Sunday, May 18, 2014

the imagination train

the other day, I was having a drawing date with jane. that's where we go to a coffee shop, and I have a book, and she has drawing supplies and paper; and I read, and she creates art. she said,
"what should I draw?" I didn't have a good answer. so she closed her eyes and started thinking intently.
"what are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm getting on the imagination train."
"what's that?!"
"well, you don't have a ticket, you just get on the train, and it takes you to your next inspiration."

sounds like a fun ride! I could use a ride on the imagination train the next time I'm creating something new!
being a dad is fun.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

bus stories part 2

I spoke too soon about being done with the bus. I drove it today to shuttle people around for our church's beautiful day project. driving it reminded me of another story:

once I was shuttling some kids from one parking lot to another- it was a crisp fall evening. there was a pretty hyper young man on the bus who used to hang from the ceiling while I was driving the bus. that, and scream, and throw things, and other means of distraction.


on this particular night I was getting ready to drive, he was sitting behind me, and he crumpled up an autumn leaf on the top of my hair. I didn't know what he was doing, I just felt him messing with my hair while I was driving.

so there I was, driving on the freeway, with dried up autumn leaf on my head. then he began to pull on my seatbelt. (to preserve his identity, I'll call him David.) I said, "David! what the heck?! what are you doing?!" and he pulled and pulled that seatbelt across my neck- while I was driving on the freeway with a bus full of kids.

then the perfect storm happened.

a piece of leaf fell off my head and onto the seatbelt. at that same instant, I turn around to scold this young man. at the same time, he let go of the seatbelt. at that moment, the seatbelt turned into a slingshot, and shot that piece of dried leaf into my eye-ball and under my eye-lid- while I was driving down the freeway with a bus full of kids.
I was blinded.
with every movement of my eye, I could feel the leaf scratching my eyelid and eye ball. I panicked. I scread, "David! what did you do?!" "nothing." he said and immediately sat down in silence.

I slowed down, i blinked, I rubbed my eyes- all I could see was blur and all I could feel was pain. I finally got the leaf out and pieced together what had happened. I was so mad.  I called his mother. I clearly expressed my frustration and the dangerous situation that David had caused. I could tell that she had heard worse.

anyhow- the moral of the story is, sometimes driving a church bus is a hazardous situation, and could require safety goggles.

God is love.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

me and johnny appleseed-

if you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed that I've been a little obsessed with johnny appleseed lately. I guess its more than just lately- this guy has been somewhat of a hero of mine for awhile now. I first discovered this guy reading leonard sweet books- he mentions him from time to time. then I read a few biographies. I recently created a series of talks based on johnny's life for my students, centering on the topic of evangelism, and planting seeds of the gospel wherever we go.

most people think that johnny appleseed is a legend or a myth, but he was an actual, historical figure. he lived on the east coast, not long after the revolutionary war. walt disney made a cartoon about his life and its fairly accurate. in walt disney's cartoon, johnny is a farmer. he loves God, the bible, and apple trees. he sings as he works:

all of the people in johnny's world want to go west and settle the new nation of america; johnny would go too, but he's not big and strong like the other men. his only talent seems to be planting apple trees. in the cartoon, johnny is visited by angel that tells him to go west. johnny argues that he doesn't have the skills or the strength, but the angel tells him to go with what he has; to plant orchards that people can use for food and wood. and he sends johnny off with a bible, a bag of seeds and a cooking pot for a hat. the historical johnny appleseed was famous for his cooking pot hat.

as johnny travels, everyone can see that johnny is different. he doesn't carry a knife or a gun. he lives a simple life. he is single-minded, he is generous, friendly and grateful. everywhere he goes he plants seeds- not just apple seeds, but seeds of peace and kindness. everywhere he goes he makes a friend and leaves a tree. the historical johnny appleseed was well known for promoting peace between settlers and native americans. he was also known for his gentleness toward animals and his fondness of nature. 

the narrator of the cartoon says, "Yep, Johnny sure did bring folks a heap a’ happiness. Shucks, he weren’t lookin’ for thanks. He didn’t have time for it. He knowed a man can’t take no rest if he aims ta plant the whole darn wilderness in apple trees. And so it was for more than 40 years. John walked and planted that old frontier. Yes, sir! Forty years of walkin’ and plantin’. In the space of two score years this little man throwed his shadow clear across the land 100,000 miles square. And in that shadow you will find, he left his blessings three: Love and Faith and the Apple Tree.”

at the end of the cartoon, johnny is old and has a long white beard. there are orchards all over the land, thanks to johnny's work. we find him resting against one of his trees when the angel returns. johnny starts to walk with him when he notices that his body is still leaning against the tree. the angel explains that johnny's work on earth was done. johnny protests saying, "I can’t go. Got crops to harvest; seeds to sow!” and the angel says, "Now, now; Hold on boy. Down here on earth, your work is through. And yonder, well, we need ya, Johnny. Yep! We surely do. You’d think up there we’d have most all we please; but we ain’t. We’re kinda short on apple trees." that's all johnny needed to hear- and he marched into eternity, ready to continue his mission.

if I believed in patron saints, I'd want johnny to be mine.
I want to be that kind of guy: simple, gentle, focused, content. I don't want to live the same life that everyone else is living. I want to leave a trail of seeds everywhere I go: seeds of compassion, friendship, encouragement, truth and blessing. I want to spend my life cultivating a garden of faith, hope and love. and when its time to go, I hope that I leave behind an orchard of spiritual fruit that will last for a long, long time.
don't you?

we need to be thinking about these things- what kind of legacy am I leaving? what do I want to be known for? what do I want to live for? what do I want to be remembered for? because each of us are writing our eulogies in the way we live on this day. someday, someone will get up in a funeral home and share the way you were. you are writing the content of those statements with the way you treat others today.

we can all be a johnny appleseed. we can take the gifts and skills that we have and use them to bless someone else. and as we travel, we can leave seeds of encouragement, kindness, friendliness, insight, wisdom and practical help wherever we go. it could become a habit, as natural as exhaling. and just like johnny's seeds, our seeds can grow into something special.; "fruit that will last." and those seeds will eventually bear seeds of their own.

and just like johnny, we might seem a little odd, but then again, we might inspire someone else to do the same.

"John walked and planted that old frontier. Yes, sir! Forty years of walkin’ and plantin’. In the space of two score years this little man throwed his shadow clear across the land 100,000 miles square. And in that shadow you will find, he left his blessings three: Love and Faith and the Apple Tree.”

you've only got one Today, so make it awesome.
be awesome today.

God is love.