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It’s Not Me, It’s You (or, You’re Ross, I’m Rachel)

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Submitted By: Kevin Smith Clark

Dear Cleveland Browns,

I need a break from us.  We’ve been going steady for several years now, and just when I think you’re ready to commit, you break my heart.  You use me (Gerard Warren with the #3 pick over LaDanian Tomlinson in the 2001 Draft).  You tease me (remember 9-7 in ’02 and 10-6 in ’07)?  You ignore my needs.  I need the offense and the defense to be good in the same season.  I need you to play all four quarters.  I need you to pick a QB and stick with him (I’m one of the five people in America who thinks Colt McCoy is the guy for the job).

You think you know what I need…should I point out the crappy gifts you’ve given me: Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Jeff Faine, William Green, Kellen Winslow, Jr., Braylon Edwards.  Just because you’ve strung a few good ones together (Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Joe Haden, and Phil Taylor), it’s not going to cut it.  Like Renee to Brodie in Mallrats: “The effort was too little, too late.”

I look around at how other fans are treated.  The Pats fans are happy.  The Lions fans are happy.  Even the stupid Bengals are turning things around, and they’re a train wreck of an organization.  When three teams from AFC North make the playoffs in one season, and we’re the only girl not asked to prom, it sucks.  And you’re to blame.

So, I’m telling you this now.  Before the draft.  So you can’t go in and grab Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon (you know, someone you could use, an offensive player who can make an impact) and tempt me in believing your lies for another eight months.  You passed on Julio Jones last year, and then complained that Colt had no targets. Nope.  We need a break.

But I’ll make you this promise: I won’t find another team this year.  You won’t find me wearing black and gold, or purple, or green.  I think there’s still good in you…you’re like Anakin Skywalker (Sebastian Shaw, not Hayden Christiansen).  But I can’t take this relationship any further right now.

I won’t watch you this year.  At all.  I’ll give you a chance to win back my affection.  And since I’m making this public declaration, I’m sure you’ll pull off one of those shocker seasons, pull a 10-6 or (Lord, help me) 11-5, sucker me back into your clutches, and start this vicious cycle all over again.

I’m just going to spend the 2012 NFL season watching teams like the Patriots, Packers, Niners, Texans, even the old Browns over in Baltimore, and wonder what it’s like to be their fan.

Call me in 2013.

Sincerely,

Moving On in Wauseon

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Cutting Through the Noise to Listen to MLK

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

There was no greater American preacher during the twentieth century than the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Although other preachers such as Billy Sunday and Billy Graham transformed the Christian landscape by challenging individuals to engage and be transformed by the gospel, Dr. King realized that the gospel transforms societies and calls us into the beloved community.

Yesterday the 11 am service at Christ Church finished with a rousing rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is often known as the Black National Anthem. As I lifted the cross at the head of the procession the congregation sang that great interrogatory, hopeful question – yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet, come to the place for which our father’s sighed? – I was almost overcome.

As Sheriff Andrea Cabral said at the Roxbury YMCA’s MLK Business Breakfast on Friday, I’m thankful that Dr. King had a dream and went to the mountaintop, but I’m also glad that he marched with sanitation workers, stood up for Vietnam War protesters, and launched the poor people’s campaign.

Over the years I have heard several evangelicals whom I love question the impact or, on one occasion, even the faith of Dr. King because he had clay feet. Although King’s personal failures were particularly well documented since he lived in the twentieth century and was illegally wiretapped by his own government, I doubt in the end that his sin was greater than ours or many of the great saints – such as the ancient man whose faith we claim who repeatedly whored his wife to save his life – that have gone before. Those concerns may be the reason we neither study Dr. King’s sermons or social vision in our seminaries nor celebrate his life in our churches.

Today, as we celebrate the life of Dr. King, I hope that you can cut through the noise that sometimes surrounds his personal life to hear his clarion call to the Christ shaped life and beloved community. Pick up a copy of A Testament of Hope, wiki and watch some YouTube videos, or, even better, set aside some time to attend a celebration of Dr. King’s life and get a taste of the beloved community. In honor of Dr. King, approach today not simply as an opportunity for recreation, but for spiritual formation.

Thank God for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. May our weary feet, continue marching to the justice beat, straining towards the beloved community always before us.

New Post at Restoration Living

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2012 at 12:59 am

Submitted By: Gentry

Hey All,

I was honored to post a reflection on Sustainable Social Justice Practices over at Restoration Living.

I’d be honored if you’d pop over there and give it a read. Restoration Living is edited by my dear friend, and first Sinners & Saints Homechurch attender (literally. She was the only one there the first night) Jen Wise.

I hope to post some new thoughts up soon. Maybe my lazy ass blogger team will submit some stuff as well. Let’s hope they do. Their posts always pull more hits anyway.

Be blessed and be well.

My Unexpected Diagnosis

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

The first time was during Christmas break. I was watching Gangs of New York with my younger cousin, who’s far from the gringo gang banging type, and my father. My heart raced, head flew, and body tingled. After the movie we went to South Crest Hospital and I spent $500 – or, more likely, my Pa Pa comped me – to determine that I was perfectly healthy, but perhaps a bit stress worn. The next day I ignored my parents’ concerns about my health and drove over 500 miles to spend time with my future wife and her sister’s window pressed pregnant belly.

The second time was during yesterday’s holiday party – you read that right, let the holi war commence –  shortly before consuming a mashup of chicken parm and steak tips. I was talking with two of my senior colleagues about the career paths of past employees when my fingers began to tingle, my bottom lip started going numb, and my head went light. I tried to excuse myself from the conversation by explaining my symptoms to my bosses and indirectly inquiring whether I should go to the hospital. They suggested I ingest a combination of charred fare and fresh air. When eating didn’t chase the symptoms away, I called my PCP who ran me through a battery of physical tests, blood work, and a heart cath – all of which I didn’t realize I’ll have to pay for since we’re on a PPO – and found nothing.

I think the doctor wanted to ascribe my symptoms to stress, but since he half-believed my assertion that work and life are going just fine, he said “you have some kind of short-term sensory issue.”

You heard the doctor right: I have Christmas Sensory Disorder*. Since the doctor said nothing could treat it except for time, I’ve designed a prescription of my own.

During this season, please respect my precarious state. Since there is no cure for Christmas Sensory Disorder I’m going to weigh down my torso with an unwashed hoody, reduce the tactile tingling with a bottle of Bulleit and The Art of Fielding, and await the calendar cure.

I’ll see you after the Seacrest stained New Year – by which time my trunk magnet will be designed.

 

* This post is not intended to offend anyone with any other disorder, be it real or farcical. My sole intention is to, perhaps unwisely, plumb the jagged edges of my own neuroses.

I Don’t Think I’ve Ever Met an Unbeliever (& I Don’t Think You Have Either)

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2011 at 3:38 am

Submitted By: Gentry

A dear friend who we’re proud to support in Christian ministry and whom I in no way intent to personally critique in this post included the following quote in his last email update:

“Believers read the Bible, unbelievers read Christians.”  -Preacher at Large Christian Church

Upon first reading I loved this quote so much that I almost tweeted it. As a Christian I have been deeply shaped by the Judeo-Christian scriptures and desperately long to incarnate the beauty, truth, and goodness of the God I encounter there in the midst of an often broken world.

But that word “unbelievers” gave me pause. I’ve heard people who do not follow Christ characterized by this word a million times by Christians, preachers, and theologians. However, until now I haven’t thought about how presumptuous and arrogant the word unbeliever actually sounds.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who could correctly be characterized as an “unbeliever.” I’ve met many who believe in things I do not – such as their ability to channel angels for prophetic purposes, that the Palestinians are an “invented” people group, that human rationality utterly devastates and demythologizes the Christianity, or I’m destined to inherit a tidy planet in the 9th nebula of the Ing Galaxy – but that does not mean that they are unbelievers.

This might be too obvious to type, but other people are not defined by my beliefs. I am. The community that I’m blessed to be a part of is.

Moreover, although many people I love and am privileged to serve beside do not share my core belief in the Trinity, they do believe in the possibility of justice, the transformative power of generosity, capacity of words to provoke, evoke, and invoke,* the unquestionable National League superiority of the St. Louis Cardinals, and so many other things.

These folks are not unbelievers, they are my friends, they are my family, they are those who share parts of my mission, they are my teachers, they are lovers, they are loved.

Would I like for everyone I love to be transformed by the beauty, truth, and goodness of God and share my hope in a Christ who ultimately will make all things new? Of course I would. But I will not disregard their beliefs because they do not completely align with mine and I will not compel them to respond to a call they might choose to ignore.

I read scripture and I long to be shaped by it (except for the genocidal parts and other provisions we can discuss in detail later). I hope that when my friends who don’t believe in Jesus read me, they don’t find that I’ve defined them in opposition to my life or am anything less than grateful for the opportunities we share to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly – with or without God – beside one another.

So that’s my visceral response to the word “unbeliever.” Curious to hear yours.

* To crib the lovely and amazing Courtney Bell.

Fear of Death in the Inner-City and in the Presence of Elephant and Piggie

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality. Before I had children, I never thought about death all that much. Now that two little lives, and one bigger, beautiful, vital one is tied to mine I think about it far more often.

Is this conscious fear of death evidence of a subconscious terror that explains my desperate hope for resurrection? I don’t know. But I’m pondering it, that’s for sure.

In the midst of my pitiful suburban goth phase I’ve stumbled into two books. The first book is called Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago. Our America is a lengthy transcript of an award-winning public radio series that featured two African-American teenagers who live in and among Chicago’s Ida B. Wells housing projects.

Their stories about chemically riven families, murdered five year-olds, and oft-strafed open fields, are heart-breaking and jarring. According to LeAlan, the book’s primary narrator, if you aren’t streetwise by the time you’re ten in the Ida Wells, you’re either dead or soon will be.

As these teenagers tell stories about nonexistent fathers, inexplicable murders, and projects-cum-concentration camps, the subtext of their prose screams: “I want to make it out of here alive.” Fortunately, Wikipedia and Google suggests that both boys survived and, to varying degrees, are thriving as men.

In the midst of reading Our America, I yielded to David Plotz’s cocktail chatter commendation and picked up We Are in a Book! This children’s book by the author of the Knuffle Bunny series,  narrates Elephant and Piggie’s elation at finding themselves in the midst of a plot that is attended to by readers. After Elephant and Piggie find great humor in manipulating the reader, Elephant is terrified when he realizes that his story will end. Piggie slyly navigates Elephant’s fear of mortality by scheming with him to ensure that the reader will read the story again.

Our America ends in the context of utter poverty, urban violence, and the author’s repeated petition: “I hope I survive. I hope I survive. I hope I survive.” We Are in a Book ended in a comfortable suburban living room where a father whose gotten more breaks than not and sometimes – with a certain amount of shame – considers his role as a well-educated generalist a cross, silently thought: “I hope there’s something beyond this life. I hope there’s something beyond this life. I hope there’s something beyond this life.”

God forgive me. Christ guide me through the needle. Spirit help me find the grace to stand behind – or in God’s mercy walk beside – the true heirs of your kingdom.

Quick Reflections on Homebrewed Christianity’s Pete Rollins Podcast

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

If you’re intrigued by theology – even on a somewhat surface level like I am – I cannot recommend The Homebrewed Christianity Podcast highly enough. I particularly enjoyed the recent Theology Nerd Throwdown (TNT) that featured a lecture by Pete Rollins.

A few quick reflections on that lecture:

1. Throughout the lecture Pete emphasized the importance of identifying the idols – which may include our concept of God – that we venerate in hopes of finding meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. In one short bit, Pete mentioned that if you “want to know what your idols are, pay attention to what you critique” for your critique is likely fueled by your frustration that the object of your critique has not provided the happiness or meaning you desire.

As I’ve attended to Pete’s advice, I’ve realized that evangelicalism, particularly the Christian Church, Church of Christ tradition which has shaped me, is my most common target of critique. Although elements of my critique – which broadly trend along the lines of the excellent HuffPo article How to Shrink Your Church – are probably valid, my critique is almost certainly fueled by my bitterness about rejection I’ve experienced within my tradition as well as my inability to create sustainable, life giving, alternative Christian communities. At Pete’s suggestion, I’m starting to focus my energies on deconstructing my critique of evangelicalism, repenting of the way I’ve idolized more traditional pastoral practices, and trying to attend to the opportunities that sometimes arise in the context of desolation.

2. Listening to this lecture, in which Peter tries to reframe Christianity – including concepts such as original sin and atonement – for an indifferent public and Christians who are left cold or confused by current, prevalent conceptions of the faith, led me to realize that Peter’s deepest concern is for evangelism. Pete is not deconstructing out of bitterness nor trying to academically inch us towards agnosticism. Rather, he has been deeply transformed by Jesus – the one who divested himself of identity on the cross and was reconstituted* by resurrection – and he desperately wants us to reconnect our stories in a meaningful, existential way, with the Jesus story.

Pete’s focus on evangelism is made somewhat plain by his participation in the Ikon community in Northern Ireland and his promotion of the evangelism project, both of which are mentioned briefly in the lecture. Pete is not the only emergent thinker who is fueled by an interest in evangelism. I would argue that the primary emphasis behind much of Brian McLaren’s work – such as More Ready Than You Realize, A New Kind of Christian, and a New Kind of Christianity – is driven by his passion for honest, meaningful evangelism as well.

3. I was intrigued by Pete’s suggestion that Paul’s teaching that “in Christ there is no Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free” does not mean that our association with Christ gives us a super-identity that transcends these categories, but leads us to divest ourselves of identity as Christ did upon the cross. Pete argues that for many of us – excluding those who’ve identities have long been oppressed – church should not be a place where we go to be endowed with identity, but a place where we divest ourselves of identity, confess the impotence of our idols and (I think he’s suggesting) await the power of the resurrection.

Although I’m far from certain that I understand this latter emphasis in Pete’s teaching, I want to learn more about it and perhaps read the Insurrection.

If you haven’t listened to the lecture, I’d encourage you to do so. If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Now back to my regularly scheduled parenting.

* this is not the right word. tried surprised and transformed, but they didn’t work either. open to suggestions.

On Killing a Darling and Being Surprised by New Life

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

Annie Dillard once said that one of the hardest parts of learning to write is having to “kill your darlings” by excising beloved words that just won’t work. In a similar vein, I’ve recently learned that Christians sometimes have to bury what appears to be most precious and anxiously wait to see what is resurrected.

For eight years I had the privilege of being a bi-vocational pastor in Boston. My days were occupied with a variety of tasks such as marketing Christian subculture for a major online bookseller or helping youth with disabilities start their careers. In the additional hours that were not focused on my family, I wrote sermons, participated in the emergent conversation, and struggled beside people as we tried to walk in the way of Jesus.

Over the past year my occupation and vocation have become more closely aligned. The energy behind this movement is IMPACT:Ability.

IMPACT:Ability is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported initiative that empowers people with disabilities and communities to prevent widespread abuse. In the two decades that have followed the Americans with Disabilities Act people with disabilities have made great strides towards full inclusion in the workforce, local neighborhoods, and many other spheres of society. However, in the midst of such positive movements, people with disabilities continue to experience disproportionate amounts of physical and sexual abuse.

According to the Massachusetts State Sexual Violence Prevention Team adults of all genders with disabilities are four to ten times more likely than their non-disabled peers to experience physical or sexual assault. Because of trauma related to past abuse or the fear of potential abuse, many youth and adults with disabilities chose to live and work in substantially separate environments rather than choosing to live, move, and find their being in the midst of community.

IMPACT:Ability provides individuals with the verbal and physical safety and self-defense skills they need to pursue lives of their own choosing. Since – as we’ve seen in the Penn State football scandal – organizational systems play a vital role in either preventing or perpetuating abuse, IMPACT:Ability has partnered with the largest disability focused state agency, the largest school district in Massachusetts, as well as our parent organization to develop initiatives focused on proactively preventing abuse and encouraging the promotion of healthy relationships.

Much to our delight, IMPACT:Ability has been incredibly well received by the community of individuals with disabilities as well as the organizations that support this population. I personally feel like this initiative is one of the greatest opportunities I will ever have to provide the resources people with disabilities need to navigate one of their greatest challenges, find their power both as individuals and as a community, and live more independent lives in our neighborhoods, cities and towns.

Because of IMPACT:Ability, I’ve decided to kill one of my darlings by stepping down from active pastoral ministry and leaving the preaching and presiding to others. I cannot say that this transition has been easy – I’m often writing sermons in my head or subliminating my passion for preaching by consuming copious amounts of stand-up comedy – but I can say that the story of Jesus and the active practice of the faith continues to shape me every day.

For instance, I cannot think of the unspeakable abuse experienced by young people like Cheyanne – a 14 year old who recently went on the Today show to talk about the abuse she experienced in a Special Education classroom where teachers chided her for her weight and condemned her as “dumb, dumb, dumb” – without considering it an affront to the Imago Dei. If, as Christians believe, we were all created in the image of God, then surely the physical abuse of people with disabilities is a direct strike upon that image, and verbal abuse is a way of drowning out what Henri Nouwen often called “the inner voice of love.”

In killing my darling by stepping out of the pulpit and burying my pastoral practice to focus on IMPACT:Ability, I have been surprised by new life. Although Triangle is not a faith-based organization and most of my deeply valued, incredibly gifted colleagues and collaborators are not Christians, I am confident that the work we are doing is well aligned with my understanding of humanity and my abiding belief that in the end all things – even people who have suffered abuse, the people who have perpetrated it, and the organizations that have accommodated it – will be made new.

Legoland Opened in Florida? Keep Me the Hell Away from There!

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

Yesterday, while surfing Boston.com and counting the hours until I could put Lydian down to sleep, I found out that Legoland had opened in Florida. Can you imagine? Life size figs. Rushmore inspired brickings of Einstein. Snapped together nods to Cinderella’s Castle and Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Keep me the hell away from there.

As a child, there were few toys that amplified insecurities like Legos. My friend Shawn had an Apple II that he thought was amazing, but I could never find the damn channel wheel for. So he would sit and play some kind of text based wizard game while I provoked his overbearing mother. She made the no-no-no-no neighbor on Alf look like a portrait of sanity. Little wonder he graduated from Awana to knocking up his college freshman girlfriend.

Another kid in my class named Stephen wasn’t really my friend. In fact, I was forced to invite him to my birthdays so I really don’t understand why I spent an afternoon in his room. Nevertheless I did and this son of an IBMer showed me his toy called the Armatron. It was a small scale Robotic arm that could be manipulated with a joy stick and used to stack fake beakers and stuff. Stephen was able to use the clunky joystick to create towers and rotate blocks 90 degrees at a time. I barely knew my right from my left and didn’t have the motor control to manipulate a pencil, much less a cutting edge plastic implement from Radio Shack. Understandably I felt like throwing Armatron against a wall and never returned to Stephen’s house again.

But as emasculating as those toys were, Paul’s Legos were the worst. After we traded baseball cards and maybe played a game of Hardball on his Atari computer (don’t look up that title via Google btw), he’d run to the shelf beside his bed, grab a green plastic tote, and dump a thousand bricks on the teal shag carpet. For the next hour I would try in vain to create a respectable log cabin while Paul would create a fort that could survive Crossbows and Catapults. Ashamed of my execution I’d try to get Paul to go back to baseball cards, since I had an edge on him in that arena and could probably wheedle a 1980 Ozzie Smith for a 1986 Donruss Dale Murphy. But once Paul locked onto Legos he might as well have been Rain Man impersonating the dough man from This Old House. There was no going back. Unsurprisingly, Paul eventually was assigned a place beside Stephen in the don’t-play-with-bin.

I hate Legos. I hate that even if you follow the stupid instructions carefully – though don’t get me wrong, after the free for all in Paul’s room I am so thankful for that crutch – while snapping a door into place a rear wheel will invariably fall off or while applying index pressure to snap the rotor into place my thumb will snap off the landing skid.

So when Preston wants me to play Legos I usually flick through Tweetdeck instead. I don’t need to remember reading Microserfs and realizing that nerd girls gone gaga for Lego software were as unattainable for me as the very limited supply of girls that were pretty enough to consider and not too pious to steer clear (read it before I realized that, rightly framed, rebellion could feel like freedom for bible college girls). Likewise, when I can’t apply the right amount of pressure on a fire truck, I don’t want to think of my freshman roommate who, rightly, scoffed at my elevation to the honors program because as a history major I couldn’t handle a third of the calculations required of an engineer and could put off college algebra – which would almost certainly undo that distinction – until my junior year.

Much as Preston loves them, Legos snap old insecurities back into place. That’s why when I’m not hiding in the kitchen typing as fast as I possibly can and plying him with PBS kids, I persuade him to play Thomas instead.

From Habit to Habit

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

This week Kellie, an old friend, and I watched “What the Bleep?” a dramatized documentary that features Marlee Matlin and supposedly focuses on quantum physics. I’m generally intrigued by popular accounts of quantum physics since it has altered our perception of the world and undermined much of the positivist, mechanistic conceptions of the universe that informed the theology and worldview of my youth. I’m also generally impressed by people who can count.

I’m not recommending an uncritical viewing of “What the Bleep?” since, as Kellie discovered, it clearly has an agenda that was influenced by a woman who impersonates the poodle owning heiress from Best in Show and believes that she is the medium of a 35,000 year old Warrior Princess named Ramtha. Moreover, the most significant Christian influenced speaker is a former Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse. However, the movies inclusion of Masaru Emoto’s Messages from Water Experiments brought to mind a sermon that slightly altered the shape of my life.

Emoto has done some, according to the Wi-ki-pid-iah, apparently pseudoscientific research into how water crystals can be effected by different expressions of human consciousness. Emoto claims that speaking blessings, praying, or focusing gratitude on water samples produces water crystals that are far more beautiful than water that has not been blessed. He uses high-speed cameras to capture photos of the most beautiful blessed water crystals and also has a fairly questionable side business of selling blessed water online.

Four or five years ago John Harding – a longtime friend of The Gathering and a minister at a The Bridge Church – preached about the importance of “being a blessing” during the Halloween season in Salem. If memory serves, John used God’s commission to Abraham as a primary text, but he also spent a good portion of the talk focusing on Emoto’s Messages from Water experiments. At the time, I thought the water crystal talk was a little suspect. Now, after watching the Messages from Water transform Marlee Matlin character from a tangle of self-hatred into a woman whose self-blessings are so potent they empower her to draw twisted ivy hearts all over herself with a cosmetics pen, I’m still suspicious.

However, John’s reminder that embodied, incarnational, risky blessing is at the heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition, has changed my life. During Halloween anyway.

Each year I look forward to donning a costume shop bought but quite authentic Franciscan habit and wandering the streets of Salem to give a free blessing to people. Sometimes the free blessing is a cup of fair trade hot chocolate, sometimes a spoken word or prayer, and many times an unspoken benediction or a smile.

This quite literal practice of being a blessing has become such a central part of my Christian year that I am considering taking this robe – or another I want to construct out of wornout khaki pants – on the road to the Wild Goose Festival this year. I’ve heard that everyone should bring something to that party and I figure blessings will be more than welcome.

This week, in the midst of my Wild Goose dreams, I realized again how quickly I set aside the posture of blessing in order to swing the gauntlet (great, often forgotten arcade game by the way) of strife and frustration. Sadly, this switch often takes far less time than it takes me to pull on or pull off that October robe.

I want that to change. I need that to change.

May God give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the heart inclined, and the hands eager to bless the people I love, loathe, live, work, treasure, and tolerate on a daily basis. Although I contend with him mightily, God has indeed blessed me and called me to be a blessing. I hope to more faithfully fulfill that commission today and in the days to come.

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