On my last day in Ethiopia my group was riding in a van and came to a stop.  As usual people approached the windows to beg for food or money.  We were instructed to not give money.  But, we had brought some snacks to eat from home and decided to give some to people.

I passed out a bag of Cheez-its to a woman and her small child.  Then an older woman approached my window.  As I prepared to hand out a Kudos bar, she held up both hands and all of her fingers were missing.  She had two palms that looked worn.  She was dirty and looked very poor.  As she looked me in the eye I placed the Kudos bar between her two palms.  Our hands touched.

We pulled away and I had the strongest urge to grab a bottle of anti-bacterial lotion and cleanse my hands.  I wanted to stay clean.  But, I resisted the urge…

As we drove away I wrestled within my heart.  I  thought of Jesus touching the lepers, the unclean and the outcasts.  He met practical needs, but also shared his very life.  He seemed so comfortable in uncomfortable circumstances.

So, I resisted the urge to use the anti-bacterial lotion…

… for 10 min.

Kudos to Jesus for showing us how to truly love.

Help me God to stop trying to protect myself and stay tidy and clean.  Bless the woman with the Kudos bar.  Amen.

Saturday Brain Doodles

Jody, me, and Lisa enjoying "Snack Time" as kids.

I think I’m going to take Saturdays and just spit out random things I’m thinking about…

So, let’s get started:

  • The Detroit Tigers are finally winning and this makes me happy.  I wrap way too much of my emotional well being into the Tigers.  Who’s your Tiger?
  • I’ve been reading the story of Jesus and asking, “How can I believe and behave like Jesus?”
  • Tomorrow I’m closing out the “Love God” series talking about Strength.
  • A counselor gave me a helpful insight on anxiety: “Anxiety is when we overestimate an issue and underestimate our ability to cope with it.”
  • My 6th grade daughter is in tennis.  This brings back a lot of memories!  I played co-ed middle school tennis too – good memories.
  • I’m really excited about Watermark’s “Great Saturday” serve event the day before Easter.  I love that we are practically meeting needs over Easter weekend!  Becky Staal has done a tremendous job leading a team to make that happen!
  • I’m also pumped for Easter Sunday.  I plan on making a mess and using some props.  My prayer is that people would encounter the good news of Jesus.
  • We had a great time last night with friends who also adopted from Ethiopia.  In fact, their daughter was at the same orphanage with our daughter at the same time!  It’s a small world after all.  There is a tremendous bond between adoptive families and I’m thankful for the support.
  • One of my closest friends has been my good friend since I was in 2nd grade.  Thankful for loyal long-lasting friends.  Got to hang with him this week – good stuff!
  • I turn 40 this year.  Wow.  Does that mean I’m almost a man?
  • I just started working out again – believe me, I really need it!
  • We are looking for a worship leader for Watermark.  My hope is to find someone for this part time position by the summer.
  • Great quote I came across again from Andy Stanley: “Simply recognizing the need for change doesn’t define leadership. The leader is the one who has the courage to act on it.” So true!  I want that to be true of me.
  • I need to scan more doodles in for these posts.
  • I think the 80’s was the best decade for alternative music.

I feel better – thanks.

8 years in…

Here is an old header made by Kedron Rhodes for us.

Well, it was on this date in 2003 that we held our first “vision chat” to dream about a faith community (that had yet to emerge) we were calling Watermark.

Here are some of my notes from that night eight years ago:

Watermark Vision Chat

April 15, 2003

Tonight we had our first vision chat meeting with those that were interested in learning more about Watermark.

We had over 50 people present. (6:30-8:00 pm @ the Grand Hall in Grand Haven)


  • Great turn out and interest
  • One unchurched guy was interested in coming on board
  • Good relational mixing from our emerging core team
  • Good spirit and great team

Personal:  I felt good about the chat. Sometimes I find myself plagued with doubt, however, tonight gave confirmation to God’s movement in this thing.  Therefore, I choose to put my trust in Him alone.  I truly am not a good enough leader to make this work.  We need God!  I really need God!  I need to depend on Him.

God I pray that this will be the launch of something amazing!

God – thank you!

Watermark is the body of Christ – you are the head.

– – – – – – –

Thanks to God and all who contributed along the journey!

“Me, America.”

Kids on Mount Entoto

While in Ethiopia we traveled to Mount Entoto.  This historical site is covered with Eucalyptus trees (thanks to Menelik II & Australia) and provides a beautiful view of the city of Addis Ababa.  There is an Orthodox church on the top of the mountain that people, seeking healing, travel to.

As we walked around, taking in the sites and history, a small group of kids came over asking for money.  (Begging is very common in Ethiopia and we were encouraged to not give money to beggers, which is VERY hard NOT to do.) I began to chat with the kids in my broken Amharic.  I asked them what their names were and how old they were.  I asked about their parents and most had lost one parent.  I told them I was sorry.  We were smiling at each other and a little boy said, “Me, America.” I understood what he meant immediately from his choice of words and body language.  He said it again, “Me. America.”  In his limited English he was gesturing to me and asking to be taken to America.

I kindly replied, “Sorry, no.  Ethiopia.”

What does the future hold for this young boy and his friends trying to make ends meet by begging on the mountain?

“God, today, give hope to that boy.  Provide for his family and bless them.  Help him to know he is loved.  Amen.”

So much need.  God help.



While in Ethiopia I found my spirit experiencing whiplash.  One moment I was standing in a hut with a dirt floor.  I spoke with a widow with lots of kids, making 25 cents/day.  Later that day I was checking into my nice hotel on the lake and eating a meal that would take that woman roughly a month to pay for!

Whiplash!  Between poverty and prosperity.

But, in that hut, I met a very poor woman who had very strong faith.  Yet, in my muchness, I struggle to choose faith over fear.

Whiplash!  Between faith and fear.

The hut.

The view of where we stayed after being at the hut. Lake Awassa.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.” – Jesus in Luke 6:20