Author Archives: Matt
When I look at my childhood, I remember every Sunday in church prayer requests were taken twice during the church service. The worst place in Texas when it is scorching hot is a church because no matter how cold the temperature on the thermostat stuffiness suffocates the room. It is easy to think God sent fire from Heaven. Eventually, a man walks to the pulpit and took prayer requests, each one rolls into the next: “Eunice’s cancer has returned, keep her in your prayers.. Sam’s son was in a wreck but He’s doing better.. and pray that we will receive some rain”. Any summer day in Texas that isn’t over 90 degrees is a“nice day”. The ground pleads for rain and Everyone prays until it comes.
Every summer since childhood I wear sandals almost everyday because they are comfortable and an easy way to look like Jesus. Unfortunately, a few days ago It becomes a choice I soon regret because it rained every day I wore them. Every step I take soaks my entire sandal. I step like a newborn giraffe through every puddle. Jesus doesn’t have this much trouble when He walks on water. When I arrive home, I rub my cold feet on the carpet to dry and warm them. I look out the window, watch the rain, and realize summer is over.
I know a few people who run into the rain and start dancing like in the movies. They think they transform into elegant creatures while I change into a Gene Kelly who practices modern dance and wears size 15 steel toed boots. They dance and twirl because rain starts a magical moment. I wish I was like these rain dancers because they know Rain, like grace, sustains life. Sometimes it sprinkles, others it pours, and sometimes we wait on it. We clumsily trip because we watch our feet instead of celebrate. The next time I’m in the cool fall rain I hope I dance and Grace soaks my sandals so I can take it with me. I stop and notice My skin absorbing the rain and I pray I seem graceful when the dance starts again.
Note: When I started writing this I thought it would be a personal history, however, it became a reflection piece on having hemeparesis. If you want to see the first post in the series, Click here.
It was a cold fall morning, a rarity for Dallas. My parents and I crossing the street as fast as we could, as fast as a five-year old could to the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.
I hadn’t been to a hospital in several years so the fear was obvious on my face. We walked into the biggest waiting room I’d ever been in and I remember I looked up at the high vaulted ceiling and saw a contraption that I couldn’t believe existed.There was a fully suspended model blimp hovering over us. It had an open frame with multiple gears spinning inside it and two cowboys piloting a tandem bicycle that functioned as the cockpit. The propellers made of tennis rackets, weather veins, and spoons. It moved with controlled turbulence. In all the commotion, it never sank or looked like it was going to stop. Now, I understand that it was held by wires but back then I thought to myself, “Is it flying or is it floating?”
I could say that it was flying. It had moving parts and propellers that moved together to make it fly. Every gear rotated as it should. Every piece moved in the same direction. The machine dazzled anyone who stopped and looked at it. It was as if the blimp was actually flying and the spectators were seeing a live airshow. There are moments I felt like I could fly, the moments that everyone seemed to stop and look: When I got a 5th place ribbon at my first grade field day (I’m not very athletic so that’s good enough for me); When I help my friends and neighbors; When I graduated from high school and college. In moments like these, the disability fades into the background and I’m not caricatured by the disability.
I don’t dwell on my disability every day but there are times I know my have a damaged body: When I need to carry a big box or heavy tray, turn a doorknob with my left hand. These are the times that I float and I follow the airship. The blimp ran without as it should, It stays on its course and fulfills its role without worrying about how successful the model is.
One of My favorite poems is by John Milton, author of Paradise Lost. Milton had poor eyesight and towards the end of his life, He went blind. He worried that his blindness would stop him from writing.
“God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
I am starting my first series. I have a condition called Hemiparesis, It was caused by a stroke when I was born.
Whenever I meet someone, they notice that I look different from them. Some aren’t bothered by my appearance but others are. I answer their questions to put them at ease. Unfortunately, People want to cure me before they even know me. I know they have good intentions but it demeans both of us because it places us in a hierarchical relationship, not an equal one.
There are different types of disabilities: physical, mental, and emotional. And Those conditions look different depending on the person. It is unfair to define someone by what they can’t do. For example, I can’t do math well. If it is a process that isn’t on a basic calculator, I can’t do it. However, This doesn’t show who I am or reduce the other qualities I have. It only shows what I can’t offer not what I can offer.
Recently, I saw a public service announcement encouraging employers to hire employees with disabilities to join the workforce. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He didn’t heal the blind eyes, bum legs, or withered hands just to show his power (although it was part of it). He needed workers and these people needed to be in the workforce of His Kingdom. He wanted everyone to have a job so He made the unable, able. As the church, we should follow his example. We look for ministries the folks can do and get them in. We say “What will they do” instead of “What can they Do”. Through these people may God be shown. I will share my story next time. Please leave questions or comments below.
Last Sunday’s Super Bowl was one to talk about. Brothers coaching against one another. There was a power outage. It was a close game. One of the best stories of the Super Bowl wasn’t in the game, it was the pre-game interview of Vernon Davis.
Last year, after the AFC Championship Singletary ejected Davis out of the game, He talked about his actions during a press conference saying “I will not tolerate players that think it’s about them and not about the team. I would rather play with ten people and just get penalized the whole way, rather than play with eleven when I know that this person is not sold out to the team.. Cannot play with them. Cannot win with them. Cannot coach with them. Can’t do it”.
Davis didn’t like Singletary and in an interview said he was glad Singletary wasn’t with the team anymore. The interviewer,Bill Cowher, asked Davis if he could talk to Coach Singletary what would he say? He leans foward and looks at the camera and tells Singletary that he “saved his career” and Singletary changed him into the player he is today.
This interview looks like one Jesus might have. His apostles disagreed with his leadership style because they had their ideas about the Messiah. He can’t eat with tax collectors. He shouldn’t wash their feet. He can’t die—He needs to set up a kingdom (although he already had).
Jesus said that he needs committed followers, yet he also struggled with non-committed followers. A rich man walks away because he can’t give up his wealth or his wealthy lifestyle. A crowd of people walk away because He doesn’t have any food. Peter denies him when he hangs on the cross.
Peter met Jesus after the Resurrection. Jesus asked about his commitment three times. Peter started crying because he knew he was disloyal. Jesus readily blesses him and sends him on a new path. Vernon Davis was disloyal to Mike Singletary. Mike blesses Vernon on his new path. Maybe this could be imitated.
If you would like to see the interview, click here:
I wrote my last post about New year’s resolutions. I mentioned that I made several resolutions this year. I categorized my resolutions into these categories: writing, wellness, and reading.
- I will write everyday.
- I will start a regular blogging schedule by posting at least once a week.
- I will write a short story.
- I will write a review.
- I will read 25 books by the end of the year.
- I will read books on Social Justice.
- I will read more books about pacifism.
- I will read more books on non-violent resistance.
- I will drink 3-5 cups of tea a week.
- I will exercise 3-5 times a week.
- I will go on 3 “prayer walks” a week.
- I will eat 3 vegetarian meals a week.
What are your resolutions? What are you doing to keep them?
We are seven days into the new year. The loyal eight percent of Americans are on track to keep their resolutions while the rest of us tripped over the starting line. We all think upon the past year, seeing our successes and failures. Most of our successes are attributed to who we are or the skills we already have. This leads us to our failures, So we make resolutions to change: To be more generous, accomplish professional(or personal) goals, or live a healthier life style. So we start out the month by establishing a swear jar, a budget, and an exercise regiment. Two months later, the swear jar looks like a miniature bank vault, the budget bleeds red ink, and your bones feel like they’re made of Styrofoam because of many visits to the gym.
Why keep this ritual going every year if so many fail? Maybe the point of a resolution isn’t to make us better, happier, or more fulfilled people. Resolutions force us to look outside ourselves. They are annual reminders of a greater truth. We all want to become greater than who we are. We all yearn to grow into who we need to become. Growth must start on the inside and work until it is seen on the outside.
I actually like resolutions and I make several each year. I keep resolutions and I break resolutions every year. However, learning and growing every year is more important than keeping a list. My next post will include some of my 2013 resolutions. What are your resolutions? Have you kept them?