A note to the girl on campus, crying outside the gym

I saw you curled up in a corner outside the gym. It’s a spot where only someone desperate to escape the crowds would go. The window you were sitting next to is deceiving. You probably couldn’t see in, but I could see out. Don’t worry, I don’t think anyone else even noticed.

There was an undeniable look of pain on your face and tears were rolling down your cheeks. At first this startled me. I felt like I was peering into a very private moment.. Then, a sense of compassion hit me. I wanted to stop my workout to go outside and make sure you were OK. If it wasn’t for the fire alarm door standing in the way, I would have done it.

Then I began to think of what else I could do to help. Only one thing came to mind…pray. I don’t want to seem weird but it seemed like you could really use it. I also made up my mind that if you were still there in another minute or two, I would make my way out of the gym to where you were. It only took you about 30 more seconds for you to pick yourself up and move on. The gym is a complicated maze to escape. Even if I left when I first saw you, I probably wouldn’t have made it to you in time.

When you got up, many emotions filled me. I was sad to see you in pain. I was worried hoping that you would be all right. Interestingly enough, one my primary emotions was anger. I was angry at that door for separating us. There was someone in pain who I couldn’t reach because a barrier stood in the way.

I don’t assume you would want to talk with me even if I was able to make it past that door.   Still, it made me think of all the obstacles that stand in the way of me seeing and reaching out to people in need. Sometimes it’s self-centeredness. It is easy to look in the wall full of mirrors in the gym and stare impressed (or depressed) at what I see. Similarly, when my focus is on myself, I don’t consider what is happening in the world around me.

Other times, the fire exit doors are things like busyness or the next “important” thing on my calendar. I’m sure there are times when I miss people in pain because I’m too caught up in making it to the next meeting on time. It turns out, you taught me a very important lesson.

Most likely, you and I will never meet. I’ll probably never get to tell you this face to face but I want to let you know that at least for a brief moment in time, you had someone praying for you in your pain. Whether you realized it or not, you were not alone.

The same thing is true now. Even in the midst of your sorrow, you have someone who you can’t see who knows what you are going through. Unlike me, His love is unconditional and He can break through any door to meet you where you are. I pray that no matter what dark time you are walking through, you will experience the hope, joy and peace that only He can bring.

An open letter to my nine year old daughter about relationships

It’s always been tough to navigate the waters of relationships. I think it’s even tougher today. This is an open letter to my nine year old daughter as I try to help her understand what to look for….

Dear Daughter,

I love you!

Are you sick of hearing me say that? I’m sorry if it gets annoying. Someday soon, you’ll probably even roll your eyes when I utter those words. That’s OK. I get it. You’ve got a weird dad. I’m still going to keep on saying it anyway. Do you know why I’m never going to stop? Because, I love you, silly, that’s why!

There’s also another reason I try to tell you those three little words as often as I can. Someday, you are going to decide to get into a relationship with a guy. You’ve still got a lot of time before that happens (maybe until you are 40 or so) but when that day comes, I want you to recognize what true love really looks like.

I know I’m not a perfect dad. You know that better than anyone else. Still, I think a lot about what it looks like to be an example of a loving man in your life.

Here is my biggest piece of advice and my prayer for you when I think about your future… Please don’t settle for anyone less than the best for your life. You deserve the best!

Remember that time I bought you your first rose? It was the day you were born, so I understand if your memory is a bit foggy. I wrote you a little note and let you know that although a lot of other guys would probably give you flowers, I was excited to be the first. Right from the start, I wanted you to recognize that a true man will treat you with respect and honor.

I love spending time with you too. Our daddy-daughter dates are times I will always remember. Going ice-skating with you a few weeks ago, was so much fun! We must have looked really funny while we were holding hands and trying not to fall on our bum bums. You inspired me by your determination to improve with every time around the ice. If any guy doesn’t appreciate your growth or doesn’t just love being with you, please drop that guy’s hand and get out of that rink as fast as you can!

 Every now and then, you hear me tell you, “You are beautiful just the way you are!” I should probably tell you that more often because I want you to know in your soul that there’s nothing you could do to make you more beautiful. You will always be beautiful. Magazines, T.V. and the movies will try to get you to think that you need to change your outward appearance to be acceptable. Please ignore those messages! If a guy tries to get you to believe that, he is a jerk (I use the word “jerk” because you are nine years old, if you were older, I would use something stronger).

Finally, you might think that I chose the nickname “Precious” for you by accident, but it was on purpose. I’ve called you that name since you were little because I want you to know that’s exactly what you are. Not only do I think that, your Heavenly Dad thinks that. If you find someone who stays connected with that same Dad in heaven, he will see you as a precious woman too. .

I guess what I am trying to say is…

“I love you!”

Find someone who never gets sick of telling you those words and who treats you like he means it. In the meantime, I promise to keep on trying to set the example in the best way I can.



Three Weird Documentaries Worth Watching

I remember a time in the distant past when there was only one shot at seeing a show. If you weren’t sitting in front of your T.V. during that time, you had to wait an entire WEEK to see another episode! Heck, during my senior year in college, my roomates and I intentionally planned our schedules around “The Price is Right”.

Now, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, the “T.V. Guide” is a relic from the stone age. What were we back then? Neanderthals?!!

With all of the options, however, can come paralyzation. It’s not uncommon for me to waste an entire half hour scrolling through my options on Amazon Prime. Next time you find yourself in that situation, here are 3 rather obscure documentaries that are fun and thought provoking.





I love Sriracha hot sauce! It is as versatile as it is tasty. Yet, I never stopped to think “Where does this stuff come from?”

“Sriracha” is the story of how the recipe of a man from Vietnam changed the culinary world. It is informational, heartwarming and inspiring. Whether you like to spice up your food with the dark red concoction or not, you will probably finish the documentary believing that a great idea can come from anywhere.


Mission to Lars



What does it mean to be a person with value? For many years, a man with special needs had been largely neglected by his siblings. Then one day, his sister (a reporter) and his brother (a documentary maker) decided to make his ultimate dream come true…meeting the drummer from Metallica!

You don’t need to love the Heavy Metal band for this documentary to hit home (although it doesn’t hurt). More than anything it is a story of love, persistence and the worth of every human being.



Chicken People



You’ve probably heard of the Westminster Dog Show, but did you know there is a similar event for…Chickens?!! There are people who dedicate their lives to creating the perfect chicken.

At first I felt crazy for even watching this documentary but about mid way through, I started to see the world through the eyes of these “Chicken People”. Scary, I know!

It made me realize there are areas of my life that people would probably call insane if they hung around me for long enough. After watching this movie, you might start to realize we all try to distract ourselves in one way or another. Some of our diversions are just more socially acceptable.

Wide Right: Facing Failure

This Sunday, millions of people will tune in to watch the Super Bowl. As a Bills fan, I can’t watch the big game without thinking about January 27th, 1991. It was a long time ago but the memory is seared into my mind like the lines on a perfectly grilled steak.

In their first Super Bowl appearance, the Bills were part of a gridiron battle for the ages. Despite being behind, Jim Kelly and the Bills offense orchestrated a last minute drive to put the Bills within field goal range. With only a few seconds left in the game, it all came down to a field goal. A successful kick would give the Bills their first championship, while a miss would mean victory for their opponents, the New York Giants .

The eyes of the world were on Scott Norwood as he walked onto the field. His reliable leg had kicked countless pigskins through bright yellow bars like the ones in front of him. Yet, he had  to know that all those other successful kicks would be a distant memory compared to his current task.  THIS moment would be remembered for years to come.

It was no chip shot. 47 yards is definitely a makeable distance for an NFL kicker but also within the range of kicks that are missed on a fairly regular basis. After what seemed like an eternity, the ball was finally snapped. The kick traveled up into the air. It had more than enough distance but sailed past the right upright… No good!

The Giants won the game. The words “Wide Right” still haunt every Bills fan to this day. I imagine those words also follow Scott Norwood around wherever he goes.

Perhaps nothing tests our sense of identity and worth more than failure.

Seeing ourselves through the lens of our accomplishments is as common in our society as breathing air. In many ways, the most important document we own is our resume. It validates all of the gifts, talents and strengths we bring to the table. A resume isn’t inherently a bad thing but a “resume centered life” is marked by continual striving, discontent and constant comparison. Failure is always lurking at the door waiting to destroy everything you have worked so hard to build.

Even though I’ve never attempted a Super Bowl winning kick, I can still identify with Scott Norwood. I’ve failed a lot in life. I have to make a constant decision not to let the “Wide Right” moments of life define me.

Instead, I want to see myself the way that God sees me. My true worth isn’t rooted in what I do. I am loved and accepted for who I am.

Drew Huyn, a pastor from NYC, talks about seven implications of Jesus sacrifice for us. He puts it this way…

We are fully loved.
We are fully accepted.
We have nothing to prove.
We have nothing to lose.
We have nothing to hide.
We are free to make mistakes.
We have nothing to fear.

I doubt I’ll ever like failure but I want to live with the freedom that comes from realizing my worth isn’t wrapped up in my “wide right” moments.

If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts about this topic, feel free to watch a talk I gave at Browncroft Community Church a couple of years ago. You can find the link here.