On Ascent



“The gospel is fiction when judged by the empire, but the empire is fiction when judged by the gospel.” ~ Walter Brueggemann

The other day I found myself looking up.

I was riding my bike through the empty streets of Detroit and heard a thunderous noise.
As I took my headphones off and looked around I noticed people on there balconies and coming out of their houses to look up as military planes flew in formation over the city in solidarity with aid workers, and doctors and nurses; the heroes of our time. I found myself welling up with pride that something as glorious as these planes ascending was happening in our city.
People started to look around at each other with hope, like we felt seen after so many long days of uncertainty and loneliness.
Those planes gave us hope while letting us know we were seen but also who was still in charge in a way.
And thats fine and beautiful.

I started to think about the story at the end of Luke and beginning of acts of Christ ascending into heaven.

As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”

 When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”

He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”

These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”

Acts 1 The Message

In the passage we find a disciple asking Jesus before he ascends if now was the time Jesus would bring his revolution to Jerusalem and overthrow those in charge?
Jesus answered that they should wait and soon they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit and it would be even better than a bloody revolution.
It seems Jesus was always having to subvert their expectations about what His purpose was even until the end.

Why did the disciples not get it even at this point?
They had lived there whole lives under Roman occupation of an emperor who was touted as a God.
Actually, in 44 bc there was an astrological event referred to as Caesar’s Comet. For 7 days it was visible and everyone believed it was Caesar ascending to the heavens and becoming a God.
We know this because the comet and his face were a common image that was even printed on the money.

A kingdom who’s king is truly a God would have no end.

Before Christ ascends He gives them their mission, to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth and before their eyes he goes up into his glory.
I understand not wanting to look back down.
When I saw those planes the other day and it gave me hope, I understood that when I looked down, I’d be back in the same world we’re living in now and that hope of a better time would be far away.

When Jesus ascended he didn’t take the hope with him.

When Jesus ascended to the throne at the right hand of the father, He became closer than ever before. This is a movement I see through scripture. We keep realizing God is closer and closer until we get to the ascension. He’s not just a person walking around on earth but a person seated on the thrown ruling and reigning in and through everything who is now closer to us than the air we breathe.
Not only the that but the book of Hebrews in the New Testament says:

“We do not have a high priest King who cannot empathize with us in our pain.”

He knows what you’ve been through, what you’re going through and how it feels. He’s been lied to, betrayed, talked about behind his back, plotted against and now he is closer to us than he’s ever been and will be with us always.

When we find ourselves looking up, what are we looking for?

What we are looking up for reveals what our hope is in.
What some of the disciples were looking for revealed they still wanted a military coup.
What I was looking for revealed I wanted to know I was seen and better days were ahead.
Some of us are still waiting for Jesus to come back to reign, but he is not absent.

In fact there is no where he is not.
He has filled all things with himself.

But isn’t this a human? Yes.

then how can,

Just yes.

It’s a mystery,

Jesus Reigns above all and there is a human seated at the right hand of God who can empathize with all of our weakness, fills everything, and who’s kingdom has no end.

As they waited in Jerusalem the disciples were about to see how close this God was willing to get.

Let us set our eyes on things above where we will see the cross was just the beginning.


Experience Hope,

Apocalypse Please (Unveiled Hope)


Growing up we didn’t have a lot of DVDs.

The first DVDs we ever bought were “The Emperor’s New Groove” and “Recess: School’s Out”.
We didn’t even own a DVD player…
We were just so excited to even have DVDs in the house (and that they had weird mini-games on them) that my sister and I didn’t even mind we could only watch them on our 1999 Windows ME desktop computer.

As we got older our DVD collection grew and so did our taste which, I can only speak for myself, had some rough years. It mostly consisted of superhero movies and disaster movies.
“The Day After Tomorrow” was one of them.

I couldn’t tell you why I liked it.
Was it the bad CGI wolves, the early Jake Gyllenhaal, or just the idea of living through these sort of disasters?
There’s a triumph of the human spirit element to many of these movies, a man against nature aspect I’m sure I found appealing at 13 and it wasn’t something I had just found in “TDAT” (as us fans called it).
I really loved “Dante’s Peak” too, with Pierce Brosnan, and “Volcano” with Tommy Lee Jones. (Remember when volcano movies were in?)
(Maybe I just had a thing for volcano movies..)

The last disaster movie I saw was “2012” (in 2009).
Remember that one? (Really feels like they should’ve waited 3 years to release it.)
It was supposed to be the disaster movie to end all disaster movies, and for me it did.
I don’t remember liking or disliking it, just that it was there and afterwards I was apparently done with disaster movies (other than an ironic group trip to see Nicholas Cage’s “Left Behind”).

Right now in 2020 the film “Contagion” is the most rented movie on AppleTV as we find ourselves in a bit of a real life disaster of our own. Some have been calling such a time “The Apocalypse”. They may be half kidding but they wouldn’t be completely wrong.
Rather I would call such a thing “An Apocalypse”.

Apocalypse comes from a greek word meaning to reveal or unveil. It has a lot more to do with seeing what was behind something all along or seeing things in a new light and gaining a new perspective than it does the world ending.

(Wait really????)

(Yes really.)

(But what about judgement and volcanos and plagues and ice ages and Nicholas Cage????)

More like something happens that you will never see the world the same way again. Sometimes it takes a new context to see things as they really are, it takes a disruption, a new setting, even grief.
What’s revealed in a breakup?
Is it that we need to change?
Our flaws?
Hopefully after grieving or mourning a relationship we find ourselves able to see clearly what was behind our actions which can lead us to positive change.
This is a personal Apocalypse.
Another good word for something like this is an epiphany.

In this time of COVID-19, life feels like it’s on hold.

To be honest (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this),
I am often not sure what day it is.
It can easily feel like we’re missing out on so much living.
There are so many places I want to go that aren’t open.
There are so many concerts I wish I could go to, but what would that even look like right now?
Days can go by and I can start to regret that I didn’t get to go on that trip in March that I was excited about (like it’s my fault when it obviously wasn’t in my control anyway).

I find myself in a trap of thinking life is on hold and I’ll be happy when it just starts back up again. (What does that reveal about me?)

Life is on hold?

No this is life.

It’s happening right now.

It’s not the way you thought it was going to be and it’s not bound by the same old systems or expectations.

It’s been shaken.

Let us not get stuck in missing what might have been, we’ll find ourselves missing out on the life that is happening now.
Don’t let hope go by the wayside because we’re caught up mourning what might have been.

But what about when the whole world is grieving?

This is where we find ourselves now.

In this time of COVID-19 People are dying.
We don’t know when it will end.
Governments and systems that we’ve had faith in don’t seem to be able to agree on what help should look like.
Some people’s hope and frankly their religion, is politics. However, no matter where you fall ideologically, we’re seeing it’s limits.
There’s a passage in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament that says this,

“All that can be shaken will be shaken, and only the unshakable will remain.”

Times like these reveal undersides of how our society works.
How things can be so easily mismanaged and people can be thrown by the wayside.
It can be so easy to be discouraged and lose hope when I see my city has the third most COVID-19 cases in the nation as we mourn our world and those lost.

My dad reminded me a few weeks back of that Mr. Rogers quote about looking for the helpers.

The helpers come out in times like this.
Who they are is revealed.
I find hope when I see my friends planting urban gardens for everyone in their community.

I find hope when I hear about friends choosing to shelter the homeless in their own home.

I find hope when I find out friends were able to donate laptops for schooling to families with so many kids it would make your head spin.

But we’re not to stop there.

Friends we have more resources and connections than we think.
You need hope, look to those, and once you have that hope, join them in the way only you can.
It’s not just, “see there are the helpers”, it’s “now go and do like-wise”.
We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but in doing so we deny evil it’s last word and acknowledge there is good working even in this.

I pray all of this brings folks back to our simplest calling, to love God and love the world and others as yourself, all made in God’s image.
Let us mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. Let us not turn away from what is going on in the world right now but face it and feel it. Let us not lose hope that things can be made right and join in that good work.

Experience Hope,


There Is Something About Tables (I Really Did Not Deserve To Be There)


I often need reminding that I am invited to the table

Sometimes I like to trap myself to get something done.
Sometimes it is the only way it will get done really you know?
If you do not know what I mean let me give you a picture.

I’m in Ann Arbor at the moment, at a coffee shop, with no way of getting home until after midnight, it has become dark outside, and it is 15 degrees outside.
I have done this to myself…

Do you know what I mean now?

It’s just I can get so busy that I need to force myself to take sometime to reflect.

This last week was a special one for me.

Why you ask?

Because I have been kicked out of many Catholic places in my life but this week I was allowed in.
(One time I was literally chased out of a Catholic girls school by an elderly nun with an Irish broad. P.S. I had no idea it was a girls school and I was in the wrong building)

(I was also once kicked out of the Archdiocese of Detroit by a security guard that I guarantee you was not Catholic.)

I am not Catholic, I just like beautiful buildings.

There is a very large, very old and very beautiful Seminary behind my house that I have tried to sneak into several times to no avail.

This last week they finally let me in, but only to see the library.

That’s okay.
Libraries are just fine.

While my friend and I were poking around through hallways of Philosophy, History and Theology, I encountered several friends I have seen around town that I knew attended the school.

This is one of my favorite things, running into people.
(I’ve blogged about it before in “Connectedness and Other Made Up Words”.)
Brother Johanne, a friend we had run into, invited me to a Mass the next morning.
I’m a pretty outgoing fellow but a Mass sounded very intimidating to me.
He went on to explain this was not just any Mass but one in which he would be honored and recognized as becoming a priest!
(If anyone knows what this is called I would really like to know, I heard words like Acolyte thrown around a lot).

One problem…
It was at 7am….

My friend I was with opted out unfortunately but I felt I should attend and wanted to honor my friend Brother Johanne.

The next morning I grabbed one of my more available at that ungodly hour friends and with tired eyes…
Before the sun was even up…
We ventured back to the seminary.

As we walked up, the 100 year old building looked monolithic in the snow and early morning air.
The doors flung open and, not knowing what to expect, we were greeted and welcomed in by Brother Johanne himself in a white robe.
He said we were his honored guest as he paraded us in the front row of the most ornate chapel I have ever seen, seating us in reserved spaces near the front.
(Let me just say I am very grateful to my friend who did come and the woman seated next to me for giving me tips and pointers during this experience. And it was an experience in the best way!)

I was so proud of Brother Johanne.

After the Mass, pictures were taken with each of us and we were invited downstairs for a special breakfast where a table had been set for us and a meal prepared!
Eggs and sausage and toast and waffles and yogurts and fruits and cereal and everything you could ever want at the crack of dawn.

Looking around as we were seated, we were all honored guests.
Equals celebrating our friend.
I saw the variety of backgrounds this man we were celebrating who was raised in my neighborhood pulled from, each glimpsing different aspects of the life he lead, each bringing me to the conclusion that there was greatness present.
The kind that wasn’t above getting messy in life with others.

Later my friend and I would talk about these events having come to the conclusion that we were honored in such a way that we did not feel we could return such honor back.

Have you ever felt that way?

Like “Why am I here?”
“I don’t deserve this.”
“Do you even know me?”
“If you REALLY did you wouldn’t be treating me this way.”

In the Gospel of Luke, there is a scene in which Jesus is at a dinner party in the home of someone who was basically a pastor in that day.
(Picture the kind with two jets….)

At this meal it seems people were trying to impress Jesus for political gain and He Just blurts out at this party, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

If this isn’t shocking enough He then goes on to tell a story.

Jesus is good at stories.

C.S. Lewis talks about how stories slip past the watchful dragons of religion and dogma and are able to go straight to the heart of the hearer.

Jesus tells a story about a man preparing a great banquet (as one does).

This man invited many friends and family members but they all seemed to have excuses as to why they couldn’t come (been there..)

One man said I just bought a field and I JUST HAVE to go observe it… (This has happened to me but instead of a field it was a website)

One person said I just got some cows and want to try them out…

Another replied I have married (nuff said…)

The man throwing the party went and told his servant to just go out to the streets and invite everyone and anyone and then go further and invite more still!
Making sure to invite those who could not pay him back.
Those no one would EVER think to invite!
Those who may feel like they don’t deserve it or who maybe ACTUALLY don’t.

In many ways this is such a picture of love and to me of Jesus.
This is something no one could pay back.

I could never pay back Brother Johanne, but the thing that makes the guy throwing this party, and Brother Johanne (and in my estimation God) so similar is this: THEY WERE NOT COUNTING.

Rene’ Girard famously said when talking about how rain falls on the just and unjust alike, that “God gives without counting”.

Who we are or what we had done did not disqualify us from their great acts of love.
It’s a powerful thing.

We often think we have to sacrifice something to be in right standing with others or fulfill our obligations.
Brother Johanne, Jesus, and this guy who threw a banquette disrupt the idea that we have to sacrifice, make amends, or do anything to deserve this favor in the eyes of God.

Give without counting.

Shouldn’t we?
What if we treated even just one stranger we encountered that way.
What if we gave that kind of favor to someone who couldn’t owe us or pay us back?
Sounds like a film with Jim Caviezel and Haley Joel Osment from the 90’s to me (Pay it forward).
And if you say it is, well hey, even they got how life changing these sort of experiences can be.

There is something about tables.

In the example of this party, in the example of Brother Johanne, and in the example of Christ and the cross, we see we have been moved from a system where we feel we have to sacrifice to belong, to a table where all are regarded as family.

This is why I love communion so much.
At my church the table is open, to remember, to work together, to participate in and celebrate what Jesus did for us, a life broken and poured out.

The table shows that we are not distant from each other and God is not distant from us.

A dream of mine and of my church community is to buy empty lots like what will be next door to my house one day and build large community tables.
The kind where Luke 14 style blankets can be thrown.

Tables are where family is cultivated.

Experience Hope,


By the way if you need a table, my friend Brad makes some pretty nifty ones like the one in the photo above!!!

Hit him up!
You will be blown away by his work!!!

What Will Be

This is a blog I did for Shock The World; an incredible organization in Detroit.
To learn more and read other inspiring pieces go to ShockTheWorld.life

When you show people what chasing dreams can look like, it doesn’t make it easy but it shows them that it is possible.


Who did you dream of becoming when you grew up?

A police officer?

A painter?

A lawyer?

An actor?

A doctor?

In many of our lives we have had a dream but we have been told by others that it is just not practical; maybe we even heard it so often that we left such dreams behind.

Had you asked me 23 years ago what I wanted to be when I was older, I would have simply, and matter of factly, replied, “A FOX.”

That’s right-the hippest, most fantastical animal around.

I had a fox mask that I wore as I crawled on all fours throughout the dining room trying to make whatever sound it was I thought the fox made.

(Yes, I knew what the fox said.)

Now, maybe that dream you left behind was not transforming yourself into a small woodland creature roughly 1/8th the scale of your current size, but take a moment to ask yourself, “WAS IT REALLY THAT RIDICULOUS?”

Often we look back thinking opportunities have passed us by, regretting that it’s too far behind us for it to even be a possibility now.

This has been on my mind leading into 2018 as I’ve been feeling that dreams I had left behind are getting further away each day. As we get older we may even start to feel that time is against us or running out!

The thing is, I don’t think our brains were wired to constantly regret the past or endlessly worry about the future as we often do. If that was all there is to life, then those are very depressing thoughts. Thankfully, endings aren’t always the end and death doesn’t always have the last word.

I was raised hearing stories from the Bible.

Stories about Jesus and miracles. Stories about things thought lost being found and things made so wrong being set right.

As a Christian, I am a firm believer that the idea of resurrection is firmly woven into the very nature of the world.

That true justice restores things to the way they should be, which often looks a lot more like mercy. That God, who created everything, is a God of resurrection.

Death is never the end of the story. Or the end of a dream.

The reason most people miss their moment is because people give up on it before they get to it. Last year I felt there was a verse from scripture that I should carry with me. It was in the back of my mind all of 2017 and it is super practical,

“Let us not grow tired of doing good for in due season we will reap if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

I have also heard this verse summed up with the simple phrase, “If you don’t quit you win!”

Whatever that dream is that you wanted to do, or maybe are doing but you are discouraged about at the moment, don’t give up. The story is not over yet.

To quote a hero of mine, “This is not the end, but a fantastic beginning.”

Have You Ever Seen A Portal?

I wrote this post after having worked on and the “poiema” project which can be seen here: https://couragechurch.com/poiema

Enjoy the video?
Please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it.
Gold Box.jpg

Expression as tools to build bridges.

If you were to ask me what this curious golden metal container in the middle of downtown was several months ago, that question is what I would have responded with.

I was curious myself when it popped up, and once I found out what it was for, I knew it had to be a part of this project.

You see these containers painted gold and dropped in the middle of seemingly random areas, are dark when you walk in, but then, all of a sudden, right in front of you, appears a person from a distant land, in as much awe and wonder and confusion as yourself.

Using hidden audio visual technology they are able to connect you with others in similar portals, new friends in some of the most misunderstood places in the world. This is all in an effort to de-stigmatize cultures, cities, and nations through creating unlikely community. From Afghanistan to Cuba, from Myanmar to Korea, and Rwanda to The United Kingdom, it’s no wonder Detroit is on that list.

See we have a tendency to see a movie or hear news that paints an area or group in a bad or dangerous light. This only naturally makes us not want to go there, whether it is out of concern for our safety or just thinking it would make us uncomfortable.

We take bad testimony pretty seriously. Sometimes more seriously than good. But something even more powerful happens when a relationship is sparked.

Preconceived notions start to dissipate and new ideas about people or places begin to form. Someone who is prejudice towards a people group can’t be for long if they make an unlikely connection in an elevator, embrace one of them as a friend, or hear their plight. Friendship changes minds and hearts. I watched from my place of business across the street for months as groups of people from the city and the suburbs would walk into this golden box and learn from someone across the world their history, a traditional dance, play music together with them, or just listen to their personal stories. When they left they were so often astonished.

In 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul says we have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” and “From now on, regard no one according to the flesh.”

This is actually the only time ministry is really referenced in scripture.

The church as a whole is a beautiful, multi-faceted, multi-cultural tapestry of diverse ideas and people that are united by a come thread; the spirit of our Lord Jesus christ that unites us, His image. When someone wanders into our church culture, what should they walk away with? When it is truly seen, what should people say it looks like?

What draws them in?

Can they relate?

Jesus can relate to them but if we don’t look like Him in our ways, how will they know Him and how good He is?

The reconciliation Paul was talking about means friendship and we see how powerful that can be.

This is our job.

Our one job is friendship with the world Jesus so loved.

That is what changes peoples hearts and minds.

We begin to relate with others and it is so powerful that even those who hate have to reconsider themselves in the throws of real relationship.

So if you see a portal in the middle of your city, Don’t be afraid.

They bridge places and reveal things we couldn’t have seen otherwise. That is their nature.

They connect us.

That connection causes us to grow and look more and more like the image of Christ that we are.

In the Poeima video, Pastor Jacob talks about how poems, songs, and art are expressions that become tools to connect us when we’ve been through pain and heartbreak, Laughter, joy and tears.

This sort of art, much like the golden box in capitol park, show us that we have more in common than we think.

What does it look like when we act with an understanding of this commonality?



We see this acted out in scripture in Acts 2:42-47, an image painted for us of what the early church looked like.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Experience Hope,


Time Long Past (It’s Been A While)

Packard Couch Pic

I Have To Believe We Can Change

It’s January 2nd, 2017.

That feels so weird to type let alone to say it out loud.
When I eventually do.
I have not yet and I am not sure if it is because I am avoiding her or it just has not come up. (Wait her?)
That is correct 2017 is a woman.
At least I hope she is a woman; one that will be more gentle and supportive than years past.
Some of us could use it.

Nothing Changes On New Years Day

Around the beginnings of a new year we tend to hear quite a bit of talk about new starts, starting fresh, new beginnings, but what changes from December 31st to January 1st?

I know I am the same person with the same circumstances and problems and visions and dreams that I was 3 days ago and a lot of my friends are too, but there is this insistent resolve that things can be new.

In ancient Hebrew culture there was this concept of a sabbath year.
A year of rest.
Israel’s God commanded a year that came every seventh year in which you would not work.
I am sure that sounds amazing to some and probably just as much terrifying to others.
“What would I do with myself in that time?”
Even the land would get a much needed time to rest up and not have to strain to bring in the next seasons harvests.

Sound crazy?
Well get this!

Every 7th 7 years they were commanded to have what they called the “Year of Jubilee”.
A year in which all the slaves would be set free, the debts would be forgiven, and the land would be given back to the families it originally belonged to.
Doesn’t that sound both insane and amazing?!
There are very few circumstances in which I would use the word jubilee to describe the joy that should be had and this sure would be one of them!
What kind of God would command such a thing of His people?

One problem.
From what I can tell, they never actually did it.

Israel’s God knew what they needed, knew that His people’s hearts longed for things to be restored and made right. This way of living was supposed to be a sign to the nations, an example of how to do life, that things can be made right!
This sounds like something we’ve been yearning for too (and also sounds eerily similar to the plot of Mr. Robot).

We Need Things To Be Made New

Fast forward a few hundred years and God sent His Son Jesus to wipe the debt clean, to be the jubilee that His people never could give themselves.
To clean slates.
We all need a fresh start sometimes, time to reset, and for many this is what the new year marks.

It is almost like we feel we have built up a debt made up of our problems, pain, regrets and struggles of the prior years decisions and we need this debt to be wiped clean.
But guess what?
Jesus cleaned our slates too!
He is our Jubilee!
Jesus came into a broken family and world and restored it.
Imagine if from now on He was our starting point.
You will never walk alone in 2017 with Him.

Time Long Past
You know that Auld Lang  Syne song?
I am sure you know the tune. (Google it if you do not).
It is sung every new years eve by many people all over the world.
The song itself though is actually one of remembrance.
To remember what has past as we move on to bigger, wilder, and better things.

Many people, myself included, seek direction at the beginning of each new year.
This year I am not looking to start over.
God showed me a lot in 2016 even though for me those 365 days involved more change than any year of my life I can think of.
I know He has a better story for me this year but it is built on the shoulders of everything I went through in the previous year.

All of the vision and dreams I dreamed with Him and others do not go away in 2017 but are carried over and developed further into it.
The past becomes the context in which the future is revealed, and I am hopeful for the future.
I am hopeful things will change for the better in the long run.

Isaiah 40 says “Those who wait upon the lord will find their strength has been renewed”.
That sounds great but this waiting involves suffering, something I know I do not like to acknowledge at times.

So do I still want it?
Yes and I know it will be worth it.

Galations 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
I heard someone the other day sum these statements up in this simple phrase:

“If You Don’t Quit, You Win.“

So continue to dream and act.
Try things and make mistakes cause it means you are trying things.
Use 2016 as a platform just as each previous day is a platform for the next and every breathe is a second chance.

Experience Hope In 2017,

Mon Gratuité (That’s French I Think)


“To humbly and proudly return what you have been given, that is the meaning of life.” -Fr. Richard Rohr

I am feeling very grateful.

It has been an odd week with unexpected needs coming up.
These needs begin to worry me and then end up getting met from unexpected places!
It has been the coolest thing!

This has me thinking.
Have you ever experienced that kind of gratefulness that is just welling up inside you?
The kind that needs to come out but at the same time it is very difficult to put into words?An appreciation for everyone and everything that has brought you to this moment even if this moment does not necessarily look the best from an outside perspective or may not be where you thought you would be, you are just happy to be in it.

I have been thinking about how gratitude is contagious.
A friend of mine once said that being thankful for your food and drink imprints on it and makes it better for you.
He called it intelligent molecules.
While I have no idea if that is true or not I do believe it also imprints on others around you.
Gratefulness is contagious and healthy. I want to see it spread.

Gratitude also changes you.
I liken it to a religious experience.
The kind in which it is not that you feel something but you feel nothing in the same way after and you just have to share it!
It actually comes with a need to return the kindness.
I heard it once said that to humbly and proudly return what you have been given is the meaning of life.

So live life from gratitude; live in such a way others are grateful for life as well.
This changes everything!
How we interact with each other, our problems, and even our good times, through this lens, can change the world.

So with all of that in mind I just wanted to say thank you.
Thank you so much to my family for always being there.
For teaching me so much.
For their patience.
For being such an amazing example of what it looks like to think, love, be generous with what you have been given and hold it loosely.

Thank you to my closest friends.
Growing and dreaming with all of you has been and will continue to be such an adventure.
To the one who I myself caught gratefulness from this week even in the midst of uncertainty.

Thank you to the friends I may have only even been around a handful of times or that have been separated from by distant.
I appreciate you and can feel your support even from afar.

Thank you to those who have taught me so much over the years. professors, teachers, mentors, pastors and employers who were available and showed me how to be as well.
For the wisdom you have imparted.

To those who took a chance on me.

Thank you to those who have been like a mother or father to me when I needed it through your availability and hospitality. From the snow plow driver who stopped when I was in need to the family that has always been so supportive that I do not see enough but when I am in their home it is so warm and welcoming, I appreciate you.

Thank you to those who taught me more in one night in the woods or in a tunnel than others could over years and years.
There was magic in those nights I am still realizing and whether you know it or not, the experiences I had then changed the way I see the world forever.
There is something heavenly that happens when you find yourself in a space where it seems like time stops and you learn more in moments than you have in entire seasons past.

Thank you security guard woman in this building who smiles whenever I walk in to go to my favorite coffee shop where I am currently writing this.
It is light in the this place.

I am thankful for the life and health I have and I am thankful for the hope and opportunity I have.
I do not want to take this lightly.
Someone had to pay for it and for them I am also grateful.

To those that press me and challenge my thinking.

I am thankful for roommates.
For the times they celebrate with me and the times they mourn with me.
They help me be present.
Stretch me.
I find later that it is good to be stretched.

And last but certainly not least I thank Jesus for being with me, for having always been with me and for going ahead of me.
A truer friend I have not found and he can be that for you as well.
Just ask.

Experience Hope,

Better Stories (Guest Blog)

We have a guest blog this week from my awesome friend Chris Johnson!
Chris is an amazing speaker, guitarist, failed vegan, and hustler.
Here he explains something we have been working on and super excited about.
Please check it out and share!

______________________________________________First response

Hey friends,

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a blog post on here, and there’s good reason for it. It’s about time that I catch you up on what we’re doing here with Everything is Light…

From the inception of this idea I had called “Everything is Light”, my intention was to spread hope and to insist on the fact that there is light in places you don’t think to look. Week after week of posting on the blog (which will continue to be active, maybe just a little less active, by the way), I began to notice that I was only sharing my perspective. The stories that were being told were only mine, and although there is a time and a place for that, my dream had always been to open up the conversation, not just write a one-sided blog every week and let the story die there.

I went out to lunch on a Wednesday a few months ago with my friend Drew. I talked with him about what I was spending my creative energy on and how I was feeling about the future of this site. We talked about all that we wanted to do with the Everything is Light concept. We talked about, if I were to switch things up, what that might look like. We started to dream up the next chapter of the Everything is Light story, and here we are now. After a couple of months of hard work, planning and praying, and getting more people on board, here we are. I want to explain to you what’s going on…

We are building lamps. Not just any lamps, but awesome, super cool Edison lamps. We are using unlikely materials (repurposed wood, industrial piping, vintage cigar boxes, you name it)  and turning them into instruments of light. Our hope is that every lamp that we sell is a constant reminder, whether it’s in your living room, kitchen, or on your bedside table, that there is light where you wouldn’t expect it.

We are using what we are able to raise from the sale of the lamps to help us fund the Everything is Light podcast, which is launching by the end of this month (September). We will also be using video as a medium at different times, if the story calls for it. The news can get depressing, Twitter can get overwhelming. In general, we believe that the stories that we’re told and the stories that we tell ourselves just aren’t very good. We want to be a midweek reminder that there are better stories out there and we want to be a place that tells those stories. We are collecting stories right now, and let me tell you, some of these are absolutely soul-changing. We can’t wait to show them to you.

We will also be adding some things to our online store so if the lamps aren’t your thing, after you’ve checked your pulse to see if you’re even still alive (I mean COME ON! Who doesn’t like those things?), we’ll have shirts, necklaces and a whole slew of other things being added very soon. We are selling unique, one-off pieces from cool things that we found at antique stores and have turned into lamps, and we’re also selling some awesome made-to-order replicable lamps.

We want everyone to be a part of this. We believe everyone could use a little bit more hope. We believe that we are filling a need that we see in the world and we would absolutely love it if you were to join us in this cause. Click here to subscribe to our email list. This is how we’ll let you know about new products on the online store, new podcasts, videos, you name it.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for being interested! We’re so glad to have you join us on this journey! If you’ve been reading these blogs consistently, thank you for following along! I hope that this is even half as exciting to you as it is to me. Here’s to a new, better story!

Let there be light.


Experience Hope,

Drove to Chicago (All Things Know)

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The six minute adult contemporary version.

I used to really love driving.

Years ago when I got out of high school I drove everywhere and anywhere my friends, or the concert, or the party was at (usually to the other side of the state).
One of my best friends and I used to drive to Grand Rapids and back every week.
That same friend and I drove straight through to Orlando last year just to meet some of our podcast heroes!
Even Crazier was when we drove straight through to colorado with no place to stay (so I know about driving long distances)!

What I really want to talk about though is Chicago and Peace.

It’s been such a crazy and busy year and because of that I have not really gotten to go many places.
If you have been around me at all in the last few months you know I had this itch in my soul to go somewhere.
Last week it finally happened!
We drove to Wisconsin, Chicago, Grand Haven, and Sandusky Ohio and let me tell you I’m a bit tired of driving (I sound so old in this one).

Chicago was crazy.
I’ve been there a few times before and I really love that city, but if you know Chicago you know it is very fast paced.
It is busy and it never stops (very different from Detroit).
I really wanted to experience the beauty of the city and to be present in it.
I tried so hard to look up with wonder at the buildings and all that was going on but I had such a hard time especially with getting caught up in the flow and busyness of the people all trying to get where they needed to go and it just would not seem to let me slow down.
No matter how hard I tried, distraction and rushing from place to place was inevitable (Pokemon Go did not help much either).

Sometimes we get into different places, stages and circumstances in life where it can seem we are caught up in a flow or routine that maybe we do not want to be in or it’s bad for us. We struggle trying to be present and not just let life happen to us or carry us away.
To really live abundant and full life.

In the last few months I have had a really hard time getting out of a flow that was not good for me. It felt like life was happening to me and I was along for the ride.
Actually it took a real shock in the last month to wake me up!
Not that I was asleep but I was so restless and frustrated with knowing I was not doing what I was supposed to do and not doing anything about it.
Can anyone relate?

I just was not at peace.
With myself, my situation or others really.

There is a story in the Bible (Mark 4:35) where Jesus and His disciples are in a boat during a storm.
The disciples are freaking out!
They are caught up in a flow carrying them away.
Caught in a situation they did not want to be in they went down and found Jesus sleeping on a pillow.
They ask him if He even cares that they are all about to die!?
So Jesus gets up, says to the storm “Peace. Be Still”, the storm stops, He drops the mic and walks away.

How could He do this?
Where did Jesus get this kind of authority?
How is it that He was able to rest in the midst of these crazy circumstances?

I have a word I made up for the kind of sleep that is so good, refreshing and empowering, despite whatever is going on in your life.
I call it “Jesus Sleep”.
Where you are not phased, and when you are awake you know that despite all that is going on around you that everything is going to be ok.
It is like you are in a new flow that is greater.
Really Sabbath is what it is.

Have you ever heard that word Sabbath?
It is a Jewish thing.
On the seventh day they were commanded to rest in such a way that they were not even allowed to work or make food or do laundry.
That sort of thing would drive some crazy today but it had a brilliant point to it.
Do not do a thing.
Look around.
You have let go of control and schedules and lists.
Know that your world still turns without you.
That it is not in your hands but the whole world is in His hands!

This can be very freeing.
In fact it can free you up to really rest, and in that rest you can find powerful peace.

You know how at Christmas we sing about peace on earth good will toward men?
What if that is where it starts?
When you find yourself in this new flow where there is powerful peace, good will toward one another is how it spreads.

There is a scripture people misquote a lot.
It says that “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
He does not promise order or that storms will not come, but there is peace through resting in Him through the chaos.

Real and abundant life is to be at peace with God and yourself.
My pastor told me the other day that “peace” or “shalom” in hebrew meant to them to destroy the authority establishing chaos in your life.
We can do this by rising above it.
If you are living from the chaos you will get swept away in it, but when you are living from rest in the One who in the beginning hovered over the chaos (Genesis 1:2), you will automatically be above it.

This world has a pattern, a flow.
I was in a different pattern and flow when I used to drive everywhere all the time.
It is an easy one to get caught up in.
Hung up on busyness, keeping schedules or world news that is out of our control.
Outrage is easy too, but it does not help.
There is however, another flow that we can all be in when we rest in the One who holds it all in His hands and is not phased by it.
Who brings peace in the storm and meaning in to the meaningless.

If you are reading this and you don’t know Jesus as one who can bring peace in your life I’d like you to.
Ask Him to show you.
He will.
He will show you a peace that surpasses anything I can understand, put words to or imagine.
He is that good!
Just rest in Him.
Let go of the things we try to hold onto so tightly that have never really been in our control to begin with

This kind of peace is something that gives me hope for it all.

To know Him is to know rest and peace and life and hope!

Experience Hope,

Some amazing friends and I are starting an organization on Monday called Everything Is Light with the purpose of communicating stories of great hope through all sorts of different mediums.
Also we will be selling lamps!
They are pretty cool.
I made this one yesterday.

Til Monday we will be doing a countdown to launch our site and we would love for you to be a part!
So get excited with us and come see us Monday at EverythingIsLight.org


Connectedness (And Other Made Up Words)


I have been seeing way to many people at intersections lately. I love it!


I’m back.
And I am wet.
Missed you all.

Life has been crazy.
House is looking great.
Detroit is amazing!
People are awesome and God is good.
Just last night we gathered and sang and dreamed and ate together at the Reach Detroit house.
Feels like I’m getting back into a flow of things so I can once again articulate thoughts and ideas.
At the same time so much has changed and there is a restlessness about it but somehow I have a lot of peace.

I am currently sitting in a coffee shop downtown in an effort to escape the rain and the thoughts and ideas started to flow so here we go.

A few minutes ago the coolest thing happened!
I was running across an intersection in the rain and I saw a friend from the complete other side of the state running to coney island (hopefully Lafayette if they know whats good for them).
Just before I could try to get their attention I totally blanked on their names. (I am so sorry Pace’s).

I live for those moments.

About 3 years ago I took the “Strength Finders” test in college (it’s worth looking into). The results told me that one of my major strengths I bring is connectedness (Totally get that from my dad and his dad and I’m sure his dad before him).

I’ve been seeing way too many people I know at intersections lately.
I guess thats where people intersect.
Our lives constantly crossing paths and forming bonds, relationships and communities.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk lately about how we are so plugged in to technology and virtual worlds that we become less engaged with the world around us, isolated. People I know have used those sort of ideas to make generalized statements about what my generation values and how much it differs from theirs like it is a bad thing. Maybe in some cases it is. Too much of anything is a bad thing (even cheesecake….).

One Thing I can say about our world right now is that we are really great at connectedness! We have all seen businesses funded, wells built where there was no clean water, and good friends of mine had their dogs surgery funded in less than 3 days by asking for help!

We are fantastic at this kind connectedness.
Good job world!

What I would like to talk about though, and maybe this is me trying to motivate myself, is that while we are great at rallying around, affirming and supporting digitally or even from a distance, there is a more personal kind of connection that I find myself lacking in at times.

Going out of my way lately to meet with people I had been meaning to has seemed to reveal a lot about the nature of this and even lead to amazing opportunities.
Talking with one of my neighbors the other day, she suggested that something even as simple as going to your neighbor and asking to borrow sugar creates a very down to earth trust, a “we are in this together now” feeling that strengthens relationship and community.

Who is your neighbor you might ask?

When Jesus was asked this question by a hater in the crowd trying to trip him up He responded in a very kung fu zen master like way that only He could, with a story.

In Luke 10 He tells of a man who was on a road trip and got into some trouble. A pastor and a worship leader walked by him but did not want to get there hands dirty helping him out so they kept moving right along. Then someone who was of a despised ethnicity in that day came along and more than helped the man out.

Jesus asks who was this man’s neighbor?

The answer of course is the one who had mercy on him.
The one who was there with him in his present time of need.

Jesus then uses His killer catchphrase “Go now and do likewise”.
(Jesus style kung foo wins every time).

But what if you are the one who needs help?

Please do not isolate yourself and feel like you cannot ask for help.
In the most famous “sermon” of all time Jesus had this to say. This did not make sense to me until it was pointed out recently.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you, if your 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! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 7:7-12

I always thought this was talking about how we should pray or be right with God.

Look closer.

This is a model on how we should posture ourselves when we are in need!
Ask. Seek. Knock.
He even mentions how we have silly worries that people would say no or give us something harmful.
It sounds ridiculous when you think about it but I have definitely had those irrational thoughts and fears before asking some people for help.

How would you like to be treated when you are in need or feel stuck? Treat others that way.

God gave a good gift of himself in his son and we get to give good gifts too!

Community is a powerful thing.
We need each other!

I see God in connectedness.
Moments like seeing people I do not get to see often enough at intersections seem to pull me right out of my head, out of planning my day or contemplating the last episode of “Stranger Things” I watched on netflix, and reconnect me with the present moment. It is a very powerful thing to be present with those in front of you and around you.

Open yourself up to the people that have been placed in your path.
Be the one who is there with them in their present time of need.
They are there for a reason and with the opportunities and care we can give for each other, the possibilities are endless!

Experience Hope,