This story or poem or prayer–whatever it is–was something I wrote down in my journal last June (6/19). I happened to stumble across it again the other day while browsing, looking for something helpful for my soul. (I’ve found this to be a helpful practice — to go back and read thoughts, prayers, and questions, hoping for answers.)

Reading the words again was encouraging — although saying “again” doesn’t really describe it — I had completely forgotten them. I’d lose so many encouraging thoughts if not for writing some of them down. And as I read, I almost started to get discouraged. Until, that is, I began to notice how my journal looks so much like a spiral staircase.

I often feel like I just walk in circles — revisiting the same old issues, struggles, hopes and dreams: partial. Unfinished. Unfulfilled. Re-reading from my journal awakened me again — reminded me I’m farther along in my journey than I might think. I think this truth could be said of us all. The scenery of our journey may look familiar, repetitive, unchanged, but if we believe only with our eyes we’d be wrong. As we ascend our spiral stairway, our perspective is changing. We are deepening. Growing. Rising. Becoming. Learning more and more to enjoy the view. This was a helpful revelation.

So, I thought you might enjoy reading this snippet from my journal. Maybe it will help give you perspective as you’re seeking to become who you are.

I see. I look up. I climb on rocks for a better view. I even jumped — once or twice — hoping I’d fly. For a moment I did. I spread my wings courageously. And I tumbled. Caught by a gust of wind. I tangled in someone’s kite string. Or maybe driven down by a bigger bird. Yes, I’ve tried, but I’ve never stayed up long. Long enough to get a taste though. Long enough to stir my desire. Long enough to know it’s true. And some days, long enough to even believe I can.

But other days… Other days I hate that I even tried it in the first place. Days when I can’t get it. When I can’t keep up. When I compare myself to others – jealous of their grace, envious even. And I loathe the partial gift I’ve been given — the taste that wets my lips but never satisfies my thirst. Wishing my wings away — praying for shoes for my feet instead. And never released from the guilt I feel for squandering my time in unbelief. Wandering. Wandering.

I climbed up on a rock again yesterday. I braved the fear. I braved the knowing how far down I might fall. Not the height, but the dream, the taste, to stir again the hope not knowing if… If… What if? What if I can’t? What if I fail? What if I fall? What if I get lost?

But up I climbed.

What if…? What if today is different? What if. What if. What if. What if I’m enough? What if I can? What if it is a beginning? What if I see my path from the new view?

What if someone helps me? What if they see, and smile? What if they see and join me? What if they fly because my “what if” shows them how? What if I find out I am a bird after all?!

Oh God, help me climb higher. Help me to not slip. Give me the courage to do it. Again. Again. Again. Keep hope alive.

It’s time. Time to try again.

I can feel the urge to give up, like a collar and chain staked to the ground.

“It won’t work!”, a voice shouts. “It won’t work!”, again. “It won’t matter.” “You won’t matter”, it says now calmly, resolutely, with finality. Settled.

“Don’t listen”, another voice says!

“I can show you how. You’re not alone”, it says.

“Try again”

“Try again”

As an exclamation point to my entry above — I just had to post the following quote. I happened upon this recently and it fits so beautifully with my journal entry.

There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

― Erin Hanson

May we all find the courage to dream “What if…” and ‘try again’.

— Mark

It’s Better Up-Close


My wife and I went to see Steven Curtis Chapman (SCC) in concert last night. It was one of those unique solo performances, just him, three guitars, and a piano on stage. Intimate. Providing space for him to tell stories and interact with the audience.  I love this format.

We heard he was coming to town just when my birthday was approaching, and so we bought tickets right away as a birthday present. We scored really good seats. Tenth row, center. It reminded us of the last time we’d seen him. It was years ago in Los Angeles, CA at The Greek Theater, great outdoor venue. And almost the exact same seat location.

Weeks past and the date of the concert finally arrived. The day before, our daughter-in-law mentioned she had two tickets to give away. We immediately thought of two close friends and in no time we had made plans to go together. When we arrived at the auditorium we each set out to find our seats. The concert started and it was amazing. We were close enough to see everything.


Finding Time to Reboot

My wife just told me I’m being really negative lately. What?! I don’t see it. At least, I hadn’t seen it until she pointed it out. All along I was just being practical, informational, helpful even, or so I thought. But, she’s right. Lately, I haven’t seen the world as a happy, hopeful place. I’ve sort of lost the ability to dream and hope and believe into the future. I’ve become “realistic”, concrete, and short-sighted — negative. It’s like I can only see two feet in front of me. The rest is a blur. So, I’ve reacted with this cautious, controlling, less hopeful approach. It’s not how I want to live.

This isn’t an excuse, but I just feel so busy. (I know, who doesn’t feel busy these days, am I right?!) I don’t feel like I have time to process. It’s weird, because I have spare minutes. I watch TV. I listen to podcasts. I sleep 7 hours each night. But, something is going on. Calling myself “busy” doesn’t really describe it. We’re all ‘busy’, but we’re not all ‘negative’. Maybe another word fits — words like Distracted. Anxious. Cluttered. Hurried. Yup.

This is deeper than just my busy calendar. My mind is cluttered. And deeper still, my heart is distracted, disengaged. My life is crammed with unfinished “to do” lists and projects, unmet goals, unsolved problems, unfulfilled expectations, unresolved relationship issues – the list seems endless. My wife feels the effect. Heck, I feel the effect. I’m missing out on important things. I’m half present. I’m half listening. I’m scattered in twenty different places. Everyone and everything gets only a piece of me.

My wife’s words were like a glass of cold water to the face. I needed it. Awareness and acknowledgement are powerful friends, if only I’m willing take the time to know them. And like any relationship, I must put time aside for them.

I should have recognized the signs sooner. In my last job, I was a computer ‘fix-it’ guy. People would come to me saying, “My computer isn’t working right! It’s running really slow. Things are crashing.” And my job was to find the answer and fix it. Most of the time the solution was actually pretty simple, and I’d ask, “When is the last time you rebooted?

A Metaphor for Life.


A Life-changing Approach to Information Overload

Quote-symbol-2“What a curious power words have.”

— Tadeusz Borowski.


Quotes. Those little snippets of thought we see pasted at the bottom of emails or as clever memes on social media or as instructive posters hanging on the wall at work.

Click to enlarge

Sometimes funny. Sometimes inspiring. Sometimes clever. They can become white-noise, elevator music to our consciousness. But, if we’ll tune in, I believe Quotes hold a tremendous power most of us fail to tap in to.

I’ll say it right off — I love quotes. (This is a photo of my office wall at work — full of quotes, thoughts, quips, and reminders of what is true.) Continue reading “A Life-changing Approach to Information Overload”

Fruit And Mirrors (The Benefits of Checking Your Blind-Spots)

It happened again. It was a beautiful, sunny, perfect day. I was relaxed and at rest on the couch and having a conversation with a great friend. And it happened… again.

The conversation that morning began light and fun. But it took a subtle turn as the conversation drifted into deeper water (difficult issues about life and struggles and people). I began drifting into an all too familiar self-righteousness, a “Holier than thou” way of thinking.

You’ve seen this happen… some people make it sound better, calling it a “soapbox”. It usually occurs when someone feels like they have a certain thing “figured out”, nailed, are living it well, and so they begin to “tell it like it is.” Unaware, intentionally or not, they begin to look down on and minimize those who don’t have it figured out, who aren’t living it as well, who aren’t doing it ‘right’.

I get like this sometimes. I boil down complex issues to a single sentence, a simple tip, technique, or bit of advice.If they had only done x, y, and z. this wouldn’t have happened!”  “Don’t they know the bible says xyz about that?!” “They are just messed up.”  “They brought it upon themselves!”  “All you gotta do is…”  And on it goes.

I might have gone along unaware of myself and my impact, until when, with feet planted firmly on my soapbox from which I’m expertly diagnosing and solving yet another of the world’s problems, I’m stopped dead in my tracks — utterly halted by a simple, loving act.

A Mirror.  My friend held up a mirror. And in it I saw a glimpse of the fruit that is my life.

My life wasn’t bearing the fruit I hoped it would. Continue reading “Fruit And Mirrors (The Benefits of Checking Your Blind-Spots)”

How to Survive Holiday Parties, Family, and Large Gatherings

blahblahblahThe holidays are upon us (again). And this means parties, get-togethers, and family gatherings. So, it got me thinking about both the joy and the misery we feel when it comes to gathering together with others.  For those “social butterflies” reading this, you will read my words and think “Duh” and wonder why any of this needs to be said — for you, read this as a sort of refresher and pick up an idea or two for your social toolbox.

For the rest of us non-social-savants, I’ll offer some really practical thoughts & ideas to give us encouragement and confidence Continue reading “How to Survive Holiday Parties, Family, and Large Gatherings”

Something Is Sucking The Awesomeness Out Of Your Life

Let’s be honest — we skim our way through life. There seems to be no way around it. We are inundated with information. Our email boxes are overflowing. There are more TV programs than we could watch in a lifetime. There are more cooking shows offering recipes on more meals than we could cook in a 100 years. Our Kindle offers page after page of new reading material. Yes, we are overrun by information.  Even our relationships can feel this way, there is always something to do, always someone that needs something.  It is one of the most exciting eras ever known to humankind.

So how do we make it work? We skim.

And this in and of itself isn’t a bad thing — in fact, I believe it is a critical skill. But, this powerful technique must not be applied haphazardly – it can be catastrophic if not harnessed!


I’ve begun to pay attention to this skimming process as it occurs all around me. I’ve noticed how often we skim our favorite TV programs using the “30-second skip-ahead button”. I’ve begun to notice how I skim articles in magazines. I “browse” the internet (a clever word for “skimming”). I’m catching myself skim books for nuggets of information. I listen to my Podcasts at 1.5x speed. What a rush! I have to admit, my skimming techniques do seem to help me feel more productive. Much like driving 10 mph above the speed limit helps me feel like I’m saving tons of time in my drive to work. Continue reading “Something Is Sucking The Awesomeness Out Of Your Life”

Father’s Day. What a Dilemma!

I have a treat for you today. A dear friend offered me a chance to post her thoughts online. I hope you enjoy her insights as much as I did. (Thanks Clara!)


June was Father’s Day month.  Some people don’t get very excited about it.  They spend most of Saturday trying to find a Father’s Day card that isn’t too mushy cause they have never been close.  Or finding one that doesn’t lie:  “To the most wonderful dad in the world!” or “Thank you for always being there for me.”  It’s hard if your dad met few of the real needs of your heart.  How can you give Continue reading “Father’s Day. What a Dilemma!”

3 Eternal Truths (Truth #3 – You have a crucial role to play )

In the last couple of posts, I’ve been sharing some thoughts about “3 eternal truths” of which a friend of mine reminded me.  Truth #1: Things are not what they seem,  and Truth #2: You were born into a world at war. These truths are a sort of “lens” through which he might see the world, a way to help orient us in our journey.

Today I’m sharing the third truth. I hope it brings you courage, strength, clarity, and hope for your journey.

Truth #3:  You have a crucial role to play

In this larger story in which we live, it would be a deadly mistake to discount the truth of this statement. Continue reading “3 Eternal Truths (Truth #3 – You have a crucial role to play )”

3 Eternal Truths (Truth #2 – You were born into a world at war)

I was talking with some buddies the other day about one of them is inviting his son into the “larger story” by passing along to him “3 eternal truths”.  I wrote last time about “Truth #1 – Things are not what they seem“.  Today I’m offering some thoughts on Truth #2 — You were born into a world at war.

Truth #2:  You were born into a world at war

We can look around and see just how true this is. Continue reading “3 Eternal Truths (Truth #2 – You were born into a world at war)”

3 Eternal Truths (Truth #1 – Things are not what they seem)

I was talking with some buddies the other day about one of their sons (he’s on the doorstep of entering his teen years.)  My friend said he wanted to invite his son into the “larger story”. And so, (among other thoughts) he passed along to him “3 eternal truths”. He shared these truths with his son as a sort of “lens” through which he might see the world.  These truths will Continue reading “3 Eternal Truths (Truth #1 – Things are not what they seem)”

What does it mean to “Rescue The Beauty”?

titanic_jack_and_roseMy friends and I recently returned from hosting our 4th LIFEQUESTweekend event. (I’ve posted previously about these events.) We love doing these events and hope they change lives, mine included!  As any person who takes on the role of a “guide” or “teacher” or “public speaker” will tell you, what we’re really offering is our lives. So, it’s not just about mastering the material, it’s about living it, letting it have it’s affect on you.

It’s one of the things I’ve come to enjoy about these events, with all the preparation and planning, etc., it’s the impact “the message” has on my own life. This time was no exception. I don’t want to just learn the words, I want to learn how to really live.

So, this year I did something really risky — I asked my wife to “give it to me straight” about one of the main topics we cover in our weekend event. I asked my wife to tell me, “What does it mean to ‘Rescue The Beauty’?”   And more specifically, what does it look like, feel like, sound like for me to rescue YOU?

I had no idea what she might write.  I didn’t want it to just be something Continue reading “What does it mean to “Rescue The Beauty”?”

One Last Letter for Christmas (A Short Story)

If you’ve followed my blog recently and read my previous postings “Bringing Our Unique Self to the Surface” and “A Powerful Grip” you’ll know from where this next story comes. Let me say right off, the LoveGodLovePeopleLiveFree.com blog is not really a “short story” forum. It is about finding life and freedom by living out our stories, our hopes and dreams, our faith, in genuine and unfolding ways. So, I’m posting these couple of stories because they are part of my journey to find my calling, my passions, my purpose. I hope they inspire you to step into whatever stirs your heart.


One Last Letter for Christmas

A Short Story by Mark Wager
Atop a small hill in a not so far away place stands an old house. Picture in your mind an English country mansion, not that it is English or a true mansion for that matter, but whatever it is (or was) it stands large and majestic, tall and proud and generous with its brick and stone and timber. The house has a dozen windows facing a large lawn with trees and flowers and stonework. And on the other side are a dozen more windows facing a large courtyard. The courtyard hasn’t seen any use for years. Back in the early days it was a magnificent place full of life and laughter and play. Grand parties and social functions were common. It was, at its core, a gathering place. Oh, how we need our gathering places.
In recent years the house has fallen into a state of disrepair. The windows through which once flowed sunlight, and from every indication, life itself, now seem dull and cloudy. The blinds on many rooms are drawn, not opened in years.  The setting out front, however, rests in stark contrast to the inside. While the inside of the house has grown dark and worn and aged, the front lawn is a work of perfection. Cleanly cut grass. Rows of beautifully arranged flowers of all colors and sizes. Shrubs neatly manicured and shaped in whimsical, almost playful designs are planted in each corner of the property. It is not uncommon to see Mr. Lynch, the house’s owner, out front working on his landscaping. It seems a bit peculiar as I consider it, that for all the times I’ve seen Mr. Lynch outside, neat and polite, I’ve never seen anyone go inside the house. In fact, as I think back, I’ve never seen or heard of anyone being allowed to even approach the house itself, save for one man.

Each week, at the same time of day, a man would stop by the old house. His routine, and his intentions, were the same every day. And yet for all his desire and persistence he could never get himself to knock on the front door. Each time was the same. In his hand he carried a small white envelope. It was stamped and addressed, hand-written in pen and in clear print, thoughtful and deliberate. The letter could have been mailed, but as intention seemed to predominate, he held the envelope tightly in his hand and delivered it in anonymous fashion.

The man, as the story was told to me, lived on the other side of town. He had for years. CLICK TO KEEP READING THE REST OF THE STORY…


How to Build Better Relationships (Holiday Edition)

How to Build Better Relationships (Holiday Edition)

The holidays are upon us. And this means parties, get-togethers, and family gatherings. So, it got me thinking about both the joy and the misery we feel when it comes to gathering together with others.  For those “social butterflies” reading this, you will read my words and think “Duh” and wonder why any of this needs to be said — read this as a sort of refresher and pick up an idea or two for your social toolbox.

For the rest of us non-social-savants, I offer my thoughts & ideas to give hope and encouragement in what we are about to encounter.  And for us all, I hope my words offer a really practical means of deepening our existing relationships, building new ones, and removing obstacles to joy in the rest.

I’ve learned this about relationships and parties/gatherings Continue reading “How to Build Better Relationships (Holiday Edition)”

A Powerful Grip (A Short Story)

I recently wrote my first ever fictional “Short Story”. I’d have to say it came from out-of-the-blue and ends up being a highlight of my year. On my last post (Bringing our Unique Self to the Surface) I blogged about the story behind the story. This time I thought I’d post the story itself for those who may have missed it. I hope you enjoy it. (The story begins below)

~ Mark

A Thought: The ultimate failure of humanity is arrogance.

It was the end of another long, hot day at work. Frank was relieved to finally be making his way out of the factory. He took his usual path out, making his way through the maze of halls and stairwells, past the offices (the “brains” of the operation as those inside were known to have refer to themselves), and toward the huge bay doors that would ultimately find him his way outside, to freedom. In almost every regard, it was a day like any other day. That is, until the incident.

The factory was busy today. The usually order, at least it was thought to be order, or more like orchestrated chaos, the usual order of the factory moving huge wind farm turbine blades by crane, it is almost a ballet. It was a dance like any other day until by mere coincidence the chain reaction was set in motion. No one knows exactly how it got started, but today the rhythm of the cranes as they moved and slung their suspended cargo from here to there, changed. It began with an operator on the 3rd line. An oscillation really, nothing that appeared jarring or abrupt, but a simple over-compensation was made. And it began a slow-moving swinging movement that was to be the end of Frank’s life as he knew it.

Frank was making his way to the 3rd bay door. Large doors, maybe 100ft tall. He could see the light of day, he could almost feel the warmth of the sun on his face. Then as he was about to take his final liberating step out of the large open door he noticed the swinging – it was out of control. Not that Frank could do anything about this, normally. He was, after all a maintenance worker. Powerless in almost every sense of the word. But, today something shifted. As he watched the unraveling begin, he sensed something… THE STORY CONTINUES – Click to view the rest of the story.

Or, Click HERE for an AUDIO version of the story read by myself.


Trusting that it’s true for us, too…

I was just pondering a recent podcast I subscribe to.  It drew me to review a story in the Bible about a man forgiven his huge debt. Then, rather than returning the favor and showing mercy to those who owed him, he instead went out and ransacked a guy that owed him pennies. * ($100,000 vs $10.)  It got me thinking… what would cause a man who had just been forgiven so much do something so unmerciful to another.  And, then it hit me.  Not accepting it for himself.  He didn’t really believe it was true.  He most likely doubted the heart of the guy toward him…. that he would “probably end up coming back to get the money from him someday.”  And, so, in a panic, he tried to gather his outstanding debt so he’d be prepared to pay him back when the guy came asking for it.  He had missed the entire thing… he missed the grace and mercy of the man’s act of forgiving the debt.

Then, it hit me.  We do the very same thing.

Continue reading “Trusting that it’s true for us, too…”

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

Wandering in the DesertIt’s  been quiet around the blog lately… I’ve been thinking… wondering… considering my life… my direction… my motives… and wandering a bit.  If you are anything like me, life can feel complicated and overwhelming at times. And so it feels easier to reduce life down to things I feel I can control… “productivity”, “activity”, “moving forward”, these are the signs of an “effective” life. Or so our culture would have us believe. And, I have to admit, I get sucked in by it… I even find myself feeling guilty for any prolonged periods of downtime. It starts to feel like a waste of time. And don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of times that we need to be productive and active and effective. We have jobs that need to get done. But, when I consider the deeper things of life, these words (productive, active, effective, etc) seem to lose their power over me. I somehow can’t picture Jesus using words like these. I mean, can you picture Jesus saying, “Hi, how’s your productivity looking? Meeting your quotas? You need to be proactive and grab that bull by the horns…” Ick!  Consider J.R.R.Tolkien’s words:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;

In the greater scheme of things we must begin to move away from our activity-centric mindsets and create some space to allow God to speak.   Continue reading “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost”

Passion and Reason

Heart and MindI’ve been thinking again lately about “Desire”. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about “Passion” and “Reason”… said another way, heart vs mind.  And, a conversation I had recently got me thinking — I had a moment of clarity! (Don’t you love when that happens?! Those moments when everything else blurs into the background and you see something with utter clarity.) In this moment, a crisp, crystal clear thought came to my mind. (Hopefully you’ll catch my drift as I translate it to pen & paper.)

This is what came to me…. Continue reading “Passion and Reason”

Big Screen TVs and the Difference between Publicity and Preference

Have you ever stopped to notice the big screen TVs hanging on the walls of stores or banks or businesses or churches?  You can hardly miss them these days — each screen subtly yet conspicuously promoting a message.

Well, Andrea and I visited a church recently (we like to visit different places to see what God is up to in our city)…  There were the usual things you’d expect in a 21st Century “culturally relevant” American church… Continue reading “Big Screen TVs and the Difference between Publicity and Preference”

Enjoy the surf!

A blogger I follow posted a comment about this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c6uM950uFY&feature=youtu.be *  It was given with this simple reminder — “Enjoy the surf!” — and with this simple instruction — “Pause and listen to how God may speak to you through it.

To be honest, I had to watch this twice. The first time my focus was too technical (admiring camera angles, vignetting lenses, b&w contrasts, how’s he driving?, nice truck, etc)… I was distracted, amazed even, but distracted none the less. Continue reading “Enjoy the surf!”