love and marriage

brian wurzellDriving to Lake Havasu tonight to spend the weekend celebrating my buddy Brian Wurzell. These things always feel a little bit like a funeral… not in a “this sucks, I wish I was somewhere else…” kind of way, but in a “laying your singleness to rest forever” kind of way.

Promise is a lucky lady. Except, well… she’s gotta make out with a bearded dude for the rest of her life.

(My dad had a huge beard when I was a kid. Was kinda like kissing a grizzly bear.)

active listeners

bobbleheadI graduated with a Religious Studies/Communications degree at ASU, so I’ve taken quite a few classes about the art of communication.

I learned a lot about “active listening“, which is basically about paying attention to what is being said and being able to repeat it back to the person speaking. It’s about keeping eye contact, nodding your head in agreement, etc…

…and it drives me nuts sometimes.

I was recently in a room where one guy went completely overboard with his “active listening”. It was so stinking distracting…

He would do this humming thing, and not like a quiet personal hum, but a loud, “Hey everyone else, I just want you to know that I agree, and by the way I have experienced this, and I’m actually the only person this guy is talking to” kind of way. It would happen at least once, maybe twice, per sentence. And it was always partnered with a head nod. He was a humming bobblehead.

I just sat in the back of the room and watc hed him like a TV show.

Don’t judge me.

I try to avoid prolonged conversations with people like this. I’m just being honest. People that are super-listeners usually make me uncomfortable. They usually stand REALLY close to you when you’re talking, and I always have a suspicion that they aren’t ACTUALLY listening to me. They’re too busy humming and nodding.

I want to be listened to, and I want to be a good listener, but there are boundaries people!

Are ya with me? Is this a pet peeve of yours, or um… are YOU that guy?


You’ve heard of March Madness (my bracket was HORRIBLE), but check out my APRIL MADNESS!

I started seminary last night. Class meets every Tuesday night for 3 hours.

I have youth group every Wednesday night and Sunday morning.

Then I have my own LifeGroup on Thursdays every other week.

I’m at a Bachelor party in Lake Havasu tomorrow through Sunday.

Easter is Sunday the 12th. I actually have nothing to do… awesome!

Phil Wickham concert on the 16th. Dopeness.

Lindsay is in Ohio from the 19-29th. Sadness.

I’m here at home but attending Catalyst West Coast from the 22-24th.

On the 24th and 25th I begin a 4-week intensive Old Testament course at Fuller that goes from 6:30-9:30pm on Fridays and 8-5 on Saturdays.

I’m at Hume Lake with my youth ministry team for a little retreat from the 27-30th.

And then EVERY WEEKEND IN MAY I have something. Three classes, one wedding, and one Guys Retreat with my high school students.

Dear God, please give my wonderful, patient, lovely, hottie, princess wife a whole bunch more of that patience and love this month 🙂

sleeping on the couch

Lindsay was sick last year with the flu or the fever or something like that. The doctor said it was contagious, and I’m not a big fan of being sick, so… I slept on the couch for a few days.

I just saw my buddy Ron say that he’s got bronchitis. He’s also got a wife and two little boys at home. What should Ron do?

What about you… what do you do in these situations? Do you sleep on the couch? Do you, as the spouse, just accept the unavoidable fate of catching whatever they’re sick with, or do you protect yourself and your children and send the temporary leper into isolation for a couple days?

I know I just posted a blog about how the early Christians stayed and cared for the sick and dying, and how wonderful that was… but um, what about when its just a fever or cold?

Hook me up with some free marriage counseling!

clown phobia

Are you afraid of clowns?

clownsMy high school ministry is headed to Hume Lake for summer camp, and this year’s camp theme is all about clowns. The title is “Hey Rube!”, which is ridiculously ambiguous, but all of the promo material has clowns all over it.

I didn’t expect this, but we have had DOZENS of kids tell us that they are scared to death of clowns. I’ll usually say something like, “Yeah right, haha… no you aren’t.” But they’re usually staring back at me in a frightened daze as they picture clowns stabbing people or something.

How does this happen? How do people become scared of clowns? Was it because of Pennywise? Did some birthday parties go south earlier in life?

I think this whole thing is ridiculous… but if you Google “clown phobia” you can see a thousand websites that offer to help people with clown fears (most of them want money to help). This lady has issues that extend beyond clowns…

I’ve actually had a few kids say that they aren’t going to camp this year because of the theme. That upsets me. They went when the theme was about PIRATES! I guarantee that pirates kill more people each year than clowns do. I’d bet that SHEEP kill more people each year than clowns do.

Would you stay home to avoid the clowns? What theme would you stay home to avoid? What are you scared of, you big scaredy cat?

I’ll go first: NOTHING.

look through the turn

“You have to look THROUGH the turn, not at the ground in front of you.”


That was the first bit of instruction I heard at my motorcycle training class back in 1999. I bought a motorcycle, but I had no idea how to ride it.

People who look at their front tire while on a turn will soon be removing bits of pavement from their body. The rule is simple: you will go where you look. So, when you’re turning, you have to look through the turn to the end of the turn.

Fix your eyes on Jesus…” Why? Because you will go where you are looking.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

You will go where you are looking.

If you spend all your time looking at all of the things in your life that are screwed up, you’ll be stuck. If you’re just focusing on the sin you’re trying to avoid, you’ll probably never have victory.

Look through the turn- or you’ll just keep crashing.

People don’t need help discovering their darkness. They will need help seeing their potential.

Who changed you– the person who pointed out your wickedness, or the person who encouraged you to look through the turn?

starting over


We’re nine months into our new life in California, and I’ve been carrying around a pretty unfamiliar emotion to me… loneliness.

I’ve tried to call it other things (a “funk”) but that’s inaccurate. I’m always giving myself counseling (the upside of being a pastor is the free counseling), and I think I have most of the answers to why I’m feeling lonely.

I moved from Arizona where I lived my whole life. I worked at a church as it grew from 500 people to 6,000 people. I had deeper roots than almost everyone there. The people I worked with were my best friends (all of my groomsmen worked there in some capacity at some point). I felt like I was really known and valued (except by that one guy who gave me the boot, but that’s a different topic for a different therapy session).

The thing about being new is that it is impossible to be known. It takes so long. You spend so much time figuring people out and being figured out. I have no idea how some pastors bounce from church to church to church every year or two. I can understand WHY they might, I just can’t imagine how hard that has to be.

I don’t think that loneliness has to be anyone’s fault. It can be totally natural. It can be a symptom of larger issues, but not necessarily.

I guess the best thing to hear when you’re lonely is that you’re not alone. So… is anyone out there feeling what I’m feeling?

Have you had a chapter or two in your life when you felt lonely, even when you were constantly around other people? Have you been in a situation like mine? How long did it take before you felt at home where you were?

Anniversary #2

lg2Today makes TWO YEARS that Linds and I have been married! They have been two of the most unpredictable, mysterious, character-building years for both of us. We’ve already experienced more craziness in our two years of marriage (and one year of dating) than a whole bunch of couples we know that are twice our age.

God’s definitely using our marriage to show us how good He is. It’s a crazy idea, this whole marriage thing, but it’s brilliant.

Love you Lindsay 🙂 Thanks for putting up with me!

the stinky kid in class

ryan guardWanna hear something sad?

In the 4th grade I was the stinky kid in class.

But Ryan, you smell so nice now. How were you ever the stinky kid?”

I’m glad you asked.

You see, my dad lost his job that year so we had to move in with his sister. At that time there were five people living in that two-bedroom house (not including my dad, my brother, and me who were about to move in).

But the stinky part wasn’t because there were so many people.

There were something like 27 cats and 17 dogs that also lived in that house. No lie. Oh and a bird, a turtle, and lots of mice. I accidentally murdered that bird, but that’s a story for another post. Actually no, it’s kinda funny so here we go:

I was in charge of talking to the bird for like 5 days while my aunt was out of town… it needed company or it got lonely. She was convinced it would die if it wasn’t talked to. This pigeon (yep… a pet pigeon) got SO EXCITED every time I went in there!! It would start freaking out and flying around it’s little cage. I kinda forgot to go in and talk to it for a couple of days and… I went in to say hello a few days later and right when I opened the door to the laundry room where it lived it started flapping its wings frantically- and then I think it had a seizure because it just dropped dead onto the bottom of the cage. OOPS!

But anyways, there wasn’t a shower in the house, just a bathtub… but the tub was usually clogged up because of the cat/dog/people hair.

So I went to school and stunk. There was nothing I could do about it. I considered showing up early to class and spraying Lysol above my head before everyone got there. Seriously.

They signed me up for the special hygiene class. I would go to the nurse and she’d teach like six of us how to use a toothbrush or put on deodorant. It was no use explaing to her that I brushed my teeth every day AND wore deodorant.

We eventually moved out of that house and everything turned out ok. I would drench myself with Obsession and Cool Water cologne like every other dork so I could fit in.

What kind of baggage do you have? What deep, dark secrets from your past do you need to air out? Were you the stinky kid too? Did you eat your boogies?

Let it out in the comments. Free therapy 🙂