Monday, June 4, 2012

Riding Bulls

I've never ridden a real live bull- you know, the kind with horns and a bad attitude?  But sometimes my life feels like riding a bull. Marriage, parenting, business, money, responsibility and leadership, expectations and hopes and dreams mixed with the pressure to keep all the pistons firing and ensuring that all the people within my sphere of influence are thriving- these are the challenges facing me every day.  Better strap in tight- this is a wild ride!

It is no easy task. Attempting to help run a business without it running us is an especially difficult task. The mixture of prosperity and the pressure it brings is a challenging balance.  Did I mention that my business partners are my wife and her parents?  The fact that harmony is the normal status with us is nothing less than a miracle- and a blessing.  But challenging nevertheless.

And with two young boys running around- warriors in the making- the challenge grows!  But here I am in the throes of it all, holding on with all of my heart and soul. I will NOT let go- this bull will not throw me off!  My eyes are fixed on the prize- giving my all, my everything to fight for my wife and boys and family and business and community is more than a noble cause- it is a battle for integrity and freedom and truth and life. 

"A man who walks in his integrity, how blessed are his sons after him."

Yes, I am standing at the crossroads between generations.  I am blessed because of those who have gone before me. And my sons will be blessed after me because of Christ in me.  So I hold on and ride this bucking beast that these 30-something years are throwing at me!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Desert Daydream

The sun is high in the blue, cloudless sky.
No wind.
Hot and dry.
The desert is so quiet that I can hear my heart
beating in my ears.
Each step sends a little cloud of dust
up from under my feet.
I stop.
Deafening silence.

I strain my eyes to the horizon
of the seemingly endless desert.
The Negev.
Desolate lands
just to the west of the Dead Sea.
My tongue clings to the top of my mouth.
How can anyone survive out here?
Alone and thirsty.
My eyes narrow as a figure appears on the horizon.
A person? Way out here? Alone?
I walk to take a closer look.

He is sitting on a rock with his back to me.
The hood of his tunic covers his head.
He is writing in the sand in front of him with a stick.
Now I can see his sandaled feet.
He turns his head.
When I see his face, I no longer feel any thirst.
Love and joy are in his eyes.
His wide smile emanates gentleness and kindness.
He removes his hood and stands to greet me.
He motions with the stick for me
to sit down on a rock next to him.
He is still smiling and I can feel him
peering into my soul.
His welcoming posture reveals
flawless goodness and self-control.

We embrace for some time
—a powerful, unhurried embrace.
He says quietly, "Son,"
and at the sound of his voice and his deep familiarity,
I am overtaken by his faithfulness.
He holds my shoulders firmly
with his calloused hands and looks into my eyes.
The peace in his eyes seems unending
and his smile is filled with patience.
He is not in a hurry.
And now I realize why he is so comfortable
way out here in the nothingness of the Negev.
He isn't alone- never has been.
It is a great Fellowship that he is enjoying,
and he has invited me into the Inner Ring.
Tears streaming down my face,
I sit down, enthralled and embraced
by the substance of his presence.
And so our conversation begins...

© 2009 MAGOH

Monday, February 14, 2011

Contented Ambition

Many things are fleeting in our fast-paced lives. Perhaps the incessant advertising we endure contributes to this, but one of the most fleeting postures of life is contentment. Many would argue that if you are content that you lack ambition. I disagree.

To be content does not mean that you are without desire or ambition. It simply means that you are willing to live in the present moment. I find that most driven people are pushing off their contentment to some time in the future. When they get their retirement all lined up and collect enough wealth, then they'll stop to be content. Meanwhile they are not ever fully here in the present.

The question ultimately comes down to: "How much is enough?" If your answer is "just a little bit more" then you'll never get off the treadmill.

So each day, I set my heart to be present in every moment- to work with contentment and to play with contentment. Sometimes I forget, and I let myself wander into trying to live in the future. When I do that, my heart loses its joy. It takes a good reminder that I have been given much and I need to enjoy that much because tomorrow has enough trouble of its own.

Because when I pause to be grateful for the present moment and be content in it, I can feel my heart welling up with joy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Sometimes it feels fleeting, like chasing a rabbit bounding through the bushes. Sometimes it feels rich and refreshing like rain pouring down from heaven. It is a little phenomenon called "community." It often seems very elusive in our culture despite the culture boasting of being more "connected" now than ever before. But what is true community? Well, here's my two cents on the subject:

I would define true community as an integrated web of deep, personal relationships. And ultimately it is something very precious and necessary to the human soul because it involves one of the most basic of all human needs: the need to belong.

The human need to belong has become a modern-day marketing feeding frenzy. All sorts of books have recently been written about it. Now that the "secret" is out, it seems that everyone is telling you how you can "belong" so that you'll feel good about belonging to something bigger than you are; or, conversely, how you can get more people to be aware of YOU so that you can feel good about yourself because people are "following" you.

What prompts me to write this reflection has to do with technological impacts on community. With online networking and faster methods of communication becoming old-hat, we aren't playing the same game we were a quarter-century ago. I don't need to make a list of the most popular techie methods of communicating nowadays because most of you already know them. There's almost an unspoken social pressure to "get with the program" and be actively participating in all of them. But what is the fruit of these new technological "advances" in the area of cultivating deep, personal relationships?

Cultivating deep personal relationships may be becoming a lost art in this technological era. Think of the friendships you deeply cherish and the healthy experiences of community you have enjoyed. What did it take to build that sort of relational depth? It first and foremost takes substantial amounts of time together face-to-face, sharing life together.

I've been using the term "true community" here, and it's worth contrasting that idea to other forms of "community." Now we have online communities galore- virtual gathering places where people can share their common interests while they remain safe behind their computer and smartphone screens. That type of gathering place might be called "community" in our modern lingo, but it is not the true community to which I'm referring. Those types of gathering places are missing face-to-face time. No matter how much you chat, post, tweet, blog, email, text or discuss online, nothing can replace good-old face-to-face conversation to reveal true relationship. (Or lack thereof.) In fact, if you rely on these kinds of virtual gathering places to get your need for true community, you may fall prey to the tendency to assume a level of intimacy with people with whom you really don't have it.

(**I'm not suggesting that socializing online or using technology to communicate is useless or meaningless. I'm not going to get rid of my Facebook account. I'm just suggesting that to rely on these things to build intimate relationship and community may be an exercise in futility.**)

Here's my point and the summary of this post: we can't replace true community with virtual community. It doesn't work. I do believe, however, that virtual community can and does supplement true community. But you can't just have virtual community and expect it to actually meet your need to belong- it can only virtually meet that need- and only for awhile. We were meant to thrive in face-to-face personal contact with other human beings- an environment that challenges us to love and be loved despite all our flaws without the invulnerability of a screen between us and the world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mr. Mom

This week Stephanie has enjoyed a wonderful trip to Washington and Oregon with some of her precious lady friends. She has been gone a full week, and she went with her mother, Lana, who is our beloved "next-door-Nana." So it was up to me to hold down the fort in their absence.

My week consisted of singlehandedly dropping off and picking up Ben from school, packing lunches, figuring out a finicky baby, at least 30 consecutive diaper changes, stepping on toys in the kitchen, feeding kids & dog and sometimes myself, taking care of business at the Nursery, kid vitamins, doing dishes, story times, tucking in prayers and songs, incessant wiping, laundry, baths, picking up kid toys and clutter, grocery shopping, cub scouts, putting on and taking off baby shoes and jackets, taking out the trash, playing board games with Ben, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, sweeping, running errands and remembering to bring all the baby paraphernalia.

I think I can now rightfully and officially bestow on myself the prestigious title of "Professional Mr. Mom."

However, I don't have to sustain this singlehandedness indefinitely. Stephanie is coming home tomorrow- the Beauty and Light of this home will shine on us once again!

My mind goes in a couple different directions after this week. First, I have a profound respect and empathy for those valiant parents who are taking on the demands of their household alone. So here's a shout to all you single dads and moms out there. I feel your pain, even just seven days of it. You are truly super-human, and deserving of the highest respect possible!

Second, and perhaps a little closer to home for me, I have a renewed appreciation for all that my beautiful wife does to care for all of us and keep our family functioning on all cylinders. It is a daunting task and one that she tackles with much more grace and beauty than I could muster in a thousand years. And now I know all the details, all the idiosyncrasies, all the demands of running this precious household. And now I know how I can help. This family is a team, and having a game plan is vitally important. This week has revealed to me how I can step up and become a better co-captain with that pretty blonde lady that I share my life with. Together we can not only get stuff done, but have a whole heck of a lot of fun in the process!

So here's to all those accomplished and aspiring "Professional Mr. Moms!" It should be a coveted title and one that requires ample time in the perilous trenches of daily life in the family home!

Monday, October 25, 2010


My grandfather used to tell me about when he was in the Army Air Corps and often had to drive from his home in Oklahoma to his military base in California. He made the trip many times, often at night. He would say, "Kirby, when I got in my car in Oklahoma, I couldn't see my base in California. I could only see as far as my headlights would shine. But that was all I needed to see." He used that as an analogy to life. We don't need to see the end destination, but only what's in view just ahead.

What's in your headlights?

In my headlights I see a blonde lady ever increasing in beauty and two small boys. Oh, yeah, there's a business in there somewhere, too. But I find that if I allow my mind to get too far ahead I end up worrying about stuff that I have no business worrying about. When I do that I'm just straining to see California when I should just pay attention to what my headlights are shining on.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Life comes like a journey, not like a microwave dinner. It really isn't at all predictable like a Marie Callendar's broccoli fettucini dinner. This journey has quite a few hills and valleys, and you just never know how you got to the point of going up a steep hill. Whatever happened to the happy-go-lucky years?

Well, I believe they can be regained.

Things feel heavier when we are in the midst of challenge and hardship. These inflict varying levels of trauma to our hearts. And the result is that familiar (oh how we wish it wasn't familiar) twisting of the gut that makes us realize that everything will never be the same again.

But I've got a vision of Christian, the character in The Pilgrim's Progress, dropping his heavy load at the cross. Have you ever carried a heavy pack for long enough to hurt pretty bad? Oh the feeling of dropping that pack is utter relief.

So drop your pack.

Why do things have to be so heavy all the time? I mean, it might as well be the beaches of Normandy the way I see so many people around me hurting. And everyone seems to be carrying such heavy loads.

If you ever need to be reminded of how to regain "happy-go-lucky" living, just go sit down and play with a small child for a while. You'll remember. I guarantee it. And things won't feel quite so heavy anymore. I do it almost every day. It helps me remember that "...unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." -Jesus