Reading Nemo III: Fearful Symmetry

Nemo_eggs “Do you…?”


“Do you still want to talk about Finding Nemo?”

“I…aren’t you working?”

“I need a break from this essay.  Please.  I’m begging you.”

“I’ll give you five minutes.  What were we talking about?”

“The ending.”

“Yeah.  What happens in the last scene?”

“Not much.  Nemo hugs his dad and goes to school.  But the scene before it has some really cool bookending.”


“Yeah, like, symmetry.  What happens at the end reminds you of the beginning.”

“Like how Forrest Gump begins and ends with that floating feather?”

 forrest_feather_1 forrestfeather2

Mmmm, hear that piano.


“Yeah, or how the beginning and ending scenes of O Brother Where Art Thou are both in black and white.”

“Never saw it.”

“You need to.”

“Sigh.  What happens in Nemo?”

“They rescue Dory and the tuna.”

“Right.  Just keep swimming…” nemo_net_dory



“But how is that bookending?”

“Because the tuna aren’t really individual characters.  They’re a faceless mob.”




“When’s the last time we saw a tight-packed crowd with its life in danger?”



“The eggs?  Why is that significant?”

“Because the movie’s all about trust. The last time Marlin trusted anything, he lost everything.”

“Everything but Nemo.”

“Right.  And since then, he’s been super-protective.”

“Can’t blame him.”

“But Dory taught him the necessity of trust and riskthrough their journeys together.”

“So, now…?”

“Now, Marlin has a choice: he can let the tuna die, or risk his only son.”

marlin nemo net

“I am not gonna lose you again!”


“So he trusts Nemo, and Nemo saves the tuna.”

“Giving narrative balance to the death of the eggs from the beginning.”

“Wait a second.”


“First, trust kills.  Then, it saves.”

“Sort of.”

“So, what’s the point?”

“The point of what?”

“Why did Marlin have to learn trust? Could this lesson have saved his family?”


“So what’s the point of this movie?!  To teach kids that life is nasty, brutish, and short?!”



“Life is nasty, brutish, and filled with sharks, if you’re a clownfish.”


“Sort-of-not-really.  Marlin never learns why bad things happen; he only learns how to live in light of them.  Loving, growing, being brave.  It’s part of the deal.”


“There’s a lot of theology here, actually.  The Bible says a lot more about what to do when we suffer than on why we suffer.  Seeking Him in all things, and all that.”

“Aaaaand…seven minutes.  Are you going to write your essay now?”

“No.  Let’s do dinner.  What’s in the caf tonight?”

“Tuna salad.”

“…dang it.  Chick-fil-A?”


nemo hug

 This image encapsulates my goals as a blogger.


Note: This (in all likelihood) concludes my highly informal analysis of Nemo.  If you like stuff like this, one source I really recommend  is TV Tropes.  I use this site all the time to double-check if my terms.  It’s goofy, addictive, and even has stuff on the Smurfs.  Enjoy.  



5 Reasons Why the Church Should Embrace Science

bebraveI apologize for my insightful absence here. I could blame the summer schedule but it has more to do with transition and about my son being named “Prince William County Fugitive of the Week.” I’m not yet ready to talk about that here but your prayers sure are appreciated.

So as a distraction I’m linking this great Relevant article. I do this because this is some brave Wild Frontier thinking that I love (though I wish it wasn’t so brave) and because one of my favorite teens in my 34 years of youth ministry is certainly going to be a man of great science as well as a man of faith. I am one of his biggest cheerleaders as he studies things I do not care to even try to understand. I just know from the bottom of my soul that Ian is a man of science destiny to the glory of God.

By the way, Ian is the brother of our blogger Dauntlessly Cautious. I’m so honored to be a part of this family!!

I also have a brother who holds a doctorate in meteorology.  Another man of science I love.

Go science! Go God! Go together because God is the creator of science and it reflects Him in every bit of it.

And with all that is going on, it is good to know that God holds all things in the palm of his hands and science leads us to proving this over and over again.


Be brave.


New Dating Rule – You Cannot Have a Girlfriend if You Don’t Pack Underwear for Camp

Summer campbebraves are done for me. I love this part of my life so this is always a sleepy (I may be the oldest camp speaker out there!) and sad time of transition for me.

My camp theme for this summer was received well—very well by some of the faces I saw as I taught and faces I saw as we talked. May these wonderful teens not contort Jesus into something false just to make sense of a temporary situation and may these wonderful teens not contort themselves to find love—often a temporary love.

During a staff meeting at one camp I was given brief overviews of the campers. One cabin staff of young teen boys said that only one of the boys in the cabin mentioned having a girlfriend. The rest of the boys seemed to still be at that awkward yet wonderful boys stage. But it was this same boy who also opened up his suitcase to unpack and to his horror realized he forgot to pack underwear for the week. So we made a new rule for dating: You cannot have a girlfriend if you don’t pack underwear for camp.

This rule could “teach” in so many ways.



crazywriterTaxes, leather briefcase, slurping coffee grounds out of a faded travel mug. Bitchy bosses and long meetings. Cubicles. A framed picture of the family propped up next to a bowl of peppermints. Working 12-hour days and coming home grumpy. Trying to remember anniversaries. Signing forms, paying bills, waiting for Friday to come around. Armchair with food crumbs and Kool-Aid stains. Listening to screeching violin practicing after an annoying day at the office. Trying to get on the treadmill every once in a while. Weight Watchers frozen dinners. Reluctantly giving up a few minutes of peace and quiet for a neighborhood barbecue.

Minivan with a “I love my honor student” bumper sticker, corny “Parent MVP” tee shirt from the middle daughter’s elementary school band fundraiser. PTA meetings, community bake sales, watching the little one’s painfully terrible soccer games. Helping the oldest settle into his first day of middle school. Getting concerned calls from English teachers–”your son’s poetry was distressing.” Cooking soupy casseroles, staying up late finishing laundry, phone ringing constantly. Homeowner’s association, chit-chat with the neighbors. Mopping up vomit, trips to the doctor, band-aids, tissues, cough syrup.



Reading Nemo II: Sharks and Shakespeare

Crazy Scotty“So….”
Finding Nemo.”
“It’s a great movie.”
“I thought you wrote about it already.”
“There’s more to say. I’m thinking about writing a tetralogy.”
“A what-now?”
“A four-part series. Like Shakespeare’s King Henry plays.”
“Don’t do that.”
“So what do I do?”
“Sigh. Okay, what do you want to write about?”
“Did you just say the word ‘sigh’?”
“Tell me about your stupid fish. I have to get to class soon.”
“Well, we talked about the theme of trust already.”
“Marlin thinks that being controlling and overprotective will preserve what he has, but it actually drives his son to rebellion.”

He touched the butt.

He touched the butt.

“Heh, yeah. The butt scene.”

But then there’s the theme of baptism.”

“Yeah. See, in fiction, when a character gets submerged and comes back up, it’s usually symbolic of them starting a new life.”

lit book

Again, I blame this book.

“But it’s a fish movie. They’re all underwater.”

“Right, so the whole thing’s inverted. When Nemo’s taken from the water, his life begins anew in the orthodontist’s office.”

Honey, your dad's still probably at the pet store.

Honey, your dad’s still probably at the pet store.

Continue reading


Would I Give It Up?

crazywriterHow much would I give up in order to glorify God?

This is the question I’ve been wondering about. All throughout the summer, I will be destroying my comfort zone. No, not just leaving it–but destroying it. If I am at the bank of a creek, and these next few months are about using stepping stones to get across, the stepping stones are becoming smaller and further apart. I fear I will fall in.

It started with VBS. Working directly with children. That was uncomfortable, but I did it. I got through one week, and I will get through the others. I’m not terrible with kids, as I previously thought. I gave up some of my comfort to help glorify God. Next is camp. I’ll be working at an overnight camp in August. That’s unnerving for me. I won’t have the luxury of my own bed after a long day like I can have after the few hours I work at VBS.

Finally, the mission trip. I’ll be departing on Sunday for five days. I might just bag out on this one. I’ll be so out of my element that I’m not sure I’ll be able to take it. Why:
First off, none of my closest friends were able to come. Even within my own youth group, I’ll be with people I don’t know as well. In addition, we’ll be working with other youth groups. That’s not something I’ve done on the previous four times I’ve been on a mission trip. We’re even going to a completely different place this time–so I’m completely clueless! Even worse, we’ll have to be sharing quarters with other youth groups because of space. There will be no AC. We have to bring bathing suits, because the showers won’t have stalls. All of this combined is terribly overwhelming for me. I feel like I’ll be lost. Less familiarity. Fewer amenities. Less privacy.

Allow me to go on a tangent. My privacy is actually important to me. People closest to me tend to overlook this. Because around my most cherished friends, I’m exuberant. Lively, talkative, full of ideas. I guess they assume I’m always like that. But what they don’t understand is that after being with them, I can go home and sit on the corner of my couch with my computer. What they don’t understand is that being with them is the exception to the rule. I’m not exuberant around those not close to me. I’m not “illumined” by those not close to me. On this trip, I’m going to be surrounded by new people, new places, and new tasks. I’ll need my space to get away from it all, especially in such a scary and exhausting situation, but I don’t think I can get that there. Continue reading


Pondering the Selfie Stick

bebraveThe selfie stick gives us yet another reason to remove ourselves from people-to-people contact. Now we don’t have to ask that stranger to take that photo of us.


We have never before been so socially-exposed without having contact with real people.


God Using People to Heal People is Plan A

bebraveApologies upfront. I have no idea which book I copied this excerpt from. I know I’ve had it for several years as something I read in a quiet time from time-to-time. It is such an upside-down Wild Frontier thought that is eye-opening.

“One day, sometime later and after going into counseling myself, I realized my depression and my feelings of emptiness were gone. I actually felt good about life and about me. As I examined my feelings, I discovered I was both happy and disappointed. God had changed my life. My life had taken a 180-degree turn. But God had not healed me when I had sought healing. He had no supernaturally ‘zapped’ me. God’s supernatural zapping seemed like Plan A to me. As I talked about this disappointment, people told me the same thing over and over again: ‘But God uses people too.’

“I hated hearing that phrase. I had wanted God to touch my depression instantaneously and heal me. Instead, he used people to help me. I came to call this God’s Plan B. I thought that when God supernaturally intervened and healed, it was Plan A. And this was true spiritual healing. When God used people to heal, it was the ‘inferior,’ although effective, Plan B. I accepted that I was one of those people who got Plan B. So there I was, grateful and somewhat disappointed at my grade B healing. It was good, but felt more like sitting in the bleachers than in the box seats.

“Then, one day I made a discovery in Scripture that changed my way of viewing Plan B: ‘From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’ (Ephesians 4:16)

“I could not believe it. I read the verse again. Not only was it true that ‘God uses people too,’ but this was not Plan B or second rate at all! In fact, people helping people was Plan A! The Bible said so. Not only that, but it was not just people doing it. It was God himself! God was working directly through people when they were helping me. So Plan B was the original Plan A after all.”

God’s plan is to use people for healings—every kind of healing. God’s plan for us has always been for it to be through the Church and the people who make up the Church. I find such people in my church, specifically that small group I’ve chosen to be vulnerable with. These people walk with me through everything—whether it is emotional, spiritual or even physical as I meet with doctors (who are people) to seek healing. I must be involved in a church so I can receive healing. Continue reading


Long Live the Dating Culture (Screw the Hookup Culture!)

bebraveAccording to new research from YPulse, half of you are actually dating. From what you hear is that everyone in the late teens and early 20s only hookup these days. This is not true.

The research found out that 50 percent of 13- to 32-year-olds have been on a formal date. The dating coachresearch also found out that the majority of those in a relationship met their significant other in an old-fashioned way: 32% met at school; 22% through mutual friends/family; 9% met at work. People are meeting each other, finding interest in each other and asking each other out.


Sadly, hooking up is a real thing too. It is happening. But it’s not happening as much as all the pontificators say it is. Also true is that sexting is a thing—34% say they have sexted, and 15% say they have “naughty Snapchatted”. But the research also found that the majority want stability in their romance, with 75 percent saying they want to be in a long-term committed relationship. 75 percent.   Continue reading


Final Marks

crazywriterToday, I walked out of my high school for the last time as a sophomore. Usually, I slip out a side exit to walk home more quickly, but I left through the main door today. For the drama. I will never forget how it felt to thrust my hands against that door, push it open, walk into the thick summer heat. I will never forget how it felt to walk by the rocks at the front of the school, intentionally between the second and third smallest. I will never forget stopping, looking back on the campus, and sprinting back to my house. I will never forget this past year.

As a freshman, I received straight A’s. I got good grades, put forth my (sort of) best effort, and did what I was told. I generated work like a factory. That’s what most students wish for–those high percentages necessary to get into a good school. I did not achieve those high percentages this year. My grades weren’t God-awful–I passed all my classes with better than D’s–but they weren’t anything to write home about, and I just wasn’t the student I once was. In fact, if my freshman self could have met my sophomore self, she would have been shocked. How dare I miss half my homework assignments? How dare I drag myself into school ten minutes late every morning? How dare I doze off during my first classes? She would have been horrified.

Maybe it’s true. I have been a bit horrific. A lazy, tardy, woolgathering slob with a slight disregard for mindless authority. But in letting myself go, I lit up a whole new part of me that I thought was only drenched wood. On required reflections, I turned in the truth. I went against the grain. I voiced my opinions and let my wittiness shine through. I was honest and open, with genuineness gracing everything I wrote. I made impromptu motivational speeches to my class. I went out of my way to uplift and inspire. When I read through all my yearbook signatures this evening, I began to tear up. The blank pages were covered not in scrawled have-a-great-summers, but in paragraphs. Paragraphs thanking me for my optimism, creativity, and loving personality. Paragraphs written by students, telling me that I have made a difference in their life and changed their worldview. Paragraphs written by teachers, telling me that I have inspired them. Paragraphs reminding me of my own worth and value. Paragraphs thanking me for being me.

I have done something this year, something far more important than my homework. I have done what seemed impossible before. When I open my yearbook and see those beautiful paragraphs, when I reflect on the positive imprints I have made on the hearts of others–I I realize that those are my final marks.

Those are the marks that count.