Confessions of a Broken Tool

What’s Good for the Goose

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, or so the saying goes.

But what about the goslings?

This idiom seems to express that what benefits one should benefit another or that the right thing for one is right for another.

A goose (in case it is unclear in your understanding like it was in mine) is an adult female and a gander an adult male. The offspring of these creatures bears a term appropriate to their downy cuteness—a gosling.

Bear with me for a moment as this is no paltry exploration of poultry etiquette. It’s far more serious than that.

I’ve had a rather close seat at the table for a situation in which a couple of cute little goslings have been taken under another pair of wings so the goose can get her nest in order. There are big feelings and big plans and no small amount of noise… but still no real nest. And it seems the time may be drawing near to close the gate of opportunity for this particular goose to be reunited with these goslings.

Continue reading What’s Good for the Goose

Recipes for Elephant?

Overwhelmed.

Snowed under.

Drowning in details.

You know the feeling, right?

Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re the master of your to-do list and run a tight organizational ship and all that. But even then, sometimes the circumstances of life can smear your to-do list beyond discernment. Sometimes the hard dive crashes and takes your spreadsheets with it. And sometimes something comes along and seems to knock you completely out of your well-worn seat of control.

Continue reading Recipes for Elephant?

Come Away: An Invitation

Few artists are as easy on the ears as Norah Jones. She’s just so smooth.

Her simple, gentle song, “Come Away With Me,” is a great example of her handiwork. It drips with a longing to simply be together.

You should give it a listen.

Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song

There is a rich dimension of marriage that resonates in me as I listen to this song. It is that realization that my beloved is indeed my safe place, my shelter from the chaos and strife of life. This relationship is my retreat.

When I listen to Ms. Jones sing these words, it’s the heart of my beloved that I hear whisper, “Come away with me…”

If you’re married, I hope you have that sense in your marriage as well. If you’re not married, don’t worry, there is a provision of this kind of retreat for you as well. But it’s different, even deeper, and longer-lasting.

This gentle call of Ms. Jones’ crafting speaks to many of us. But, even as it stirs my heart’s bond with my love, it echos of the words of Jesus to his closest followers as they returned from a ministry outing. They had been so buy that many of them had not even had time to eat. His call to them:

“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6.31)

There is a deep compassion in his words as he invites them, fresh off of a journey of pouring out from their spiritual buckets, to come sit under the fountain and be refilled to overflowing. You and I, as followers of Jesus, are sent into the world day after day to love and serve and share His great grace with others. And we need, just as they, that retreat for our own souls to refill.

This passage is a more particular invitation but it is in the same spirit of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11.28:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

That invite is open to all of us who are beat down by life and struggling to keep on keeping on. It is the One who loves you so much that He willfully lay down His life for you offering you the one thing you most need—soul-deep, peaceful rest.

That’s not exactly what Norah Jones was singing about. But she was describing the retreat of love that we can find in an intimate marriage relationship. And Paul taught us that this marriage thing has always been a picture of a much greater reality—the love of Jesus for His people (which Paul said comprises Jesus’ bride). So, in a way, she really was talking about this invitation.

She sings, “Come away with me.”

Jesus calls, “Come to me.”

So I want to encourage you to give a prayerful listen to this beautiful song and give thanks for the place of refuge you’ve been given—in oneness with Christ for sure, but also in intimacy with your spouse. They are connected.

Maybe it’s a good time to “come away” with the one in whom your soul finds rest.

Perfect Imperfections?

It’s hard to explain the depth of my desire to be as smooth as John Legend. Hopeless though it may be, it remains a longing in my soul.

But this is not really about John Legend… I just felt like I had to lay that on the table to own it. It’s a strange compulsion that I have sometimes.

Legend’s masterpiece of a love song, “All of Me,” brings an open-eyed integrity to a genre of music that is inherently blind. Love songs, as a general rule, are full of idealized, fairy-tale descriptions that so often betray the substance of what they express and show the shallow infatuation for what it really is.

If you’re not familiar or just need a refresher, give it a listen here.

I have a particular soft spot for artists that resist the sugarcoating and acknowledge the humanness of love.

Legend owns the confusion and mystery of a committed love and asks, “What’s going on in that beautiful mind?” He acknowledges her craziness and being out of his own mind. It’s the back and forth that paint one of the most powerful and realistic pictures of a marriage between two deeply committed but utterly broken people.

Consider this carefully woven lyric:

All of me loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm wining
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

That’s a bold promise – to love all of someone. It’s not the infatuation-blinded drivel of a guy that can’t believe he managed to marry a supermodel. It’s the honest recognition that she has issues and he has issues and that, despite his own issues, he is committed to love her despite her issues. That’s really what it means to love someone well—not to ignore their issues but to embrace them.

That phrase though… “All your perfect imperfections.”

It rings deeply within me because it’s a description of the way I am loved, not just by my amazing wife, but much more by my Savior. He doesn’t just love the gifts and obedience in me. He loves the parts of me that give His power an opportunity to be displayed.

To be clear, I’m not saying that God loves my sin. I am saying that God loves the weaknesses in me that so often result in sin because it is in these areas that I find my greatest dependence upon Him.

But this goes deeper. He knew those weaknesses and chose to lay down His life for me anyway. He gave all for me. And He challenges me to give myself wholly to Him.

This picture is exactly what I’m called to live out in my marriage – to pour myself out for my bride as she does for me. But even that was created from the beginning to demonstrate this incredible reality of how Jesus the Son of God lay down His own life to pardon every imperfection in me and how I am called to lean into that love without reservation.

John Legend’s work of art is not about Jesus and His love for me… but it is about the open-eyed wonder of marriage—and it turns out that’s the same thing.

I’d challenge you to go and read Paul’s discourse on this in Ephesians 5 and see if this song doesn’t mean so much more when you do so.

And, if you have a perfectly imperfect spouse to share this life with, take them in your arms, maybe even dance a little, and remember the much greater picture that God brought you together to show to you. Then worship Him by celebrating His gifts with a deeply grateful heart.

James Taylor Said It Better

There are so many love songs that are special to me. A few of them come from the legendary musicianship of James Taylor. For more than 50 years he has been weaving together musical poetry and performing the same with the ease and familiarity of a lifelong friend recalling a common memory.

One of his early songs captures so much about my own relationship with my beloved wife. I wrote about it on the occasion of our 19th anniversary and we’re coming up on 31 years. But on this Valentine’s Day (in 2022 as I write this), I am more grateful than ever for the therapeutic influence of this woman upon my life.

The time we spend together is like medicine for my mind and a tonic for my nervous disposition. Time with her buoys my spirit and encourages my dreaming even while it makes me so very mindful of the anchoring points of my life. It’s inevitable that, when we’ve been too busy to spend some down time together, I’m simply not as well as I when we do.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in our time together. We’ve raised and launched a bunch of people that have turned out to be pretty amazing humans. We’ve nurtured and supported a number of others in their journeys. We’ve fought for marriages beyond our own and we’ve mourned as some of them crashed on the rocks. It’s possible that we’ve been so busy taking care of others that we’ve often neglected ourselves. We’re learning more every day about living together, loving together, growing together.

But one thing that most people who know me can probably recognize is that we are so much better together. And I am so very much better when we are together.

But then, James Taylor said it better in his classic, “Something In The Way She Moves.”

Enjoy it with me here.

I Choose You

There are few artists today that can both write and perform at the level of Sara Bareilles. Her skills are on point.

The first time I heard her song, “I Choose You,” I was instantly captivated. It is melodic and catchy and just… great. Her vocals seem effortless. It’s just a great song.

You just have to give it a listen.

This song is centered upon the point of choice. She describes with infectious rhythms and elegant melodies the proclamation of a lifetime choice. The chorus rings it out so beautifully, “I choose you.”

Life is an endless progression of choices. In our earliest days we have someone to make them for us, but we’re on a journey of learning to make them for ourselves. They’re limited by circumstances and the decisions of others around us, but ultimately we choose in every moment how to respond or act in light of the situation we face.

Theologians argue at length about how much or if we ever really have any choice at all in our lives. I’m pretty convinced that every call of God is an invitation into a deeper intimacy. And part of the reason I’m so convinced is the way God has used my marriage to teach me about the perpetual choosing I committed to more than thirty years ago.

I think it’s pivotal to the vows we make when we walk into this unique relationship—that we are pledging to choose this person moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day… until death alone shall part us.

When you pledge your life to another in marriage, you are, at least in principle, proclaiming your intention and promise to choose this person above all others for life.

If you have made one of those lifetime promises (that we usually call wedding vows), go back and listen to this great song again. What does choosing your partner look like today? Get up and get after it—with an extra spring in your step from Ms. Bareilles’ catchy groove.

Take The World

Have you ever just felt like a relationship was under attack? The heartaches of life pile up and the storms of struggle and grief feel like they’re sandblasting the stones we’re trying to stand upon. Erosion is real in relationships… but especially in the unique bond that a marriage is supposed to be.

I have long held that there are three distinct postures that are crucial to standing up to the attacks and simply enduring with a relationship intact.

We need time face to face—talking about life, being honest with our feelings, dreams, heartaches, and so on. In general I think ladies tend to be more in touch with this need, but it’s crucial.

We also need to spend some time together shoulder to shoulder… like driving down the road or working on a project or serving others side by side. Men seem to have a stronger need for this kind of time together.

But there is a third that is necessary as we have to engage with the world around us—kids and extended family, coworkers, neighbors… all the others. Life comes at us with intensity. We need to face all of the other time when we’re not able to be face to face or shoulder to shoulder in a strong, sort of defensive posture. We need to live back to back. We need to live in such a way that no one can come between us. Our kids can’t play us against one another. Our careers can’t drive wedges into our relationship.

And when we get all three of these postures figured out… we build some serious endurance.

I’m enamored with the intimate stylings of Johnnyswim. In case you’re not acquainted, this is a husband and wife duo that makes some really great music together (and some absolutely beautiful children). Their song, “Take The World,” is a breath of courage to me in a season of weariness and desire to keep growing in my marriage.

You won’t regret watching this simple acoustic rendition.

These words (from the second verse) describe a sentiment that my beloved and I have been reminding each other of quite often in recent months:

Oh I can see the future
You and me we last forever
In the rising tide no fear or fight
That we can't face together
Darling you and me
We can take the world

Back in the very beginning of humanity, the designer put a man and a woman together and established the pattern that we would leave our parents and “cleave” to our spouse. The idea is one of being sort of welded together. It’s a bond that is intended to last as long as both partners are alive. It’s a bond that is supposed to be physical (yes, even sexual) and emotional and spiritual. It’s a bond that should endure whatever the world and this life throw at us.

It’s a bond designed to take a beating.

SO… that’s kind of what it means to “take the world.”

So to my very own beloved, I say again: “We’ve got this.”

We can take the world.