Archives For marriage

 

I’m wildly in love with my wife.  She’s smart, she’s quick-witted, she’s beautiful, she loves Jesus, she’s a great mom, she is discerning, she’s wise, she really loves people, she’s beautiful, she cherishes relationships, she’s not satisfied with “fine” or good enough,” she loves our kids intentionally, she’s beautiful… I can literally do this all day.

Why?  Why do lovers sing the praise of their beloved?  Because we have to, right?  We promised.  It’s our marital duty to praise our spouse.

That’s about as romantic as wet blanket.

NEVER!  I freely praise because she is worthy of it, and because my love needs to find expression.  I shout the fact that I married a miraculous woman because I take JOY in her.

This is the third post in a series.  Through a series of posts here, I want to unpack the biblical framework that undergirds my life and theology and ministry motivation.  In the first one, I established the basic proposition that we have been created to PURSUE JOY. I also laid out five key ideas that I am expanding one by one in this forum.  Then, in the second post, I discussed the first and foremost of these core ideas – namely, that God is wildly, passionately, zealously, jealously committed to the glory of His own name.  The Bible is clear that God’s highest priority is His glory, and that He alone is worthy of such adoration.  God is God-centered.  And that brings us to our second core idea, and the purpose of today’s post…

Far from being a hyperbolic cosmic ego trip,this truth is the most wildly loving foundation possible for our relationship with Him.

How can this be?  Even the Bible tells us that “God is love,” (1 John 4:8) and that “love seeks not its own.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)  And we know intuitively that self-centeredness is antithetical to love, which “seeks the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:24).  So how can God, who IS love, be so God-focused?  And how does this fit with our childhood songs and Sunday School lessons that all seemed to shout “Jesus loves me, this I know?”

First of all, we must be honest.  We must recognize the quiet rebellion alive in our questions.  God alone is God.  He is devastatingly magnificent, wholly righteous, sovereign in power, and incomparable in every field.  God is God.  We are not.  Who are we to question the motivation of the God who holds the breadth of the universe between His fingers?  As God reminded Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”  He then spends two chapters posing a series of rhetorical questions to Job (and to us) about where we stood as he created the firey stars and the farthest reaches of the universe and knit together the largest and smallest of creatures out of nothing with sheer willpower and His mighty Word.

And so we walk humbly before this power, and we question Him with trembling.

The truth is, we ask these questions of God about the tension of love and vanity because we have reduced Him in our mind’s eye to the size of you and me.  When any other human being seeks his or her own adulation, it turns us off.  We like strength, we will celebrate valor, we showcase generosity.  But we don’t like it when we see someone blowing their own horn and calling for worship.  Why?  Because we are ALL flawed.  Humanity is a messy jumble.  No one is worthy of the kind adoration and devotion that our heart is wired to give.  No one on the planet.

Have you put God in that box?  If all the languages of the world were employed, and the sky was parchment, and everyone on earth wrote their praises to God without rest for eternity, we would not be able to adequately ascribe to God the depth of His worth and the excellencies of His great character, to say nothing of the praise of His grace and the awe-striking gift of redemption in Jesus Christ.  God actually IS WORTHY of non-stop, ever-flowing, ever-increasing praise and honor. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive honor and power and glory and praise.

We cannot and must not find in God’s pursuit of His own praise even a shred of hypocricy or a vapor of the charge vanity.  God calls for what He alone is worthy of.  God is worthy to be praised.

So… alright then.  If you were able to jump that hurdle, we may agree that God is worthy of highest honor.  But how does this translate into such great news for US?  How does God’s incessant pursuit of His own glory become “the most wildly loving foundation possible for our relationship with Him?”

John Piper’s Desiring God helped me connect the dots here.  He writes of the struggle within theologian and author C.S. Lewis to reconcile the loving nature of God with the overwhelming tide of calls to praise Him written into God’s Word… by God Himself.  And then, for Lewis, came the lightbulb moment…

The most obvious fact about praise, whether of God or anything, strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows in praise, unless sometimes we bring shyness in to check it. The world rings with praise: lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poets, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite games, praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians and scholars. My whole more general difficulty with the praise of God depended on my obsurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely valuable, what we delight to do–even what we cannot help doing–with regard to everything else we value.

And then, as Piper points out, here comes the key sentences:

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the joy is not complete until it is expressed. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are. The delight is incomplete until it is expressed.

YES!  That’s it!  I want to climb on the roof of our Seminary housing units and shout to the students walking by that my wife has captured my heart because expressing my joy in her brings my delight in her to consumation.  Delight unexpressed is incomplete.

This is truly genius Design at work.

In God’s pursuit of glory comes His demand for our praise, and our created desire to worship… something.  In Him alone is our thirst satisfied.  In praising that which is MOST praiseworthy are we most DEEPLY satisfied, and the genius of this design is that the expressing of this praise brings us the most soul-satisfying PLEASURE in the universe.  In fact, the joy that both awakens and satisfies our most primal need in life finds its voice in our fervent worship of the ONE who is worthy of it.  GENIUS.  We are satisfied in Him – He is glorified in us.  He delights in our praise – we delight in Him.  He receives glory – we find JOY.

Further, God proves the profound depths of His love for us in bringing us the most wildly extravagant gift possible.  It is not only wildly extravagant, it is truly the pinnacle gift – the best and highest possible gift to His children.

God gives us Himself.

May all honor and glory be lavished on Him.  May my life ring with it.  Even in typing this now, my heart is full – I’m full of JOY in Him, and I revel in His goodness and His love.  Less of me God, and more of you!

And thank you for Amy.  She’s so much more than I deserve.  It’s my joy to praise You for her and to praise You with her.

The primacy of God’s glory makes everything about Him… not about me.  THAT is truly the best of news, because it is a proclamation of freedom.  Profound freedom.  We’ll dive into that next time in “pursue joy part four.”  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.  Refine my thinking.  God bless you, and may you find soul-shaking JOY in Him alone.

Click here to read part one  >>  “god wants to wreck your life”

Click here to read part two  >>  “carly simon, jesus loves me, and the supremacy of god”

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“i’m shouting from the roof :: pursue joy :: part 3” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

So we were having a… discussion. Do you have those?  All married people have them, I suppose.  You know, our marriage would be just about perfect if I wasn’t in it.  🙂  I thought for sure I was right this time. Just one time…

But no.  As it turns out, I wasn’t right this time. In fact, after I had said my piece, Amy quietly reminded me of a few of my idiosyncracies – my own personality quirks – that transcend rational thought.  It was one of these quirks that had started all of this in the first place.

This was one of those times.  She had, through no fault of her own, stumbled unwittingly into my irrational headspace.  And therin lay the impetus for the aforementioned discussion.  I had to concede, when faced with actual facts instead of my own irrational emotional personality quirks, that – doggone it – she had a point.

And no… I’m not going into the details.  Let your imagination run rampant.  I’ll never tell.

Suffice it to say, she was dead on about a few of my personality quirks.  I didn’t see myself as an unusually quirky person… but oh yes.  I let my quirk flag fly more often than I realize. And the glory of it is, people who love me roll with it, and love me anyway.  And that is a gift.

Today, my message is this…  Most likely you have your own set of irrational quirks.  Guaranteed, the people you love have their own, as well.  My advice:  instead of butting heads against those quirks, and as long as they are not causing the rest of the family undue stress, I’m encouraging you to roll with it.  Go ahead and enable those quirks.  Yep, I’m talking full-on quirktastic co-dependancy.

Because real, powerful, life-affirming love means “who you are… I love.” And there’s plenty of time for “who you are becoming… I love, too.”  But an open discussion of personal quirks within a home or among roommates or close friends seems  like good juju to me.  Get ’em out there in the open.  Respect the quirks, baby!

Example: My mom, God bless her, is a top-calliber cook/home-maker/guest-entertainer.  People love to come to her home for meals, conversation, and good coffee.  It was a great home to grow up in.  But the kitchen is MOM’s domain.  You do not mess with the kitchen.  I repeat: you DO NOT MESS with the kitchen.  Every detail matters.  Case in point, when we load the dishwasher, knives go point down, but all other silverware must go eating-end-up, so that as the water rinses off the utinsels it runs DOWN the handle, away from the eating end.  That, right there, is a grade-A quirk, in my book. But here’s the deal… this is Mom’s passion.  The kitchen is HER arena, and she uses it to love and serve people.  And she’s great at it.  And we love her for it.  So, you know how we express our thanks and love back to momma?

We put the knives pointy-side down and the other utensils eaty-side up.

I don’t know that it makes a lick of difference, but my Mom wants it that way, so…  good times.

So, in the spirit of transparency and personal confession (which is good for the soul, I’m told – and makes for more interesting reading), here is a short list of some of my identified quirks.  Again, these may not seem rational to you, but that’s not the point.  The point is, they seem not only rational but downright IMPORTANT to me… at the time. Of course, it is also therapeutic to be self-aware enough that I can identify when my personal quirk is taking over rationality in my inter-personal interactions.  Therefore, here’s a short list from the inner-mind of Joshua Skogerboe:

(1) When beginning to do laundry (which isn’t often – Amy has to shoulder this one most of the time), I must scour the house for every piece of dirty clothes.  Like the random sock that ends up under the boy’s bed.  The baseball shirt that got wet in the rain and then hung up in the closet when mom and dad weren’t looking.  The PJ’s that my seven-year-old took off while in bed and which now are stuffed under his covers instead of in his drawer or the dirty clothes basket.  Before I begin, I want to get EVERYTHING together so it can be properly sorted into piles before the process begins.  I know it’s borderline OCD.  I know.  And we have five rowdy boys who, unless herded with a cattle prod, tend to shed their clothes in a moving explosion of laundry, leaving a trail behind them.  So my quirk sometimes needs to take backseat to reason to keep that laundry train a’ movin’.

(2)  We must eat hot food. This increases exponentially (a) when I cook it, or (b) if I have cooked it upon the grill, or especially (c) if the meal involves eggs or toast.  This is peculiar to me in a frighteningly irrational way when it comes to eggs and toast.  I would prefer the toast to jump hot out of the toaster into my mouth before it cools in any way.  This way I can savor the toasty crunch of the golden brown outer shell and still enjoy the soft core…  Mmmmm, toast.  But let’s say I put bread into the toaster and get sidetracked with another task, allowing the bread to pop up and sit in said toaster for more than 14 seconds.  No good.  Bad juju. The toast must be thrown out.  I know.  Starving kids in China.  Consumerism run amok.  I’m evil and wasteful and bad.  But dude… you GOTTA eat fresh toast.  And that is all.

(3) When the family is going to watch a movie, there must be no extraneous shuffling about or donning of jammies or last minute drinks of juice while the previews run.  No how. The trailers are sacred nuggets of extra enjoyment BEFORE the actual movie gets started, and I’m not about to concede this moment of extra goodness.  Now you kids SIT DOWN and CLOSE YOUR YAPPING MAWS and I mean NOW!  We’re going to have some FUN around here, or ELSE!  Keep on talkin’… that’s it.  I don’t care if you have to pee.  WE ARE HAVING FUN RIGHT NOW or, so help me,  I’m going to send you to your room for the week with nothing but gruel and  cold toast!  …wait. Did I say that out loud?  Sorry.  Quirk alert.

Ahhh.  I feel better. Not so much for my confession of irrationality but for the fact that many of you now, surely, are nodding your heads in silent approval.  Darn right you get every piece of laundry. No doubt eggs and toast must be consumed within seconds of leaving their implement of cookery.  Doggone straight the DVD trailers on family movie night are sacred and must be enjoyed silently or else.  Can I get an AMEN?!

OK, your turn… confession is good for you.  Besides, we want to laugh at you.  Or WITH you, I mean.  What are YOUR quirks?


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“let your quirk flag fly :: of trousers, toast, and trailers” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

This is a poem and a sermon and a reminder and a painting and a song and a promise…

Love means dying, and being reborn. Before her, I stayed out of the minefields and I ran from the storms. But this new life with Amy is something else. Don’t give up on me, Amy. When the shadowlands come, I’ll remind you whose you are, and I’ll ask for God’s help to be who I am.

I’m in love with my girl, and I thank God. Everyday.

There are life-defining days. And more than physical location, or educational progress, or vocational advancement, I look back on my days and see a long tapestry of relationships. The places I see twists and turns in the storyline of my life are mostly relational markers, as friends come and go, and family struggles through dark days and celebrates the good ones together.

Through it all… AMY. * insert radiant smile here *

There was the summer visit to a small Lutheran Bible School in Plymouth, MN, in the summer of 1990 when I would first meet my future bride. She was already a student there, now in their summer training week to be sent out in a Summer Ministry Team. I was a new recruit… potential incoming first year student fresh out of high school. She made an impression.

I registered.  I remember September in the new school. Playing games with students in the dorms. Going out to eat with a rowdy crowd of friends. Flirting. A lot.

Then September 27, 1990… We put it out on the table. We walked down by the lake. We said things out loud. We talked for hours.

By the end of that school year I was in love. And this is why I believe in miracles… she was, too.

November 18, 1993… she said yes.

July 2, 1994… she said “I do.”

Now more than half of my life has been hers. And I feel like all the days before I met her were leading up to the day when I did. Amy is beautiful, strong-hearted, quick-witted, adventurous, playful, deeply serious about faith and family, a lover of her boys, and a lover of me. I’m in awe that this is true – as much today as I was in November of ’93. I’ve never met another person so passionate about living out the full faith life Jesus promises in John 10:10 – and doing it with enthusiasm and purpose.

As I often say, and will shout from the roof today, “I married UP!”  If you’ve never met my Amy, I can’t wait until you do. She renews my faith in the Almighty’s ability to do the impossible.  Sure, she’ll tell you it was a combination of my rock hard abs, charming sense of humor, fashion sense, and technical prowess on the drums that reeled her in.  But let’s be real here.  Me getting to spend my one life with this beautiful, amazing woman… it’s a miracle of the Lord.

And that’s how I got the girl.

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“getting the girl :: a miraculous valentines day tale” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

I’m so grateful to God for my life and breath, I don’t have the words to express it.

Every heartbeat is a gift to me. Literally. My five rambunctious boys bring me such deep joy – they are above my expectations in every way, and I love them and am proud of them to the moon and back.  I have the deep privilege of studying God’s word and the care of His Church in Seminary this year – an incalculable gift.  I enjoy the blessings of the love of my parents and in-laws, siblings, friends, and an unshakeable sense that God cares for me.

How can I not shout my thank you’s to God all day?

And on top of my every need being met, and my redemption as a Son, God saw fit to grant me a bride for my one time on this earth who is at the very top of my thank you list.  My favorite person ever. God the artist was showing off when He made Amy.

Now in my first year of Greek language study, my once razor-sharp grammar skillz (yes, with a “z”… I was THAT good) have proven to be JUUUUUST a wee bit rusty.  It has been 22 years, after all, since my last real grammar challenge.  Of course, the aforementioned crown jewel of my thank-you-God list was a 15 year 5th grade grammar teaching machine, so I avoid head to head grammar challenges with my wife to much the same degree I avoid rabid badgers, the Wiggles, or Ethiopian food.

And then today… on the eve of my favorite holiday of the year… I found what may be the Grand Mack Daddy of all run-on sentences. With a tip of the cap to my grammar champion wife, my fellow grammar-chewing Greek student Seminarian compatriots, and all those (like my eldest son and my travel-stained Literature teaching brother-in-law) who find words to be both an ocean in which to dive deep and a playground in which to frolic, I give you this timely and wonderful example sentence structure run amok…

The First Official Presidential Proclamation in U. S. History

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

 

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us;

 

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
 

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.       – G. Washington

 

THIS is why.  God bless you and your family, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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“why thanksgiving…  the MOTHER of all run-on sentences” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

There is a team of artist-historians called StoryCorps who are recording and illuminating the stories of everyday real people.

This is the story of Danny and Alice.  Danny is dying.

I have three thoughts:

(1)  I love my Amy.  I love her.

(2)  Everybody, everybody, everybody dies some day.

(3)  I Thessalonians 4:13-14 >> “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.”

    

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“danny loves annie :: danny is dying :: hope stronger than wishes” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

 

May 9, 2010.  Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.  I taught some practical Biblical principles to help make a wise choice when we face a big decision.  The kind that will change the direction of our life.  Should I take that job?  Where do I go to school?  Should I ask her to marry me?  Should we adopt?  We want to make a God-honoring decision.  A wise decision.  So how do you know when God says “GO”?

Click on the tab below to stream the audio.

[audio:http://www.jskogerboe.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/08-08-10_JoshuaSkogerboe_going.mp3|titles=08-08-10_JoshuaSkogerboe_going]

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NOTE:  The outline of this message follows content from a blog post I wrote a few months ago.  To see some of these ideas in a blog post format (or to read along as you listen), click here.

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“going :: how to know when god says go” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

why god made moms

August 9, 2010

May 9, 2010.  Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.  This was our Mother’s Day message, but let’s be honest…  Moms deserve this kind of encouragement every week.  Am I right, or am I right?  Moms, we love you.  God knew we needed you, and His perfect design had you in mind.  I hope this message fills you with encouragement and a deep sense that you are loved and appreciated.  Thank you God, for our moms!

Click on the tab below to stream the audio. 

[audio:http://www.jskogerboe.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/05-09-10_Why_God_Made_Moms.mp3|titles=05-09-10_Why_God_Made_Moms]

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“why god made moms” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The first memory I have of Auntie Natalie is eating frost she had scraped out of the freezer on the farm in Karlstad, MN, out of a plastic glass with a metal spoon.  Like a naked snow cone.  And listening to a Steve Martin album in her bedroom.  I must have been five or six, maybe.  I remember the album cover had a picture of Steve with an arrow through his head.  Funny.

And I remember the smell of potatoes in the entry of the farmhouse where she and my mom grew up.  Where uncle Justin raises his family right now and farms seed potatoes – the best in the world – in the black dirt that lines the Red River Valley.  Overalls and work boots would be in the entry, and they made the whole place smell like earth and spuds.

Natalie is my mom’s youngest sister.  She was two when my mom and dad started dating.  My sister is named after her.  I remember when she met Jon, too, attending Concordia, Moorhead.  Nice work, Natalie.  He’s a keeper.

Today Natalie is in surgery at Abbot Northwestern.  *Correction: surgery is scheduled for Wednesday morning, July 14… but all the same prayers apply.  On June 3 she was diagnosed with Olfactory Groove Meningioma, which is a tumor of the brain, basically located behind the bridge of the nose, between the frontal lobes of the brain.  It is non-cancerous, and slow growing, but the symptoms (loss of smell, funky eyesight, dizziness) have been creeping, and her doctor said that surgery was necessary, and the need to proceed was urgent.  The tumor is in a sensitive area, pressing against her optic nerve, and there is some risk of damage or stroke following surgery.  But the surgeon is capable and experienced, God is her guardian, and we trust in His love for her.  Right now, as I type this, Auntie Natalie is in the O.R.  Jon is waiting.  My mom is on her way to the hospital from Bemidji.  We hold our breath and pray.

Flash back to last weekend…  July Fourth, as the extended family gathered around Natalie in my Grandma’s home in Bemidji.  The smell of our Sunday brunch was still in the air.  Egg bake, muffins, fruit, coffee, and those glorious cheesy baked hash brown potatoes.  Always potatoes.

This is why faith matters.  We read from the Bible.  Natalie’s sisters taking turns praying.  Her husband, and the cousins, asking God to be strong and present.  Thanking Him in advance for what He is going to do.  My boys laying their hands on her shoulders, listening, and learning the power of generational faith.  Grandma Vernice praying for her daughter.  Natalie herself expressing her thanks and trust to God.  Peace and thanks and love for each other overtaking us.  THAT is worth every dime I have, every ounce of energy, any cost.  Faith that roots a family has a worth that cannot be measured.

The roots of our faith in Jesus run deep.  To the generations before us.  Three, four, deep into the roots of our family tree.  And the practical, right now today effect of that faith is that Natalie does not need to go alone into that operating room.  She has her family praying, and the creator God who loves her bathing her in comfort and protection.  Jon is surrounded and upheld and not alone.  My cousins, Natalie’s kids, are surrounded and comforted by the Holy Spirit.  And as Natalie expressed with confidence in her Caring Bridge journal entry a couple days ago, “I AM GOD’S CHILD AND EVERYTHING HE ASKS ME TO WALK THROUGH IS FOR MY GOOD AND HIS GLORY.  I firmly believe this and as long as He is on the throne (forever), I am safe.”

Without Jesus, fear.  With Him, peace.  The blessings are too many to number.  I want this heritage for my boys more than anything else in this life.

I recognize that a family history of faith like this is unusual, and I never take that for granted.  Most of my believing friends have, at best, a mixed bag in their family.  Maybe some believers, some not.  Sometimes a form of religion, but little personal relationship.  Sometimes, there is open hostility to Jesus Christ.  But each generation has an oportunity to lead.  To raise their kids to love God and love people.  So that their grandkids can see faith alive.  And God can be the center, the bedrock, the protective covering, and the life blood of the family.  Every generation can start a new legacy.  Every father can be that dad.  Every mom can wrap their kids in prayer.

You can be the one.

One thing you can count on in our family, whenever mom and her sisters and brother get together.  Potatoes.  Every meal, in every form.  Potatoes are in our blood.  And, there will always be prayer.  Sometimes, before the potatoes, we’ll gather together around the food and sing it, Lutheran style.  I try not to make eye contact with Grandma, because I’m the “music guy,” so inevitably she’ll look my direction to get it started.  And then we have to decide whether we’ll “strengthend for Thy service be” or “feast in paradise with Thee.”  We’ve feasted more than we’ve been strengthened in the last few years it seems.  And then, in that quiet moment right after the prayer closes with the four part “Amen,” I wait for Grandma Vernice to jump in with a quick critique of the prayer… “Like an angel choir.  Have you ever.”

So today I’m asking for two things from you, if you would be willing.  First, please pray for Auntie Natalie.  And for her family.  She has several hard days ahead.  And second, I’m asking you to consider the benefits of of a faith heritage that permeates and defines a family.  Living faith relationships with Jesus.  It’s what we’re made for.  Maybe your family doesn’t look anything like mine.  Maybe you can’t even imaging praying together like that.  But if not now, when, and if not you, who?

You have a chance to define what your family looks like for your children and your children’s children.  Every family tree has roots.  Mine are thick with faith.  And potatoes.

Isaiah 43:1-3

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.  O Israel, the One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of opression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  For I am the Lord, Your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

    

 

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“faith of our fathers :: potaoes and a brain tumor” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Oops.

I bet she wishes she could get a do-over.  Not so much.  As of yesterday afternoon, CNN Middle East news correspondant Octavia Nasr is out of a job because of one tweet.  In a moment she now says she deeply regrets, Ms. Nasr expressed her respect for the recently deceased Hezbollah leader (and terrorist) Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.  Apparently, the masses were paying attention, and they were not impressed.  Octavia Nasr and CNN were deluged with angry feedback questioning her judgement.  In the end, less than 140 characters brought down her career.

I’m not focused on the politics of this story.  What arrested me was the fact that this woman actually lost her job because of a moment of transparency online.  Oops.  The moral of the story?  Tweeting life can be dangerous.  It requires a careful blend of honesty and discernment, but done well, I believe it is tightrope worth walking.

I’m continually amazed at what is possible with smart-phones today.   Instant connection.  Moment by moment play by play, complete with GPS tagging, TwitPics, and streaming video.  I’ve even programmed my phone to sing me to sleep at night and cook me breakfast in the morning.  Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and all of the world’s newspaper headlines are available right now – wherever I am.  A complete interactive community of “friends” and “followers” ever-present to connect with and stroke my ego.  It’s amazing, and seductive, and powerful, and dangerous.

The new world – plugged in, social media fueled, web 2.0, YouTwitFace world – allows us to live our story transparently.  We can post a stream of details.  Where we are, what we’re doing, and what has captured our interest in the moment.  We can share resources and encouragement, or cut people and their ideas down.  We can refine our thinking, and we can fritter hours away with an unlimited flow of distraction-on-demand.

Healthy life-streaming requires healthy boundaries.  There are amazing opportunities and overwhelming advantages to tweeting life in real time.  And there are distict and profound dangers.  Just ask Octavia Nasr.

And the problem is, once a post or tweet has gone public, it’s a living piece of history that can NEVER be put back in the bottle.  Everything we post – EVERYTHING – is available.  It’s searchable.  It’s eternal.

“Don’t you dare put that on Facebook.”  This is a phrase that is ALWAYS welcome in our house.  And while I almost always follow it up with an enthusiastic, “OF COURSE I wouldn’t post THAT” following one of our family squabbles or a particularly embarrassing child-rearing incident, I make it clear that setting boundaries out loud is welcome.  Boundaries do not restrict – they give freedom.  Like a fenced-in back yard for the kids to play in, boundaries define the “safe area” where there is room to play.  Thankfully, Amy lets me know what is safe, and what is out of bounds.

So I tweet life with this in mind:  I want to live a good story.  And good stories are fraught with conflict and growing and pain and triumph.  I am a child of the One King, and He’s put me here to enjoy His company and tell the world about His sovereignty and His grace.  If our family is willing to hear His voice and GO when He calls us, life will be a faith adventure.  If we can live out a great story, and do it transparently with joy, I hope it can encourage others to trust Jesus, too.

But it must also be true.  Land mines.  I want to share my REAL life.  Danger.  I am acutely aware every time I hit “send” that this could (and probably will) be seen by many sets of eyes, and it could live on (and on… and on…) for years.  So I walk the tightrope of living transparently while protecting the privacy of my friends and family.

At the end of the day, I want to reflect a life lived well.  Healthy faith, thriving family, and joyful service to my God and the people I rub shoulders with.  I want the people in my life to get in on my thoughts – to be a real community – and to refine and enjoy each other in the process.  But I won’t tell you everything.  I can’t be a totally open book.  I saw the land mine Octavia Nasr stepped on.  I know what Amy is OK with and where she has staked out the “do not cross” barrier.  And if you step out onto the YouTwitFace technological tightrope with me, remember that every step – every post – every tweet – every status update – will be permanent.  You can’t take it back.  It’s a living part of history.

Step carefully.

 

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“tweeting LIFE :: thoughts on strategic transparency, storytelling, and landmines” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.