your Facebook friends and see what depths have been explored before you. . .

You need to know how to deal with death and suffering with dignity and grace--right now all you know are over-the-top weddings and whirlwinds of baby photos. The Dobermans know how to put together a meal for an after-the-funeral gathering, everyone pitching in to give the raw grieving shock a place to manifest and a home for the process of comforting to begin in--and many times they don't know personally the one who died. . .

For once, smell the old folks couch and clothes in their actual living room instead of just buying their stuff from a thrift store and calling it "so cool". . .

Hold some hands that actually fought in wars rather than just typing out a rant about peace in 140 characters or less. . .

Look into eyes who have seen their neighborhoods and homes torn down and their traditions discarded. . .yet have seen their own grandkids born and bless them all the same. . .

Listen to a voice that knows how to gently give wisdom in a world of yelling and posturing. . .

Taste the poundcake that wasn't made from a box or picked up at the last second from the sale rack at the local grocery store. . .savor that cake made by trembling hands holding a yellowed index card with a cherished recipe written in cursive, a card memorized long ago but simply held for the nostalgia of legacy and connection. Put your fork into a slice of something baked an hour before the sun even thought of coming up. . .

The buzz will wear off young puppies, and mortgages and disappointments and not-quite-dream-jobs will weave themselves seamlessly into the fabric of your lives. Pounds will be gained and hairs will recede and the tides of life will come faster and leave quicker than you'd like. . .and the lessons you need for those realities can't be taught by fellow puppies with tongues lolling and saliva dripping. . .

But most of all, the grand lesson of love is this. . .
We only truly love when we love the "other". We must learn to embrace folks who are different, for it is in the differences where we truly learn to give of ourselves. It is the primary lesson in marriage, and the way God expressed His divine Good Samaritan love for us. . .and if I were a more astute theologian with more space I could make a case that the Trinity itself is the perfect example of love and unity amongst diversity. . .

It is where the good stuff is.

The familiar and unfamiliar will always be in tension and always be with us. . .
We must realize the familiar and unfamiliar need each other. . .
And the church community is where we decide to learn from each other in self-giving love or splinter into isolated factions of self-absorption. . .

Matt O.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Doggie Dichotomies Part 4

Imagine you are a well-known and respected teacher in all of Christianity. . .

Actually, if you're being honest and being pressed on the issue, you're the most respected leader in all of Christianity. You studied at the best institutions under the best professors, reading everything of quality both on and off your required lists, with publishers bidding on the rights to every paper you turned in. . .
Your mind is uncannily quick to grasp truths and stack them in a logical, practical and accessible order. You are known for your ability to communicate complex concepts and the ways of the Lord; your zeal for Him is unmatched. Even your peers who look at you with barely restrained jealousy admit to your stellar spiritual integrity.

It makes perfect sense then when a threat appears to God, some upstart cult making trouble, that you are chosen to address the threat, to take care of it with passion, precision, and devotion. You know the value of God's ways, they are tried and true and you have walked, taught, and displayed them your whole life. This little insurrection is not from God--from everything you've heard they are rejecting the old paths, making a mockery of tradition, and elevating their leader as equal to the Almighty. . .

You check with the local and state authorities to see what kind of jurisdiction you have in stamping out the rebellion and find they've given you a lot of leeway, probably due to your reputation. There will be no joy if you have to use force, but you will use it if you must--the honor of the Creator is at stake. Checking to make sure you have the proper papers, you look at your assembled team, a response force of responsible God-fearing folks, and you head out for the place where the wayward folks have gathered. . .

It feels great to be out on the open road, doing the Lord's work. In fact, it feels incredible. You worked so hard for so long, never deviating from your goals, always being faithful to the bone with the gifts the Lord had given you. This task wouldn't have been given to a person with less zeal or less knowledge. . .this truth comforts you with each step of your mission. There is no satisfaction like knowing you are completely doing God's will.

As you approach your destination, your mind wanders to the various scenarios you may face, you begin to break them down one by one----

Your thoughts are interrupted by a blinding light--is it lightning? No, you saw no clouds--and this light is remaining, and growing brighter--it really is blinding! You cannot see! When did you fall to your hands and knees? You don't remember--but now you grope around in a light-caused darkness, overwhelmed, spiked with fear, trembling and sweaty--and from the light comes a supernaturally rich voice calling your name and it asks you a question:

"Why do you persecute me?"

You are doing the Lord's work, yet here is one like the Lord calling to you--it has been a long time since you have been this uncertain, this out of sorts. It's not just your reeling senses--it's the fact that here is something from the heavenly realms, your area of expertise, and you have no idea what is happening. . .so you ask the only question springing into your mind, the only question making sense to you in your senselessness. . .

"Who are you, Lord?"

This is a retelling of Saul on the road to Damascus from Acts 9, the beginning of where Saul becomes Paul. It is one of my favorite stories in all of the Scriptures, a story of perspective, arrogance, and humility.

We've been looking at the tension between the Familiar and the Unfamiliar in the church world (what I often call Churchianity) and our centering story has been that of Buddy the rigid Doberman and Caleb the exuberant puppy.

Saul thought he had everything figured out, serving the Lord fervently out on the road on a crucial mission. I don't think it can be overstated how committed to the Lord Saul was and how reputable amongst the leaders of Israel. It would seem unfathomable that he would miss God's ways.

Yet he did.

When the Lord showed up in the person of Jesus Saul did not recognize Him. The most religious person in all the land did not recognize the very God he represented. To be fair, the incarnated Word was not a form Saul would have expected but on the other hand. . .
He was doing the Lord's work but still asked "Who are you, Lord?"

What a sobering thought! What a humility-inducing concept if we'll let it sink in!
Is it still possible to be so consumed with Jesus and His work that we could not identify Him if He literally (or figuratively for that matter) showed up among us?

In the midst of our services, our songs, our programs, our small groups, our outreach events, our traditions, our liturgies, even our quiet times, if He really showed up. . .would we say "YES Lord!" or would we say "Who are you, Lord?"

And here is the scariest thought with this story, the one that should humble us all:
If we're the ones thinking something like "Not us, we'd know it was Him, we're doing it right" then we are the very ones who are in danger of not recognizing Him!

Don't believe me? Just ask Saul.

O Lord, in the midst of our busyness for you, our passion for your Name, our songs and our prayers for Your Glory---may we truly know Jesus and His voice. Humble us please. Amen.
Matt O.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Doggie Dichotomies Part 3

Jesus creates quite a stir in His public ministry. . .the "commoners", the masses begin to flock to Him and not just because of the miracles and healings (though that is a huge part of it). . .

They come because He teaches in a way that has authority. . .and the actual things being said. . .well, they aren't exactly what you heard in your Jewish Sunday School. . .

He attracts the attention of the religious leaders who come to question His authority, identity and the content of His teachings. In one story, he's questioned by some of the crowd who basically say:
"Hey, all good religious folk spend a ton of time keeping the ceremonial laws, especially regular fasting. Your disciples don't even fast. . .at all! What's up with that?!"

Jesus gives a brief response about celebrating at a wedding when the groom is with them--you can fast later! And then He drops one of His weirder chunks of wisdom:
"No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.' " (Luke 5:36-39)

Jesus was telling them He was bringing new wine (and was Himself going to be poured out like new wine, yes?) but He needed vessels who would receive this new wine. As wine ferments it produces gasses which puts tremendous pressure on whatever container they are in. . .new animal bladder skins could expand with the chemical reaction, giving the new wine room to "grow".

Wineskins which had already went through this process had already been stretched to their limit. . .if you tried to reuse the skin and place new wine in it, the expansion this time would lead to an explosion instead--and a loss of both skin and wine.

 I will try to refrain from preaching here too much (It's a blog, not a pulpit, Matt!) but one more little scriptural concept before our Buddy-Caleb application (that makes no sense unless you read parts 1 and 2). . .

Jesus also came as the Cornerstone. The centering stone and key-stone to the whole temple. . .which as He and the New Testament writers make clear was not the literal temple any longer but a living building made of people who centered and built their lives on and in Christ. The people were to become the temple, the place where God dwells, through the Cross and Tomb work of Christ and the presence of the Spirit. . .
Jesus the new (yet old) Cornerstone was a threat to the old temple and everything it represented. . .even though He is was the very fulfillment of all it represented! And here's the thing: Jesus is still the Cornerstone and is always the cornerstone and He is always building His temple in each community, culture, and era. And therefore, He is always a threat to the "old temple".

Buddy! You path-keeping Doberman! You have been faithful, you have run your course and you held the line, blazed the trails, and defended them. Wine was poured into you and you expanded with it and now, nearing the end, you do not have the capacity for new wine. . .this is OK, expected, and known by God. However, what is not OK is to then try to derail the generations behind you from expanding with their own new wine.Yes, your paths are worn and true and they have been beautiful things for you. . .BUT. . .there will always be new puppies coming along. . .

What is your duty with the new pups?

If Jesus is the wine metaphorically that we're talking about, a relationship with Him and following His paths of love, mercy, justice, humility and faithfulness then that is what you want to pass on. More than traditions, methodologies, events, preferences. . .pass on to the next generation the marks of Christ. It takes a wise and gracious ear to listen past the differences and hear the voice of the Cornerstone in the hyper puppies all around you. . .

Woe to you if you protect the wineskins and prevent others from enjoying their wine. . .

But, but, but. . .their wine isn't like our wine!! Jesus knew this complaint as well, remember? ". . .no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"

Each generation has an obligation to listen for the Cornerstone's voice and to build their lives (individually and corporately) in obedience and trust with that voice. . .

"But, but, but. . .these puppies are reckless and have no respect, and just don't get it!" Oh, don't worry, I will address them soon enough. . .but I still have another blog for you in Part 4.

But just remember this you old wise dogs: what happens to puppies?
Lord willing, they grow up to be wise old dogs too, don't they?

So this blog really is for them too. . .they just don't know it yet. . .

Friday, February 1, 2013

Doggie Dichotomies Part 2

(. . .continued from Part 1 here:

I can imagine Caleb and Buddy having a dialogue through the wooden fence that separated them: Buddy with nose in the air distractedly commenting to the frisky ball of energy the follies of living like a puppy and Caleb with paws and head bouncing around like he's watching a three-sided tennis match excitedly firing questions at Buddy one after the other about digging, freedom, and cars.

I mentioned in Part 1 how in our church life and practice there's a tendency to create dichotomies or Either-Or scenarios, it's either this way or it's that way.. . .some of the more familiar ones are Traditional vs. Non-Traditional, Hymns vs. Choruses, Our Denomination vs. Their Denomination, Young vs. Old, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, Our Baptism vs. Your Baptism, Our Holy Spirit vs. Your Holy Spirit, Our Version of the Bible vs. Your version of the Bible, and so on and so forth (I could go on a looooooong time here. . .)

But today I want to write about Buddy and Caleb and their respective styles of experiencing the canine life and in doing so, examine a tension I see in churches everywhere I go, to varying degrees, that I believe springs from the Either-Or mentality and can be seen running as a common thread in the dichotomies listed above. . .

Familiar vs. Unfamiliar

I could've expressed it in other terms perhaps but I think the words "familiar" and "unfamiliar" are closest to the mark. . .

Buddy learned one way of being a dog. He had his familiar paths and his familiar habits. Life was about order and staying true to his paths and mission of defending the world from the evils of squirrels. To him, he discovered the only way to be a dog and he would not deter from it. . .I mean, why would you when you had found the Essence of Dogness?

Caleb, conversely, felt that Dogness meant experiencing everything you could see or smell at 100 miles per hour. Dirt? Dig in it. Fence? Dig under it. Human? Jump on it. Smells interesting? Put your nose all up in it. Road? Run into it! Cat? Chase it! Neighbor's garden? Pee on it!

Caleb is the puppy who was going to get stung all over by bees or scratched on the snout by a cat or even tragically, the one hit by a car (thankfully he never did). Chances were high he was going to force us to have to apologize for his antics (we did.) He had no filter and no wisdom. . .nothing was truly familiar to him yet so it was all a big adventure. . .and he was opening himself up to great harm.

Buddy on the other hand was pretty secure from such dangers due to his forging and sticking to his paths-- his wonderful worn, familiar paths. He knew his trees, his boundaries, his squirrels.

Do one of these dogs truly have the right way to be?
Should we emulate Buddy or Caleb as we live as Christians in this fallen world?

Is the familiar right? Not necessarily.
Is the unfamiliar right? Not necessarily.

Is the familiar wrong? Not necessarily.
Is the unfamiliar wrong? Not necessarily.

That is what we'll be picking through during the rest of this series of posts. . .but I will tip part of my hand a bit. . .

To all you Buddy type church people: We need you. We need your wisdom and warnings; we need to appreciate your boundaries and see the amazing foliage on your trees. Calebs, many of us do come to harm because we have no caution and no discernment. Also, these Buddies have found great joy in chasing squirrels and because we are one family, we need to share that joy with them and cherish it though it may not be as personally meaningful to us--yet we will find a new, deep, and rich joy if we learn to understand why the Buddies love their familiar paths and squirrels so much. . .

But also to you Buddy folks. . .
There is more to being a dog than just staying on the same eighty yards of dirt-worn paths and ceaselessly chasing the same squirrels. There are great dangers beyond those familiar fences and comforting roads you've carved--but there great wonders and unfamiliar blessings too. We will tease all of this out more in coming days, but I leave you Buddies with a heartfelt warning, found in one of my favorite stories:

In the winter of his ninth year, the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright was walking across a snow covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As they reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed to his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow, and then to young Frank’s own tracks, which crisscrossed and meandered all over the field. “Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle stated with a scowl. “And see how my own tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that.”
Years later, the famous architect relayed how that single experience had so affected his outlook on life. “I determined right then,” he said, “not to miss most things in life…as my uncle had.”

Matt O.