Addicted to Ink

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tickets to heartbreak...and hope

Got our tickets for Ukraine yesterday!

There's just something so definitive about actually holding them in your hands, knowing that those little, expensive pieces of paper are going to rock the worlds of 17 people it did mine. And Kimberly's. And Sarah's. And Tina's. And the list goes on.

Last night at a prep meeting, we who had been to Ukraine before teamed up with people who have not. We shared a story of a person we had met in Ukraine who had made an impact on us, then we prayed for them, and then for each other.

To the left is a little girl we met at the first orphanage we visited in Ukraine, the "Baby House" for newborns to toddlers. Isn't she beautiful?

Monday, February 27, 2006

what dreams may come

so... informal survey here.

Do dreams mean anything?

Last night, right before I turned off the light, I read an article ( stating that dreams mean that your body/life/subconscience/whatever are trying to tell you something. Then I had the most bizarre dream...

And I'm just wondering if anyone's ever had a dream that actually did mean something?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Movie Moments

This week at Malone chapel, all three services (MWF) were entitled, “Cupid & Culture: Relationships & Pop Culture.” Relationships—students’ favorite topic!

On Wednesday, they had a panel of six folks (plus a moderator/interviewer): a couple who had been married 31 years, a couple who had been married five years, and two single folks, both a male and a female.

It was a really interesting discussion. And one of the questions they asked was this: (since, after all, it was about pop culture, too): what is your favorite romantic line/scene in a movie?

All of their examples were entertaining, and prompted me to think of my own—let’s face it, it’s a fun question! As aware as I am how completely unrealistic movies are and can be, I feel like I received a lot of healing/insight/hope relationship-wise from a particular movie I watched at home during one Friday night of my senior year of college.

The movie was one all my favorite movie critics hated, and to be honest with you, I haven’t seen the movie in years.

But after a quick internet search, I found the script to my all-time favorite romantic movie scene—but it’s a conversation between a father and his daughter. Meet Joe Black (1998):

PARRISH: Do you love Drew?

SUSAN: You mean like you loved Mom?

PARRISH: Forget about me and Mom - are you going to marry him?

SUSAN: Probably

PARRISH: Don't get carried away.

SUSAN: Ohhh...

PARRISH: Susan, you're a hell of a woman.
You've got a great career, you're beautiful...

SUSAN: And I'm your daughter and no man
will ever be good enough for me.

PARRISH: Well, I wasn't going to say that...

SUSAN: What were you going to say?

PARRISH: Listen, I'm crazy about the guy -
he's smart, he's aggressive, he could
carry Parrish Communications into the
21st century and me along with it.

SUSAN: So what's wrong with that?

PARRISH: That's for me. I'm talking about you.
It's not so much what you say about
Drew, it's what you don't say.

SUSAN: You're not listening.

PARRISH: Oh yes, I am. Not an ounce of excitement,
not a whisper of a thrill, this relationship
has all the passion of a pair of titmice.

SUSAN: Don't get dirty, Dad...

PARRISH: Well, it worries me. I want you to get swept away.
I want you to levitate. I want you to sing with
rapture and dance like a dervish.

SUSAN: That's all?

PARRISH: Be deliriously happy.
Or at least leave yourself open to be.

SUSAN: "Be deliriously happy". I'm going to do my utmost.

PARRISH: I know it's a cornball thing but love is passion,
obsession, someone you can't live without.
If you don't start with that, what are you going
to end up with? I say fall head over heels.
Find someone you can love like crazy and who'll
love you the same way back. And how do you find him?
Forget your head and listen to your heart.
I'm not hearing any heart. Run the risk, if you get
hurt, you'll come back. Because, the truth is there
is no sense living your life without this.
To make the journey and not fall deeply in love -
well, you haven't lived a life at all. You have to try.
Because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived.

SUSAN: Bravo

PARRISH: Aw... you're tough.

SUSAN: I'm sorry. But give it to me again. The short version.

PARRISH: Stay open. Who knows? Lightning could strike.

At the time I was watching this movie, I had just ended a crappy relationship that, honestly, began and continued not so much that we liked each other, but because we were both available and had fun making out. We had enough in common that we could have made it work, but we definitely were not and never could have been in love.

As “cornball” as it may seem, the scene in this movie was inspiring, and, dare I say, for me, an affirming whisper from God.

The intense love that Parrish had for his daughter, Susan, was incredibly obvious. More than anything, he, who had experienced this kind of love with his wife, wanted her to love completely and be loved completely. And doesn’t God, our father, who loves more than any earthly father ever could, desire the same for us?

Those relationships, I knew, were few and far between---I hadn’t seen a lot of them. But I had seen a few, and these thoughts gave me hope, though I’d NEVER been in a relationship like that before.

I began hoping----and determined to refuse to settle.

But I couldn’t have been more surprised when it lightning actually struck….

Anyway, if you’re still with me after this mammoth post, do you have a favorite romantic movie scene?

Monday, February 13, 2006

my love

February 14.

The cheesiest day in the world to get married.

Yet it worked for us.

It's...classic, right?

Friday, February 10, 2006


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Abba's Heart

Psalm 68 (KJV)

Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains…

The phone rang at 12:30 a.m. July 8, 1995. I was 17. My house was quiet, and everyone was asleep.

Except for Mom.

And except for me. There was an uneasiness in my soul that I couldn't explain.

Mom answered the phone quickly, even before the second ring so as not to awake anyone.

"No!" She screamed, all plans of sleep for anyone in our house completely evaporating. "God, please, please, NO!"

But it was too late.

A drunk driver had ran a stop sign and plowed into my aunt's little red mustang as she was picking up *Adam, her middle child, from his girlfriend's 13th birthday party.

She was killed instantly.

Upon hearing the news, my uncle fell face-first into the grass. Though his body got up and lived for five more years, his soul died on the spot. He'd met her at 19, when she was 7 months pregnant. He broke up with his fiancee and married my aunt two weeks later.

*Rachel, her only daughter, was at a local hospital, with bumps and bruises and glass in her hair and a stomacheache every time she would get behind the wheel of a car and a heart that would never heal.

*Andrew and Adam were lifeflighted to a hospital in Dayton, both in critical condition. Andrew, who had just turned six at the time, suffered with a broken arm and a snapped conscience. He spent several days in the hospital and then in detention homes and then in foster homes and then in jail, addicted to drugs and to meanness.

Adam, 13 like his girlfriend, had been sitting up front with his mom. He remembers the impact of the crash. He remembers screaming. He remembers putting his arm out in front of his mother, instinctively. He remembers holding her head in his hands, though she was already gone. He remembers her shouting "I love you!" Her very last words. Those nights in the hospital he couldn't sleep. But he needed to sleep, and the doctors tried to help him. And he discovered when he slept, induced I believe, that he could forget. He could live in other times. And he wanted to forget the most horrible moments of his life. So he discovered, soon, what would help escape those despicable images. Drugs at 14, Dope dealer at 16, Daddy at 18. Harder and harder drugs until his reputation declared him as the guy who could get any drug out there.

It was May 28, 2004. My twenty-sixth birthday. It was early in the morning, and I was in one of two vans traveling north of Simferopel in Crimea, Ukraine with 17 Malone College students. It was our last day in Crimea, and we were going to be giving a final dance performance at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for 10-15 year old boys.

The students were quiet that morning. Some were listening to music, their headphones firmly on. Others were sleeping. Some, I suspect, like me, were praying. My heart was especially heavy that morning, but my prayers were simple. “Lord,” I pleaded, “Please just show me your heart for Ukraine.”

We got to the center, where the first person we met was the director, Alexander. His opening line (through our translators) was, “I am an atheist and a communist… yet you are welcome here.”

Through conversations with Alexander after our performance, we began to catch a glimpse of the many challenges facing this young independent nation since the complete deterioration of a government that wasn’t good to begin with, and the depth of the sin that captures the nation: Children get addicted to drugs and alcohol extremely young to take away the pain from not having enough food and the brokenness of their families, then the young children sell themselves to feed their habits; the girls get pregnant without realizing what is happening, continue the drug use, and either have abortions or give birth to mentally retarded children. Sometimes, miracles happen and the children are eventually okay. But the girls are so young and can barely take care of themselves, let alone a child.

Those three weeks in Ukraine, I had met many of their abandoned offspring. Beginning, that first day in Simferopel, at the "baby house," the house for newborns through about age three. I've played with some of those sweet little babies, a toddler who would run to students and throw their arms wide open for a hug, a beautiful brown-haired, blue-eyed 18-month-old who was somber and shy and reacted to nothing. I met the children ages 4-9, the beautiful sweethearts who laughed at our Russian translations of children's stories and blew bubbles with us in the courtyard and danced for us the dances they had learned and looked at us with pleading, hopeful eyes, knowing that some of their peers had been taken from this place by folks who looked a little like us. I met the soon-to-be-adults at the orphanage/boarding school for the oldest children, many of whom, I wondered, may be doomed to repeat the cycle of their parents when they are released into the world on their own at 15 or 16 with little chance for a future.

That day, I found Psalm 68...

The fatherless. God, my Lord, Father...Abba as Jesus prayed...cares about them. He is a father to them. He has passion for them.

This is a passion that I share, this is where my prayers are these days. My cousins don't want my help or my sympathy, but still I pray. Even though they are adults, they are orphans, orphans with gaping, seeping wounds, and they are in desperate need to know Our Father.

I am preparing for another trip with Malone students to Ukraine this June for another few weeks where I will meet more orphans, as well as the orphans I met two years ago. While we may do service projects and bring them moments of joy, I pray that, more than anything, they can come to know Our Father, too.

And see that God's heart is for the fatherless.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Yeah, U-2!

Okay, so this is ridiculously long for a blog.
But below is Bono's address at the (?) National Prayer Breakfast... Rock on.

If you're wondering what I'm doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I.

I'm certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather. It's certainly not because I'm a rock star. Which leaves one possible explanation: I'm here because I've got a messianic complex.

Yes, it's true. And for anyone who knows me, it's hardly a revelation.

Well, I'm the first to admit that there's something unnatural...something unseemly...about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the south of France. Talk about a fish out of water. It was weird enough when Jesse Helms showed up at a U2 concert...but this is really weird, isn't it?

You know, one of the things I love about this country is its separation of church and state. Although I have to say: in inviting me here, both church and state have been separated from something else completely: their mind. Mr. President, are you sure about this?

It's very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned - I'm Irish.

I'd like to talk about the laws of man, here in this city where those laws are written. And I'd like to talk about higher laws. It would be great to assume that the one serves the other; that the laws of man serve these higher laws...but of course, they don't always. And I presume that, in a sense, is why you're here.

I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here - Muslims, Jews, Christians - all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God.I know I am. Searching, I mean. And that, I suppose, is what led me here, too.

Yes, it's odd, having a rock star here - but maybe it's odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was...well, a little blurry, and hard to see.
I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays... and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.

For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land...and in this country, seeing God's second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishment... I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV.

Even though I was a believer.
Perhaps because I was a believer.

I was cynical...not about God, but about God's politics. (There you are, Jim.)Then, in 1997, a couple of eccentric, septuagenarian British Christians went and ruined my shtick - my reproachfulness. They did it by describing the millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world's poorest people. They had the audacity to renew the Lord's call - and were joined by Pope John Paul II, who, from an Irish half-Catholic's point of view, may have had a more direct line to the Almighty.

'Jubilee' - why 'Jubilee'?
What was this year of Jubilee, this year of our Lord's favor?

I'd always read the scriptures, even the obscure stuff. There it was in Leviticus (25:35)...'If your brother becomes poor,' the scriptures say, 'and cannot maintain shall maintain him.... You shall not lend him your money at interest, not give him your food for profit.' It is such an important idea, Jubilee, that Jesus begins his ministry with this. Jesus is a young man, he's met with the rabbis, impressed everyone, people are talking. The elders say, he's a clever guy, this Jesus, but he hasn't done much...yet. He hasn't spoken in public before...When he does, is first words are from Isaiah: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,' he says, 'because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.' And Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord's favour, the year of Jubilee (Luke 4:18).What he was really talking about was an era of grace - and we're still in it.

So fast-forward 2,000 years. That same thought, grace, was made incarnate - in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn't a bless-me club... it wasn't a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions...making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people. But then my cynicism got another helping hand.
It was what Colin Powell, a five-star general, called the greatest W.M.D. of them all: a tiny little virus called AIDS. And the religious community, in large part, missed it. The ones that didn't miss it could only see it as divine retribution for bad behaviour. Even on children...even [though the] fastest growing group of HIV infections were married, faithful women.

Aha, there they go again! I thought to myself judgmentalism is back!

But in truth, I was wrong again. The church was slow but the church got busy on this the leprosy of our age.
Love was on the move.
Mercy was on the move.
God was on the move.

Moving people of all kinds to work with others they had never met, never would have cared to meet...conservative church groups hanging out with spokesmen for the gay community, all singing off the same hymn sheet on moms and quarterbacks...hip-hop stars and country stars. This is what happens when God gets on the move: crazy stuff happens!

Popes were seen wearing sunglasses!
Jesse Helms was seen with a ghetto blaster!
Crazy stuff.
Evidence of the spirit.
It was breathtaking.
It stopped the world in its tracks.

When churches started demonstrating on debt, governments listened - and acted. When churches starting organising, petitioning, and even - that most unholy of acts today, God forbid, lobbying...on AIDS and global health, governments listened - and acted. I'm here today in all humility to say: you changed minds; you changed policy; you changed the world.Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor.

In fact, the poor are where God lives.
Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.
I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill. I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff. Maybe, maybe not. But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.
"If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places."

It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40).

As I say, good news to the poor.

Here's some good news for the president. After 9/11 we were told America would have no time for the world's poor. America would be taken up with its own problems of safety. And it's true these are dangerous times, but America has not drawn the blinds and double-locked the doors. In fact, you have doubled aid to Africa. You have tripled funding for global health. Mr. President, your emergency plan for AIDS relief and support for the Global Fund - you and Congress - have put 700,000 people onto life-saving anti-retroviral drugs and provided 8 million bed nets to protect children from malaria.

Outstanding human achievements. Counterintuitive. Historic. Be very, very proud. But here's the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There is much more to do. There's a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.

And finally, it's not about charity after all, is it? It's about justice. Let me repeat that: It's not about charity, it's about justice.

And that's too bad. Because you're good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it. But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment. Sixty-five hundred Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about justice and equality. Because there's no way we can look at what's happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn't accept it. Look at what happened in South East Asia with the tsunami. 150,000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, "mother nature." In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it's a completely avoidable catastrophe.

It's annoying but justice and equality are mates.
Aren't they?
Justice always wants to hang out with equality. And equality is a real pain.
You know, think of those Jewish sheep-herders going to meet the Pharaoh, mud on their shoes, and the Pharaoh says, "Equal?" A preposterous idea: rich and poor are equal?
And they say, "Yeah, 'equal,' that's what it says here in this book. We're all made in the image of God."
And eventually the Pharaoh says, "OK, I can accept that. I can accept the Jews - but not the blacks."
"Not the women. Not the gays. Not the Irish. No way, man."
So on we go with our journey of equality.
On we go in the pursuit of justice.
We hear that call in the ONE Campaign, a growing movement of more than 2 million Americans...Left and Right together... united in the belief that where you live should no longer determine whether you live.
We hear that call even more powerfully today, as we mourn the loss of Coretta Scott King - mother of a movement for equality, one that changed the world but is only just getting started. These issues are as alive as they ever were; they just change shape and cross the seas.
Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market...that's a justice issue. Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents...that's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents...that's a justice issue. And while the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject.
That's why I say there's the law of the land. And then there is a higher standard. There's the law of the land, and we can hire experts to write them so they benefit us, so the laws say it's OK to protect our agriculture but it's not OK for African farmers to do the same, to earn a living?
As the laws of man are written, that's what they say.
God will not accept that.
Mine won't, at least. Will yours?

I close this morning
This is a dangerous idea I've put on the table: my God vs. your God, their God vs. our God...vs. no God. It is very easy, in these times, to see religion as a force for division rather than unity.
And this is a town - Washington - that knows something of division.

But the reason I am here, and the reason I keep coming back to Washington, is because this is a town that is proving it can come together on behalf of what the scriptures call the least of these.
This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith. 'Do to others as you would have them do to you' (Luke 6:30). Jesus says that.
'Righteousness is this: that one should...give away wealth out of love for him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.' The Koran says that (2.177).Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.' The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.
That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.'
Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.
A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it. I have a family, please look after them. I have this crazy idea...And this wise man said: stop.
He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.
Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.
Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. And that is what he's calling us to do.
I was amazed when I first got to this country and I learned how much some churchgoers tithe. Up to 10% of the family budget. Well, how does that compare with the federal budget, the budget for the entire American family? How much of that goes to the poorest people in the world? Less than 1%. Mr. President, Congress, people of faith, people of America:I want to suggest to you today that you see the flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing.... Which, to be truly meaningful, will mean an additional 1% of the federal budget tithed to the poor.
What is 1%?
1% is not merely a number on a balance sheet. 1% is the girl in Africa who gets to go to school, thanks to you. 1% is the AIDS patient who gets her medicine, thanks to you. 1% is the African entrepreneur who can start a small family business thanks to you. 1% is not redecorating presidential palaces or money flowing down a rat hole. This 1% is digging waterholes to provide clean water.1% is a new partnership with Africa, not paternalism toward Africa, where increased assistance flows toward improved governance and initiatives with proven track records and away from boondoggles and white elephants of every description.America gives less than 1% now.

We're asking for an extra 1% to change the world. to transform millions of lives - but not just that and I say this to the military men now - to transform the way that they see us.
1% is national security, enlightened economic self-interest, and a better, safer world rolled into one. Sounds to me that in this town of deals and compromises, 1% is the best bargain around.
These goals - clean water for all; school for every child; medicine for the afflicted, an end to extreme and senseless poverty - these are not just any goals; they are the Millennium Development goals, which this country supports. And they are more than that. They are the Beatitudes for a globalised world.

Now, I'm very lucky. I don't have to sit on any budget committees. And I certainly don't have to sit where you do, Mr. President. I don't have to make the tough choices. But I can tell you this:To give 1% more is right. It's smart. And it's blessed.
There is a continent - Africa - being consumed by flames.
I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did - or did not to - to put the fire out in Africa.

History, like God, is watching what we do.

Thank you. Thank you, America, and God bless you all.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Much to Mike's chagrin, I'm convinced that my dog is a pacifist.

Our neighbors across the street recently adopted two pomeranians. Every time they are outside the same time as Sam & I, the tiny dogs obnoxiously taunt him.

"Come on over, big boy," they yelp. "We can take you."

Sam starts toward them in a gentle, friendly way. Then he sits down on his hind legs, patiently, his ears relaxed, his tongue lopsidedly, happily hanging out of his mouth.

"You are our enemy," Jazzy and Yogi howl at him. "Come fight us."

Sam looks at me, and rolls his eyes. "Can you believe them?" He asks with a look as he meanders inside.

People could learn a lot from my dog.