Here’s a lighter look…

So, if you’ve been around me (Ben) for 3 minutes or longer, you might find that I joke a lot.  One of my goals when meeting new people is to figure out a way to make them laugh.  Because genuine laughter (as opposed to courtesy, nervous laughter) is the ultimate ice-breaker.

Having said that, there are times that jokes just aren’t appropriate.  But as we have been dealing with the news of a diagnosis of craniosynostosis (the premature closure of the bones in the skull, for those fashionably late to the conversation), I have found that one of the most therapeutic things I can and have been doing is joking about it.  I have started to say that my son is just “too closed-minded,” because, well, that’s a funny way to say he needs surgery to open up his skull a little bit.


Yeah, so I am learning that me joking about an otherwise serious isue is only really funny to me.  But its good for me to at times lift up the heavy blanket that is on this situation, and tell a joke.  It may be awkward for you folks, but that’s the joy of a blog.  We don’t have to deal with you awkwardly not knowing how to react to me joking about a surgical procedure on my son’s head.  I can tell you how you should react. 🙂

Here are a few pointers:

  1. Let me do the joking, unless we are really close friends and it is just you and me.  It’s not funny for anybody else.  Not even my wife. (though she understands and puts up with me joking about it, she will start crying if you do, and then we are in Awkwardville, population 3.)
  2. Laugh.  When I tell a joke, it’s OK to laugh.  I understand if you just don’t think it’s funny… but if it is funny to you, you can laugh.
  3. If you don’t know what to say in a situation, or how to react in a situation, it’s better to acknowledge that fact (out loud) than to just be awkward.  This applies to any interaction with us during this waiting period.  We think about the surgery enough.  When we are hanging out with you, we’d like to think about you, and how we can be friends with you.  So, henceforth in dealing with us, if you want to acknowledge you’ve read the blog and are keeping up with what is going on and praying for us, but you don’t want to be friggin’ awkward, do this:  Just say that. You can even use the word “friggin’” if you have talked it over with the Holy Spirit  and He’s cool with it.  Then, from that point on, we will do our best to move the conversation to something lighter, like Carolina basketball or International Business, or the process behind making falafel.

That’s all the pointers I’ve got, for now.  But in closing, because it’s my blog and I’ll joke if I want to, I have come up with the following two potential one-liners having to do with the possible diagnosis of a corpus callosum disorder (the partial or complete absence of the division of the brain that connects the two lobes).  We’ll find out the diagnosis after Monday when Benjamin goes in for an MRI.

  • “My son can do all of that with half his brain tied behind his back”
  • “We gave the other people a 250 million nerve-ending head start, and we are still whooping them.”

Enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Jacqueline has gone to the Goodwill to procure some deals on clothing, little man is asleep in the other room, and I am having a glorious saturday afternoon, wishing I had a way to watch some college football.

But in the quietness I am confronted with my inability to rest.  I just listened to the song “Jesus I am Resting, Resting” and just sort of rolled around in the truth that Jesus is my true rest, and provides a way somehow for me to rest in the midst of all the chaos of life.  What a glorious truth.  In direct contrast to all the religions in the world, Jesus calls Christians to REST.  To rest. I am not supposed to diligently pray five times a day, not supposed to pilgrimage to Mecca, not supposed to work to assure that I am in right standing with God, not to meditate or chant or wrestle, but just to rest.

My western culture doesn’t encourage rest.  Even as I type these words, I can think of dozens of things I could be doing.  I have work to do for the fall getaway coming up.  I have students I could call to schedule appointments.  I have potential supporters I could call to line up appointments to raise support.

But I need to rest, to enjoy the finished work of Christ for me.  My worth is no longer tied to my performance.  It is wrapped up in the life He lived, in the death, burial and resurrection He went through for me.  What a gift. “Oh how marvelous thy goodness, LAVISHED all on me!”

So, before the hustle and bustle of doctors, surgeons, and campus, in the quietness of a house with only the sounds of a fan and soft baby’s breath coming from the other room.  I am resting, resting.

Manual Labor Day.

I just got done operating a John Deere tractor, tilling up the garden at my parents’ house.  We are here in Winston because Jenn and Clyde’s wedding yesterday got us about halfway here, and we have the consultation at the surgeon here (at Baptist Hospital) tomorrow.  Stay tuned, as I am sure I will be updating the blog as soon as we know more and are able to process it all. (as you may have found out, I process it by writing it down)

Yesterday at the wedding it was so great to see a ton of staff friends, and get to connect.  Being on staff with Campus Crusade is great, because you get to be a part of a big, messy family.  There are something like 200 people on staff in our region with the Campus ministry (as opposed to, say, the Jesus Film ministry or the Military ministry), and we get to see them all just a few times per year.  So a wedding between two of them is a great chance to get to see them an extra time!

It was an emotionally draining time, though, because many of our staff family are not as into blogs as we are, so many didn’t know about Benjamin’s health issues.  It’s funny having to discern here in the south whether or not someone is really asking “how are you doing” or just saying it to fill up air.  I do the same thing, so I am not throwing rocks, just saying that when “We are doing good” is not the whole truth (and at times an outright fabrication), it makes for an interesting answer to the question.  I just have to remind myself that, in Christ, I am getting far better than I deserve, in spite of the circumstances.  So I can say “I’m doing good!” and not be lying.  Because everybody doesn’t want to know.

I could just hand them a card that says “read the blog” when people ask me how I’m doing…  That’s a thought…


We have a filter system in place for our blog.  I write some posts without using it, and some posts with it.  It’s a very simple system.  I write a post in an email instead of directly to the blog, and I send that email to Jacqueline.  She then has filter power.

Last night I did exactly that.  I emailed her something that I was processing in life, and she exercised her veto power.  That’s not to say it is something that I wanted to post and she didn’t, but just that I needed to make sure it was ok with her that I post it.  It is not just Ben’s blog.  She is a great filter.  I have found that in this blogging process, I often use the blog itself as a way of processing things.  I don’t even know how I feel about things sometimes until I type it out.  So, the filter system works great.  I am able to process it, and communicate with my wife, and not share more than I need to wth people that don’t need to know.

The post last night was about something that I am currently running to instead of Christ.  It was telling that I was willing to broadcast to the entire internet a sin of mine that I was not willing (at the time) to take to the men in my life that hold me accountable and pray for me.  Broadcasting it to everyone is a false sense of community.  It is (as my wife helped me to see) a sad case of me trying to be real, honest, and humble, in a prideful and showy way.  That’s right… I am prideful about how humble I am.

What broadcasting it to the whole world does is enable me to skirt around the tough parts of real community.  The sitting across the table, looking at another person and having to spill your junk aspect of community.

So, instead of telling all of you where I am currently struggling, I have been (and will be) taking that struggle to Christ and to the men in my life that know and love me here in Asheville.  Then, maybe my real-life community can create a foundation for a flourshing online community, where we are able to be real and honest without sharing stuff that others don’t need to know.

Oh, and this post is unfiltered.

The Economy

Here’s what Fox News, CNN, and NBC are not going to tell you about the economy:

It’s going to be all right.

I am no financial expert.  I hold no degrees or formal training in micro or macroeconomics.  So how in the world can I say that it’s going to be all right?  Because I don’t trust in paychecks or Wall Street to provide for us.  God may very well use those things to provide, but ultimately he is our provider.

As you may know, we develop a team of financial partners to fund our salaries as well as ministry expenses.  This team is made up predominately (over 90% both in number of givers and in percentage of overall funds) of individuals and families (as opposed to corporations or churches).  People who have jobs and mortgages and newspapers and cell phone bills and access to Fox News.  People who are unsure of where the US economy is going.  The direct result is that when the news media starts to shout “CRISIS,” we feel it.  We get shortened paychecks.

The other day, as I began fretting (again) about how we are going to pay all of the upcoming medical bills from Benjamin’s recent surgery, I was confronted by my own lack of faith.  The fact of the matter is that in 6 years of full-time vocational Christian work, I have never missed a meal and never had to go into debt (with the exception of these recent medical bills).  God has provided every single time.

As I look to the future, I don’t know much.  I don’t know if the US government is going to continue to bail out companies with money we don’t actually have (700 billion more on top of 10 trillion in debt just doesn’t make much sense, despite the fact that politicians on both sides of the aisle are for it).  I don’t know if we are going to pull out of this economic mess or not.  I don’t know if we are going to have enough financial support to stay on campus.

But what I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that it’s going to be all right.  God has not left the throne to go grab a YooHoo from the heavenly 7-11.  He is still in control.

Does that mean that the economy will rebound?  I dunno.  We as Western Christians have to be careful to not confuse God’s blessing with our financial bottom line.  There are believers in other parts of the world who have literally nothing, but are blessed beyond measure.  Jesus Himself was a homeless man.  So, if God takes everything I have away, all of the cars and clothes and computers and gadgets… it just means I will then have what Jesus had.

If the economy turned around tomorrow, there would be a one-line story about it in the paper, and on the cable news.  Then, they would turn their attention to the next big crisis.  Why?  Because good news doesn’t drive up ratings!  They get more dollars from Gillette and and whoever else is advertising on their station when more people are watching.  And more people watch when there is a crisis (perceived or actual). That’s the reason people on the NBC News are not encouraged to say “It’s going to be all right.”

So please, don’t do your giving (or anything else) based on what CNN says about the stock market.  Live (and give) based on who Jesus is, and what he has said.  Do you really think he’d let you go hungry?  And if you are living worried (like I often am) about financial issues, maybe it’s time to throw a brick through your TV and read your Bible instead.