Newsletter – Volume 52

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Newsletter – Volume 52

July 1, 2024

This Week

Confessions From the Back of the Pen
The Year In Review...

One year ago, we embarked on a grand adventure together. I felt led to rally around those who tend to fall out of the mainstream, those who march to the beat of their own drum and are perhaps even a tad rebellious (in the best ways possible). The black sheep. This initiative was born out of a desire to raise the status of those who often feel less than – and by sharing their stories, I hope you have been encouraged and inspired to be exactly who God made you to be. Lord knows we need more black sheep messengers!

Over the last year we have looked at (and admired) people from all walks of life – sports figures, politicians, authors, rock-n-roll singers, full-time moms, cancer warriors, entrepreneurs, counselors, tattoo artists, social workers, nutritionists, theologians, photographers, ex-druggies, businessmen, worship leaders and a host of others. Even though they have expressed their message differently, they all have a few things in common:

  • They were willing to question the status quo
  • They were willing to risk stepping out of the norm
  • They were willing to be faithful to their own sense of calling
  • They didn’t allow other people’s opinions to deter them from following their mission

In so doing they provided a compelling example that gave us all fresh permission to be our own form of black sheep messenger. And I trust that has been helpful and inspirational.

Now it is time to pivot.

As much as I have enjoyed this venture, I have been feeling an ever-increasing tug to move in a new direction with this weekly newsletter. And starting next week, we will switch to our new format. The focus will be around health and wholeness (with a specific tilt toward those dealing with a cancer diagnosis).

As I’m sure you have noticed, I have been devoting increased time/space to my own journey here, and I would now like to make the shift to sharing the lessons from this experience to try and be helpful to others in a similar position. What has me especially excited is that I have invited several friends to join me as regular contributors to the newsletter.

  • My friend Pastor Jenn Orenstein will be writing a weekly piece on soul care.
  • My friend Lori Smith, who walked her husband through his cancer journey, will be writing on the role of caregiver.
  • My friend Joel Salabarria (a local worship leader) will be writing a weekly segment. on worship, introducing us to new artists and inspirational music selections.
  • My friend Julia Clarke, a local poet, will be sharing poetic encouragements.
  • My friend Suzannah Hake, who is passionate about nutrition and healthy eating will be sharing tasty recipes and nutrition hacks.

Every week I will also be sharing the story of a fellow cancer survivor/warrior, who is still fighting the good fight, and what they are learning about the battle.

I am very excited about the new venture, and should you know someone who might benefit please feel free to forward the newsletter to them or give us their name and we will gladly add them to our mailing list

Word of the Week

Broken

Adjective: Having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.

Our first instinct when something is broken – even if it has some value for us – is to throw it out.  It’s broken.  It’s useless.  Just get a new one.

Maybe that’s why we have a hard time believing God would want to ‘waste’ his time on us.  We are broken… at times even feeling beyond repair.  So, we assume God would just as soon go on to someone better… less work, less messy.  

Honestly, that’s probably what we would do.

Which makes what Jesus did all the more striking.  While standing among the Pharisees, strutting their religious pedigree, Jesus clarified his calling,

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

He came for the broken.  He came for you and me, even though it’s hard to imagine.  He is very much into reclamation projects.  In fact, he doesn’t see us as ‘projects’, at all. We are his kids!  He has a plan – to take everything that was meant for evil and turn it to good!

A Song That Has Been Inspiring Me

Surrounded

Back Story: This song by Upperroom was inspired by the passage where Elijah asked the LORD in 2 Kings 16-17 to open his servant’s eyes so he could see that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

“It may feel like I’m surrounded…
But I am surrounded by you!”


I found myself a quiet place to reflect and take in the presence of the Lord, to ponder its significance and meaning – particularly in this season. I realized afresh that there is a difference between feeling something and knowing something.

Feelings are all over the map. Feelings catch you off guard. Feelings can create doubt and stir up fear. Feelings can’t be trusted. But when we know something is secure and true, it enables us to navigate our feelings effectively. We can give the emotions their appropriate credence without having them rule the day.

“I may feel like I’m surrounded,
but I know I’m surrounded by you!”


What we know can get fuzzy sometimes. This is why finding ourselves in inspirational environments matters so much. We need to take the time to quiet our spirit and allow our emotions to align with what we know. It becomes a ‘stake in the ground’ moment where we get to feel what we know – and I admit – I need that!

“I don’t feel like I’m surrounded as much as I know (and give thanks for) my being surrounded by you…”

Health Update

Back to Mayo

I have two sets of appointments at Mayo this week. The first one is today, where they will be removing a stint from my ureter. Then next Monday they will do a blood test and a renal exam to check on my kidney function.

For the week in-between my appointments I will travel to Pella to spend some time with friends there. Larry and Sheryl Hanthorn have graciously agreed to let me spend a few days at the Hanthorn Hotel and I will be speaking at Grace Fellowship for the two Sundays I am in town (June 30 and July 7). If you happen to be in the area, we would love to have you join us Sunday morning at 10:00am.

Studio Update

New Location in Pflugerville

As many of you know, we have been homeless for the last few months, but we have good news to share. A good friend and brother (Jared Jolly) is opening up a new pickleball facility that will include several office spaces, one of which he will let me use for the studio. It’s close to home and will provide enough space to reset our three-camera shoot. That means we will be able to relaunch our podcast “SideWalk Conversations” and filming our Pocket Prayer videos.

We don’t have a definitive move-in date, but if all goes well, we should be in by mid- August! Very excited to get up-and-running again!

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