We know that art imitates life. Life also imitates art. And somewhere in between, we explore nature’s blueprint as we each try to figure out who—and what—we really are.
Sitting here in my writing sanctuary, I’ve become distracted by movement in the woods just beyond my window. A woodpecker is making his way up a long, slender birch tree, stopping ever so often for some investigative pecks. He visits our woods regularly. I frequently hear his rhythmic knocking, and when I do, I always stop to look for the handsome fellow. He’s a delight to behold. Slender, coal-black body. Fiery red head. Power and grace that would shame most ballerinas. I’m mesmerized by his existence. And I wonder how a bird that can be so beautiful and naturally gifted at locating insects in a tree still can’t retrieve tennis balls like Cleveland and Bruce, our golden retrievers.
Our woodpecker is the worst retriever I’ve ever seen. In fact (pardon the phrase, but there’s no better way to say it), he flat-out sucks. Continue reading
I want to share a painting that hangs on the wall where I do most of my work. When I look up from my desk, this is what I see:
Study the picture for a few minutes. (Okay, give it ten seconds. I know—you’re busy. We all are.)
Now tell me, what happened here? What’s the story?
Whatever yarn you spin will reveal nothing about the painting, but it will suggest a lot about your life, your place in the world, and the impact you’ll have on others.
Friends, is yours a story of destruction and despair, or one of beauty and adventure?
More importantly, how thankful are you for the story you’re living? Continue reading
(***Disclaimer: This is a previously unpublished journal entry that I’ve tweaked after a recent discussion with a friend. I told her I’d throw it out there.)
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been struggling. Emotionally. Psychologically. Spiritually. I know it’s not true, but—wow!—I feel alone in this place. Regrettably, not enough of us are willing to drop our fig leaves and confess that we’re human, that we hurt, and that things are often far from ‘fine’.
I’ve been praying, but right now that’s like stumbling through a mist-shrouded forest. Within the complex mess of salvaged parts in my soul, I’ve found myself at once yearning for two opposites: the longing to escape for a while and set out alone, and a desperate aching for human connection, compassion, and soul-support. Unfortunately, obligations and busyness have kept me from the former; and the latter? To whom shall I turn? Everyone I know is either mired in their own battles right now or conspicuously MIA. Continue reading
Feeling worn out and frustrated from daily struggles, I recently hauled my kayak to the lake for some fishing. Fishermen know, the exhilaration of a bass on the end of your line is life-giving in more ways than one. However, on this day it was not to be.
After several hours of paddling and nothing to show for it, I found myself complaining. “Really, God? Not even one fish? How is this good for my heart? This just feels like the rest of my life–lonely, pointless striving and empty frustration!”
With His impeccable timing and oft-misunderstood sense of humor, the reply came in the form of a buoy.
SLOW – NO WAKE
“I didn’t bring you here to fish,” He was saying. “I brought you here to slow down and spend some time with me.”
I’m so thankful I didn’t catch anything that morning. God knew what I needed, and it wasn’t one more thing to handle (even a fish).
Friends, look for the buoys: SLOW – NO WAKE. They are gifts to be treasured.
I want you to do something that will feel silly: Get in front of a mirror, your phone, tablet—whatever—and look at yourself for thirty seconds. Try it. Stare into your own face and start counting.
One. Two. Three …
It’s harder than it should be, isn’t it?
If you even made it to ten, I now have a question for you: What did you see?
Said the night wind to the little lamb, “Do you see what I see? Way up in the sky, little lamb, do you see what I see? A star …”
If you know the song, are you like me, left wondering if the little lamb actually does see the star? I’m thinking he doesn’t, because he goes on to ask the shepherd boy about what he hears rather than what he sees.
On a recent hike along a ridge, I tried to point out something across the ravine to Laura (my near-sighted wife). I stood behind her, positioned her head, and pointed my finger to give her a sight-line that Helen Keller could follow. She still couldn’t see what I wanted to share with her.
How can she NOT see that?!
(This piece has been featured on DrAndyRoark.com and associated social media networks.)
Leading a group of men through a study based on the book Fathered by God (John Eldredge), we’ve been prayerfully considering what God intends us to become as men. As we wrestle with current struggles, we’ve journeyed back through our personal stories, asking God to reveal where, why, and how our masculine spirits have been assaulted, seduced, and surrendered. For the men who are willing to engage in such an expedition, they discover a gut-wrenching sort of liberation through the process. It’s been the same for me, and over the years I’ve done this sort of thing many times. It just seems God’s not done with me, yet. (I only mention this because I want you to understand why I’m going where I’m going in this piece.)
Having poured out my soul about my marriage (I was blown away by your numerous emails and private messages–Thank you for sharing your hearts, dear ones!), you’re aware that Laura and I struggle like everyone else. However, I’m compelled to reveal something deeper about my wife and our relationship. To do that, I must first tell you how I’ve failed as a man.
Here’s my confession: Continue reading
As I get older, I’m discovering a crippling dilemma endured by most of the souls I encounter: the desire to be known chained to the horror of being noticed.
It’s like sharing a kennel with a self-destructive pair of Siamese twins hell-bent on fratricide/sororicide/suicide.
Meanwhile, the tired, near-geriatric golden retriever doses next to his brother in the early morning sunlight, thumping his joyous tail, dreaming of simpler times of chasing that stupid ball through the weeds.
And being celebrated for simply doing what he was designed to do.
Whose years multiply at a crippling pace.
Envy and pity hang out together sometimes, too.
I’m not sure what possessed us to take our kids to New Orleans for Spring Break. It was a spur of the moment decision. We were hanging out in the living room after our family time of devotion and prayer when the phone rang. It was our friend, Steve.
“You got plans?”
“Want to join us and spend a few days in the Big Easy?” Continue reading
The text messages went something like this:
Me: “Stuck at the DMV. I may not make it out of here any time soon. You might need a backup plan for this morning.”
Alex: “Who waits to renew their license until the day before it expires? Other than me, of course.”
What could I say? I’m a moron. I often put myself in these impossible situations. I knew I wouldn’t get out of the DMV in time for our group (Alex and I lead a weekly Bible study with teens going through an addiction recovery program). Maybe it’s stupidity, but I sometimes find myself giving hope a chance to prove my inner-realist wrong. Possibly I just like to put myself in a position where I can once more smother life out of that starry-eyed youngster in my soul: “What the heck were you thinking, you freaking idiot?!” Continue reading