My Mind Made Public -

I held off as long as I could ...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Marin Foundation December 2008 Newsletter

The busiest season of The Marin Foundation’s existence just ended. From the beginning of October to right before Thanksgiving I was speaking around the country 50 of 60 days. During that period I flew 21,713 miles, visited 16 different cities and spoke at 22 different events in front of about 17,000 people live—and prayerfully this is just the beginning of what is to come in 2009 and beyond! Looking back on this season brings not only excitement for what is to come, but also a heavy heart filled with mixed feelings about where The Marin Foundation has come from.

I clearly remember the beginning months as I started The Marin Foundation after just quitting my comfortable job working at the world famous Drake Hotel in Chicago. I wasn’t exactly sure how to start getting the word out, so the best way I knew how was to open Chicago’s phone book, flip to the section labeled Churches, and just start calling. There were 2,671 churches listed in Chicago, and I thought there’s no better way to introduce myself then to do it in person. From the first church under the letter A to the last church for letter Z, I called all of them. For the first 6 months of The Marin Foundation’s existence, 7 days a week, I set up 2, 3, 4 or 5 meetings per day with senior pastors. During that period I was the Chicago Transit Authority’s best public transportation customer. Here’s the kicker—I stopped counting after I got laughed out of the 641st church! That’s right, I stopped counting after the first 641 times I heard the phrase:

“You’re 24 years old and want to do something that has never been done before? Stop wasting my time.”

After all of that embarrassment I thought I heard God’s voice wrong. But I didn’t—I knew I didn’t. And so I kept plugging away in the midst of everyone thinking I was crazy. And yet 3 ½ years later I humbly had the opportunity to speak live to 17,000 people in a 60 day period! That realization just floors me as I remember those beginning 6 months getting laughed out of 641 churches who all believed a bridge couldn’t be built between the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and religious communities. Look how far we’ve gotten in such a short period of time—and it has been because of your spiritual and financial faithfulness that The Marin Foundation is able to continue. Not only have I had the chance to get our bridge building message out to thousands of Christian people who will go back to their own cities and make a significant impact for the kingdom, but The Marin Foundation has also continued to make a direct impact within the gay and lesbian community here in Chicago and throughout the country as well. Through this past year we have had a unique opportunity to partner with a variety of GLBT organizations to facilitate many different trainings, workshops and classes to bring a more thorough understanding of Jesus to those gay and lesbian people who desperately seek him out. And I’m seeing first hand the power of our Father’s work in so many people’s lives!

Thank you all so much for faithfully being such an integral part of The Marin Foundation and our work in making systemic changes between two communities that only know one way of interaction—fighting within a culture war. I know the economy has been rough on all of us this past year, but I humbly ask that you please financially give to The Marin Foundation as we operate 100% off of your donations (securely via Pay-Pal through our website! No donation is too small, and know that each dollar you give is another dollar invested into God’s work—God’s same transforming work that 3 ½ years ago was laughed out of 641 Christian churches who didn’t believe a bridge could be built!

Upcoming Events:

Jan 10 Andrew Marin will be attending a training for Productive Prison Ministry, as The Marin Foundation gears toward partnering with local prison’s to reach the gay and lesbian community who are locked in jail.

Jan 17-18 Andrew Marin and members of The Marin Foundation team will be at Christ Community Church of Omaha in Nebraska.

Jan 20-23 The Marin Foundation team will be in Southern California consulting with various agencies, churches and organizations on how to implement The Marin Foundation’s bridge building work.

Feb 10-13 Andrew Marin will speaking 3 times (part of a General Session and two workshops) at the National Pastors Convention in San Diego, CA—hosted by Zondervan Publishers and InterVarsity Press. For more information please visit:

Feb 14-15 Andrew Marin will be speaking at the Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information please visit

Feb 21 Andrew Marin will be giving an all day training on Bridge Building to the Elders of Willow Creek.

March 6-8 Andrew Marin will be speaking at the Dallas, TX Urban Youth Workers Institute RELOAD. For more information please visit

March 14 Andrew Marin will be giving an all day training at the United Church of Christ St. Louis Area Pastors Gathering.

April 2009 The official release of Love Is An Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (InterVarsity Press). Pre-orders are currently being taken at

***2008 Donations will continue to be accepted through January 9, 2009***

Participate Now Online in our Current Research Study

You can now anonymously participate in the largest national research study ever done in the GLBT and religious communities, Religious Acculturation within the GLBT Community, through our website at
We have 49/50 states who have participated, and we still need participation in South Dakota. Though participation from any State is still desired as well!

God Bless and Much Love.
Andrew Marin

Monday, December 29, 2008

Go Get It

This is a picture of the famous American author and philosopher Henry D. Thoreau. Ok, so he's not a good looking dude ... but none the less he had some really challenging and thought provoking things to say throughout his life. I have a magnet on my refrigerator with a quote of his:

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined."

What an inspiring word for all of us. I was given that magnet by my mom during my rehab after my baseball career was ended by a sixth concussion that resulted in serious brain damage (I'll eventually expand on this in another post). My left frontal lobe didn't work. There were no synapses firing, I had no short term memory, no word retrieval skills, no speech fluency and the right side of my body was disabled. The neurologists said that I was legally mentally retarded with the brain capacity of a 9 year-old at 20. The doctors told my family that I would stay that way because the likely-hood of a full recovery was very slim.

Miracles happen. God is the I am. And I hoped for hope that one day I would again see the Lord's will completed in my life because all of my dreams were shattered in one moment during a practice on my home university's baseball field May 1, 2001. I hung onto Romans 5: 3-5 throughout the seven months of intensive brain rehab and physical therapy, working so hard to reclaim a normal way of life that I no longer knew - and didn't know if I could ever regain:

Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

And besides that passage, I frequently looked at Thoreau's words because I knew the Lord longed for me to live the life I've imagined, because my dreams were only His dreams for me. I thought those dreams were baseball, as I was one small step away from playing in the pros. And among everything that happened after my accident, I daily, and faithfully busted my hump and went confidently in the direction I felt the Lord was leading me. The Bible is the ultimate story of redemption - something the Lord longs for all of us.

We all have the ability and the power through our Father to live the life we've imagined in God. Go confidently, go faithfully, dream big and go get it!

Much love.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thoughts on Obama and Warren

In light of the Pope controversy yesterday and it being Christmas Eve today, I wanted to link you all to a friend of mine, Scot McKnight, who wrote a brilliant post about Obama's choice to have Rick Warren give the invocation. His post is by far and away the most level-headed, well thoughtout commentary I've seen. Be blessed by his words and insights. You can read his post here.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Much love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Pope's Comments about Homosexuality (revised)

The BBC News reported today that, in his year-end speech to the senior Vatican staff, the Pope stated that gender theory blurs the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the self-destruction of the human race (click here and here for two versions of the story.)

Throughout his speech the Pope threw out various (and classical) intellectual jargon surrounding the topic of homosexuality—“language of creation”, “metaphysics speaking of the nature of the human person” and “gender theory.” All in all he ultimately stated how same-sex behaviors go against the Creator’s intent. I understand the Pope is an intelligent man; otherwise he wouldn’t have been voted to lead the hundreds of millions of people who are a part of the Catholic faith all over the world. Yet his language regarding homosexuality seems to be stuck in a place from decades ago. It seems as though the Pope has not given any thought to, or struggled with, a further understanding of what it means (and how it looks) to draw gay and lesbian people to Christ—through a faith that encompasses a true come-as-you-are culture.

His, and many other Christian’s (Catholic or otherwise) mindset is for the GLBT community to be fixed when they enter the door…or fixed before they enter the door…or fixed on the Christian’s timetable…or conditionally accepted as a child of God only when certain things occur. There is a clear distinction between validation and affirmation, and yet many Christians (seemingly what includes the Pope as well in this scenario) do not see these two constructs as independent of the other.

No no no my friends. Although the Pope was attempting to make the point that sexuality is a creation issue and not a political or philosophical issue, his tact, again, is not up to par coming from a man who is suppose to set the forerunning tone as an example for all other Catholics—and Christians in general.

As a great friend brought up, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. And with that in mind, what is the Pope doing other than talking—and ticking off A LOT of GLBT people around the world? What is he winning for Christ with gays and lesbians by just talking? What is the Pope doing to build a peaceful and productive bridge by tangibly reaching out to gays and lesbians to show them what and who Christ is—not just standing from a podium telling folks what Christ wants them to do. And if this is the example the Catholic leader sends, how can he (or we, or the gay community) expect any Christian to do otherwise? We (and the gay community) can’t.

Although I do not have a same-sex attraction, I have looked at myself as a part of the GLBT community for the past 9 years as I have been unconditionally loved and welcomed with open arms to live life with all of the people who do—regardless of my, or their, difference in theology with one another. Even I am offended by the Pope’s heavily tread argument. I actually don’t know if I can call it an “argument.” How about this: instead I’ll say that, “even I am offended by his classic use of overly debated, traditional language and theories surrounding GLBT and religious issues that have already proven themselves to not build a bridge, nor draw gays and lesbians closer to God.” It’s as if both sides are still convinced that eventually they’ll systemically convince the other that their belief is right. How long must this false ideal persist?

I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God. I know many gays and lesbians and people with a same-sex attraction that believe the same. I also know many on both sides who don’t think that’s a valid statement as interpretational issues have tainted the original intent of Scripture. Yet there is a way to make room for uncomfortable conversations and places in which people have differing theological belief systems—and yet something significant can still happen for the Kingdom—together. We all don’t have to agree on every doctrinal issue, but the least any of us can do is to willfully reach across the divide and welcome another into knowing what it means to really know Jesus. Does the Pope believe that? Does the Pope want to reach across the divide and listen, learn, not judge, not condemn but rather measurably love the GLBT community without knowing the end result? I don’t know. From his words and his lack of actions I am leaning towards an answer of “no.” But maybe I’ll be proven wrong? I hope I’ll be proven wrong! As I always say, we all have until our last breathe to accomplish what the Lord has set out for our lives—and that includes the Pope as well. :)

I’m not asking the Pope to change his beliefs to something he'll never believe in, I’m just asking him to consider what it means to productively, peacefully, boldly and intentionally build a bridge to the GLBT community.

The wholistic message of the Bible is how believers are to live in relation to, and relationship with the world and all that make it up—not to save humanity from anything except by tangibly ushering humanity to the Eternal King and Judge to let Him do as He said He would—bring love and redemption to those that seek Him out. As a Christian community, I plead that each of you reading this would go out of your way today (especially in this Christmas season) to call, email or talk to someone you know in the GLBT community and tell them, as a believer in Christ, that you love them with all that you are and long to see them know Jesus—no strings or conditions attached.

Much love.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Top 17 Things of 2008

Why is it the Top 17 things you might ask? Well, I couldn’t settle on just 15.

17. Live Danity Kane concert

16. Love Lockdown by Kanye West

15. Dark Knight Movie

14. The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

13. David Cook winning American Idol

12. Chicago Cubs great regular season (let’s just forget about the playoffs—please!)

11. The entertaining Presidential Election and the subsequent Saturday Night Live spoofs

10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Movie

9. Adventures in Missing the Point by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo

8. Body of Lies Movie

7. Gas prices lowering back into the stratosphere

6. Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw

5. Being the Friday night General Session speaker at all of the Youth Specialties National Conventions

4. Having the humbled honor of officiating 2 of my friend’s weddings (including my best friend’s wedding held in a Chateau in Southern France—and then getting stuck in the airport in Paris for 17 hours)

3. The birth of my God-daughter, Addie Overgard

2. Wrote and finished editing my first book—Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community...IT'S NOW ON AMAZON FOR PRE-SALE!!!!!

1. My 1 year wedding anniversary

Can’t wait for 2009!

Merry Christmas as our Savior came to love and forgive.

Much love.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too Funny For Real...

A good friend of mine, Marko (who is the President of Youth Specialties), posted this video on his blog last month. It is the funniest thing I've seen in forever. Please click here and watch it! I was laughing out loud (to myself) for a good 5 minutes.

Much love.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

A good friend of mine Ramiro Medrano gave me, for my birthday, two tickets to the Chicago premier (private screening) of Brad Pitt’s new movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The screening was at 8pm on my birthday (the 16th), and lucky for me the weather was horrible that day. Therefore due to inclimate weather, my wife unfortunately couldn’t go to work that day….bummer. :)

We had a great time hanging out, and capped of the night with this extravagant event. I didn’t really know what to expect with the movie. Yes, it has gotten some really good reviews—but from my experience “movie reviewers” only love movies that I generally can't stand. So my hopes weren’t too high for this one.

But I have to tell you that I was gripped every single second of its 2 ½ hours. I’ll admit it, by the end of the movie I was bawling like a baby. In fact, I could hardly find our car in the parking garage because I was crying so hard. I don’t know if any of you dudes out there have ever seen The Notebook—well it was kind of like that (and yes, I cried like a baby at the end of that one too). The quick summary is that Benjamin ages in reverse of the average human. That’s all I’m going to give.

I don’t know who thinks of movie plots, but most of them seem to be copy-cat plots with some little changes here or there. Benjamin Button was the most original thing I’ve ever seen (this movie was adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book of the same name written in 1922). I felt like I was getting punched in the gut over and over again as the movie went on—and yet they were able to inject the perfect amount of humor at just the right spots when you thought you couldn’t take any more emotional pull.

Let me just say that this movie impacted me a GREAT DEAL. It was a thoughtful exposé on the continuum (and constantly moving ways) of life, death and fate (or the not-so-subtle undertow of the unique ways God clearly) weaves lives together independent and interdependent of each other. The will to continue living—and the strength to start over again when life doesn’t work out—was brought out in this movie more then any other I think I have ever seen.

If you’re brave enough, you should see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But before you do, stock up on Kleenex and be sure your emotions are at 100% charged, because you’re going to use every single one of them from the first minute to the last.

Much love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Need to Lose Weight!

This is going to be my first entry letting everyone know how fat I feel. After just getting off of my brand new scale (that I bought just for this fun adventure) I weight 259.5 lbs! That’s right, I weight like 260. Wow. By far and away this is the fattest I’ve ever been. Let me explain—as I feel like I need to somehow justify my crazy weight gain:

1. This is in part due to my first year of marriage (really though, not so much)
2. I gained 21 lbs. in 7 weeks as I wrote my book
3. I gained another 6 lbs. editing my book in three weeks
4. I quit working out
5. I quit eating healthy
6. I decided wearing sweatpants was the best form of comfortableness, so I went with it

All together that adds up to a gain of 39.5 lbs over the last year. A couple weeks ago I had to break down and by some new pants because I can’t fit in any of mine. My sweet looking wardrobe has been serious stifled because I can’t really fit in any of my clothes either.

The question is, why now am I choosing to try to lose weight? I think now’s a good time to start changing my health because:

1. It’s before New Years, so technically this isn’t a New Years Resolution that I’ll end up failing at.
2. I’m tired of getting winded after walking up a couple stairs
3. My stomach gets in the way of me putting on my socks and tying my shoes
4. I’m embarrassed standing in front of so many people talking about being a distinct Christian when gluttony and being obese are both just as bad as any sin anyone could imagine.
5. But most of all, I’m not comfortable in my skin or with myself in this roly-poly state.

And since I’ve clearly not been able to lose weight on my own (or technically, even care about losing weight), I’ve decided to make it public. If nothing else, I’m going to totally embarrass myself in front of everyone if I don’t work hard and lose weight because I’m going to write a post about my progress every 3 weeks from here on out. I’m doing this like Diddy. He did his whole weight loss thing on MTV, and as far as I know, MTV has way more viewers then my blog. Plus, what about all of those people on the Biggest Loser? Would you get up on national TV in a pair of spandex with your fat hanging all over the place? No thank you. To spare you that thought, here are recent pictures of me in all of my glory. The first one is the day I turned my book in to my publisher. Minus the beard (that was an experiment gone wrong), my belly still looks the same.

And this second picture was taken Nov. 21, 2008 as I spoke at the Youth Specialties national convention in Nashville, TN. As you can see by my belly, even my trick-of-the-eye sweater isn’t hiding it too well. Drat!

Just in case you’re wondering, here’s the timeline of how I got so fat:

-I weighed 110 lbs. in 3rd grade (yeah, I was the fat kid for a while)
-Around 8th grade I came into my own … grew 4 inches and gained a lot of muscle.
-Playing three sports in high school helped a lot! I weighed about 185 throughout.
-Playing Division I baseball in college REALLY helped. I was 195 lbs. of solid, six-packed muscle—benched 315, squatted 450 and could do abs all day long. Ohhhh, how I long for those days!
-After I got hurt and my career was ended, I hovered around 210 (which was still healthy)
-Then I got tired of working out and so I quit. I shot up to about 225 pretty quick—where I have been for the majority of the last 4 or so years.
-When I got married on Nov 3, 2007 I was 230.
-From May 1-July 7, 2008 writing my book I went from 230 to 251.
-Then a couple more pounds here and there (because hey, when you’re already fat, who cares about a few more?)
-Finally, the three weeks I edited my book I went from 253.5 to 259.5.

And here we are today.

So here’s how I’m going to lose the weight:

1. Cut all of my food portions in half
2. Eat three meals a day (I have a problem with overeating, so when I start it’s hard to stop—I’m not one of those 6 small meal guys)
3. No pop or no dessert
4. Work out: Consisting of cardio, weights and then abs
What is my goal weight ... well, I'm not too sure. All I know is that I would love to get back down to my married weight first. So I'll say the first goal is to hit 230, and then we'll reassess. If all goes well, I would eventually love to get back down to about 210! :)

Hope it works! We’ll find out my progress on January 7, 2009.

Much love.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Happens When you Dream Big and Fully Give Your Life to the Lord?

Crazy things like this happen:

(Picture of Andrew Marin speaking to a packed house at the NHL’s Nashville Predator’s arena at the Youth Specialties National Convention)

The word is getting out—the movement is happening—there will be a bridge built between the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and religious communities. All the Lord needs is just one person to believe it can happen. One person who is willing to give their life to the unknown. One person who cares more about living distinctly in God’s will then anything else. The Marin Foundation started with one person doing those exact things and it is growing with so many other “one persons” across the country who choose to live for God countercultural to what traditional secular or Christian means have ever known regarding homosexuality.

I never knew where any of this would have ever taken me—or us. But today, through our Heavenly Father giving The Marin Foundation team the drive and wisdom to push cultural bounds, we have been able to systemically start shifting the gay community and the church towards a place of peacefully understanding each other; coming to the table and being committed to not run no matter what—without ever knowing the end. As you read this, please commit with us in our unique work for the kingdom. The Marin Foundation has many opportunities for you to get involved, and we need your help in your own local community.

And also please, donate today to help our bridge building vision continue. The Marin Foundation runs 100% on charitable donations, and we literally could not continue without your spiritual and financial support. You can securely donate through Pay-Pal on our website at I know financial times are rough today, but any amount—no matter how small—is of the greatest significance to our work…God’s work.

Thank you so much for all that you spiritually, emotionally and financially give to seeing something happen that has never happened before!

Much love.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The “other” pink elephant in the middle of the room—Illinois Government

On the heals of GQ Magazine naming Chicago their City of the Year, our (I’m from, and live in Chicago) governor just got arrested by the FBI for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat. Doesn’t surprise me one ounce. In fact, it has been common knowledge in Illinois that Rod Blagojevich has been under Federal investigation for months now. Can someone please tell me the thought process of how a man already under Federal investigation goes about making a decision to try to illegally sell the President-elect's Senate seat? As the Apostle Paul says:
"I say this to shame you..." (1 Cor. 6:5).
Let me make this clear:

I was one of the very, very few people in Chicago to NOT vote for Rod Blagojevich and his cronies.

Take for instance the other “winner” in my city's government: Todd Stroger. That nincompoop, along with good ol’ Rod, do nothing more then give their relatives 12% raises in the midst of an economic recession (can you blame Todd though, that’s how he got his job: from his dad! He just thinks that’s normal—and so does Mayor Richard Daly who was given his empire by his dad as well). Not only are family pay increases the usual, but these idiots also decided that it’s a great idea to raise Chicago’s sales tax to 10.25%...the highest in the United States of America! Are you kidding me?! That is over 1% higher then the next highest: New York City.

Where is the concern for the poor that they so boisterously claim to speak for? If they care so much about underserved and underprivileged people, why would they make everything more expensive for a group of people who already couldn't afford the previous cost of living?

How about Illinois' tollways—they get something like a million dollars a day in car tolls, and where does all that money go? Illinois gets multi-millions every week in the lottery, and where does all that money go? Why did Rod and Todd (sure sounds like they were made to work together, doesn't it?) have to drain our hard working teacher’s pension fund with IOU’s to pay for whatever they needed that couple billion to pay for? We still don’t know where that money is almost three years later!

Before his arrest, Rod’s approval rating was at 36%, and rightfully so. The problem is that most of Chicago—which accounts for a forth of Illinois’ total population—just vote along Democratic party lines. Why? Well, that’s just what Chicago does. We’re corrupt, everyone knows it, and hopefully this will finally be the catalyst to do something about it.

Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE CHICAGO. You’ll have to pry my dead cold body out of Chicago to get me to ever move anywhere else. I honestly believe that there is no better city in the world. We have clean streets and neighborhoods, we’re generally nice people who have found a good balance between the neuroticism of most of NYC and the sometimes too laid back ways of LA. We have a great tradition, amazing architecture, the country’s tallest building, and of course we have the Cubs! So much good, and yet one glaring bad—our ridiculous State government. I just hope Barack was able to escape the Chicago pull and doesn’t drain our country like so many despicable “leaders” have drained my city.

Much love.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Reflection of Writing a Book - Part 5

This morning I received the coolest email from my editor—it was my book in a proofed PDF, page-laid-out form. It included the Library of Congress catalog page, dedication page, acknowledgement page…the whole shebang. In fact, Dave (my editor) told me they’re sending it to the printer next week. HOW EXCITING! So here is my final reflection of everything I learned, summed up in a nice little paragraph:

Question: What were the overall lessons I learned most from this process?

I learned that writing is difficult and it takes time, patience and a lot of self-forgiveness. Writing cannot be rushed. It cannot be taken lightly, but it also cannot be take too seriously—hence the self-forgiveness. The thing that stuck out to me most throughout this process was that the moment I started to be nice to myself without constantly beating myself up for not getting x-amount of pages or chapters done in x-amount of time, was also the same moment that the Lord freed my mind to write and clearly think through the edits. And from there the words, pages, chapters and edits started to pour out of me. I finished the totality of what it is to get a book ready for publication in such a short time, not because I was pressured into it because of the quick deadline, but because I had something to say and eventually figured out how to provide myself with the optimal environment for success.

I think that writing isn’t so much about what to say, it’s more so about setting yourself up with the best place and opportunity to say it. For me, writing was an organic expereince; one that became environmental at its core. I knew what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I just needed to give myself the proper environment, room and time to be able to do so. And that environement, room and time ended up being formulated by me being nice to myself, forgiving myself, clearing myself from technological distractions and as a great friend of mine Dr. John Fuder says: “Andy, know that you’re writing for Jesus!” As soon as I truly and honestly believed that statement, I was good-to-go! And the rest is now officially, history.

Much love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Year End Reflection on my Weaknesses

As the end of 2008 continues to arrive quicker then I know what to do with, I wanted to reflect a little bit on what I’ve learned about myself. This past year has been a year of many firsts and big happenings:

-I got married
-I wrote and edited a book
-My Grandpa (who taught me what a humble, loving and hardworking man looks like) really digressed in his health—he now has full blown Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Please pray for my Grandma as she takes care of him everyday, as well as for restoration and peace as his life winds down.
-My organization grew almost 40% from last year even in the midst of bad economic times
-For the first time I was speaking around the country for a good majority of the year
-My best friend moved from Chicago to San Francisco
-My wife and I are remodeling our condo
-I started a blog—something I said I’d never do! :)
-And I’m still in Grad School…these classes just keep dragging on and on. Ugh.

With all of those major events happening in one year it seems like my mind has been in a constant whirlwind. I’m not one who likes change. I don’t like limbo either. And yet that seems to be the exact place the Lord continues to put me in day after day, month after month. So I can either flow with Him or not. As my Dad says, “When the Spirit moves, just move with it!” And that’s what I’m trying to do with an open spirit that doesn’t paralyze me into fearing what is uncomfortable. It’s funny for me, because my ‘uncomfortable’ is not the unknown. It’s not people crying, sharing their lives or deepest darkest secrets. My uncomfortable is not entering into a constructive place of tension and staying there without being able to give an answer. My uncomfortable is rearranging my living space. It’s moving into a new office or condo. It’s buying a TV or some new furniture. I don’t know if this means that my priorities are dead on, or they’re way off. But I do know that I for sure know what makes me queasy.

There have been quite a few highlights this past year, and I hope many of them are just the start for what is to come. But if I only focus on the good stuff I’ll never grow. Therefore I’m going to publically self-assess my own weaknesses and start to work on them. None of us are without weaknesses; drat those weaknesses! So here are my two major weaknesses:

1. Self-doubt in the midst of trying to do great things for the Lord
2. Always trying to please everyone

The more I think about it the more I start to realize that my self-doubt comes out of my will to please everyone. No, I cannot please everyone. This understanding that I truly can’t please (when I say please I mean: help, assist, accommodate, agree, etc) everyone makes me think that I’m letting people down. Therefore, since I am not constantly able to do all of those things I doubt my ability to then be able to accomplish God’s ultimate goal for my life. I try as hard as I can, as Paul says, “to be all things to all people” so as to draw them closer to the Lord. But my mind wants that Pauline lesson to be so literal that it starts to overtake my rational reasoning of what actually can and cannot be done. I am learning the hard way that I am human—one man—who can only do so much. Regardless of my cognitive understanding of my own limitations, the doubt not-so-subtly creeps in. A friend of mine always tells me, “If the devil can’t get you to do the wrong thing, he gets you to do too much of the right thing causing the same result.”

And that is the balance that I’m trying to find right now as I move forward in my life’s work—both in my writing as a ministry and my organization. I have only really become aware of, or should I say, been able to put a label on my weaknesses just recently. Therefore I have been intentionally working on them by learning how to set boundaries, and also learning how to say no. Both of those things are extremely hard for me to do. But none the less are the two things in my life right now that will greatly hinder me in building a sustainable life’s work without quickly burning out. And any buring out is not what I’m here to do—or be.

Much love.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A British take on Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving I was graced with a phone call from a great friend of mine: Wendy Beech-Ward. Wendy works for Spring Harvest, she knows absolutely everyone and she’s British! Cool side story—her husband was the band manager for Boy George and the Culture Club. Just adds to her coolness doesn’t it…

Anyway, as we were talking about the future and some exciting possibilities between The Marin Foundation and the UK based Spring Harvest and Soul Survivor, she said something I never thought about before:

“Why do American’s celebrate the day that we [British] found the country?”

She said that jokingly, but either way it was an hilarious satirical comment coming from a Brit to an American guy who needs to be culturally pushed. I’ve never, ever thought about Thanksgiving from a British perspective before.

We hijacked their holiday! What's up with that? :)

Regardless, I’m thankful none the less.

Much love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reflection of Writing a Book - Part 4

The editing process sucks. It was the worst thing I’ve had to do in a long, long time! Not only are all of your words, thoughts, experiences, insights and conclusions shredded by your editor, but then you have to somehow refocus on the broader task at hand and try to write it all again more succinctly to what makes clearer sense to the audience. My thought about that:

“I did write it clear to the audience the first time, you’re just not trying to understand what I’m saying.”

Wrong attitude. This just elongated my editing process, and it sure made it more painful.

I had no idea how to edit such a large piece of work. My editor’s suggestions were clear and I agreed with them for the most part, but I had the most difficult time trying to implement any of them because I knew in my head what he took out of the text. And for me in that moment, the only thing that made sense was the original full explanation of whatever I was talking about – not the diced up edited version. In my mind I couldn’t separate my original manuscript from the new edited version. It was too watered down; missing too much meat and substance. As I was going through the edits I kept thinking:

“But this would have made sense if you just kept it how I originally had it!”

Wrong attitude. This just elongated my editing process, and it sure made it more painful.

To seek help I called my editor, friends, family and other people I knew who have written books before. None of them seemed to be able to give me a piece of mind (not their fault, I just wasn’t able to receive any of their advice.) Then my ever intelligent uncle, Michael Dalton, spoke up in conjunction with a few others (mom, dad, wife), and they laid it down for me. They said that it’s my name that ultimately going to be on the book, and I better darn well be happy with every word no matter who says what about the content. “Start from scratch [from my original manuscript] and refine it how you see fit.”

It’s almost as if the huge gorilla sitting on my back jumped off and released me from the paralyzing burden of having to conform to “The Man’s Edits.” (sorry Dave ((he is my editor and he reads this)): it wasn’t you, it was me.) And from that point of realization I was free to take what Dave suggested and carve that into a new, sculpted, and way better version of my original manuscript.

Although I might have felt free, the book writing/editing process didn’t change from my original experience: it was still the most constricting project I’ve ever done. In two, 60-hour periods of time (that is 3 days a piece, or 6 days total, for those who don’t like math), I only slept 3 hours per 60 hours. The crazy part was that I wasn’t even tired! I was so engulfed and immersed, reliving each word and story as I did when I originally wrote them down, that time flew by. An hour seemed like a minute and a day seemed like an hour. But I busted my hump and worked hard; harder than I ever worked before. I thought writing a whole book in 7 weeks was rough … how about editing a whole book in 3? Ouch! And I have to deeply thank the folks who gave me their comments and feedback on the edits:

Peter Marin
Eric Leocadio
Dr. Becky Kuhn
Kristen Sifers
Tim Otto
Dr. Jim Coakley

Brian McLaren
and especially my main man Dave Zimmerman – it’s all good in the hood brotha!

It’s done. It’s totally and utterly done and I can’t wait for you all to read it. So here is my next lesson learned:

Editing sucks. It takes HUGE amounts of time and it needs to be treated with the same respect that was given to the writing process. I totally underestimated the severe levels of difficultly that editing brings.

Please don’t make the same mistake because your life will be terrible for significant periods of time. I hated my life because I hated the editing process. It was too daunting and too overwhelming to squeeze into short periods of time. But I learned and grew a ton; and totally and utterly confident and excited for every word that has become Love Is an Orientation. I do know this much though, I’ll never read another, or look at another book in the same fashion!

One more thought – none of what I said was to ever rip on InterVarsity Press. I love them. I love my editor. I can’t wait to do more with them. They are my family, for real! They made this whole process go as smooth as possible. My reflections are just the internal dialogue and battle I faced within myself throughout this journey. And I can’t wait to share that journey with you through the book.

Much love.