Thursday, September 26, 2019


Several years ago, I read a book by Donald Miller called Blue Like Jazz.   Donald grew up in Texas and moved to Portland, Oregon where he owned a small publishing company.   Donald is a christian, and chose to audit some classes at Reed College, which is known to be one of the most liberal colleges in the country.   Donald wanted the opportunity to learn from people that were different from him.  His presence there allowed him to form relationships where he was able to introduce them to Jesus.  Many heard.  Some listened. A few believed.   Our pastor at The Vine mentioned this past week that he likes to listen to podcasts by people who believe differently from him.   This week, I took the opportunity to do the same.  At times, I was frustrated trying to understand how people living on the same planet could think and feel so differently from me.  But there was also an overwhelming feeling of wonder that God created the world like a puzzle, where every person is a piece that is created in his image.  I want to find my place in that world.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ripple Effect

Twelve years ago, Deann Watson lived in a cramped apartment in Gainesville, Georgia with her four children.  One day, her son brought home a note from school which talked about home ownership through Habitat for Humanity.  Deann was encouraged by the opportunity and donated more than 300 hours of her time to Habitat before being approved for her own home.   Atlanta Falcons running back, Warrick Dunn, was responsible for the primary funding for their new home.  After moving into their home, Deann's son said: "Just having my own bed, not really being squished, not really worrying about someone sneaking up on me, it was a great moment, a special moment."   Deann's son was Deshaun - Deshaun Watson.  Deshaun went on to be the starting quarterback at his high school as a freshman, the starting quarterback at Clemson leading them to a national championship in 2016 and was a top draft pick by the Houston Texans.   Deshaun donated the paycheck from his first pro football game to hurricane relief in Houston and was in Israel this past summer to be baptized in the Jordan River.  I don't think Warrick Dunn could have imagined the ripple effect that was set in motion by his Habitat donation over a decade earlier.  I can't wait to see where those ripples go next.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Color Bound

Caroline and I were in New York this past weekend and took time to go see "To Kill a Mockingbird" on Broadway.  The theater, the sets, the performances, and of course the story, were all amazing.  I hadn't been exposed to the story in some time, but the play brought it back to life for me in a whole new way.  Atticus Finch, played by Jeff Daniels, is the defense attorney appointed to represent a black man, Tom Robinson, who was accused of raping a white girl.  While it becomes clear that Robinson was not guilty of the crime, he was convicted by an all white jury and then brutally murdered shortly thereafter.  The horror portrayed in the play is something that I never experienced personally growing up, but seeing it unfold on stage caused me to grieve for all who were, and still are, affected by such hatred.  I happened upon this article describing how the Virginia Theological Seminary recently set aside $1.7M to establish a fund to help families who were affected by the institution's role in slavery.  I hope more organizations and institutions choose to follow their lead.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Navigating the Storm

Seeing the aftermath of Dorian hitting the Bahamas, and thinking about how many lives will be affected by the storm in the US, puts a knot in my stomach.  When these disasters hit, I find myself thinking, "I wish there was something I could do."  Visiting the area to help directly is almost always out of the question, but giving some money to assist is a definite possibility.  That thought is quickly followed by, "Navigating through all the relief organizations is so complicated.  How can I make sure I am not getting scammed?"  So I do nothing.  Writing this post today made me want to do something besides nothing.  With the best of my ability, I researched the organizations participating in Dorian relief efforts.  I elected to donate to All Hands and Hearts.  I found them highly rated at multiple sites, and they have laid out their financials for everyone to see here.  They report that 96% of all donations go directly to the relief effort with only 4% in overhead and administration.  Is there a chance I am getting scammed?  Yep.  Can I say I at least tried to do something?  Yep.  I hope you will do something, or even more.