Friday, May 6, 2016

An Amazing Encounter

Over a decade ago I traveled to Washington DC to visit dear friends, Don and Bette Farrer. During the course of that visit, I was privileged to be introduced to Don's close friend Jerry Eisley. We shared a lunch at the National Gallery of Art. The entire time there created a lifelong memory. One that I revisit often. One that left me extremely thankful for making the trip as it was to be the last time spent with Don and Bette on this earth.

Sadly, both Don and Bette have passed away and the world is without two amazing people. But they have a tremendous legacy that lives on. It lives on in the relationships of the friends left behind on this earth. Don was a dear friend, through him I inherited another true friend, Jerry Eisely.

Albeit memorable, the encounter at the National Gallery was brief and was well before the days of the social networking capabilities that make it much easier to stay connected. Subsequently, that was to be the first and only encounter that I would have with Jerry. So I thought.

Fast forward to the year 2010 and I was working part of my time in DC. On more than one lonely night, I found myself wishing my dear friends Don and Bette were still there. I imagined the wonderful times that might be had visiting with them. However, there was one hope, locate our mutual friend Jerry. The great challenge was that I that my memory of Jerry included no particulars about where he lived in the DC area and not one clue or lead as to how to locate him. Furthermore, over 10 years had past. Jerry may not even live in the area.

After work one evening, I was invited by coworkers to attend a screening of a film on the subject of reconciliation within the country of Rwanda. I arrived at the synagogue, located my friends and settled in for a fascinating experience. In no way was I disappointed. The film was incredibly inspiring. Little did I know that the experience was not to end with the screening. Well over a couple hundred people in attendance were invited to the basement for refreshments.

Doing my best to engage people in conversation amidst the din of countless others voices, I gave up and retreated to the wall where I was standing by a table of drinks. Shortly after making my retreat, I was the recipient of the most gracious smile from a person. Although I did not know the individual, I felt as if I was looking into the eyes of a family member.  As I walked over and said, "Please forgive me but I feel as though we have met." She was kind but clearly there was no recognition. She said, "Maybe you know my husband. Jerry." In a split second my mind raced as I thought..."It's not possible, could this the "Jerry," my long lost acquaintance? In fact, it was!

I introduced myself to to him as a friend of Don Farrer's and reminded him that we had met many years ago. I said it would be a great treat to meet sometime and reminisce about our friend who had past years ago. He agreed. I gave him my card in hopes that he might contact me again.

Later that night, I was gripped with the thought that he might lose the card and with it the chance to reconnect with this great man. I was kicking myself for not getting his information. Just before closing my eyes for sleep that night, a text came in. It was Jerry. Contact!

Since that happy and serendipitous reunion, we have shared many memories of Don, shared meals at a favorite Mexican restaurant near the National Cathedral and enjoyed a walk through the Bishop's Garden.

I am stunned and amazed how God orchestrates our lives. Coincidence? I think not. I don't believe this world spins by randomness. My journey as been arduous and difficult these past few years. Yet, amidst it all God has offered the most amazing moments to remind me that He's there. He gives encounters that sustain and lift our spirits.

My friend Jerry is a wonderful human being who is navigating difficult days as his wife, Twila walks a path that has seen health matters steal away precious moments from their life here on earth. Their life together demonstrates to me how precious time and friendships are. I am grateful to God for a reminder to live with a sense of sober wonder. Taking each day as a potential for an amazing encounter.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

God in the dark.

We all have walked through darkness in our lives. Moments where we knew uninvited difficulties had arrived. The knowing that the unimaginable could not be circumvented and that it must be endured. In the midst of those times, it is tempting to doubt that God is there. He is.

I recently gave a talk on the realities of Human Trafficking. To prepare, I tried to imagine what it was like to be a small child being abused by an adult. Not just once but repeatedly. I simply do not have words to describe what it must be like.

The thought of being forsaken, where there is simply no cry for help being heeded leaves only the dullest of aches in my heart. I am certain it is what Christ endured on the cross. I know he identifies with all who are in darkness and whose cries fade into echoes and blackness.

I do not have a tidy or articulate word to offer. Save that God is with each of us. Even the child described previously. I do not understand it. But I know He is there.

The song "O Blessed Child" is one I came to learn recently. It without question captures the essence of what I am attempting to say. I'll leave this open ended and only offer you the chance to listen and contemplate. Let God assure you...He is with you always. He is with every forsaken little one on our planet.

Listen to "O Blessed Child" and rest your heart and let us pray for each other and the children.

God's grace,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I guess there is some science as to why birds sing. Smart people study things like this. Apparently in the spring and in the morning it can be a way for the male to attract a mate or tell other birdbrains "this is my territory." I am going to choose to express my subjective, non-scientific reason. Birds sing because God made them to. And going way out on a limb here, I choose to believe God knew that humans would find joy in the sounds of a birdsong. Hence, finding encouragement.

As a musician, I sure understand how circumstances can steal a tune from the heart. There have been times when I wanted to "hang it up" and not play or sing. I think of a time in the bible when God's people were in captivity. They sat down by a river and wept and hung up their harps. They surrendered their songs to discouragement (Psalm 137). Man! I have been there!

Amidst a torrent of the unwelcome and unexpected, this musician has stopped singing. This morning before sunrise, I walked in DC and was greeted and treated to the sounds of birdsongs coming from freshly bloomed dogwood trees. I felt hope. I felt jealous. I have always admired birds for their carefree, "I am singing even if you are having a bad life" attitude! Even wrote a song about it called "Outta Here."

Time to take the harp off the wall and join these feathery band mates in the singing...and never stop. I think it's what you and I were made to do.

tweet, tweet!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

wisdom from a 10 year old.

I wish I could say I wrote what is contained herein but I did not. It was our 10 year old (at the time) son writing to his mother just prior to her surgery to defeat breast cancer (nearly 10 months ago). I also wish I could tell you that I was as steadfast as he was. There was no small amount of apprehension on my part surrounding everything. When Lori passed this note onto me, I was struck. Struck at how jaded I had become. My shield of faith was missing. Not the shield's fault but mine for not raising it. The words of this young boy went off like a shot in my heart. He was absolutely correct! The situations in life are mere bumps in the road. God is GREATER. GREATER. May we all have a rock solid assurance in our God.

This is an excerpt of his email, exactly as it came to Lori. May you be upheld by its simple truth. ~john

IT JUST TAKES FAITH AND COURAGE, PRAYER AND NO FEAR. FEAR IS WHAT MAKES YOU WEAK IT MAKES YOU NEGATIVE THATS NOT WHAT GOD WANTS. This situation is nothing but a bump in the ground and another step of faith in life that you WILL GET THROUGH!!!!!!

~jonathan david allison, age 10.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I have been asking myself, "Would I follow Jesus if it cost me everything?"

I'd like to think I would answer, "yes." But after a year of feeling some major discomfort and loss, I know that I am not eager to lose "it" all. I think that "it" is everything we have made of our lives in America.

For the record, my humanity doesn't want to be bothered. I want a comfortable, blessed, every weekend free, air-conditioned and new car life. Major problem, it doesn't seem to be going that way! Wait, is it really a problem or just a conflict of interest? Maybe I am not supposed to want so much from this life. But honestly, I do.

However, I am suspicious that the more intently I follow Christ, the more distant my affections grow towards the things of our culture and world. I have a decision to make. Do I want to follow Jesus? I mean really follow.

If my answer is truly, "yes" than I must be prepared. Jesus may ask me to do things that have little to do with my personal happiness and comfort. In fact, I am quite certain He will invite me to walk on the water and risk everything.

This month I embarked on a new mission, to serve as a member of staff of World Hope International. By definition, my job will require that I think far beyond my comfort zones and look into the eyes of those I have only the fact we are human as a common denominator. I have never known the level of poverty of those we serve. It feels uncomfortable. I have no other way to express it. It costs.

I'd invite you to visit and see if you might find a way to join me on this new journey.

many thanks,

Saturday, June 5, 2010