Wednesday, November 17, 2010

God's Troubled Past

Is it possible that our God’s troubled past is the very proof that He is real? As believers, we are often confronted with questions about our faith that are hard—if not impossible—to answer. Ours is a simple but, at the same time, complex religion. Those who do not believe have a lot of questions that, on the surface anyway, appear to put a chink in our spiritual armor: -“If there’s a God, then why is there so much pain, suffering, disaster, death?” -“If He really is a loving God, why would He kill so many people?” - “If God knows everything, then He knew man would sin against Him. So why bother?" - "Why even create a world where His only Son needed to die?” As a believer, I myself have wrestled with these questions. And that’s perhaps the most disconcerting thing to non-believers. How can you possibly believe in a God if you don’t even know the answers? How can you believe in a God that you obviously don’t understand? A lot of people ask these questions as if they are some some "Aha!" moment that proves, "see, there couldn't possibly be a God." But what it really means is that there's not a God that YOU would create. If you could make God, you'd make him someone who doesn't allow suffering, doesn't allow death and pain and sorrow. But then again, if YOU made him, then he wouldn't be God, would he? See, you don't get to decide what kind of creator you have. I should also point out that Christians deal with pain and suffering too. It’s not like only non-believers die…or suffer. But, if you believe that God created this world and therefore has the right to do whatever He pleases with it, then you get to the point where you realize you will never understand it all in this life. There's a peace to that, I think. Doesn't mean we won't ever question again, but there is some sort of peace to it. God is God. I am not. You are not. And while you may not be okay with that, I am. So if my God decides that, while we're here on earth we need to suffer, then that's well within His right. In my own personal opinion, I think it will make heaven that much more amazing. But here’s the point that many non-believers miss: Perhaps the fact that we don’t know the answers is the most compelling evidence ever that our God is real. I mean, think about it, who would make up a God with such a troubled past? If we were creating our own God, wouldn't we make him the way we want? A God who is only peaceful, caring, loving? A God who doesn't allow death, suffering, pain? Christians could have avoided all the scrutiny if we had just said, “Our God doesn’t allow these things. He never started wars. He never caused a flood. He never spilled blood.” Everyone would love that God, right? But that’s not the God we serve. And perhaps faith has a lot to do with the acceptance that there is a justice higher than we can comprehend. There is an answer that’s beyond our grasp. And when you come to that conclusion, that God’s ways are beyond the reckoning of man, there you will find peace. It’s not about knowing all the answers. It’s about knowing that you don’t know all the answers and saying, “but I’m okay with that. Because God is God. And I am not.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blessing #5: My Family

I grew up in what would probably be considered the epitome of a dysfunctional family. I was only five years old when my mother abandoned our family. Just two years later, my father passed away. My brother, sisters and I bounced around between living with my paternal grandmother, Nonnie, and our aunt and uncle Pat and Bobby. My sisters and I eventually landed at a home for orphaned, neglected and unwanted children...the South Texas Children's Home (which will be on this list of blessings as well.) Needless to say, we did not live the Norman Rockwell life. There were no picturesque holiday dinners with an aproned mom and a jovial father seated at the head of the table. There was no playing football in the backyard on a crisp, fall day. We were poor. We lived in a government housing project. We lived off food stamps. And that's who we were in our tiny little south Texas town. I remember growing up thinking we were unimportant, unspectacular. We were the forgettable family. But as we've grown older, each of us stopped believing that lie. Not all at the same time. Some struggled more than others. My older sister Beverly has perhaps had the hardest life of all of us. But to see her today--she's proud. She's gracious. She's a beautiful person. She is so softspoken and honest. And I love that about her. Gigi has always been strong-willed. The go-getter of the family. And that hasn't changed about her at all. She lives and works in Corpus Christi, Texas. She has two gorgeous teenage girls--Gianna and Cheyenne--who both have her amazing smile. I am so incredibly proud of Christi. She has been a single mom for most of her adult life. And she's done an amazing job of it. Somehow working to support three kids on her own. One just needs to spend a few minutes with Grey, Shayne or Christian to see what a great job she has done as a parent. They are good kids. Beautiful kids. And Gary is living and working in New Braunfels. He's probably the most talented of us siblings. You should hear this guy sing country music. Holy cow. His band, Gary Glenn and the 20x Live Band has a strong following throughout central and south Texas. Gary has always been the most confident of us Glenn kids. Perhaps because he was too young to know our parents. Maybe he never really felt the loss--and therefore didn't let it affect who he was. He and Nonnie were so close. Oh how she loved him. He's married to his beautiful wife, Stacey. And I'm so proud to be his brother. Nonnie left this world ten years ago. In the arms of her maker. Pat and Bobby are still plugging along in Three Rivers. I owe so much to all three of them. Don't even want to wonder where I'd be, had they all three not decided to take on troubled kids that weren't there own. We don't talk nearly enough. But this is my family. And I love every one of them. They are a blessing. And I'm sorry I don't say it nearly enough.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blessing #4: Grayson

First of all, sorry that it's taken so long. We moved into our new house a couple of weeks ago and still don't have internet service. (Thanks alot Qwest. You certainly won't be on my list of blessings!)
Grayson Troy Glenn entered this world on March 30, 2009. But he entered my heart long before that. To be perfectly honest, I thought I was content with just having one child. But when my wife told me that she was pregnant with baby #2, I was giddy. Somehow, knowing that Morgan would have a sibling was just so exciting!
I had no idea though, what a blessing Grayson would really be. He's turned out to be quite the character! Watching him wobble along the floor (poor little guy is chunky with bow legs!) or soaking in his amazing smile, is just powerful.
I love the curve of his sweet, little face. I love his raspy voice. And I really enjoy his sense of humor. He LOVES making people laugh. Upon trying to teach him to say "daddy", I kept repeating, "dah...dee. dah...dee. dah...dee." He reversed the syllables and calls me "dee-dah!" And he cracks up everytime he does it, because he knows he's yanking my chain. I love it--this kid's a wisecracker just like me! (Oh, my poor wife!)
He's incredibly smart and crafty too. Quite adept at getting his older brother in trouble, even when Grayson is typically the one who starts it. At 18 months, he knows how to play the "baby" dutifully. He's also a good eater. Trust me when I tell you, this kid knows how to eat!
But my favorite thing that he's doing right now is kissing. He loves giving kisses. What mom or dad could possibly hate that!? I captured this video not too long ago, of him giving repeated pecks to his momma:
Grayson, you are such a bright light in our home buddy. Your giggle, your smile, your cuddles...are priceless. You are a blessing to me and all who get to know you.
I love you son!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blessing #3: Morgan

At first, I thought I'd make blessing #3 be "being a daddy" but it goes deeper than that. Each of my boys are a blessing in and of themselves. So I will list them separately. I will never forget the day we found out that Morgan was going to be part of our lives. I had wanted to be a daddy for so long. And, after years of praying, God finally said, "Ok." But, as God often does with His blessings, He took it an extra step. Just being a daddy wasn't enough. He made me the daddy of the most amazing little boy! Jen and I have often joked that we don't remember what life was like before we had kids. And we're okay with that. The joy, the absolute pure joy that comes with parenthood is beyond words. There are days that I wish I could freeze time and keep him right where he is. But other days, I absolutely enjoy watching who he is becoming. Oddly enough, one of my favorite pictures of Morgan is before he was even born. I swear, in this ultrasound, it looks like he's singing into a microphone! Even today, music is such a big part of his life. Oh, how I love to listen to his sweet little voice as he sings at the top of his lungs. He makes up his own songs. He bangs on his guitar or his drum set. Music is such a big part of his life--even his bedtime routine requires singing. I love that! (And yes, I'll admit, I do love that he knows the words to daddy's songs and wants to hear them over and over again.) I call him "beautiful boy" and yes, it's because he's got this beautiful little face with big, bright, blue eyes and a smile that will melt your heart. But it's also because of the person he's becoming. He's such a sweet boy. He is giving, caring, nurturing--and such an encourager. I don't want to think of what my life would be like without the wrestling matches on the living room floor, the cuddles on the couch, the sing-a-longs and the hugs and kisses. The first time I heard him say "daddy" my heart melted...and it still does, every single time. I love being Morgan's daddy. I really do. If it's all my life was designed for, it has been more than fulfilling. I love you beautiful boy. How about you? Have you taken time lately to really count your blessings? Try it! You may realize just how blessed you really are!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Count Your Blessings (#2)

Blessing #2: My Wife
I first met Jennifer Sue Short in 1991. Our first date was October 15th, a double date with mutual friends, at a little french deli called La Petite France in Waco, TX.
Who knew then what life would be like 19 years later?
She has the bluest eyes and the most honest smile. She is a godly woman who always prays fervently for others. She has always amazed me how she puts others first. It just comes natural to her. She has done so through our entire marriage and even more so now, as a mother.
I've not been the best husband over the years. Heck, I've not even been a "good" husband. I have not been the best provider. I have put my career first...even my hobbies first. But she has always been faithful, supportive and giving. I don't even want to entertain the idea of where I'd be in my life without her, because I know I'd be a mess. Well...a bigger mess!
I have not ever, nor will I ever deserve such a wonderful wife. But I thank God for giving me one anyway.
That is truly a blessing!

How about you? Have you taken time lately to really count your blessings? Try it! You may realize just how blessed you really are!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Count Your Blessings (#1)

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I'm literally going to be counting my blessings. I have been blessed so much in my life and it would be absolutely unconscienable of me if I did not tell the world (or the three of you who read this) about those blessings. I thought about creating a whole new blog for this, because honestly, new blessings come all the time and there's already a lifetime of them to write about. But, for the sake of brevity alone, I will share with you my top 10. Today, #1: Blessing #1. I have a Creator who knows me, loves me and wants a personal relationship with me. I had heard a lot about God growing up. After my father died when I was 7, I remember Rosie Forehand and Barbara Newport--my Sunday School teachers--giving me my first Bible at First United Methodist Church in Three Rivers, TX. I learned bible verses. I sang the songs. It was there that I developed an appreciation for hymns. But as much as God was wanting to talk to me, I did not want to talk to him. He had taken my parents away, after all! I kept God at arm's length for years...though every once in awhile I would chat with him. "God, if you're real, then..." When I was 16, I was living at the South Texas Children's Home (which will be mentioned in a later blessing.) It was there that I finally came to know Christ. Where I accepted him. And he accepted me. I have made so many mistakes over the years. I have wandered so far away at times. But he has not. The God who created me in my mother's womb has never left my side. He knows my thoughts. He knows my heart. He knows my shortcomings as well as my accomplishments. And through it all, he still wants a relationship with me. That is truly a blessing! How about you? Have you taken time lately to really count your blessings? Try it! You may realize just how blessed you really are!

Friday, August 6, 2010

R.I.P. Lucy

You were born 11 years ago...and a Christmas gift to my lovely bride.
A priceless addition to our new home.
I swore we wouldn't spoil you but within days, you were sleeping in our room.
And you had become absolutely entangled in our lives. You were our "child" before we had children.
You were our best friend. Always there at the end of the day with that goofy grin on your adorable, crooked face.
Yes, you destroyed the laundry room. Yes, you ate momma's eyeglasses...and a pair of scissors...and countless toys, hairbrushes, toothbrushes.
You became all too familiar with the "cone of shame."
You tormented the cat. (And I was okay with that!)
You learned to catch a frisbee. I still don't know how you jumped so high, with that girth!
You never really learned that WE were the ones taking YOU on a walk!
You disappeared while we were on vacation, and we spent 13 days scouring the tiny towns of Westcliffe and Silvercliffe for you. And when we found you, it was like finding a prodigal child. We rejoiced. We cried. We celebrated.
You dressed as "superdog" for Halloween, but you were terrified everytime trick-or-treaters rang the doorbell.
You wrestled with me in the living room.
You loved to play "hide and seek" (though you got a little over-excited when you finally found us.)
You even learned how to play football, carrying the ball by the laces as you rambled past me before I could tackle you.
But you hid everytime daddy watched the Cowboys play.
You loved the snow. And popcorn. And beer. Let's be honest--anything edible (and some things non-edible) that fell on the floor.
You never did catch that squirrel that tormented you in the backyard.
Even as you aged, you never lost that "puppy-like" softness to your ears.
And when we did finally have kids, you took such good care of them. Even when they pulled your hair, threw toys at you and
You brought so much joy, Lucy.
You were part of our family.
And we will miss you terribly.

Align CenterRest in peace, sweet girl.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Last Night I Killed a Man

Last night, a man came through the front door of my home. Though he seemed somewhat familiar, I did not easily recognize him. He smirked as he told me that he had become quite comfortable sitting on my sofa, sleeping on my bed, wearing my clothes. He laughed at me as he casually strolled through the living room, like he owned the place. So I attacked him. I knocked him down in the hallway but he regained his footing. We wrestled past the kitchen and my son's bedrooms. My fists clenched tightly, I threw punches from every direction. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest with every single blow. The fight moved into the master bedroom as we became entangled. We spun like madmen around the room, into the closet doors, over the bed and against the dresser, landing in front of the mirror in the bathroom. I wrapped my hands around his throat. I clenched my teeth and dug my fingers in as I told him that he was not welcome in my home. He pushed back. Spewing his hatred for me, calling me "weak" and "pathetic." He threw out reminders of past transgressions. But I was relentless. I squeezed tighter. His face turned red. I could see the fear grow in his eyes as he drew what he knew would be his last breath. He begged. He tried to bargain. But I just...kept...squeezing. Last night I killed a man. And I hope I never see him again.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Monster

It was no ordinary dream. Me--in ragged clothes, shackled on a wooden sailing ship. Dirty, sweaty, smelling the salty sea air and fish. My captors--huge, dark, filthy. I never saw their faces as they opened the trap door and shoved me into the hull of the craft. Only large hands that grabbed, pawed, poked and prodded. I fell into the dark room, landing solidly on my back, in the rough, dry hay scattered about on the hard, wooden floor. I moaned in pain at the collision of wood and bone. The door above me was shutting, sealing off all light. Blackness. I couldn't see two inches in front of my face. But I could hear something. Groaning. Grumbling. No...growling. Like the gutteral moan a lion makes before it's about to feed. And it grew closer, louder. I could feel the beast's hot breath on my neck. I swung violently. Flailing aimlessly in the dark hoping one of my strikes would land. But my arms met no resistance. Then the beast grabbed me. I could feel its claws sinking into my flesh like penetrating hooks. Digging deep into muscle and bone. If I was going to survive, I'd have to kill it. We wrestled as I fought back the snapping of its jaws. My eyes were beginning to adjust to the darkness but still not enough to see the beast. Was it a panther? My only glimpse was of two ghostly eyes--and only for a second as we tossed each other on the floor. Finally, I got both hands around my attacker's neck. And squeezed. And squeezed. With violence I squeezed. I could feel the larnyx crushing under my thumbs. I could feel life leaving the beast. I refused to let go. I refused to let up. I would keep squeezing until my fingers and thumbs met. It was over. Panting, gasping for a lung full of air, I collapsed to my knees. And my eyes continued to weed out the darkness. The form of my attacker was starting to take shape. It was no lion. No panther. No animal. The monster was... me. It's a bizarre thing to see your body, lifeless. Even if it's in a dream. And to know that it was your own hands that choked the life out of you. For as long as I can remember, I have had vivid dreams. Scary dreams. Awful, terrible dreams. I have been chased by massive bears, alligators and untold monsters. But never has the monster been me. Never have I had to wrestle myself for life. For fear of death. But I am fully aware that this is exactly what's going on in my life right now. I am the monster I fear the most. I am the one who holds me captive and forces me into the dark places. I specialize in self-destruction. I don't expect anyone to understand these things. Perhaps I write this for me and not anyone else. Sometimes it's best to just say it, write it...whatever. So that I can begin to confront it head-on. This was no ordinary dream. It was a wake-up call.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Faded Fish

Last weekend, my 3-year old son and I had some father/son bonding time as we washed the cars together. First, we washed Jen's car. Morgan had a blast! He was scrubbing with the soapy rag, just grinning from ear to ear. Then, daddy brought out the water hose. His face lit up. His eyes widened. Oh my! "Daddy! Can I do it?" "Yes, beautiful boy. Here you go!" He was spraying water everywhere! Awesome. Just awesome. For some reason he was obsessed with the headlights on momma's car. He would run around and spray the rest of the car but he kept coming back to the headlights. They were sparkly clean by the time we were done, looking brand new! Then, we moved onto daddy's Jeep. Morgan LOVES daddy's Jeep. It's nothing too fancy. It's 11 years old, been around the block a time or two (nearly 100K miles.) I just bought it a few months ago and this is the first time that I really spent time cleaning it. It wasn't until we were finished when I noticed something on the front driver's side panel. A barely noticeable fade from one of those fish symbols. Someone had put it on the Jeep in the past, but it was long gone. I thought about that a lot over the past week. I wonder if my spiritual walk isn't like that sometimes. I wonder if the only obvious sign to others that I'm a Christian has become faded..barely noticeable. Honestly, I feel that way often. I feel like I sometimes take steps that are so far away from what I believe. Perhaps not intentionally. But I'll get preoccupied, distracted and the next thing I know, I've ventured off the path. A faded shadow of what I want to be. I am trying my best not to be a faded fish in this world. It's not always easy. And I won't make any promises. But just in case you're wondering, yes I love Jesus! And I believe in Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I believe He was God incarnate. I believe He was crucified, dead and buried. And I believe He rose from the dead to save us all from eternal hell...if we'll only believe. And, I believe He's like my 3-year old son with a water hose. When God needed a salvation plan, Jesus said, "Daddy, can I do it?" I believe His salvation message is plenty for all, but for some reason He's intent on focusing on the individual. He wants a relationship. He wants to make sure that--like the headlights on momma's car--I am shiny, clean and looking new.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Righteous Anger

In Christian circles, we often hear about "righteous anger." It's supposedly the anger that comes from a holy place within. Anger against evil and wrongdoing. Anger against something that would anger God Himself. It's sometimes referred to as "righteous indignation." That's a pretty big word. So I looked it up. Indignation means
"anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy, or mean."
But we need to be very careful with this. It's very difficult for us humans to be indignant about anything without it becoming personal. Righteous indignation, I believe, cannot be personal. It has to remain "anger on behalf of God." But what if it's God you're angry at? (I know, I know, I'm about to step on some toes here, but hear me out.) Lately I've been really struggling with this. I'm angry. I'm mad at God because I think He did something unfair. Now, I'm mature enough in my walk to know that's impossible. But I can't seem to get past this. You see, I'm angry that David Hames didn't walk out of the collapsed Hotel Montana in Haiti. I'm angry that he doesn't get to hold his two boys again...hear them call him "daddy." I'm angry he doesn't get to run his fingers through their curly hair or wrestle with them on the living room floor. I'm angry that his wife doesn't ever get to hug him again. I'm angry. And in my limited ability to understand anything God does, I perceive it to be "unjust." But is it "righteous anger?" Is it "righteous indignation?" I think not. It's impossible to be angry at God for being unjust, because God cannot be unjust. So I struggle with this. I struggle with how to express my feelings to the Almighty over this situation. Why does God sometimes allow unfair, unjust things to happen? I wish I knew the answer to that question. In the meantime, I am trying to temper my temper...and accept the fact that His plan is beyond my comprehension. Not righteous indignation...but righteous submission. And that is a very hard thing to do.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Un-Natural Disaster

I met a lot of people dealing with heartbreak as the result of the disaster in Haiti. In fact, it seems that heartache lives on every street in Port au Prince right now. I don't believe I met a single person who hadn't lost someone--a spouse, brother, cousin, child in the earthquake. Melicia's story broke my heart. I shared her story on Compassion International's blog.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How Poverty May Have Saved My Life!

Meet Samuel. He's a college student in Haiti studying architecture. Well, I guess I should say he WAS a college student studying architecture.
You see, Samuel was kicked out of class because he couldn't afford the tuition. He was supposed to be in class at 4:45pm last Tuesday when the earthquake hit. But because he had no money, he wasn't there.
Poverty just may have saved Samuel's life.
Because, this is what's left of the college. A pile of rubble. Flattened by the quake. His classmates perished. Many of their bodies are still trapped inside.
Samuel is living in a squatter's tent city right now. When we met him, he was playing a guitar, singing a song he wrote, titled "Lord, Do What You Want With Me." It might be a very appropriate song. Samuel was studying architecture. And architects are just what Haiti is going to need in the very near future, if this country is going to rebuild itself.
Samuel, God saved you for a reason. And yes, He's going to do what He wants with you. It could be that you're part of the solution for Haiti's future. An architect in the making. A life saved. A dream stalled, but not forgotten.
Of course, it's difficult to ever say that poverty is a good thing. In Samuel's case, it may have saved his life, but he still has to deal with the fact that his family has no food, no home. Hope for an education is non-existent. That's why your prayers and support are so desperately needed. Find a way to give to Haiti. Help give kids like Samuel hope for a future.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Disaster BEFORE the Disaster

From Port Au Prince, Haiti Long before an earthquake hit Haiti, disaster had already made its place here--poverty. The effects of this quake are magnified tremendously because of the poverty factor. Poverty forced people to live on decaying hillsides. Poverty left buildings poorly constructed. Poverty left no infrastructure to respond to such a disaster. The images you see on your television or computer don't do the devastation in Haiti justice. Building after building has collapsed. I’ve seen dozens of multistory buildings that have collapsed into a stack of pancaked floors. Looking at the sheer tonnage of cement, I’m amazed anyone survived. Hospitals, schools, churches and businesses all flattened. As if this country didn’t already struggle to provide those services to those who need it. That is the great irony right now. The number of people who need medical attention has increased dramatically as the result of this disaster, but the number of medical clinics and hospitals decreased. It seems so unjust. Communication and transportation are terrible. I’d love to be able to show you some of the videos that I’ve shot, but I can’t get a strong enough Internet connection to last long enough to upload. At this point, my best connection provides 8kb per second. Terribly slow. And it lasts only a few minutes at a time. This morning, I witnessed a relief truck get overtaken by a crowd of people in the streets. The people climbed the big rig by the dozens, forcing open the back doors and tossing out bags of rice … all while the truck was driving. People are desperate for food. All over town, there are makeshift signs (mostly sheets with painted words on them) saying, “We Need Help” or “Please — We Need Food and Water.” At the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, I saw a couple of relief supply trucks that had been turned into makeshift storefronts. People were trying to sell the food, water and clothing inside. Another example of how important it is for you to make sure you partner with an organization that has established distribution channels. Many organizations can get stuff here, but don’t know how to distribute it. Parking a truck on the side of the road can cause mayhem. We don’t know exactly how many of our kids are affected. Getting to them all is terribly difficult. Many families fled when the quake hit. Many are sleeping on the streets. Rounding them up is tough. Perhaps one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen is our Haiti staff here. Keep in mind, many of them lost everything in the quake. They lost homes, possessions and sadly, some of them lost loved ones. Yet here they are, working at our makeshift camp every day, trying to help others. Serving in the midst of their pain. Amazing! Please continue to pray for them. They are heroes of the faith. Compassion partners with established local churches in Haiti. We have for mre than 40 years. They know us. We know them. And shouldn’t the church be the distribution channel for relief in times of hurt anyway? You are providing for tons of supplies to make it into Haiti. Our first planeload is expected to arrive Friday in the Dominican Republic. It will be transported into Haiti on Saturday. We’ll be able to provide two weeks’ worth of basic necessities to more than 77,000 people. Two weeks later, we’ll be able to give them another two-week kit. It’s a start. But it’s a drop in the bucket of need. We need more. Help our relief efforts by making a donation to our Disaster Relief Fund. Thankfully, Compassion has a long-term solution to poverty, too. It’s our program. Child Survival, Child Sponsorship, Leadership Development. Holistic Child Development. That’s how you change a country like Haiti, from the inside out. You start with its children. You start by teaching them to believe in themselves and in a Creator who loves them. You give them skills to succeed. And when they are older, they fight the corruption that plagues their country. They make the changes. Haitians had little to begin with. This quake took that little away. It’s time to start over. And starting over begins with hope. And thankfully, that’s something Compassion specializes in.