What I’d Love for My 30th Birthday (And It’s Smaller and Easier Than You’d Think!)


Let’s state the obvious first: No “old” jokes on my birthday, please. In many ways, I’m younger than I’ve ever been. And mercifully older too.

Because this October 15, I’ll turn 30, a marker worth celebrating. Sometimes the way to make something special is to go big, and my friends are kindly arranging some surprise roast-like festivities.

But another way to make a big moment is to go small. Think of a live musical performance when the singers build up to an emotionally powerful moment, and then drop the backing music completely. The stillness that would ordinarily kill the momentum of the song instead continues to build the energy of the performance by letting the vocals shine. So I’m praying that the day will also be full of the quiet and the mundane, in a way that is undeniably significant.

That’s why for this special birthday, the thing I’d like from you will only take anywhere from a few minutes to 10 seconds. 

1) On October 15, send me something quick and personal to let me know you’re thinking of me. Record a quick video. Snap a quick photo. Make a 1o-second phone call or voice message. Or something else: Go creative! Whatever you can do, even if it’s just an email or a FB message. Doesn’t matter how little or how well we know each other. I will cherish that seemingly small action as much, if not more, than the most lavish gift I could receive.

2) On October 15, also pray for my life over the next decade (only if you are inclined to do so). Not just the whole of my life, but its individual components. A few examples:

  • My personal growth
  • My future relationships 
  • My family – immediate, extended and future
  • My body
    • My ulcerative colitis
    • Gaining weight and strength
  • My professional career
    • Doctoring
    • My computer modeling research of the human body
  • The city/town (or cities/towns) I’ll live in
    • The reality is I may have to move at least once. Pray I’d be blessed by and would bless wherever I’m sent
  • The communities I’ll be part of

Fellow Christians, you’ll now how my relationship with the Trinity bleeds into all those facets. Pray for that relationship too.

If you take the time to pray for me, 1) please tell me, and 2) tell me how I can pray for you on October 15. Because my birthday is never just about me. It’s also about you. About the One who’s composing a story that includes you, me and everyone out there. It’s about taking a minute to celebrate what He’s writing.



What It Was Like to Turn 29 (Thank You, Friends)

Disclaimer: This blog post is long because it’s a love letter to many, many people.


You’ve never cried on your birthday.

You wake up to an ominous shadow on the wall of your room, like something out of a vampire movie. You realize it’s your housemate and turn on the light. Your floor is covered in colorful balloons. Each has a word, spelling out a birthday message. There’s also a balloon of you, and another of the well-put-together former housemate you’ve joked about being obsessed with.

You head out to shower and don the first outfit you picked out for your big day. You come back to find a birthday banana cake that another of your housemates baked for you. You also find birthday streamers newly placed across your door. Your housemate friend who looks like your last ex is right there, excited to hug you and wish you a happy birthday.

You head outside and realize it’s 70 degrees. You can’t remember the last year you had Vermont weather like this on your birthday. You realize this is a rare gift: The nature around you is full of magnificent fall colors, but the temperature is like a perfect summer day. Not cold, but not too hot.

You go on a birthday walk with God, listening to music together while you read your Bible and talk. You ask just to walk with Him, saying nothing, enjoying the sights together. You then ask Him that today would be special, and you also tell Him that you’ll be cool with whatever He wants to give you.

You come back to your room and gather your things to go to work. Just as you’re about to head out the door, the ladies of CareNet surprise you at the door. Not only do they sing you Happy Birthday and bring you gifts and a card, but they give you a birthday ride to your workplace. Had they arrived a few minutes later, you would have missed them. Had they arrived a few minutes sooner, you would have seen them on your walk back home.

After arriving at the lab, you go to the university cafe to get your birthday breakfast: a chocolate croissant, and a mug of hot apple cider with fall spices. Two of your favorites. As you enjoy them, you experience the stillness and beauty of the Vermont foliage, hearing the musical notes that the colors evoke in you.

You head off to do your teaching in Doctoring Skills, the bedside manner and physical exam course at the medical school. You could have taken today off, but you enjoy helping so much that you just don’t want to. You don’t tell anyone it’s your birthday, but decide to celebrate by making it as wonderful a session as you can. You enjoy the cases, and you joke with the standardized patients who do the bulk of the teaching. It is an awesome time.

Then you head to CareNet for your birthday lunch. You all put on birthday hats, take birthday pictures, and then enjoy a delicious flourless chocolate cake with raspberries. You all talk about your lives and laugh together. You head back with a few extra pieces of cake, and some birthday cookies. If the day ended now, you’d be perfectly happy.

You get back to your lab and put the finishing touches on your conference poster, since the deadline for printing them is today. You also prepare for an important meeting you have later this afternoon. Just as you’ve got it all together, your labmates decide it’s time to have cake. You realize you’ve actually never celebrated your birthday before with your labmates before. It’s low-key, and a welcome break. Just when you feel it should end, it’s time for your meeting to begin.

You, your mentor and another professor are looking over reviewer responses you’ve received on a paper you’ve submitted for publication. Normally you’d all look over each comment together and draft responses. This time, you took a chance and wrote all the responses yourself. Your mentor and the other professor have looked them over, and they thought your responses were good. As you go over them together, you all find ways of drafting better responses. Nevertheless, the point remains that this was an important milestone in your professional development. You take their praise and their help, and you celebrate.

You send the conference poster to your colleague and then walk home, enjoying more of the fall foliage. You head off to a local butcher shop and purchase your birthday meal: filet mignon and a lobster tail. And while you don’t obsess about money, you’re pleasantly surprised when it comes under budget.

As you head home to cook your meal and change into your other outfit for the day, you stop to take a few phone calls. You’ve missed a few lovely messages today already from your family and friends, and you don’t want to take calls during your downtime. At the same time, you want to make sure you get everything cooked in time, and the lobster is taking longer than you expected. But you don’t care, and you talk for as long as you can. The meal, salad and drinks all come together just in time to head out to your small group.

Your small group always eats dinner together before your study. You arrive with your meal and realize that 1) the church’s other small group is joining yours this week, which makes you happy, 2) they’ve brought you cake, gifts, cards and your favorite music to celebrate, and 3) nearly everyone decided to either dress up either in Gatsby style or “Josh Pothen” style. You are floored.

There are too many things that touch your heart tonight in this one gathering to chronicle. A few: The friend whose birthday gift to you was two boxes of chocolates “to share with everyone”. That tells you he’s understood a deep secret about you: you enjoy sharing the gifts you’re given with the people around you to bless them and make them happy. Then there’s the friend who heard about your gift preferences and brought you a Norman Rockwell coloring book with colored pencils. The friend who came elegantly dressed in something she’s only worn four other times, including family weddings. And the friend who dyed his hair black and styled it like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. “My wife complained, ‘So you won’t dye your hair for me when I ask you, but you’ll dye it for Josh!’” You all laugh, and the joke is even better because you all know each other well enough to know it’s all good-natured.

As you head out, a few of your friends ask if you’d like to join them tonight for some Irish music. You really want to, but you’d promised your best friend you’d video chat with him very soon. They rain-check it so you can all go together another week. They also send you back with some extra cake, along with the extra steak and lobster you had even though you ate a full meal.

You return home and run into the housemate who baked you the banana cake. She tells you she didn’t want to ruin your birthday, but she has to have a difficult conversation with you. You’re honored that she trusted you enough to have that conversation, and knew you well enough to knew that making sure things are good beneath the surface is ultimately what’s important to you. You hug her and thank her.

You quickly check your email and are horrified to learn from your colleague that there was a problem with your poster. You email and apologize for not being there to fix it.

Then you video chat with your friend and his wife. They’re parents of a nearly 1-year-old and there’s a cold going around, so you’re honored they stayed up to chat with you, particularly to have a special birthday chat with you.

You then head to open your other presents that you’d received in the mail from your family and friends. You didn’t know how many of them there are, since one of your housemates had graciously agreed to confiscate all of them so you could be pleasantly surprised. When you find them, you’re shocked by how many there are. As you start opening them, you’re shocked by the spread. A sampling: Books. Movies. A letter from your Dad that means the world for you to read. TV shows. Dessert wine. A gift card to one of your favorite restaurants in town. And though you usually hate receiving clothing, you receive a bow-tie you love so much that you go outside for a few minutes to calm down.

When you’re done, you look at all the balloons scattered across your room you keep walking across. All the leftover food. The cakes. The presents. You also think over all the well-wishes you’ve received in person, over the phone or online. All the messages you received from people about when they saw you as beautiful, both the people you knew would tell you and the people you were pleasantly surprised to hear from. Then you remember you still have a party on Saturday that your friends are planning for you. And you get an email back from your colleague, saying they were able to fix your poster and get it turned in on time.

And you realize that today, you didn’t get just enough. Today you were overwhelmed by abundance.

It’s not always that way. Oftentimes it’s just enough, and sometimes even that is hard to receive happily. But today mattered to you, and it was more than you imagined. Perhaps those other days are what help make today special.

Then you remember that you were brave enough to ask for what seemed too much to ask for, when in reality you were articulating your needs and wants while genuinely feeling (not just saying) that you’d be fine with whatever you were given. You got it all and more, from your family, from your friends and from God. They all gave you so much more love than you’ve experienced before.

This makes you want to find out what the people in your life really need, both on your birthdays and at other random times. Then you want to give them more than they asked for.

Even as you decide this, you know you won’t do it well. But you still want to try. Because after all, everything worth doing well is worth doing poorly. Particularly when it’s about them.

You’ve never cried on your birthday. Today you cry for joy.


What I Want For My Birthday (2014)

I want fireworks. I want lavish foods and drinks. I want a party that’d put the biggest wedding to shame.

As soon as I step out of my room in the morning, I want to be swept off my feet. I want an all-day celebration, with me being surprise-shuttled from one of my favorite meals to another, meeting and drinking with different groups of people. I want it all to culminate in a joyous all-night affair at a gorgeous venue, with all my friends from around the world dressed and donned up like like characters at a ’20s Gatsby party.

I want fun party games where everyone breaks out in laughter. A dance floor where everyone drops their inhibitions and joins me in joyously expressing ourselves together as one group. A concert floor where my friends and I get up and start singing. Birthday speeches. Thoughtful gifts. All the good red, white and dessert wines. An elegant devil’s food cake with a thick layer of dairy-free frosting, the kind made from confectioner’s sugar and dyes. I want the party to never end until I fall asleep. And I want next year’s party to be even bigger.

My poor family and friends have to put up my high expectations each year. I even have a Google Doc birthday list that’s ridiculously long so that I can be surprised by what my family members pick from it. In my defense, while things have never been as big as I’ve imagined, I’ve always been happy. And each birthday has been, for me, bigger and better than the last.

But this year, I find myself in an odd place.

I turn 29, an odd age. The day, October 15, falls on a Wednesday. My morning’s booked with teaching at the medical school. My evening’s booked with Bible study. Both those things I’m loath to miss. 12-4 is still unaccounted for. My family has graciously sent me surprise gifts from my Google Doc wish list. My friends are arranging a joint surprise birthday party for me and another friend on Saturday, October 18. What it’ll look like, I don’t know.

But I’m also in an odd place emotionally. On one hand, I’m putting to death my battle with grandiosity, which my counseling reveals goes farther than I ever realized. On the other, I realize I don’t often tell my friends what my real needs are.

These two don’t have to be contradictory.

A disclaimer: What I’m about to write is simply what I’d like. I will not expect it of you. 

Here’s what I would love from you for my birthday:

On my birthday, I’d love it if you told me one specific moment when you genuinely thought I was beautiful. I don’t mean when you thought I was awesome. Describe that scene to me in detail. Explain why you felt that way. That’ll help me in my personal growth.

Then I’d love a hug from you, and if you feel comfortable, give me a loving, friendly kiss on the nose. I know that’s odd, but that’s the body part I’m most self-conscious about.

If you can’t be there in person, call, email or text. The more personal the better, but I’m not picky. I understand you all have lives.

Also, tell me one thing you really like. A song, a movie, a book, a work of art, a museum, or whatever. Something I need to experience. Just the knowledge would be a great gift because it’ll give me some new ways to experience beauty.

What else do I like?

Surprise gifts? Yeah, sure. I admit I’m picky, and hopefully that’ll change as I grow up. I like thoughtful gifts, the kind not randomly grabbed from the gas station a few hours before. The kind that mean something to me, and that won’t just being extra loot. (I’m a bit of a minimalist.) Maybe one day I’ll make that Google Doc wish list public so you’ll know what I’d really like. Maybe.

I don’t do cards. As sweet as they are, it’s another thing I’ll throw away. I’m more about you looking me in the eye and saying what you want to say to me. I have a good memory. I’ll remember what you say, and how you said it.

I like theme parties, the kind that have costumes, fancy foods and games and events. Something a bit different from just getting a bunch of people together and serving food. Something different from the usual gathering.

Having said that…

I repeat: I won’t expect anything from you. In some ways, it’s for the best that my birthday is the way it is this year. Part of the reason I take birthdays more seriously than most is because I almost never had them. I was a nuchal cord baby, meaning I was nearly strangled to death by the umbilical cord. The fact that I’m alive is a gift from God, a reminder of how good He is. The past year and a half has reminded me of how I need to let go of thinking of myself and instead focus on His bigness and goodness.

So this birthday, I’ll live my life. I’ll go to teaching, to Bible study, and continue with my usual day. I’ll open my gifts at a convenient time. And I’ll gratefully accept whatever everyone gives.

But even if you don’t do anything for me, I’ll still be happy.

Because on my birthday, I’m going to particularly trust that God has arranged the events of those day for a reason. (He always does, but I’ll pay particular attention that day.) And whatever He wants to give me as my bread for that day, I will ask Him to help me gratefully accept and appreciate it.

One last thing I want you to know: 

As much as a part of me wants all this so I can feel important, another part of me wants it so I can give you all a good time. It’s easy to be jaded in life, and I just want my loved ones to feel the kind of raucous joy that makes you laugh, smile and feel good all over for hours.

Because after all, I’d just love to give you just a teensy bit of what you’ve given me. Even the ordinary moments have meant so much. Thank you. Thank you.

How I Come to Life

How I Come to Life: A Word from the Vicar (The Path to Inner Healing: The Three Orthos of Discipleship)

As with all public posts, please feel free to share or discuss this with anyone you’d like. See Logistics (Read Me First) for more detail.

In the beginning of this series, I wrote that my story is part of a bigger tale. One that involves my community of friends in Vermont and around the world. As I opened up about what I was wrestling with, each of them told me that they connected with a particular facet of that struggle. What was amazing was how similar their stories were to mine.

But because those stories are theirs, they are not mine to tell.

So to give you a glimpse into that reality of our connected stories, I’m including this excerpt from a sermon The Vicar recently gave on discipleship. Because the way my friends and I are working through our struggles and issues is by going on this mystical yet ordinary journey of being disciples of Jesus together. And in doing so, we are all coming to life.


I was an odd, geeky sort of child. I spent a lot of time reading encyclopedias in my spare time for fun. And I learned a lot reading the encyclopedias. So if I spend a lot of time reading Wikipedia and I’m learning, am I a disciple?

I would say I am learning, but I am not a disciple. A disciple is one who learns how to be like someone else. Discipleship is not stuffing information into people’s heads. It is not that. It never will be that. It never was that, although sometimes we call that discipleship.

What does the Great Commission say? “Go and make disciples”–people who are learning to be like someone else–“of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Baptism is death to the old life and rising to the new, and it is also a grafting in to the body. It is that rite by which we become members of the Church. It is that rite by which we receive the spirit of adoption by which we cry “Abba, Father”.

Discipleship happens in community. Always. It never doesn’t happen in community. Can I grow and be a disciple of Jesus Christ and commune with him in my prayer closet by myself? No, you can’t, actually. I know it sounds pious and lovely, but you cannot. It does not happen outside the initiation into the body.

And that is why reading Wikipedia doesn’t make me a disciple. And that’s why, interestingly enough, if your entire Christian life is reading your Bible by yourself, it doesn’t make you a disciple. I realize that may be a challenging thought.

So Jesus goes on and says, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

This is an important line as a reminder of whom we are to be like. Discipleship is the formation of Christ in us. It is the shaping of the character of Christ in each of us.

But what is obedience? Some of us would think that obedience is compliance. Compliance is not obedience. Compliance is following the rules so as not to get into trouble.

Is compliance part of obedience? I would say, yes. But the issue is this: For it to be obedience and not just compliance, there  has to be a person in the mix. And here’s the other thing that makes it more than just compliance: When we are complying to rules so as not to get into trouble, it’s because we don’t actually love the rules. We hate the rules. Despise the rules.

Obedience doesn’t just do the good. It loves the good, and it loves the one who has commanded the good. Obedience is a free choice out of love to do what our Lord commands, not to avoid wrath but to express love.

It’s not just compliance, because that’s legalism: I have to do this, this and this to stay out of trouble. There’s no relationship in that, is there? There may be a relationship of fear, but there’s not a relationship of love. Just doing the right thing isn’t enough. God is calling us to love the right thing, which is larger than that.

So how do you teach obedience? How do you teach this response of love to the commandments of good?

I think there are three things. Two of them are classic, and one is a recent addition by my friend Justin Howard, which I think is an awesome addition.

We teach obedience by orthodoxy, which is right teaching. We teach the truth about who God is: the God of love, the God of justice, the God of compassion. The nature of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. What that means to us in very real terms. We teach about the nature of the Church. We help people understand that [having your personal relationship with Jesus all by yourself] isn’t good enough.

But then there’s orthopraxis, which is right practice. We teach not just the right information. We teach how we should act in the right way. How our actions are right. How we respond in a right way in [different] circumstances.

And a big part of this kind of teaching is, of course, modeling. Showing people. Living that out. “This is how you love your enemies.” “This is how you pray for those who persecute you.” “This is how you live in openness and obedience.” “This is how you live in relationship in the light with God and with others.”

Part of it also is instruction on right action. “In this situation, this is an appropriate thing to do.” “In this situation, this is not an appropriate thing to do.”

So, orthodoxy–the right doctrine. Orthopraxis–the right way of behaving. And here’s the one I think is really important: Orthopathos. It’s Justin Howard’s word. It’s right feeling.

To create disciples, we need to know what the doctrine is, we need to know what the practice is, and we also need to know how to order our disordered loves.

And we don’t do that! We give people the information: “God loves you and if you do something wrong, you’re going to be in trouble. Therefore, do all these things.” And we don’t address our disordered loves. The orthopathos. To feel right. To respond right.

And why this is important is because [of] the command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself”. We cannot do that with disordered loves. We can be excellent Pharisees (Editor’s note: legalists): right teaching, right practice, and have completely diseased and disordered internal lives.

And that, friends, is not a disciple. That’s a liar.

You know what I think? I think most of us have a reasonably good handle on orthodoxy. We have a reasonably good handle on orthopraxis. And, I think, a lot of us struggle with disordered loves and have no idea [as to], ‘How do I do this?’

And here’s the struggle: I can’t give you information to do that. I can’t say, “If you’ve got disordered loves, you should do A, B, C and D.”

Because it’s about relationship.

This is why programs will never do it all. Because people need more than information. They need someone to love them, to walk with them in their disordered loves, and bring order to them.

So what’s necessary for discipleship?

Well, clearly teaching is necessary for discipleship. Orthodoxy, orthopraxy and orthopathy all have elements that have to be taught. Who is God that we may love Him? How is it that Jesus’ death sets us free? How does the Holy Spirit empower us? What disciplines of life will till the soil for godly growth? How does Jesus’ saving work redeem me from my disordered loves? That is information, and the information matters.

But even if I were to be taught until I could be taught no more, does that make me a disciple? No. It might make me a conference junkie, but not a disciple. Remember, the body has to be both fed and exercised. We need community and belonging. Being in relationship matters. We cannot be disciples outside of community.

And here’s the central part of what discipleship is about: Discipleship is about being in relationship with a person or persons with whom I am willing to learn.

These are apprenticeship relationships.

Here are the problem with apprenticeship relationships:  You can’t read a book and go to a seminar, and Poof! It’s done! How frequently we [think that]! We’re struggling with something, we go off to some event and we think, “I’ll be done when I’m finished [with] this.” Apprenticeship takes time.

And we hate that! Why can’t I have this fixed now? Why can’t I have my loves ordered now? Why can’t I know how to do the right things now? Why? Because we’re not designed that way. We’re designed to live in apprenticeship. And apprenticeship is over time with a mentor or mentors. It is not about fast results. You might be in a rush. Jesus is not.

 I love [in the hymn] “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”, the line that says “Unresting”–He’s not lollygagging by the side of the pool–“and unhasting”. He’s always acting, but He’s not in a rush.

But here’s the other problem: To live in a discipleship or mentorship relationship requires humility. To be in relationship with someone from whom I am willing to be taught.

It is profoundly un-American because it makes the declaration: We are not all equal. And we’re not. Of course, on one level we are equal before God. I get that. But in another sense, friends, we are not! We are absolutely not!

There are people in my life (and I’m going to use this language) who are my spiritual masters. They’re not just a little more mature or have seen a little more. They have seen and understand this life in a way that I might someday, but I don’t yet. I am not equal with them. They have walked farther and gone deeper, and suffered more. They know the “ortho”s better than I do.

The greatest barrier to discipleship, I think, is, “I can do it myself. I will not submit to the wisdom of another.” Sometimes we pretend that we will, but we actually won’t. I worked with a guy some years ago for a long, long time, and all the stuff on the outside [said], “Yes, I want to listen,”, but [he] listened to nothing. You can’t come to somebody in a mentorship relationship and not listen, not live in obedience on some level.

 So one of the hard things is that in order to make disciples, you must be one first, which requires a sacrifice of pride and the cultivation of humility.

I want to leave you with two questions:

[First,] where am I becoming a disciple? Who are the mentors in my life? Who are the people from whom I am willing to learn?

And the second question is this: Who am I discipling? In whom am I investing? Because that’s the work of the church. To invest in people. The investment might be our friend who doesn’t know Jesus, or it could be another believer who wants to learn and wants to grow. Either way, who am I discipling? Because the Church will [never] truly grow until we become and create a culture of discipleship.

 I want to say one last thing about the Great Commission. Jesus said, “And ‘lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” In the reality of doing this work, we live in the presence and the power of Jesus in us at all times.

Let us pray.


In Memoriam: Ammachy

ammachyMy grandmother Mariamma Laplam Pothen, aka “Ammachy”, died on June 9, 2014, roughly a year after my grandfather Papa passed away. This is the speech I gave at her funeral.


Ammachy, you were a puzzle to me. I heard so many stories about how you were educated, generous, outspoken. But ever since I can remember, you were suffering from the dementia that you had until the end. You were like an old cathedral—broken down in parts, yet full of hints of your greatness.

You were never completely here in this world, but you were never were completely absent either. I remember you once came up the stairs of our house, frail as you were, to go where my Dad was working and give him a hot cup of tea. In your mind, you were convinced he was a little child who needed your care, and yet you knew exactly where in the house to find him. You were nurturing, and quite protective. Once when my siblings and I were playing in a room, you were convinced that someone would hurt us. So you found a chair, closed the door and sat right outside, determined that nothing would get past you to harm us.

Later in life, you were more withdrawn. Quiet. In the background. But we always felt your presence when you were with us. You did your crossword puzzles, and made your simple foods and tea. Were you happy? Sad? I never knew. But whatever you were, you were always a fighter. You could deflate my grandfather Papa’s stories with a simple sentence, and no matter how many times you were ill, you always seemed to bounce back.

Until now.

But there was one thing that not even death or dementia could take from you. And that was God’s love for you.

It wasn’t simply that you held onto Jesus, although that was true. It was that Jesus held onto you. Because even when you were at your most confused and most vulnerable, you never forgot God because He wouldn’t let you.

And because He was with you, even when you were mentally confused, you still reflected Him. You were always dignified, gentle and graceful, and in that way you gave us a glimpse of a beautiful God who’s dignified, gentle and full of grace. Your quiet faith had big ripples in our family. So many of us, including me, developed a relationship with Jesus because of yours, directly or indirectly.

Because of that faith, Ammachy, I know that you were more than a shell of an old cathedral. You were a seed. And just as small, seemingly dead seeds turn into flowers, fruits and trees, I know that God took everything broken within you and everything that wasn’t, and transformed all of it to make you into something bigger, more beautiful and more alive than we could ever imagine.

Ammachy, I never really knew you. But I know that I will get to know you soon. Because you helped me know the One who can bring us all to life.


How I Come to Life

How I Come to Life: Falling Into the Hands of The Father

As with all public posts, please feel free to share or discuss this with anyone you’d like. See Logistics (Read Me First) for more detail.

What do you do when you’ve run out of strength? Done everything in your power? Fought as much as you can to be happy and live?

After the tragedies of 2013, I finally reached that point. There were weeks where my breakfast was tears. I’d been sad before, but I always was confident I’d get through it in time. Now I’d finally encountered a sadness that felt more powerful than me.

My faith told me to look to Jesus, our example for how to live. Remember when He was on the cross, just about to die. We talk a lot about the physical pain, but there were also very real emotional wounds. He’d enjoyed a closeness with His Father that gave Him strength. Now the Father had turned His back on Him, and He was out of everything that gave Him life.

And what did He do? He entrusted Himself to His Father. Even though Jesus knew His Father had turned His back on Him, He still knew His Father would take care of Him. Did Jesus go to hell after death? Or was he with the thief on the cross that day in paradise? Regardless of the answer, the point is made explicitly by Jesus Himself: “Father, into your Hands I commit my spirit.” He knew who had Him.

And so I prayed to my Bon Dieu. “Father, I cannot carry myself. I have no energy. I can only fall into You and rest in You, trusting that you will catch me and direct me to safety. Please give me Your strength to make it through in the meantime.”

But there is a significant difference between what Jesus did and what I do.

You see, Jesus genuinely was separated from God, and yet He chose to fall into His Father’s hands.

I have it easier. I don’t need to blindly fall into the hands of the Father. He’s already there. Because of what Jesus did, none of us Christians are ever separated from God. Yes, I don’t always feel close to Him. What I feel isn’t important. What matters is reality: He is there.

And that’s important. It’s not enough to just trust that everything’s going to be ok. You have to be assured that someone is there to catch you, and then you have to actually experience that someone has.

Thank you Jesus, for being separated from the Father so that I would never have to be. And thank you, Father, for being there to catch me and walk with me into the great unknown.


This is the foundation for everything else I’m going to write. Every action and every step.

Too often I’m concerned with action: what I should be doing. Instead, I’ve had to learn to first commit myself to the Father. To rest in His presence throughout the day, and in His Word. Spend time with Him and talk with Him. See what He’s saying in the Word, prayer and in the daily rhythms and events of my life, which always includes Him telling me that He loves me.

Because once I’m there, I can then ask myself the question: Now that I remember that I’m loved and am listening to my Father, what does that make me want to do?

"Dear God...thank you for my life. I big...thank you. Thank you for my life."

“Dear God…thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG…thank you. Thank you for my life.” (Joe vs. The Volcano)