Monthly Archives: October 2014

My Morning Heart-Check

Sitting down at my desk every morning, Monday to Friday, I have to remind myself that I like my service placement*. I like what I do. And I’m thankful to be where I am.

But that’s often not my first thought. I routinely have to counteract a negative attitude about anything that could count as a duty. Chores. Volunteering. A favor for a friend. Even personal projects like writing a book. If it looks, smells, and feels like responsibility, I want out.

But with that responsibility set aside, the things that I resent are often also things that I enjoy. Like washing dishes. It’s relaxing to me. I like seeing food-encrusted plates get clean again and ready for the next meal. Maybe you think that’s strange, but several people have told me they feel the same way. And have you ever re-read a book after it was a class requirement? It might as well be a completely different story.

Now at my service placement, it’s a similar deal. I chose a placement that is meaningful to me, yet I still struggle to enjoy getting out of bed before 8 o’clock. Even though I believe this is exactly where God wants me right now, I still look forward to going home at the end of a long day. I’m not sure why this is. Everything about my placement is wonderful. Perhaps it just shows the state of my heart.

“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

In the meantime, I have to be intentional to be thankful. Every day, I need to remind myself again that I like what I do. Then in time, my first thought in the morning may be, “Thank you, Lord.”

What do you need to give thanks for today?

*I am serving as a Jesuit Volunteer/AmeriCorps Member, which technically I am not allowed to call “work” or a “job” (since I technically have no income). But don’t worry, I still have a stipend for food and rent. People have actually asked me this.

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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Other thoughts


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When He Calls Your Name

Do you remember classroom roll calls? The teacher would read down an alphabetical list of names, glancing up for a half-second before pressing on. When you heard your name, you were expected to speak up before the teacher marked you absent.

Most kids in my public schools would say, “Here.” But once in a while, some advanced thinker would instead shout, “Present!” I wondered in elementary school why the teachers seemed to go along with it. If a kid could demand a gift during roll call, could I have said any word I wanted instead of just the boring “here”? I didn’t understand the full meaning of “present” at the time.

Credit: "School children" from

Credit: “School children” from

Nowadays “be present” is taking its turn in cultural slang. Who knows how long it’ll last before it joins outdated sayings like “groovy” or “fresh”?

It’s a compliment: “The best thing about that guy is he knows how to be present.”

It’s a goal: “I just want to be present every day.”

It’s a need: “Hey, would you just be present for two minutes with me here?”

It’s a way of saying to give all of your alert and undivided attention. To be present is to not be distracted by anything going on besides what is the here and now reality right in front of you. To be present has the sense of to “live in the moment.”

Lately I’ve had a curious image of God replaying in my head, like one of those catchy tunes that won’t go away. The image is God standing in front of me, close as if meaning to whisper an intimate secret. He’s reaching out to me. He longs to cradle my face in his gentle hands so that my eyes will rise to his…but he holds back. In a soft, pleading sort of voice, he says to me, “Be present with me here. Be present with me now.”

He wants my attention. Not for what’s happening in another city or another country. Not for future plans or past mistakes. He wants me present here and now.

When a kid shouted “present” during roll call, it implied two things. One, the student was physically present in the classroom. Two, the student was present with at least enough attention to hear their name called.

I want to be present in such a way that when God calls my name, I can shout back, “Here I am!”

Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” … The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:4,10

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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Other thoughts


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