Friday, August 27, 2010

In Defense of Double Rainbow Guy

We are a culture who loves to laugh and mock, and I have joined millions of people in laughing at the "Double Rainbow Guy" (DRG) on YouTube for a few weeks now. I’ve been laughing at his excitement over the rainbow, wondering if he was high, laughing that anyone could be that excited about something so simple.

But this past week our church leaders studied Psalm 19, which begins with, “The heavens declare the glory of God. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language in which their voice is not heard.”

I don’t think that DRG is a Christian, but I he is responding to the God of creation. He rejoices, he even seems to weep, and he asks, “What does it mean?” Creation and beauty are meant to point us to God, to seek Him, to wonder at our place in this vast world.

But the Psalm goes on to say that we can know God even more fully. We can learn not just that God makes pretty things in the sky but that He wants us to know His ways and to rejoice in His character and heart and commands. The secret to even more fullness of joy than even creation can provide is to read and respond to God’s written revelation in the Bible.

I, frankly, wish I were more like DRG, able to wonder at the beauty all around me and not move on quickly to the next appointment or beeping gadget. And I hope that in his search for “what it means” he finds the God who was calling his name through the beauty of creation.

(Click below to see an interview with DRG on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE)

Double Rainbow Guy "Bear" Vasquez on Jimmy Kimmel Live PART 1

Double Rainbow Guy "Bear" Vasquez on Jimmy Kimmel Live PART 2

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


There is an acronym that is really helpful in understanding why children are misbehaving– HALT. Often times, acting out comes because they are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, and getting to the root helps you treat the cause of the behavior instead of the behavior itself. Sometimes my kids need a nap more than a spanking.

I find HALT to be very accurate and helpful for me, too. I remember in college when I was having a grumpy day, my IV staff worker would say, “When’s the last time you ate?” Usually she was right on the money in seeing that I needed to eat.

The past few weeks, I have been at a full HALT, and I have not been interested in turning to the Lord with it. I have been hungry, both physically (due to strep) and spiritually (due to not spending time in Scripture). I have felt lonely, missing the GUPY students. I have been tired. And I have been angry, feeling like the visible results of our labors in Glenwood are very hard to see.

Thankfully, God by His grace has begun to renew my heart and my will to spend time with Him. Simply reading through the Gospels and soaking in the life and words of Jesus has been getting me moving again. My soul is being fed, and I am willing to trust God with what I cannot see, easing my anger. I am connecting with Diane and the kids and remembering the friends that God has given me, easing the loneliness. And I am slowly remembering to rest and go at a pace that is less than breakneck.

It’s been refreshing and encouraging to see that God’s Word really does bring life, really does restore my soul, and I feel that I am on the road to health.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One Step at a Time

We met “Tracy” this summer, a new woman walking the block of our neighborhood. She would be around for a few days, then gone for weeks. Last night she stopped by the backyard, and as  I talked with her, I learned that she worked the streets to feed her addiction and to feed her kids. She said that was why we didn’t see her for a while, because she would go home to her kids.

She asked us for some food, and I have to admit she had picked a great night to stop by and ask for a plate, because Diane had me grilling a London broil. Not wanting to give her a plate “to go” when we could possibly spend some time talking with her, I asked her if she would come in and eat with us, but she said she was high right then and didn’t want to be around our kids while she was in that state.

So she ate her steak on our porch and then was back on the streets, not ready for the change that we offered to help her make. My hope is that this small interaction will spur me and Diane to prayer, and that Tracy will know that there is a place to find help and meal, and ultimately the love of God. I also hope that my readers who are pray-ers will pray for her as well.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I can’t express how much I enjoyed the 2010 GUPY interns. They loved me, my family, and our neighborhood in really wonderful ways, and became a part of our lives and a part of our home. Having them leave at the end of July was like losing 9 partners in ministry, and Diane and I are still a little sad that they are gone.

At the same time, our summer has taken a toll on us. Regular rhythms of Sabbath and prayer, of exercise and rest, were replaced by the opportunity for constant fellowship and ministry. I have been out of my own bed for 25 of the past 63 nights. I think that spiritual warfare increases during GUPY, while sadly my prayer life and times with the Lord, just me and Him, decreased.

And so I hit the middle of August depleted in every way. I’ve lost about 10 pounds that I don’t have to give (thanks to Costa Rica, a erratic schedule, and strep throat), and I’ve lost some of my regular spiritual disciplines. I’ve not been to my favorite coffee shop in weeks and weeks . I have not been in my church office in three weeks, and waiting on me is a transition to a new position, heading up small group and discipleship at our church. Diane also went to Costa Rica, and since we have been home, has been single-handing it around the house thanks to my having IV team meeting and then my being sick.

It’s hard in the midst of weariness to remain hopeful. In fact, it’s at this precise time that the Enemy attacks, showing me all that “isn’t” and belittling all that “is.” Yet I need to remember that I didn’t get weary overnight, and neither will I recover by tomorrow morning. It takes time to reestablish good rhythms of work and rest, and it takes time to rebuild my soul and body. But the really good news is that my standing with God has not budged a bit through all of this. No matter my feelings of doubt and fear, no matter my lack of intentional times in the Bible, I have remained His Son. I can not be more “in Christ” than “in Christ.” And that is the start of refreshing my soul.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not my summer poem

I chuckled when I read this poem about the lazy days of summer.  It sure does not describe my last 6 weeks.

    Let Me Live Grace-fully   by Ted Loder

Thank you, Lord,

for this season

     of sun and slow motion,

          of games and porch sitting,

               of picnics and light green fireflies

                    on heavy purple evenings;

and praise for slight breezes.

It's good, God,

as the first long days of your creation.

Let this season be for me

     a time of gathering together the pieces

          into which by busyness has broken me.

O God, enable me now

     to grow wise through reflection,

          peaceful through the song of the cricket,

               recreated through the laughter of play.

Most of all, Lord,

let me live easily and grace-fully for a spell,

     so that I may see other souls deeply,

          share in a silence unhurried,

               listen to the sound of sunlight and shadows,

                    explore barefoot the land of forgotten dreams and shy hopes,

                         and find the right words to tell another who I am.

Copyright © 1981 Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1981), p 131.

A place to call home (away from home)

This week my family had the gift of staying a couple of nights in the mountains at a home belonging to some friends from church. I can’t put into words how much I love the NC mountains, especially the Boone area, and it has been so nice to sit in the cool and quiet. The girls and I took a hike along a river, and it thrilled me to see how much they love discovering rocks and mushrooms and all sorts of plants. Our friends’ home was perfect for us, and we loved relaxing in it.

I don’t want to set my heart on the wrong things, but there is a longing to have a small place in the mountains, a home away from home, where I don’t have to ask permission  to use it when my family and I need to retreat. A simple place where the pantry is already stocked when you arrive, and where after a day of hiking and exploring, we can put our feet up and enjoy the quiet. For me, the mountains are food for my soul. The worries of life seem to be absorbed into the green, the heat of ministry is cooled by the slower pace and refreshing breezes.

At the end of a long and full summer, my soul feels in need of rest and retreat more than ever, and I’d love to have a regular rhythm of leaving Greensboro behind to recharge. It’s hard to justify wanting another home for something that seems so trivial as rest when many that I know and love in Greensboro have no home at all. And yet the longing is there, and I wonder if/how to pursue that as God leads.