Living a Better Story by Losing

I think in stories now. I could blame Donald Miller for that but mostly I would just thank him. I would thank him because I’m living better stories now than I was four years ago. In some ways, I had no where to go but up. Four years ago I was thawing out from a long season of depression and burnout which had immobilized me in a lot of ways. The “Great Thaw of 2009” coincided with the release of Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years“. It just so happened that it was released the week of my annual Introvert Intermission, a week where I get away from everyone for a week of solitude and processing and where I avoid people and showers. Not that I showered with people before. Or after for that matter. I retreat to a place where the median age is 72. This is good for several reasons. By the time I get up, everyone is gone. I’m often the fastest one in the gym. I have very little physical competition at the pool. And by the time I get back from “town”, everyone is medicated and asleep.

onceuponatimeIt was by the pool where I read most of Miller’s book, soaking up the sun while raising eyebrows at the lack of skirt on my swimsuit. When I read about Miller’s journey to actually LIVE a great story rather than just THINK about living a great story, I knew he had nailed my issue. I think about a lot of great stories. It is easy for me to do because I live in my mind a lot of the time. I’m wired that way. If there were an Olympic event for day dreaming, I’d take gold and break records doing it. It would be a really difficult event to judge, I imagine. And probably incredibly boring. Like dressage (aka – horse dancing) and ribbon twirling gymnastics. But rarely did I make those dreams a reality. Mostly, I watched time go by and the dreams stay just that – dreams.

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Watching Somebody Love

“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz

I love this line from Donald Miller’s book and was stoked it made it into the movie by the same name. Miller was talking about sometimes people learn to love something – like jazz music or God – because they witness someone loving jazz music or God and it moves you. You can’t argue with it and sometimes it doesn’t make sense at all yet the proof is in front of you in how a person loves. Like that odd couple. You know the one I’m talking about; the one that makes everyone wonder, “How in the world did those two get together?” or “What does he possibly see in her?” If I ever get married, I hope people are whispering that about me and my man because that means I hit the hubby jackpot.

Hands holding sapling in soilThis summer our youth group worked with a guy named Joe. (definitely hubby jackpot material). Joe was a volunteer with a food bank and was in charge of their community garden. Joe loves vegetables and dirt and compost. He loves worms and fish waste and all things organic. Joe loves sustainable living and the natural world. I bet, at Joe’s house, he powers his toaster with a bike and showers in rain water he collected in his back yard. I loved being around Joe in the garden because Joe loved the garden. When a tilapia would defecate in the water, Joe’s eyes would light up. So many beautiful, organic things happening around him.

Joe’s love for his garden made me want to garden. His love for pooping fish made me want a pooping fish. His love for vegetables made me ….  well, it was a start.  By experiencing Joe’s love and passion for gardening, I was curious and even a little motivated to see if maybe this was something I could really love too. And that, my friends, is rich soil where seeds are planted.

The way we love is our most powerful witness yet Christians are more known for hate than we are love.

If we could fall madly in love with God in response to God’s mad love for us and just let that ooze out of us in every way possible, people will notice. People who really love like Jesus are weird. Not Westboro or fundamentalist weird but Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela weird. Like Jesus weird. People can’t help but watch them. And maybe they don’t love God. Maybe they even hate God. But they can’t argue with genuine love and when they see us loving extravagantly, maybe they will be a little curious and maybe even a little motivated to see if maybe this is Someone they could really love too.  And that, my friends, is rich soil where seeds are planted.

Have you ever watched someone love something so much that it motivated you to love it as well?  What are some signs that you’ve seen in others that love Jesus like Joe loves gardens? Leave a comment.

Make a Date with Redbox

blue-like-jazz-OFFICIAL-movieI watched the “Blue Like Jazz” movie on DVD this week thanks to our local Redbox. I loved it even more than the first time I saw it in the theater. If you have a Redbox in your town, go rent the movie. Better yet – go buy it, watch it and share it with others.

The movie is based on the same titled book which is a New York times best seller. It was published in 2003 and I read it not long after it.  I echo thousands of others who said upon reading BLJ – “I’m not alone!” Author Donald Miller courageously wrote what so many of us, especially those who had grown up in the church, were thinking and feeling. I remember sitting on a couch in a condo outside Atlanta on vacation with my parents feeling like I was reading my journal – a much more witty and intelligent journal but still.  And although the movie is based on the book, the two are very different.  The book is a collection of essays, not a story. They had to create a better story in order to tell the heart of the book. The whole process of creating that better story for the movie is the focus of Miller’s last book – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (another fantastic book that I highly recommend.)  I seriously hope I get commission on any purchases you all make.

If you are looking for a good movie to watch this weekend, considering renting it.  Grab some friends, your spouse or your dog and sit on the couch with some popcorn and a drink. Leave your assumptions or religious upbringing outside so that you can be open to what this movie wants to teach us. It isn’t a Christian film. It will offend a lot of Christians. If you are offended watching it, you may be missing the point. Christians need to laugh at ourselves because we’ve earned it. We are ridiculous. Our God is not. There is a difference. Some of us who are lifelong Christians and card carrying members of the church establishment need to have our world shaken so we can embrace a journey like Don’s in which we discover what we truly believe and Whom we truly follow.

If you rent it this weekend or if you’ve seen the movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Share them in the comment section!

Here is the trailer for the movie: