Tourism, the Incan Trail, and the power of a road.

It was fascinating to read Angelyn Fairchild’s “Wifi and human excrement: how tourism is changing life in Peru’s Andes Mountains” today after studying chapters on the Incan culture of the 14th-16th centuries for my Non Western Civilization course at CBU.  The article highlights three small villages nestled into the remote and craggy pockets of habitable space along the Andes Mountain range in eastern Peru.

Tourism is changing an area that has been relatively free of outside influence for hundreds of years, which by circular thinking, is the attraction.  There are ruins like the Incan site of Maccu Piccu, and the Incan Trail is composed of many stretches of stone walkway that were constructed by the Incans.  The lure is understandable and it has brought thousands of visitors a year.  But as the government of Peru has begun to highly regulate the permits for trekking along the Incan Trail, many have set their sights on the surrounding hills, valleys, and indigenous peoples, creating an entirely new type of economy in a relatively untouched region.

The article frames the story by noting that the tiny village of Huallhuaray, which is only accessible by foot, will finally be reached by road in 2018.  As the residents ponder how their lives might be changed, the article focuses on how other villages in neighboring areas have fared.  I was struck by the nature of the trekking economy and what the article calls a “feedback loop.”

Adventuresome tourists, (a group that I consider myself a part of) desire to go to remote locations that are untouched and encounter people groups and cultures that are outside of modern influence.  Their presence creates a new economy, whereby members of the “untouched” communities are now introduced to modern culture and their needs.  Lodging, amenities, and trail side bathrooms now all provide employment to members of the community and it thrives due to the influx of interest from the outside world.  In turn, this creates a shadow of the former culture and, as such, is less desirable for trekkers looking for an indigenous experience.

While it highlights Huacahuasi as a community that has adapted and thrived on this exchange with trekking tourists, it still is nonetheless altered by their presence with less young people speaking the local language and spending more time on the newly installed Wi-Fi which now offers a window to every culture in the world.  So that’s the best outcome.  Other places have all but disappeared.  The valley community of Soraypampa is but a skeleton of its former self.  Most of the residents have moved on, leaving behind only those that run campgrounds, trail toilets, and one big mountain lodge.

I find it very noteworthy, in light of my civilization course, that these things all happen because of the construction of a road.  As we have seen throughout our studies, reliable roads always bring cultures together. Goods are traded, cultural practices are blended, and people groups are assimilated when roads are built. Notably, this occurred 700 years ago in Peru as the Incan engineers created an astonishing 25,000 miles of roads that connected and united more than a hundred societies.

This is still happening in 2016.

Paved roads allow for an influx of technology, of more efficient building materials, increased wealth and and easy transfer of goods, services, and resources.  It also brings those who are interested in the last frontiers that exist on our planet.  All of these factors contribute to the development of a society but also to the blending of cultures.  Of course, the first things we ask ourselves is, “is this a good thing or a bad thing?”  I think that question is maybe a little wide-eyed and naïve.

We know that these sort of interactions are inevitable.  Development brings both good and bad results to a region, and because we live in an increasingly connected world, it is unavoidable.

This phenomena, of what I call “development guilt,” was on display in my own heart on my recent trip to Northern Uganda.  Ravaged by years of war and instability, the north is beginning to creep out of the turmoil and the development of the area has been notably progressing with every trip. On my last trip, I visited the new market in Gulu.  It is a gleaming and large building built by the government with low cost stalls for Ugandans to buy and sell everything from custom tailored clothing to dried tilapia from local fish farms.  It is definitely a fantastic step towards a thriving economy.  In my heart, however, I confess to lamenting the loss of the old market.  It was an international market that looked like something out of National Geographic. Hastily constructed of crooked wooden poles from local trees lashed together to form the walls and display tables, sellers would call to customers as they walk among the flies and thatched roofs.

 

Shamefully, I admit that it made me feel alive. I was seeing how these people lived everyday and wow, it was so different to my life back in America and boy, am I grateful for what I have and I’m so thankful that God has brought me here.  I had to check my heart and repent during my last trip because I felt loss as I stood on the terrace overlooking the stalls of the new multi-level, concrete and steel market.  It was truly a development worth celebrating.

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Fish sellers in The Gulu Market, 2016

While the concept of development is not always beneficial, as highlighted in the article, I think we need to deal with the myth of indigenous people.  We romanticize their simple, albeit challenging, lives by connecting them to a way of life that only exists in history books and memories heard from great-grandparents that talk of growing up on a farm in the early 1900s without running water or an indoor bathroom.

We want to see it, but we don’t really want to live it.  We want Wi-Fi, a decent place to relieve ourselves, and we only want to stay in their world for a few days so that we can bring back audacious stories and an Instagram feed that is the envy of any travel blogger.  What we should celebrate and participate in, then, is communities like the ones noted in the article that are intentional about preserving their culture even while new cultures come streaming in.  Furthermore, I like that they have found a way to turn outsiders into contributors; benefactors that foot the bill for a sustainable culture in the face of modern interests.

This is also the way that we need to continue approaching cultures with the gospel of Christ.  Most missionary agencies and denominations have long abandoned the methods of the 19th and early 20th centuries that made significant advances in the gospel while sacrificing cultural practices around the globe.

We should always applaud organizations, churches, and individuals who make every effort to celebrate the diversity of language and culture when communicating the gospel.  In this way, indigenous cultures and people groups can, hopefully, solidify their histories and their practices and will not be forgotten.  In this way, they won’t go the way of some ancient civilizations that seem to disappear from historical record with no apparent cause.

Hopefully, at least, history has taught us all this much.

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8 Trip Tips to tell a great story on a Trek

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Kris takes a break from roofing a church in Ecuador. Photo Credit, his younger brother Nick.

I’ve had the incredible opportunity over the last 10 years to visit workers in the mission field on 4 different continents in order to “come back with a story.”  After a few times coming home with amazing pictures and enthusiasm, there are things that have become clear to me regarding the manner in which we tell our stories, especially when returning from a short-term trek.  Going on a trek is an exciting experience, so here are 8 tips that can help you bring back the story of what God is doing in the where you will be serving.

8. Less touring, more trekking. On your trip, you will encounter culture shock, ingest new and exciting (and sometimes daring) foods, and basically experience a million new things that are inherent in the culture you will be immersed in.  You will know the context of every picture you snap and every outing you go on.  But, back home, context doesn’t always translate well.  Consider these two pictures. The picture of Ugandans in the town of Lira giving their lives to The Lord at our revival is much more memorable and effective than my selfie with the Nile River.

Both encounters were incredible and I will never forget them, but I also know the context of my Nile Safari picture.  You don’t. All you are thinking about is how you wish YOU could have a sunrise selfie in front of the Nile and how you wish YOU could go on safari one day and boy how it must be nice that Adam gets to go to Africa all the time and now I’ve lost YOU.  Because, in your mind you’ve created this incredibly opulent safari experience of what safaris must be like from years of watching Wild Kingdom, when in truth, you are mostly surrounded by European tourists.

But, when reading about the new believers in Lira, you will still be filled with an urging to want to be there, but now it is a longing.  It might be that the Holy Spirit uses pictures and stories like these to tug on your soul, telling you to press in and be more involved.  So, focus more on your trek than on your tourism.  Now, don’t hide the really cool stuff you get to do, but don’t make it the central thing you share with others.

7. Short and Sweet. When you tell your stories.  Keep in mind that the overuse of words like “amazing” and “incredible” are ineffective when communicating the importance of what is going on.  Funny reads like this, or this one (funny and spot on, but a little NSFW) highlight the general attitude that non-trek goers typically feel when having to hear long drawn out tales from your trek.  Obviously there is a time and a place for the “come-over-for-dinner-and-I’ll-talk-about-every-picture-on-my-iPhone” evening, but it is usually with family and close friends that love you enough to tolerate your ramblings.  Keep the stories you share on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or around the watercooler when you get back, short and to the point.

6. Dig Deep. Now, short stories are great, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid wrestling with how the trip really made you feel.  A picture or two with some personal thoughts to give some context goes a long way.  On my first trip to Northern Uganda in 2014, I posted this on our trek’s Facebook Group Page: Screenshot 2016-03-11 12.16.58

I wanted to convey what the experience was and how I was processing it.  Dig deep and ask God to clarify what he is doing to your heart as you process all that you are witnessing on your trek.  Then tell your world. Your world are the ones who are a part of your life.  Friends, family, supporters, co-workers, and your church.

5. Action Shots, Not Snapshots. One of the greatest advancements for communicating what God is doing around the world has been the smartphone.  These days, a great majority of people have a device in their pocket that takes still photos at 8 megapixels as well as 1080p HD-video.  With great power, however, comes great responsibility.  We have all handed our phones to the food server to have our team picture taken, and we will continue to do so, but those images won’t have a lasting impact on your friends, family, and congregation.  For truly effective photos, you need to show action.  Pictures of your team members doing the very thing they set out to do.  If you take a team picture, frame it right in front of the fruits of their labor.

It’s also good to think about composition.  Now, I could write an entire post of composition tips, but I’ll just post this one.  If you’d like to know about Rule of Thirds, color theory, filling the frame, or leading lines, read it and apply it.

4. Utilize Apps.  Alright, so this tip is a practical one.  You have a super powerful device There are many great ways to edit video and add titles using some fantastic iOS and Android apps.   iMovie is great and can quickly stitch together a video, but a few of my favorites for creating things quickly and easily are:

WORD SWAG – This app is designed to add quick and beautiful text over your images.  It’s fast, fun, and worth every penny of the $3.99 app price.

VIDEOHANCE – Hands down, the simplest video editor I have found in the app store. It adds some nice filters and lets you put photos and videos together into a quick timeline.  You can even add music from your iTunes library.

LEGEND – Great for adding engaging, moving titles and text.  Also, it’s lots of fun and if there is an easier way to make a video title, I don’t know of one.

3. Use Social Media…wisely.  “We love social media.” “We hate social media.”  TIme and time again, “social media” is mocked for the way it can end up being a highlight reel of inauthentic selfies.  On a Short Term Trek, this can definitely impact the influence of your story.  Relevant Magazine recently published a great article about it this very issue with some great tips called, “Your Mission Trip Selfies Aren’t Helping Anyone.”  While I agree with most of what the author says, it somewhat assumes that the reader has a selfie problem already.  That may or may not be the case, but regardless, you SHOULD be posting stories during your trip, if possible.  Find the hotel or café wifi and share a story about some of the people you are meeting or the relationships you are building.  I always recommend starting a trip group on Facebook that team members can post to so that people back home can follow along on your trip.  We’ve had tremendous success with this in the past with our Men’s trips to South America.  We keep the same group year after year, so it becomes a wonderful album of God’s work in the lives of everyone involved.  Check out their group here.

 

2. Know Your Borders. Taking pictures of your new friends as they work alongside your team is much different than taking pictures out on the street of people you don’t know.  When you go out into town, or are traveling from one area to the next, be sure to learn what is appropriate to take pictures of.  In Uganda, while leaving the capital of Kampala, a team member of ours was gleefully snapping pictures out of the window.  Inadvertently, he had taken a picture of a police officer, which, for security reasons, is against the law. We were quickly pulled over and after a heated exchange that almost cost the team member his camera, we learned the hard way just how important it is to know your borders.

Once you’ve learned what is culturally acceptable, take pics of the world around you as Tanner Hoss brilliantly did on his trip to Ecuador.  What is it like there? In what ways are their lives different than yours? How are they similar?

1. Finally, Be an Ambassador!  If you hang around me long enough, you’ll probably hear me talk about Ambassadors and Gatekeepers.  With any group or segment of culture, most people fall into one of these two categories.  Take the coffee world, for example.  We all know people who are enthused by the importance of high quality, locally roasted, impeccably prepared coffee.  Maybe you are that person. But, this person treats others in one of two ways.  Some are Gatekeepers.  They use words that you aren’t familiar with, they sound condescending when you aren’t sure what they are talking about, “You’ve never heard of cupping?” Ambassadors, on the other hand, come to you and say, “Have you tried this?  Look for a choclately, roasty taste in the beginning and then at the end it sort of has a roasted pepper taste, but in a GOOD way!”  They just want to share how amazing coffee is and are aware that you are not up on all of your terms or flavor notes.  Do the same thing with your trip.  The people following your trip back home do not understand the subtle differences of the locations you are visiting and don’t know the people in the pictures that you are now fast friends with.  Your driver may feel like one of the family now, but to the people reading about your trip, they don’t know anything about that person.  Robert is the best driver I have encountered in Uganda.  I trust him with our stuff, but I also trust him with our lives.  So, I captured a quick shot of Robert while he was relaxing, something I rarely saw him do. But, it really helps to let you see that Robert is a warm and caring guy.  He’s also a hardworking father and loving husband who loves Jesus, and I’m just glad to be able to let other people know that.

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“Adam, why are you taking a picture, I need my shoes, brother” – Robert

So, be an ambassador to your friends, your family, your supporters, your church.  My wife always says it’s good to come back with predetermined stories.  That way when people ask you about your trip, you have something brief and poignant to share.  They don’t want to know every last detail, so have a funny story, a cultural story, a spiritual story, and a relationship story all ready to go.

Now go and enjoy the richness of God’s blessings on your life and on the lives of those you encounter. Serve well…and come back with the story.

Up Close with The Refugee Crisis

So, I started to post a bunch of pictures from the day I visited Yazidi refugees outside of Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan, but I don’t really know how to share what we saw without it just adding to the noise. Who are these refugees? What is the answer to help them? I stared at their faces as they uploaded into the post. Then, I chose to remove the pics and instead chose to show you where a few of them are sleeping tonight. I know that watching coverage on CNN or seeing pictures from a blog post can seem so far away and exotic that it is hard to really focus on it. Maybe the emotion we feel is guilt and pity, but what can we really do about it from so far away? There isn’t a good answer. This isn’t about trying to fix it. This is just me trying to interpret what I saw today. I am trying to bring back the story.

A storage building on a farm serves as a makeshift apartment building for refugees
Today we visited some refugees from the Mosul area that were pushed out of the region last year. Most were Yazidis. You may remember seeing pictures of them a year ago. Well, today the story is about groups of families that are living in abandoned buildings on the outskirts of town in compounds that conjured images of post apocalyptic fiction like The Walking Dead. They use makeshift power, cook their food on kerosene stoves, build outhouses, and have babies. Today, one newborn was 40 days old, the other was barely three weeks. Today, the story is about an old woman without legs sobbing to one of the relief workers that no one is helping, that she barely survived the journey, only to be stuck in this place. Or, it is about her daughter, a strong standoff-ish woman who fought as a Peshmerga Freedom fighter until she broke her arm in battle and it never healed correctly. Now, she takes care of her mother in places like these.
These people smiled and laughed and I saw their strength. They are educated and willing to work. Some have found employment and are getting by, but they all want to return to their homes when the conflict is over, a desire that some would say is unrealistic.

A typical living area for the refugees we encountered.
I share all of this, and not their faces, because I didn’t want this post to make anyone feel guilt or pity. That’s not necessary or helpful for anyone involved. What we can say is thank you. And I did. I thanked the woman who bravely fought back the evil in Mosul. I thanked the Kurdish relief workers who teach at a nearby center for their love of the refugees. It was evident while spending the afternoon with them that they are invested in the lives of the refugees. They know their names, they ask them about their day. They take selfies with the kids and make them laugh. They hug them through their tears. They help them find employment and they do everything within their means to bring them hope and show them love. All the money in the world won’t solve the refugee problem throughout not only Iraq but the rest of the Middle East. In fact, it would probably just make it worse, but tonight when you pray, thank God for what these strong, loving, and enduring people. They are the ones that will continue to face this conflict head on.
I hope you hear my heart. I am not saying that you need to come here and see it to understand, or that I am somehow enlightened by the experience. We probably will never fully understand. That’s why I took down. Maybe I will share them later, in the proper context, because some of the kids are sweet and it was fun to capture them as they attempted to make each other giggle. But for now, hold them high with your respect and gratitude.
Thanks for taking time to read all of this.

3 Stories from Riverside National Cemetery

Memorial Day. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, for the purpose of decorating the graves of those who died in the Civil War. It was a day that rose above distinctions like North and South.

Nowadays, we remember any fallen soldier that died in the conflicts since.  But it is the people and not the conflicts that resonate with us. It is a day that rises above political position.

This year, our family studied American history.

In the course of doing so, we read about great and significant Americans whose bravery should never be forgotten. Men and women who are buried right here at Riverside National Cemetery. Heroes in our own backyard.

Soldiers like Joe Morris lied about his age and joined the Marines in 1944. He served as a Navajo code talker, taking part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. Joe received messages on the battlefields of Iwo Jima in a code based on the Navajo language, a code that was never broken. Because of that, it was not until the last 20 years that code talkers such as Mr. Morris were recognized for their role in ending the war with Japan.

Men like Pilot Perry Willis Lindsey, One of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. The first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. During World War II, the American military was still racially segregated, as was much of the federal government. These highly educated and skilled soldiers were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the army. They overcame that and fought for their right to defend their country. Their home.

And women like Lillian Kinkela Keil. She was a Captain. an Air Force Flight Nurse. Flying on 425 combat missions and taking part in 11 major campaigns included D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. One of the most decorated women in American military history, she was awarded 19 medals, including a European Theater medal with four battle stars, a Korean service medal with seven battle stars, four air medals and a Presidential Citation from the Republic of Korea. You didn’t mess with Lillian.

And, while there are many men and women of note here at Riverside National Cemetery, there are also many loved ones of yours. Grandfathers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives…all that had impact on your lives…all that left a large hole when they were gone.

To all of them, and to all of you, today we say thank you. Their stories are not forgotten, and their sacrifices will always be remembered.

The Creative Process

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This past Easter we spent a great deal of time getting something called “The Easter Encounter” birthed from our team’s creative womb and while it was immensely rewarding and many lives were affected, there were a few times that I thought the whole thing was going to come crashing down.

The Easter Encounter was an immersive theatrical experience retelling the last day of Jesus’ life.  By immersive, I mean that no matter where you were in the room, you were probably only a few feet away from a citizen of Jerusalem who cheered with all of their might when Jesus walked by you riding a colt (which didn’t poop on the floor once) and who yelled and mocked him as he passed by you with his cross on his way to Golgotha.  The staging took place all around you and you were placed right in the middle of the city.

But as we got closer to opening, nothing seemed to be going right, volunteers that I counted on had to back out for one reason or another, the foam sets were looking great but were far behind in their completion, necessary items ordered from Amazon were not arriving, and, most importantly, the way I had designed the entire thing to work looked impossible two days before the presentation.  We couldn’t get into the main auditorium very early to setup the room because of our weekend services. Services were over at 6:30pm on Palm Sunday and by 8pm, the sets and steel decks were setup by a rockstar team of dudes…but that’s when I realized that it wasn’t going to work.

I went home that night discouraged, praying to God that somehow this story could still be told how I wanted it to be.  Then Monday night we had our first rehearsal.  If you’ve ever been involved in a production, then you know that first dress rehearsals are always terrible.

Always terrible.  If it’s not terrible then you are doing something wrong.

But, even knowing that, I saw that things were more terrible than they were supposed to be.  I’m an eternal optimist that is filled with hope, and I gave the anxious cast my best pep talk that evening, but I knew that we were in trouble.  We had timing issues, and certain things I had planned just looked dumb.  I also lost my temper with the cast…something I try to never do.  I was in the middle of number 3–This is going to suck.  Boy it was nice working here.

Late that Monday night, I had descneded into number 4–I suck.  Who was I to think that I could pull something like this off.  I just wanted to play my guitar.  I wanted to hide away.  But that night, in prayer, my sprit was put at peace.  I sensed a phrase that hugged my soul and took anxiety away…

“The show that happens is the show that God wants.”

It was that simple and for me, it was all it took to move me to number 5.

Tuesday night was completely opposite from Monday night.  Now, we made some tweaks during the day and finished a few things, but what changed was our attitude.  My attitude.

“The show that happens is the show that God wants.”

Wednesday, Thursday, and Good Friday were our performance nights and they are three of the best nights I’ve had in ministry.  We took a huge risk in everything we did…from the actual presentation to the way we invited people, on through to the way they moved out of the room into a response room filled with communion and core leaders that were on hand to pray and talk with people.  It was truly a wonderful experience and heard countless encouraging things from many who were blessed by it.  The scariest one I heard was, “Hey Adam, best thing you’ve ever done.”

To me, that statement always means…”How can you ever top this? Just hang up your hat now.”

But I know that’s just my self-doubting flesh talking.  Honestly, our team usually hears that phrase every time we tell a story like this.  We like to not just show people a story, but to draw them in and plant them square in the middle of it.  I feel like it causes people to have to wrestle with the material in a different way.  For this event, like most of the stories we tell, the audience member is not a passive observer but an active participant.

So, now we are on to talking about what is next for us, and we are stoked about it.  We are squarely basking in Number 1 — This is awesome.

The trick is understanding that your creative process will always go through these stages.  I feel that if it doesn’t, then you are not challenging yourself enough.  So don’t play it safe.  Take risks to tell stories.  I choose to tell the same story over and over because I believe it is the best story, but this process applies to all creative endeavors.

Of course, there could be a number 7 on this list….it would read. “put all of your crap away.”

Here’s a quick time lapse of the last performance of the show followed by our hour long tear down.  Having a great team of servant-minded volunteers is essential to us and the arts staff here at The Grove is indebted to them.  Enjoy.

Purple Goo, Barbecue Chips, and the Righteousness of God

Prologue

So today, our small group began our new study in Romans.  It’s a book rich with theology full of examinations of God’s purpose and design for His Kingdom. There’s alot to chew on.  The first chapter is no slouch here. Romans 1 is the very beginnings of a case against humanity.  It is a case that Paul builds from the outset to reveal to us how none of us are off the hook when it comes to innocence.  We suppress the truth and try and go against God’s plan for the whole of creation every single day.

Chapter One, Purple Goo

So…small group started at 1:30 in the afternoon.  Our family arrives home about 1:00 from church, begins preparing lunch and getting ready to head to small group.  It’s been a busy couple of days in our family, so we have prioritized our pile of clean clothes to live on the couch for the time being.  You know you do it too. Now, from the kitchen, while getting lunch together, I hear my wife groaning from the other room. It is a groan I am familiar with and one that I usually investigate quickly to make sure that my actions are/were not the source of said groan.  As I reach my wife, she is wielding a small plastic ziploc full of purple goo like the Haunted Mansion undertaker clutching his lantern.  Upon inspection, I realize that this little bag of purple goo was the one my 5 year old girl brought home from the library with joy and love.  The goo is that stuff made of cornstarch, glue, water and food coloring that we used to get at 7-11 back in the 80’s.  Back then we called it “fart putty.”  Nowadays, as a dad, I call it the “messiest substance created by fallen man.”

My wife stood there with the bag, not looking at its contents, but down at the couch, and at the various pieces of clean clothing that was now covered in little bits of drying purple goo. No one knows how, or for how long, this bag was open amongst the pile of autumn fresh laundry, but I was somewhat content in the fact that I knew that it was not my fault.  Upon hearing her name, the 5 year old came into the room.  She saw us with the bag and the mess on the couch.  She had been told one very specific rule. One purple goo parameter: Hard surfaces only. That meant no carpet, no clothes, no hair, no stuffed animals.  It was clearly laid out for her. Her first response, after seeing the destruction caused by the violet slime? “I didn’t know it would do that.”

Later at small group, I began thinking about her and her response.  I began thinking through my rebellion against the standard of God.  He has definite reasons for calling us out of a life of wickedness, for wanting us to, in response to His overwhelming love, strive towards His righteousness.  But how many times do we neglect His call in our lives, pursuing lies instead of His truth?  I realize that many times, we cannot see the destructive power of our sins; especially the ones committed against one another.  Not until it is too late do we understand what it was that God was trying to steer us towards.

While she stood there looking at the wake of purple damage, we told her she would have to clean it up. The problem, of course, is that a five year old doesn’t know the first thing about cleaning up food-colored glue from fabric. Neither did I, but the difference is that I have access to Google (Thank you internet).  See, I knew that a butterknife, a little rubbing alcohol and some WD-40 would do the trick, but she couldn’t have looked more daunted.

Again God knocked on my heart as I realized how grateful I am that he comes to me as a loving Father. He cleans me up again and again. Even more so, as if blood of Christ has removed any chance of my messes being able to stick to anything anymore.  And for that I am thankful.

Chapter Two, Barbecue Chips

Also today, unbeknownst to my wife and me, the 9 year old consumed more barbecue chips than should normally be allowed for someone of adult size, let alone a 47lb 4th grader.  Now, this one knows that when she has too many Doritos, or seasoned chips, she can pretty much be sure of the fact that her slumber will probably be punctuated with bouts of vomiting.  She is a bit forgetful, and seeing the realization of that fact come across her face this evening was pretty remarkable. She grabbed a bowl and lay it by her bedside before she fell asleep.  Like clockwork, at 10:30, she filled the bowl with all sorts of interesting things that had mixed with the orange smoky soup derived from 12 ounces of those tasty chips.  Mom and I were both there, holding her hair and rubbing her back.  At the second offering an hour later, before lying back on her pillow she said, “Thanks for helping with this so much, I’m glad I’m not alone.”  It is moments like those that I know I will remember 50 years from now.  Telling her children about the night she ate too many Trader Joes Barbecue Chips.

I will remember because again I was reminded of the Father’s great love.  That even in the midst of dealing with the crushing consequences of our sin, He is there, patting out back, telling us it will be okay.  Will we sin again? Yep. Will we try harder next time? Hopefully, that’s the goal. Will He be there again to clean up the mess and hold our hair back? You Betcha.