Archive for April, 2013

Cameron Lyle. A name none of you may know, but one who impressed me immensely this last week in a piece of news I stumbled across on the internet.

Lyle is 21 years old. Two years ago, when he volunteered to have his mouth swabbed to join a bone marrow registry at his school’s cafeteria, he had no idea of any future implication it might have on his life and sporting career. He was told “there was a one in five million chance for a non-family match.”

Cameron Lyle

When the call came that he was a match for someone dying from leukemia who would otherwise likely have less than six months to live, he decided straight away that it was a no brainer. In fact, when he realised this would put an end to his college athletic career [Cameron was a Division I athlete, focusing on shot putt and the hammer throw] he was the most nervous about breaking the news to his coach, Jim Boulanger, who had been his coach for four years:

“Here’s the deal,” Boulanger told Lyle. “You go to the conference and take 12 throws or you could give a man three or four more years of life. I don’t think there’s a big question here. This is not a moral dilemma. There’s only one answer.”

Boulanger said he’s “very proud” of his athlete.

You can read the rest of the article that alerted me to this courageous story here. 

Because you can. And should.

This story reminded me how frustrated, and if I’m honest, angry I get at people who choose not to donate blood without any tangible reasoning. I have a friend who faints almost every time she gives; my mom who has often been turned away after having her finger pricked [by far the worst part] because she is unable to give on that occasion due to iron levels or blood pressure… And yet they both keep going. “I don’t get around to it,” “I don’t want to” and “I’m scared of needles” don’t seem to hold that much weight as arguments when you are comparing them to, “Someone may die.”

Whether it’s blood donating or bone marrow [which as far as I can recall is an extremely painful procedure] or even a kidney, may the story of Cameron inspire us in the right direction as to how we can get involved in other peoples’ lives for good.

[For next Tuesdays ‘Of burials, cicadas & the no no of pointing heavenwards’, click here]
[for last Tuesdays, Boston Bombing Context and Condolences, click here.]


It’s a new Monday, which means my job is to find something fun or funny to help you start the new week with a smile on your face [or chocolate steri stumpi pouring out your nose]. How this process works is that i normally find something funny [eg. How Wild Animals eat their food] and store it for Monday because I think, ‘This will make people smile and/or laugh,’ and then the next five days on Facebook I see that same clip get shared by eleven thousand people, and so by Monday there are only two people who haven’t seen it ad one of them hates slapstick. But I will persevere…

This week’s comedienne that I found [or was reminded of] and put aside to share, was literally stuck on my timeline the very next day, and so I did what any normal person would do which was to shout at the person who tried to stick something funny on my wall. No, I really didn’t, although I think she may have thought I did. Obviously I am grateful that people are sticking genuinely funny things on my wall so keep on.

What I did do, however, was find a different clip to the one that was posted so it will seem at least a little bit original… and who knows, some of you may have missed Nina Conti [who in my opinion is the best ventriloquist around, especially since I’ve lost so much faith in ad respect for Jeff] doing one of the most original and clever ventriloquist acts I have ever seen:

Nina Conti

However, for those of you who might be bummed by the fact that you have already watched a similiar themed clip by Miss Conti, I found this gem, which I imagine most of you have not seen. [I am officially too scared to go and look at my Facebook wall now] So I hope you will enjoy: The Boy with Tape on His Face:

Boy with Tape on his face

And then if you enjoy that one, which is just a taster really, and can find the time to watch this one, it is pretty great:

Hope you enjoyed.

[for next Monday’s Safe as Butter, click here]

[To catch up with last Monday’s Ship Your Pants, click here]

in the name of love

I mean, that’s it really. And you know… Well something inside you knows. Many of you probably wouldn’t say it out loud without covering it up with a bunch of weak lame-assed excuses and justifications. Some of you will keep quiet, because admitting the extent of the problem will be like announcing an addiction. [Which again for some of you this is].

When Val and I were residents at the Simple Way for the 19 months preceding this adventure, we had an 8am prayer meeting from Monday to Friday and then if there were visitors, I got to speak to them til 9am or beyond which was the start of official work time until 5pm. We had some activity every night of the week [which included ‘Date Night’ which we had to schedule in as an actual item on our timetables so that it would happen at all just because of the nature of the busyness]. And then the idea was that sometime outside of that we were meant to connect to the neighbors and community around us [which usually meant the weekend or in the slight gap between work and evening activity]. It was a great experience but over-the-top busy and so manageable for a 19 month stint but hardly sustainable long term.

Now we are in Oakland, California working with a different non-profit called Common Change in a 30 hour work week with no access to a car and so we rely on bicycles and walking and buses and trains and so life has slowed down a lot.

And it’s great.

But back to the picture at the top. I don’t want to say much more about this or I’ll be adding to your busy. Just that you don’t have to accept it as the way things have to be. Be intentional about slowing down. About creating spaces and times to stop. And just be. To choose to walk instead of drive. To take a book to a coffee shop. To blow the dust off your Bible. To call a friend you haven’t hung out with for a while. To really spend solid time with your family.

Stop the glorification of busy. Kick the feet out from under that idol. Be real with yourself about your addiction. Just stop.

[to read next Fridays Blessed are the Matrix-filled, click here]
[to read last Friday’s Blessed are the Geeks, click here]

The Awakening of Hope

I have just finished reading a book called ‘The Awakening of Hope’ by a friend of ours named Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove which looks to address the question ‘Why we Practice a Common Faith’ by focusing on seven ancient practices/disciplines and this excerpt on faith and conversion really stood out for me:

‘No one gets to start from scratch. But each of us, from within the story we’ve received, decides whether we will continue to trust what we’ve first received or inhabit a different story. This decision is what we usually call “faith.”

The Bible says that faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen [Hebrews 11.1, KJV].
Faith is what we trust for those questions that we cannot know the answer to, for the presuppositions that undergird whatever story we call our own. In the modern world we are in the habit of thinking that faith matters for our personal and religious lives. When we talk about “people of faith,” we usually refer to people who are committed Muslims or Buddhists, Jews or Christians. On the other hand, we usually assume that what matters in economics and politics, science and medicine is facts, not faith. Religion is about what we believe while science is about what we know.

But good scientists agree with the woman in Sarah’s writing seminar that whatever we know (including the facts), we know within a story that we have chosen to trust. That is, we are all people of faith. Of course, doubt plays a role in the pursuit of truth for scientists, just as it does for theologians. But none of us can ever doubt everything. Whether the truth we seek is best described as scientific or religious, our pursuit of it depends on holding experience up against the story we assume to be true. In science, when the facts demand a new story to explain how they can all be true, we call that necessary change a “paradigm shift.” When the facts of our lives cry out for a story that can help us tell the truth about ourselves, we call it “conversion.”

For Jesus, the invitation to welcome God’s story is a call to conversion: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent ad believe the good news” [Mark 1.15]. To trust that what Jesus says about the world is true is to, quite literally, have a change of mind. This conversion – this paradigm shift – does not invalidate the truth of the story that came before it. In calling God’s people to conversion, Jesus says, “Do not think I have come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” The new story that Jesus brings incorporates the truth of the old, offering both a framework for understanding what we knew before and a lens for seeing truth we could not recognise within our old story.
Even so, the only way people who have inhabited one story can learn to trust another is to experience a change of mind.’
We must be “born again,” as Jesus says to Nicodemus in John’s gospel [3.3] Or, more literally, we must be reconceived from above.” That is to say, conversion is about reimagining our human story from the place that Jesus starts His – not with the mixing of two human stories, but with the miraculous union of God’s story and a human story.’

[from the chapter ‘Why we share good news’ from the book ‘The Awakening of Hope’ by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove]

[for next Thursday’s A Most Powerful Message, click here]
[for last Thursday’s How’s Your Heart, click here]

With today being the day to focus on relationships, I think i must add a link to my Irresistibly Fish blog where yesterday I posted something called ‘How much sex in marriage?’ in response to a question i received in the comments of a different post. I was blown away by how popular it was and some excellent commentary was added in the comments section afterwards by various people. So if you missed that definitely give it a look.

Make a friend

You may have seen this one already, but if you haven’t, then I encourage you to make the time to watch it. With the kind of news doing the rounds these days, this is inspiring stuff. And yes, it got me close to tears [seems to be a lot of that these days, I’m totally good with that]

The basic premise is that there is a ball pit [yup, just a box filled with plastic balls] next to a sign that says, ‘Take a Seat & Make a friend.’
That’s it. No hidden agenda or aim. Just balls with questions/statements on them that help to stimulate conversation.

Questions or statements like, ‘Name one thing on your bucket list?’, ‘What is one thing you have in common?’, ‘Describe the first time you fell in love’, and ‘Talk about someone who inspires you.’

Take a look.

[to see next Wednesday’s There should be a Sorry in there Somewhere, click here]
[to take a look at last Wednesday’s Your Relationship with You, click here]

The Daily Boston

This comment was attached to this picture on the Facebook wall i nabbed it from:’Our preoccupation with the USA results in a lack of similar coverage of the tragedies faced on a daily basis by others.’

The reason i love this picture is because it captures two strong points in one:

“Hey, this happens in many places around the world on a daily basis, and often to much greater extent in terms of loss of human life and destruction of property.”

And, “Hey! What happened was a sad and tragic thing and we join you in mourning and grieving for your loss and everything that this attack represents.”

Both are important points and one does not cancel out the one and should not minimalise the other.

It would be great to see a bunch of American young people and children holding a similar sign the next time we hear of a bombing on their side of the ocean.

[for next Tuesday’s I’ll trade you my hammer for your life, click here]
[for last Tuesday’s look at the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, and some rather unfriendly responses to her death, click here]

This should start your week off with a smile…

And I guess the less said with this one the better, excepting to ask the question of whether there was someone in the chain of command who only saw this as an innocent ad?

Although the next question to ask would be if you remembered the name of the store that this ad is for, because, after watching it the first time, that was not what was on my mind…

Which begs the question – good ad or bad ad?

What do you think?

[to see next Monday’s Human Ventriloquist and Boy with Tape on his Face, click here]
[to see last Monday’s Eating Habits of Wild Animals, click here]