Saturday, October 6, 2012

Eyes be Opened

I met Patrick Johnson on a warm September day in Charlotte. As the sun shone down upon our group of students and staff and we listened to him speak, I realized the potential for darkness in this man's life. Surrounded by soaring glass statements of success, enveloped by the shadows of skyscrapers and Charlotte's elite, Patrick was the very antithesis of affluence. Patrick has become well acquainted with the bottom rungs of the social ladder. Patrick is homeless. And yet he is the happiest, most joy filled man I have encountered in our city thus far.

His story began with a confession, "I got four police that hates my guts." This was followed by a grin and an explanation of just how one survives on the streets. Through a series of ministry centers and the donations of people in the community, he manages. But that certainly doesn't mean it's an easy life. Tears came to my eyes as Patrick shared some of the things he's been told - things he wouldn't repeat out of respect for us. Names he's been called. Insults thrown haphazardly at him out of spite from people just like you and I. And then there was the mention of those Patrick's seen killed. Despite the loss, discomfort, and unpredictability in his homelessness, he smiled throughout the duration of our time together. There was an undeniable life coursing through Patrick, he was constantly moving, talking, observing, feeling.

Having progressed from one side of Charlotte to the other, we turned our backs on the metropolis scene and walked downhill, toward the outskirts of the city - the parts nobody really wants to see. There was a permeable sense of dejection all around us. Simply the act of walking down into poverty fostered a physical degradation and despondency I hadn't encountered before. Our group accompanied Patrick to his last stop for the day, a men's shelter that would feed him and ensure he had a safe place to sleep for the night. As we returned to Queens, one of Patrick's earliest comments continued to resonate with me.

"I'd rather have love in my heart than money."

I hope that love is always at the center of my heart. Patrick knows that God provides for him and always will. He doesn't fear because he knows that God will abundantly bless him if he is faithful.

So next time you pass the Charlotte skyline, take a moment and think about the irony of those buildings. Displays of fortune and financial victory, they serve as symbols of status and wealth. Status and wealth that can be gone in an instant. Look again. In actuality, they are towering reminders of life's instability. For me, they're now beautiful in that they remind me of my need for sustenance in an unshakable force - God's steadfast love. Thank you Patrick Johnson for opening my eyes - and watch out for those policemen.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


We live in an age of transience. Time breathes. Lives move. People change. And all the while, we are surrounded, enveloped, by momentary reminders of a beauty that prevails, a beauty that is constant. Today I choose to seek that beauty above all else. Today, as I wade through a sea of new faces, I am determined to find love and grace in the eyes of each one. Today, as man-made foundations shake, I will look to the sky and trust in enduring heavens. Today, I have hope. Because that constant beauty? He breathes, he moves, and he changes.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." ~Hebrews 13:8

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Morning Inspiration

Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.
Where dark meets light,
Hope comes alive,
And souls are refined as gold.

A place where the streets
Resound with singing,
The skies rain down love,
And the sun is ever setting.

Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.
Where wisdom flows through
Peace filled pastures and
Time meanders slowly on.

A place where the oceans of
Grace convene and lap upon
Steadfast shores.

A place where love dwells.
Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance in you.

Monday, July 30, 2012


For those days when I need a reminder of who my savior is

By Phil Wickham

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful, You're beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful, you're beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful

I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Maker

There have been countless times where God has whispered inspiration to me - for my writing - through the words of others. A few weeks ago, my mum came to me with some advice. As she thought about a situation I was going through, the image of a puzzle came to her. She told me I couldn't force the last piece if it wasn't made to fit - that maybe, there was another piece for me to find. My heart couldn't let that concept go until I dwelt on it a little more. This was the result:

The Maker

She runs a hand over each painted piece, fingers feeling the smooth wood of their meandering edges. They are scattered before her - moon, sun, stars. She has already found the framework. Royal blues, midnight skies. A determined mind has connected. She has boxed in her dreams, shielding them from a hungry universe. I have no room to breathe here.

She runs a hand over each painted piece, desperately searching for the answer. Three sided with a splash of deep green youth. She slots it in. Examining the horizon, she stretches out and grabs another. Three sided, dotted with a pale hue of blossoming promise. She smiles. Her safe haven is fitted together, the rest a jumble of spare parts, waiting to be chosen, waiting to finish this puzzle.

She runs a hand over each painted piece seeking comfort. Everything else has been carefully accounted for.

I have no room to breathe here.

The picture is there now. She is almost ready. It is a fragmented picture though. She grasps the last painted peace, a reflection of the soul, and tries to settle it into its empty home. She tugs, she pushes, she jambs it between past and present, but her future rejects this shard - no matter how much force she expends, there is a hole in her puzzle. The russet of wisdom and the sunny orange of faith shed light on her truth.

I am nearly done forming her, in all her perfect beauty. I hand her the missing peace. She leans into me and I wrap my arms around her. For now the puzzle is incomplete. But I am the maker, not she. I have captured her newfound trust in me. When the time is right, I will hand her a heart of the utmost brilliance. For now, my love stands in the gap, filling all voids. I am the puzzle maker.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Eternal Glow

Fireflies. They flicker throughout the overwhelming darkness of night and I love them for it. Not because I'm afraid of the dark, although once upon a time I was, but because they're a comforting constant. Traveling together and weaving inbetween the trees, they are carefree. I like that carefree, cheerful nature. Catch one in your hands and peer into your tightly clasped fist and they'll go on giving you light. They're only bugs, really, incapable of knowing just how many watch them work, but looking out into a black sky and seeing their scattered glow come and go has a timeless reassurance about it.

Maybe it's cheesy - probably so - but when I think on the days in my life when the sun's been absent and I've felt gloomy, there have been people - friends - who have come alongside and poured light into my life. We all go through trials but the steadfast companions whose encouragement and kindness never waver are often responsible for helping us through.

So thank you, fireflies and dear friends alike, for brightening life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I've Got the World on a String

Today I am thankful for sunshine - specifically the rush of fresh air that comes with pulling back the curtains, hoisting up the blinds, and throwing open the windows. In that moment, light is everywhere, taking even the darkest corners hostage and illuminating them with fresh perspective. Sunshine is contagious in the very best of ways.