Faith. Family. Writing. Music. Tech.

Time & Place

On two occasions today (only minutes apart), I found myself at just the right place at just the right time.

Adrienne and I converse from time to time regarding our place and purpose within the Prayer League. Again and again, we conclude that this is where we are meant to be – for now, at least. I think we have been placed here with great intentionality. Recently, I accepted an invitation to join the search committee responsible for the selection of a new general director. Join us in prayer, that God might direct us in this process. May God continue to use and bless us in this place and may we remain attentive and obedient.

If ever you find yourself questioning where God has led you, look up. You will likely find that He has you just where you need to be. Let Him surprise you today.



As a young boy, I always wanted to be an astronaut. It was my dream to be the first man on Mars. It has thrilled me to follow and celebrate the recent accomplishments of SpaceX and Blue Origin. To witness advances in the field of space exploration is truly a wonder. Some months ago, Aelah and I packed and planned for a trip to the moon. The beyond still strangely captivates me.

Thirty years ago today, we witnessed a tragic event. I watched the video today and was so moved. You would think such an event would dissuade the dreams of a little boy, but it only fueled them. Today, we remember The Challenger and her crew. She lived up to her name and has been challenging our dreams for 30 years. In memoriam of this event, look up, post a photo of the sky and tag it #ChallengerSky. Godspeed today.

Fresh Page

I suppose it is time I begin writing again.

Sometimes it’s good to revisit an old song. This has been my experience of late.

Simple exchange. Your will – I’m changed.

? Instagram Questions❓

Simeon has begun asking “Why?” with great determination. Yesterday at dinner was the first time I heard his firm inquiry. I don’t think he’s yet waiting for a reasoned answer, but he’s definitely got the question down.

As I began reading Subterranean by Dan White Jr., I stopped for a while to think on this statement in the preface:

In considering this statement (along with Simeon’s entry into the “world of why”), I’ve decided that, in addition these intentions for 2016, I also want to ask better (and more) questions.

A picture is worth a thousand words – if we allow it to speak. Do we ask questions that allow the truth of a matter to emerge among us?

In the interest of tackling two of my 2016 intentions with one go, I’ll be posting a daily Instagram photo (often of some mundane thing) accompanied by a caption that poses a question. I plan to continue posting family photos and such here on the blog. I’ll probably cross-post many of the Instagram photos to Twitter and Facebook. If you want to join me on this journey, you can follow at

Into 2016

If you’ve not yet heard, a good many of us are observing the beginning of a new year. Twenty-Sixteen is upon us. Yesterday I took a personal wellness day (we are blessed at the Prayer League to be allowed one personal wellness day per month). I had the intent of reflecting on this past year and then turning my thoughts toward all that might come in this new year. The day didn’t quite turn out that way. I did spend some good time in prayer and the Word, took in a bit of the final live streaming sessions from Urbana15, and played a song or two on my guitar. The rest of the day was spent with family and welcoming the new year with the Swanson family. They stayed over and we had some good fellowship today, as well.

sunrise-2016This morning, I was up early with the kids and we were able to watch the first sunrise of the new year. I don’t know that I’ve done that before. If so, I can’t remember. Here it is illuminating Minneapolis.

So, what do I look for in 2016? That’s what we’re supposed to do on the first of January, right? Make some great plan for something new? I do have a few thoughts on where I’d like some of my attention given during these first few months of this year. In no particular order:

  1. Continue regular blogging here.
  2. Return to some more personal journaling with pen & paper.
  3. Post a daily photo to Instagram – UaMV(the first is seen above)
  4. Begin some sort of daily exercise routine.
  5. Consistent daily Bible reading.
  6. Read a short list of books, including the remainder of the Oswald Chambers books in our WMPL library, Subterranean, Oikonomics, The Yearling, The Brothers Karamazov.
  7. Play my guitar more regularly.
  8. Begin some sort of local volunteering or regular engagement with the community.
  9. Take on a few more freelance WordPress web projects. (Let me know if you have any leads.)
  10. Be more consistent and intentional with family devotional time.
  11. Define and respect technological boundaries at home.
  12. Begin teaching Aelah healthy use of tech.
  13. Better tracking of family finances.

Now that I write it all down, I can see it is quite an ambitious list. And, I know it is not exhaustive. There are certainly things I’m overlooking. How about you? How are you looking to enter into 2016?

Blogging in 2015

I made it an aim of mine this past year to write more. I remember years ago, while serving with Youth Encounter, teaching at Purdue, or working in outdoor ministry, I had a well-established habit of daily (or nightly) journalling. It kept me healthy. It has been my intent to reclaim this regularity. I think I did quite well this year. The map above highlights locale of site visitors throughout the year. Here on the blog, I published 93 posts and 357 photographs accumulating a total count of 36,676 words (over twice the number from last year). I also shared 33 gems that I found out in the social wild of the internet (mostly tweets). Adorable, devotional, informative, and controversial – these 483 pieces help paint a picture of 2015. Here are several you may have missed:

I pray that you have been blessed by that which I’ve shared throughout the year. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

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Another Sick Christmas and the Surrounding Days

This was our first Christmas as a family that we spent at home. Usually, we are bound for Indiana half way through December and keep on the move gathering with family all over the state. Not so this year. The past few years, this holiday barrage has allowed place for sickness to take over our family. And, though we had a lonelier and more relaxed holiday season this year, the sickness still got us – mostly the kids. I suppose it could be this strange back and forth weather we’ve had.

It’s been some time since I’ve posted photos, so I’m uploading a few from late November and the month of December. Enjoy this glimpse into the more sane moments of our life!

Dawn in the Darkness

If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. – Isaiah 58:10

Here is another word (this morning’s word) from the daily text. Over the past weeks at Bethel we have been looking at what it means to be Christmas lights (out of storage, untangle the mess, hang them up, plug them in, bask in the glow). This verse struck me this morning, because it again reminds us that we have a vital part to play in the work of God here on earth. “If you …, then your light shall dawn …” We often hear speak, especially in our Lutheran churches, that the “Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” We talk of Christ as the Light of the World. All through Advent, we light candles – purple, purple, pink, purple – in anticipation of that white candle signifying the light of Christ.

Christ is indeed the Light of the World. But let us say this – if we talk of the soft flame of a candle as Christ’s light, let us consider ourselves the wicks. And, when we look upon the glow of the lights of our tree, consider ourselves the filament through which light manifests itself. The Light of Christ must find place to rest here on earth so that it might find place to disperse the darkness. A flash of lightning or a spark from the fire holds but a transient power unless it finds space to invade and dwell. Let us make a home for the Light in our own lives.

We are to image God. He is love – unconditional love. We are to reflect this same wondrous grace to those among whom we live. The redemption is realized in full at the cross of Jesus Christ, but the reclamation and reconciliation of mankind rests upon our reflecting the Light of Christ. May God show us this way ever more and more.

And, as I was again led to consider this chapter of Isaiah, I was reminded of the song 58: Here I Am that I wrote a few years ago. It’s been some time since I’ve listened to it, so figured I’d pull it out and share.


Wait for It

The revelation awaits an appointed time; though it lingers, wait for it. Habakkuk 2:3

You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. James 5:8

These were the daily texts that greeted me this morning. As I write these words, the Eastern horizon, though overcast, awaits the coming of a great light. When have you last sat and watched a sunrise? You know the anticipation, don’t you? The sky begins to shade lighter and lighter. Colors seep from the hidden places beyond the horizon, rising up to engulf the stars and blanket the world in a new found glory.

Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of you rising. “Lift up your eyes all around, and see: they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy.” – Isaiah 60:1-5

We have no power to turn the earth on its axis. We have no power to pull the sun from its slumber. We have no power to call forth the sunshine. God alone works these wonders. However, we can turn the wayward eastward. We can rouse those lost in frozen dreams and tell them of a world beyond the waiting. We can bask in the glory of God and rejoice.

Oh, these sacred seasons of waiting.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. – Numbers 6:24-26

Whom Shepherds Guard

What child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the king, whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the son of Mary!

How many times have I sung this song over the years? Only yesterday, as we huddled in song around the Christmas tree for morning prayer, did these words launch me into renewed awe of the Christmas story. What wonder in the coming of a King! What love – that God would step down from His throne on high to dwell with us in the flesh.

Whom shepherds guard.

According to Scripture, the shepherds are the only people (apart from Mary & Joseph) who were present to honor Jesus at his birth. Contrary to our usual image of the Nativity, the wise men weren’t there. And, though an angel brought news to the shepherds that they would “find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger,” there is no report of an angel visibly present at the stable. In fact, it says the angels had gone away from the shepherds into heaven after having delivered this message. I’ve no doubt that God and the heavenly host had eyes upon this scene, but there is no report of them being visually present. We are left with the shepherds. There may have been others who found no room in the inn and witnessed the early hours of Jesus’ life. We aren’t told.

So, why shepherds? How did they gather with this new family? Shepherds care for sheep. They oft would look upon a newborn lamb. Familiar with this beginning, they also knew the end – sacrifice. Who else could rightly come and adore? And, who else would be more qualified to offer protection and care for lambs? It seems right that they would come and care for this Lamb – this One who would be the final sacrifice. With Bethlehem bursting at the seams and strangers in town for the census, I think God would look on these new parents with baby child – His child – and give the protection of the shepherd. Scripture doesn’t explicitly talk of the shepherds guarding the Christ Child, but I can only now imagine them as doing so. (I don’t know what truth might be behind some of these speculations, but they are intriguing thoughts regarding the shepherds.)

As morning breaks, this little fellowship adores a newborn King. After having seen Him, the shepherds went and told the story, making it widely known. I wonder what came of these shepherds in the days, weeks, and years that ensued? How often did they return to see Jesus? Did they follow the life of this little one? What stories did they re-tell as they tended the flocks?

I’m reimagining the Nativity this year. It’s something nearer to this.


My Google Alphabet

I thought it would be fun to take a look at what sites Chrome is auto-filling for me these days. I suppose this might give me a good picture of where I’m spending my time online. Here are my results.

A •
B •
C •
D •
E •
F •
G •
H •
I •
J •
K •
L •
M •
N •
O •
P •
Q •
R •
S •
T •
U •
V •
W •
X • {no result}
Y •
Z •

Go ahead – do the same. Any surprises? Comment below.

Primal Inspiration

Receptivity is the simplest, most child-like human function. What we have to re-learn is that receptivity is not a function, but the function. All other functions are by-products. The whole of life is a parable of this. — Norman Grubb

Inspiration • the drawing in of breath

When first air touches upon our gentle lips and our lungs gasp with primal reflex, we have been taught the way of inspiration. It is the drawing in of breath. From an infant’s first to the elderly’s last, we innately know this way. Inspiration is written into the code of our lives. The decisive question is whether we keep in sync with this foundational rhythm.

I’ve heard it said (according to my Christian worldview) that while death is reality, it is not natural. This is why we so strain to bear its gravity. I posit that something opposite can be said for our life-breath. While inspiration is natural, it is too normally not our reality. We bear such a suffocating weight. Oh, how often we must remind ourselves to “just breathe.”

So then, how ought we to reclaim the reality of instinctual inspiration?

We begin with a heightened awareness of that which we breathe in every day. In quietude and calm we re-sensitize and synchronize to the rhythms of life. Remember that we are perpetual recipients. We receive knowledge, music, beauty, and light. We receive children’s laughter, a stranger’s knowing smile, the sunbeam’s soothing kiss, and the scent of advancing rain.

Once aware, we remain attentive to the life being nourished in us. In solitude and meditation, we begin to handle that which we’ve been given. We turn it over in our heads and in our hearts. Some things we’ll choose to discard as rubbish. Others we’ll hold warily as something wonderful, though strange. Still others, we’ll tuck into the safe places and cherish for all time.

And, in the end, all that we’ve received will fill us full. Finite beings that we are, it will bust our seams. It is at this glorious moment that our inspirations coalesce into creativity.

This is how we see the world anew. This is how we make the world anew.

Inspire. Breathe. Life.

Remember Us (An Advent Song)

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Nearly 20 years ago I composed a riff that lingered upon my fingers waiting for words. The riff survived unsullied. It was only four years ago or so that lyrics were birthed, in part, I think, by Andrew Peterson‘s Behold the Lamb of God and by a sermon at Bethel. Finally, Remember Us was manifested in full.

Imagine those 400 years between the Testaments when God was seemingly silent and the Israelites waited. This is a song that might have been sung by those holding to the promise of a Messiah. Consider those in our day who suffer under the weight of our warring and need to be met in a real way by the saving grace of Jesus. This is a song that might be sung in waiting and in longing.

A sorrow spread o’er the land
And an aching in the heart of every man
While the nations rage on in war
We, Your people, cry out

Remember us, Lord

Oh, Yahweh, where have You gone
Your prisoners of hope wait for the Prophesied One
A Messiah foretold of old
And, in our hearts, the longing

Remember us, Lord

A Priest and a King, it was said He would bring
Justice and healing in His wings
Here, our nation is torn from within
And, over us now, silence is reigning as King

Oh, come, be our King

We know in the fullness of time
With peace, You will come and set this world aright
To the everlasting promise we hold
We shout for the glory to come

Remember us, Lord

As we enter the season of Advent, you might consider following this Family Advent Art & Reading Guide from James D. Witmer at Story Warren which presents daily devotions from Sally Lloyd-JonesThe Jesus Storybook Bible and ornament art projects painted by Melissa Ellen Fink(You can see a sample in the track art for the song above.)

I’ve also heard that Russ Ramsey is giving away his Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative eBook for free from November 30 – December 2. Here’s a brief excerpt (speaking of John the Baptist):

He was, as the prophet Isaiah had said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.'” (Isa 40:3, Mt 3:3)

Prepare for what? A collision of worlds. Like a meteor falling to the earth, heaven was bearing down on the land of his forefathers. An old promise, so old that it had become little more than a legend, was about to be fulfilled—and nothing would ever be the same.

The Messiah was coming.

Now, may you know that this Savior is near. His promises fail not. In Him, hope is secure. Should we cry out with the psalmist, or the prophet, or the languishing Israelite that the Lord would remember us, then might we also rejoice in the knowledge that His love has come. O, that His kingdom might come again and again today.


#MissionText: Considering Copyright

If you’ve been following my #MissionText journey through the writings of Oswald Chambers, you may have noticed that I have not posted in several weeks. There are two reasons for this lapse and I can excitedly say a lack of discipline is not one of them – yet. First, we’ve been busy welcoming a new little one to our home. Second, it entered my mind to consider whether or not I might be infringing on copyright as I post lengthier excerpts from these works.

A quick Google search showed me that copyright of all Oswald Chambers’ writings is held by Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd. I submitted an inquiry via their website questioning whether I might continue this journey of reading or whether they might have thoughts on some alternate approach to sharing my thoughts during this journey. I was encouraged to receive the following message from the chairman:

Dear Joshua,

Many thanks for your email and query. So glad you are being blessed by the words of Oswald Chambers. Normally anyone can quote from an author providing it is no more than 6 lines of text. You do not need permission for that. But I notice you are blogging which I assume has a limited readership – so in one sense you are not publishing for gain. So I think you are quite safe if you keep to a reasonable length of quote.

I trust the Lord will help your ministry.

Now to keep in consideration that “reasonable length of quote” both for copyright considerations and for the palatability of my posts. I’m currently working my way through another book and continue to tweet small pieces as I do. Onward and in word we go.

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