Friday, October 25, 2013

On the Tip of My Tongue

Not pretty things
Not words of power
Not ideas to discuss for an hour

Bitter feelings
From a smaller heart
Self takes the leading part

Prayers whispered
With a curse
This or nothing-- which is worse?

Take this filth
Make me speechless
Reveal Yourself-- I am helpless


He waits like a wolf
His cave is the couch
Nothing stirs 

Dusk breaks his repose
He goes to his work
Wary of nurse

The mission is all
Don't ask him what
Everything hurts

Thrice then the noose
Of straitjacket straps
Everything stirs






Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Wineskins

None of us here are new
Stale worn-out imitations all
Twelve or twenty, just a few 
Skin-covered sinners following a call.

I'm afraid I'm an old wineskin
Getting filled with new wine
Uptight with all the changing
And the holes I know I'll find.

So let's take all our skin
Layer upon layer
And ask Him to defend
As we hold Him together.

A fresh wineskin we've become
We pour out what we hold
Finding more left than the sum
New skin in place of old.

-For House Church. Inspired by Ah Rim. Based on the words of Jesus.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oh Bee

Push! Puuush!
All you got now!
Good job! We gonna have 
A brand new baby!
How big you think she'll be?
What's her name, oh bee?
I like it, that's real pretty.

Four- five-- hey!
That was too fast now!
Now I wish I'd gowned.
I'm gonna wash up now;
Too-fast babies now,
Water breakin' too fast!
It's runnin' down my arms
It's all up on my pants now!

Six-seven-- wait!
We here but the attending ain't!
Baby don't you know?
You ain't welcome till he shows!
I forgot to write a note.
Now where'd I leave my phone?
Almost missed a call
Another labor-checkin mom.

Good push, good push.
Again now-- you so close!
Ok let's take her back
Block her, drape her, splash her
Ok let's drain her bladder, 
Womb incision, ruptured maybe--
Oh bee don't you dare cut that baby!

Dad's Sixtieth

I shared of family holidays,
I thought of Sunday dinners.
Grandad called, and we remembered.

The Spirit at house church
Renewed hearts of sinners.
God remembers!

Club Time with me or brother,
Love remains, and a picture,
What he said, I can't remember.

A birthday at house church,
Eating and singing for another.
But Dad, I remember.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Banquet of Life Serving Death

We are all partakers of death
Tasting the passing dishes of others
Awaiting our own course
Digesting grief before its time
Doing everything backwards
Crying before it comes
Sighing when it's time
Praising when it's passed.

Inspired by Kara Tippets
In memory of Dad

Monday, September 23, 2013


She needed a form
With my name and degree
Signed at the bottom
To remove the life inside her.

Her time is set:
Tomorrow at eight;
I found another
Tomorrow at nine.

I ran out to catch her,
I called to her,
"Tomorrow at nine."
She listened, then she left.

I pray she no-shows tomorrow.
I pray she goes at nine.
So she can see the life--
The image she bears.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


The last weeks and months have left me too full to accurately share my experiences. However, I do wish to share my controlling thought of the past months:

Mindful engagement in each moment is the means by which we grow in character, integrity, and grace.

I doubt anyone will disagree with me here. But most people (myself included) do a poor job of engaging in each moment. So my central question has become:

-How do we become more mindful?

There are a lot of ways to approach this question, but here's one I've found helpful:

We need to create margin in our busy lives. 

Said another way, we must set aside time, energy, and willpower to disengage from our busy-ness and be reminded of our true priorities. As time goes on, we must stay vigilant to protect those priorities. As my dad used to say, "the most important thing is to make sure that the Most Important Thing is the most important thing." Or as Dr. Stringfield likes to quote, "in all things, keep the end in mind." Dr. Stringfield is a great example of mindfulness and margin-- and that didn't just happen. He didn't just read the book Margin-- he worked part-time for most of his children's childhoods so that he could invest in family experiences and memories rather than his retirement account. I found that out during his lecture on margin in Colorado last weekend, and it blew my mind. I've never heard of someone taking this principle so seriously. To hear that it is possible to create that amount of margin in one's life has encouraged me to pursue the same degree of freedom in my life.

A pitfall that grabs us all is projecting our priorities into the future. I'll pray later today. I'll go for a run tomorrow. I'll study next week. I'll hang out with him next month. I'll take up that instrument next year. Unfortunately, we never have as much time as we think we will in the future, and we leave most of these things undone.

The more we realize that all we have is now, the more we mindfully engage in each moment.
Brandon Tackett, one of the most mindful people I know... and a dang good disc golfer.

Friday, August 9, 2013


          On the medicine front, I've seen four patients die in the last week (none my fault), made a few good diagnostic catches, fumbled the ball on a few other patients (nothing too bad), and placed my first PICC line (peripherally-inserted central catheter) on the first stick. I've co-run two codes-- and had opportunities to intubate both patients but didn't visualize the vocal cords on either one. In retrospect, I should have manipulated the cricoid cartilage. Next time.

          I'm learning a lot from doing, making mistakes, watching others, asking questions, reading, reflecting, discussing, teaching medical students, and coming in after hours for training on PICC lines and central lines. I've come in to the hospital for at least an hour all forty days since July 1. Last Sunday would have been a day off but I came in to work on lines. I might make it to fifty-six, we'll see.

           Despite being busy with medicine, I do have a lot of free time after work that I'm still trying to decide how to use. There is only so much reading one can do, and I don't want residency training to overtake my entire life. As I mentioned in a previous post, I want relationships to be my biggest non-medical priority. I've played disc golf with classmate Brandon Tackett a few times, which I've really enjoyed (despite the fact he always blows me away). I'm spending quality time with my roommates and neighbors, and plan on getting coffee with classmate Garrett Schwab this Sunday, which is going to be a blast.

         Third on the priority list would have to be exercise. Yesterday evening, I ran barefooted around a golf course less than a mile from my house, which was a pretty flow-state experience. I'm working out in the back yard a lot too, having created a simple little ditty I call the Woodpile Workout that consists of pressing, pushing, throwing, squatting, and carrying big logs all around the backyard. And sometimes dancing, if I get in the zone. I tried doing Parcour one time after reading an article about it on The Art of Manliness but my knees boycotted that one.

          One thing keeping my life from perfection (aside from original sin and lots of pride) would be my habit of aimlessly lying / lounging / sitting around the house after getting off work. It's a particularly attractive default when I'm sleep-deprived, which is most of the time. I need structure and motivation to accomplish things, serve people, and better myself. The most obvious such entity would be a wife, but as I understand it, marriage won't automatically make me a better person, will make life more complicated, and isn't going to happen tomorrow. What else out there has the power to motivate a single guy to get off his behind?

          When I think about motivation, my mind jumps to guys like Eric Liddell, John Calvin (both of whom stare at me every night from my bedroom walls), David Brainerd, David Livingston, and Hudson Taylor. Productive, heroic, and inspirational dudes. How did they stay so fired up and accomplish so much? What was their secret?

         Here's my best answer to that question: Jesus was more compelling to them than the couch. He was... shockingly motivational. These guys weren't super-humans. But they got to know the super-man.

          In John 14:21, Jesus says that He will manifest Himself to whoever has His commandments and keeps them, because those people are the ones who truly love him. What are His commandments? Well, there's really just one: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (15:12)." Now, I don't claim to have had any particularly vivid experience of God like some have had, but maybe that's because I'm not loving people all that well. Countless Christians down through the ages have loved so deeply and experienced God so vividly they couldn't keep themselves from putting themselves in harm's way for Him. Changed by love and motivated by salvation through Jesus Christ, they held their lives cheap and gave themselves up to lion, sword, spear, and flame.

          And they got off their behinds to do it.

          May we so practice the love of God that we experience the same shocking motivation.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Night Moves

        In about an hour, I'm starting a week of nights on the Medicine service. God has seen fit to allow me to be under the weather for the past day, so I am in great need of strength, wisdom, humility, and love. I haven't been getting enough sleep lately and have worked in the hospital for at least a short period of time literally every day for the past 28 days, so I am not starting out with a great deal of energy. That being said, I have had some great times of fellowship and prayer over the past month, and hope to draw upon the encouragement of those times during the month of medicine before me. I'm looking forward to a great month of learning, laboring, and loving. Pray that I would be present in each moment with each patient I see.
       Though I love it here, I miss many of you-- my family and close friends from the different stages of my life. I also miss the mountains. It's tempting to idealize North Carolina. I am also filled with thoughts and dreams of the future, and it's no less tempting to idealize that. Again, pray that I would be present in this moment. God has amazing things stored up for me this month, and I don't want to miss them. I want to love better and live by higher standards, but I can't without this Spirit's presence in my life. So finally, pray that the Holy Spirit would be present with me in each moment-- that it wouldn't be just me. That's the Presence that will change lives.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Medicine and Relationships

        I may never be as inspired as I was then. I traveled. I avoided real responsibility. Not much went wrong. I never stayed in a place long enough for people to see my imperfections. I learned and grew and dreamed and everyone cheered me on.
        My life now consists of two things: medicine and relationships. Reading, music, writing, travel, and exercise are dreams in between dreams of IV medication and loops of small bowel. I chose the best and most intense Family Medicine residency I could find, so I'm not surprised I'm busy. I'm just surprised how quickly my life has focused onto two things, and excluded the rest. 
        It will not always be this way. I will have easier rotations, a couple weeks of vacation, a conference or two, and some weekends off here and there. I'll still pick up the guitar and the harmonicas every once in a while, and I'll get back on a regular exercise plan. I'm still as dry and sarcastic as ever. But change has come, and will keep coming.
        I can't write about the medicine I'll be doing because of a little piece of legislation called HIPPAA. That leaves relationships as the only substantive thing in my life I will be able to share with you over the next three years. If the first four weeks is any indication, I should have a lot to write about.
Brett, Casey, and me breaking in the new house