"In His majesty [I write] victoriously for the cause of truth...for the Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary." ~ Isaiah 50:4 (ESV)
Believing the best isn’t always easy. I know for me, I’d rather
‘get real’ with what’s in front of me than entertain what’s outside of me. Yet,
I also know, while honest assessment is certainly a fair practice, when it
becomes boxed in by circumstances, opportunities to shine hope into them can be
In the case of Buddy the Elf, his innocent ignorance, though
awkward, actually opens the door for humility…
…humility for the coffee shop to step up to its potential…and
humility for Jovie to believe it could happen.
Thus, I can appreciate how Buddy, though slightly
delusional, speaks life into what could be, rather than reduce an entire
identity to one subpar sip.
Bottom line: While there’s a time to be honest, a
time to be transparent, there’s never a time to doubt, even if the best is out
of sight, out of mind.
‘Cause while the
weather outside is NOT frightful…with certain situations far from delightful…truth is: God has given us a place that
is still well and all is still bright.
you’re like many who aren’t feeling so hot1 right now, fatigued from a difficult year and/or stressed
by the perilous times in which we live.
If so, then I
encourage you: take heart…for you
are not (or ever) alone…
…nor are you hopeless, helpless…or unworthy of
receiving the kind of rest and peace this time of year has to offer.
‘Cause when we
talk about Christmas, we’re not talking about some annual tradition, a
candlelit spectacle, or an excuse to be off work. Rather, we’re talking about
an expectant hope made possible by God
who has set things right for us (Jeremiah 33:16), who remains true to His promises2…all the while giving us a reason to know
joy and fear not.
Thus, when we
pause to consider what Christmas really means, we ultimately set ourselves up
to look up…and experience a joy that merges with a peace that transcends all
understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).
innkeeper in Luke 2…a character in the birth narrative who gets a bad rap due,
in part, to his lack of mention.
As a kid, I had
this idea that the innkeeper was this snarky, Arab Ken Jeong type who opened
the door, glanced at Mary and Joseph, and blared, ‘No room for you’… only to slam the door in their face.
But as I’ve
revisited the story in recent years, I’ve come to realize the innkeeper was not
only fulfilling his part in the prophecy (Micah 5:2), but was also doing his best to extend joy into
Mary and Joseph’s situation through hospitality.
You see…at this
point in the narrative, we often underestimate the contrast between what was being
felt versus what was being done.
Personally, I believe
the innkeeper was being true to his word (i.e. ‘there’s no room in the inn’),
based on the time of the day, the time of year…plus you never lie to a pregnant
woman who’s dilating on a donkey.
Yet, while it’s
very brief in text, what the innkeeper does between the lines in offering his
only ‘stable’3 option is
actually super profound.
‘Cause what he
did, in purest essence…was prepare Him room
(i.e. He offered the only thing he could offer in the moment, wrapped it with
humble honesty…and counted it all joy).
So when you think about it…the innkeeper, despite his minor role, captures what Christmas (and joy for that matter) is all
about: being intentional in making room
for Jesusin the midst of our chaos...and laying our burdens before the Lord so that the voids left behind can be filled with expressions of honor.
Therefore, be encouraged, my friends, to consider your Christmas contribution to Jesus this year…whether it be your time, your walls, your fears...and
to seal it by preparing Him room in your hearts...
… all for the sake of saying, ‘Jesus, you are my joy, the answer to life…and the reason for the season.’
For when you
ready yourself to receive Christ, you repeat the sounding joy by also receiving
the continuous outflow of His blessings and grace…which is exactly why God sent
His only begotten Son in the first place. On behalf of Lyssah & I, we want want to wish you a very...
...and a Happy New Year! May you all be overcome by the richness of God's favor and love in the season ahead.
They say turning 30 is a watershed moment in a person’s
life, ushering with it a greater sense of confidence and clarity.
But for me…at least right now…I have no clue where to begin.
After all…it’s not
every day you phase into a new decade.
Granted, I can appreciate the hearty buzz of a “happy new year”, the cordial texts from family members, not to mention the amusing Facebook
comments from “friends” you’d least expect.
But this year…I can’t help but feel clouded, caught amid a ‘spectacular now’ and the rocky roads far past…yet faintly visible in the rear-view mirror.
*Sigh* I suppose
what I’m trying to say is:I’m not ready to be 30.
I don’t feel it, don’t
look it, and quite frankly, want nothing to do with it.
Not to sound cliché or anything; I get why people audit
their value1 when they
approach meaningful age markers.
I guess it’s just…though there’s much to look forward to and
much to be thankful for…I just don’t know how to process my 20’s. I figure if I
find a solution…any solution… maybe I’ll be able to look back and smile without
it rooted in the contrast between what is and what was2.
Yet, while I admit there’s much I don’t understand, what I
do know is:
I’m not yet where I
want to be, but I’m no longer whoI used to be.
And that’s okay, ‘cause
I know despite what anyone says…I’m well
on my way...
I’ve always found Thanksgiving to be one of the more “amusing”
days of the year.
We get the day off, we immerse ourselves in good food and
tradition...not to mention we have a valid excuse to give sweatpants a workout.
But perhaps you're like me and have wondered why Thanksgiving is so undervalued in spite of all this.
I mean...yeah, Thanksgiving gives camaraderie and healthy dialogue a platform.
But at the same time...it's still a mere shadow of what it used to be (i.e. a partial celebration of individual fulfillment2...with an emphasis more on what we do for one day than who we are...and have the privilege of being... 24/73 ) when we compare to its original intent.
Thus, I'd submit it's fair to re-evalute Thanksgiving and to consider the day as more than an
appreciative celebration over what we have. After all, we call the day Thanksgiving
(as opposed to ‘Thanksgetting’; cough, Verizon, cough) for a reason.
And hear me...I'm not saying we can't voice gratitude on
behalf of those in our midst, the roof over our head, being in good health,
I'm just saying if our gratefulness is solely content on interim
pleasures, then it's probably fair to say our thanksgiving is limited at best.
Consider Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:
“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are
over you in the Lord and admonish you,and to esteem
them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves…admonish
the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be
patient with them all.See that no one repays anyone
evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.Rejoice always,pray without ceasing,give thanks in all
circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not
quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast
what is good.Abstain from every form of evil. Now may
the God of peacef himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and
soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers, pray
for us” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:12-25
Note how Paul sets a foundation as to how we’re to
live with one another (i.e. gives a template on what profound/other-centered
action looks like),integrates instruction on how we’re to build upon it, and uses thanksgiving as a steel rod to uncover some meaningful
For instance…often times, we treat thanksgiving as an emotional response to fortunate happenings...or [what
we consider] a positive manifestation of God’s will.
But this isn’t at all what Paul suggests, as evident in v. 16-18 when he
says, “Rejoice always; pray continually,
and be thankful in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Now...I don't know about you, but I love how Paul combines clear-cut language with his structuring here...specifically, how he uses thanksgiving as a pivot point for the letter's conclusion...and the glue tying his whole point together.
What is the point, you say?
I’d submit it’s this: to be at peace
is to be thankful…and to be thankful is to delight in what God desires.
Pretty cool, eh?
Granted...easier said than done, but still…there’s much comfort to be found
For there will be times when life doesn’t make sense, when we won’t have
explanations or results to justify where we find ourselves.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t be thankful.
Why? Because thanksgiving isn’t defined by our circumstances…or chained to the
things solely seen. Rather, it’s a declarative heart response to what God has
done, is doing, and will do for us.
Therefore, when we engage thanksgiving, we’re ultimately positioning
ourselves to better see how God sees…all the while renewing our motivation to
let people see Jesus in us as well.
My encouragement to you, my friends, is to examine the state
(and direction) of your thanksgiving…and seek to make it your thanksliving…with the goodwill you
employ a consistent outflow of what you believe (see 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).
After all, who wouldn’t want some a slice of peace to go
with their pumpkin pie?
Just sayin’ ;)
am I the only one who wonders why we call it Thanksgiving anymore? It's not
like our culture truly values the day. I mean…you'd think we would have
started calling it "Black Friday Eve" a long time ago.
Have you ever had
to “get real” with a friend in distress? Perhaps you’ve been in a situation
where saying what needed to be said felt like threading a needle with a
haystack...or a roundhouse kick to the trachea.
No question, we’ve
all been there at one point or another.
But while stirring a
storm in [seemingly] tranquil seas is never fun1, there’s something to be said about the willing word spoken at the
‘Cause truth is: whenverbal
courage2isexpressed through patience and fearless
articulacy, it carries the power to inspire change.
Enter Elihu, the unsung hero in arguably the most underrated
book in the Old Testament (i.e. Job).
While most of the chapter’s content surrounds Job and his
three misguided amigos, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, it’s not until chapter 32
until Elihu breaks in and gives them counsel worth adhering to.
For the next six chapters (32-37), Elihu puts on a
‘confrontation clinic’, where he constructively critiques Job’s assessment of
his own suffering as well as the faulty theology of his three friends.
Breaking it down...
In Job 33 Elihu turns his attention to Job. He declares Job wrong in saying he was without any sin and that God would not answer. Elihu says, “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than any mortal” (Job 33:12).
In Job 34 Elihu shifts to declaring God’s justice. Verse 12 specifically states, “It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, / that the Almighty would pervert justice."
In Job 35 Elihu turns again to Job in condemnation. In verses 13–14 Elihu says, “Indeed, God does not listen to [the arrogant person’s] empty plea; / the Almighty pays no attention to it. / How much less, then, will he listen / when you say that you do not see him, / that your case is before him / and you must wait for him.”
In Job 36-37 Elihu highlights God’s greatness. This lengthy portion declares many of God’s attributes. In Job 36:26 Elihu states, “How great is God—beyond our understanding! / The number of his years is past finding out.” Elihu rightly points Job to God’s might, saying, “Listen to this, Job; / stop and consider God’s wonders” (Job 37:14).
After dropping the mic in 37:23-24, note how Job, Eliphaz,
Bildad, and Zophar respond.
For Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, the truth significantly mutes their coerciveness, evident by the fact their speeches shorten (Bildad finishes with six verses in chapter 25), and ultimately die out at the end (Zophar can't even manage a closing comment)3.
As for Job, he not only agrees with Elihu, hence his initial
silence, but is spurred to repentance (42:1-6), fittingly concluding matters.
And God? Considering Elihu was echoing his sentiments exactly, it should be no
surprise God had no direct response for him, though God’s recognition of Job’s
godly sorrow (v. 7) is certainly indicative of a job well done on Elihu’s part.
My point in summarizing
this random passage of Scripture…?
Though I could settle for…
Truth breeds truth.
Truth in love leads to repentance.
Truth stands firm.
God speaks to and through man for his highest good.
…I suppose what grips me the most is the belief that the
truth should always point in the direction of God who is greater than whatever
we’re going through.
Yes, we can be correct in our theology and speak it
coherently…but if it’s detached from God’s fatherheart of mercy…and fails to
lead one towards grace…can we honestly say we’re living as God’s mouthpiece?
And look, I know courage doesn’t necessarily imply perfect execution of
proactive action. After all, the truth can get messy. But I guess this is why I
love the story of Elihu so much.
For starters, Elihu
doesn’t look for the platform; the platform finds him. Case and point…Elihu
doesn’t speak until the lack of truth compels him to (34:18-20). Thus, before
Elihu even utters a word, he’s allowed patience and self-control to brew the
truth in God’s perspective4.
Furthermore, Elihu coated his words in humility. For
instance, though Elihu was angry against Job’s pride and the deception of his
companions, he still refers to them as “wise men” (34:2), though they were
anything but in this context. In addition, Elihu establishes his words in confidence
knowing they were from God, but also in caution, knowing the goal was not to
prove himself right, but to set the table (roll the red carpet, if you will)
for God’s opening rebuttal (chapter 38)5.
In short, Elihu knew his place as God’s embouchure and didn’t allow himself to
swerve off course, despite his arousal…and despite his security in how God was
using him. Pretty cool, eh?
My encouragement to you, friends, is to consider how Elihu spoke
approached the truth and apply it in your own life, regardless of whose (i.e.
Job or Elihu) shoes you’re in.
‘Cause bottom line: whatever sole6 your soul is in, if you walk in humble
obedience and the firm belief that God will use it to reflect His very best, then
He’ll undoubtedly guide you whenever you have to speak the whole truth…and
nothing but the truth.
1) The irony here lies within the heart of the “corrector”
seeking the exact opposite (i.e. peace in the place of turmoil, clarity in
place of ambiguity, etc.)
2) Both in the giving and receiving of it
3) From Job: Rebuked
in Suffering, Desiring God, Publication 1985-07-21
4) Again, the truth knows its time and ceases the
opportunity when it arrives.
5) Seriously, how awesome is 38:4-7? To think one day
we’ll know how the angelic host felt when they watched God create the universe
Have you ever had a revelation shortly after a favorable
cinematic or musical experience? Perhaps the delight and insight seemed
disjoint at first, but after mulling it over, you realized, ‘Hey, I can string these two together to
capture a powerful metaphor?’
Well...let’s just say that’s where I am now as I write this.
First, allow me to divulge the insight…
Lately, I’ve been reading about the wounding/forgiveness
relationship and how unholy tolerances of [seemingly] minor deceptions can lead
to deeper heart issues. As a guide, I’ve been soaking in Terry Wardle’s Wounded: How to Find Wholeness and Inner Healing in Christ, where he not only shares testimonies of people who
conquered unforgiveness, but provides a sequential, biblically-based prescription
on how to defeat it as well.
His first point, in particular, caught my eye: “Do not move to forgiveness too quickly”.
Now, could Mr. Wardle
have been looking for a contrarian perspective to kick things off? Perhaps.
But having pondered the point for a couple days, I believe
there’s legit biblical value to be found here.
For starters, we tend to want to heal as soon as
possible…which makes sense considering our innate inclination to self-preserve.
Just get me a freakin’ Band-Aid and I’ll
be fine, we say to ourselves.
But truth is: what
we often need in those moments is a willingness to go under the knife.
Yeah, it may string more…yeah, it may take longer. Then
again...shouldn’t we want this? To be intentional in fully processing the profundity of what/whom
we’re forgiving? After all, it's not like we have anything to lose taking forgiveness
And hear me: I’m not suggesting we can’t get right in a
moment with God…or that we can’t declare mercy from the onset; however, we must
remember: forgiving our brother is a
marathon, not a sprint…a process, not a destination. Thus, if we’re rushing
forgiveness, then chances are, we’re doing it wrong.
To illustrate the fact, I call upon one of my favorite
adventure movies: Apollo 13. As some of you may recall, towards the end of the
film, as the crew prepares for re-entry, we’re made aware of two obstacles:
1) The lunar module will have to contend with its damaged
heat shield (and breakup potential) as a result of the oxygen tank explosion.
2) The module will have to enter the earth’s atmosphere at
just the right angle to avoid deflection into space (too shallow) or a total
burnout (too steep).
Of course, like any decent ‘90’s action movie, the conflicts culminate into a happy ending (which I won’t “sin” in this case since it stayed
true to history). But I suppose my point in referencing Apollo 13 is: forgiveness
is like a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. If we procrastinate forgiveness (come in too
shallow), we shun mercy in favor of entitlement, self-justice…even withdrawal.
On the flip side, if we rush
forgiveness (come in too steep), then we empower suppressed emotion and self-preservation, in turn,
burning away the opportunity for vulnerability and keeping our insecurities in
So what do we do when we’re in a forgiveness pinch? Well, if
we want to extend forgiveness the way God would have us, then I’d say we must
find the balance between patience (strategically seeking the Lord first) and
You see…in my experiences, far too often, I see people
trying to cover up the past, sweeping opportunities for reconciliation under
the carpet…basically doing whatever they can to hide and avoid confrontation.
Granted, I believe it’s wise to get away with God to glean His
gameplan for reconciliation; however, this doesn’t mean we make quiet time
something our forgiveness can hide behind. ‘Cause at the end of the day,
extending mercy must be realized internally and externally. So if we’re not
willing to live grace demonstratively, then our forgiveness will remain partial
Whatever the situation, forgiveness must be an evident,
continuous reality in our lives. I know in this day and age, it ‘s easy to want
a clear-cut, 5W1forgiveness formula.
Yet, when it comes to discerning the immediacy of our forgiveness, the best
thing we can do is draw closer to God and inquire His timing.
My encouragement to you, friends, is to not rush forgiveness
just because you fear the guilt of grudge-holding. Instead, why not reference
God first in every challenge, make running to Him a daily habit, and relish the
opportunity to empty yourself before Him…all the while, watching His grace
permeate the space where unforgiveness once occupied.
After all, you gotta admit…it beats burning up or shutting down, am I right?
One of my favorite 80’s movies is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I mean…you talk about a blast from the past in more ways than one. This
movie, man…it definitely qualifies. Not to mention you get to see Keanu Reeves
show some actual emotion for once in his career.
But in all seriousness, with all the ‘Back to the Future’ talk
this week, I couldn’t help but think about the movie, particularly the iconic
speech scene when Abe Lincoln proudly proclaims: “Be excellent to each other… and party on dudes!”
Granted...you’re probably wondering why the random movie
Well, let’s start with the word “excellent”; specifically…what does it mean to be excellent?
When we talk “excellence”, we normally associate the term to
satisfactory or above satisfactory performance…which isn’t too surprising
considering we’re conditioned as kids to think as such. Even as adults, the
tendency is to discount excellence as a quantitative assessment. Yet, when we
consider excellence is more an integrity virtue than a performance appraisal,
we find its true core has more to do with giving your best than anything else.
“Excellence is not a level of perfection we
hit. It is your very best right now with what you have.” ~ Jad Gillies
“Excellence is the gradual result of always
striving to do better.” ~ Pat Riley
“Excellence is not a skill. It is an
attitude.” ~ Ralph Marston
exceed expectations…You can run into
mediocrity accidentally but you have to purpose to be excellent." ~
"Whatever you do, whether in word
or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…[working] at it with all your heart, as working for the
Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord
as a reward." ~ Colossians 3:17, 23-24
Note the common threads…particularly how excellence is just
as much (if not more) pursuit as it is outcome.
But here’s what really rocks me having processed these
passages: Excellence is one of the few
things in life we’re meant to strive
ut wait, Cam, isn’t
striving a bad thing?
Well, not necessarily. Yeah, I get how the word “strive”
tends to rub people the wrong way, especially in a “grace vs. works” context.
However, when we define excellence as “giving it your bestshot”1, then we can understand
spiritual striving as living faith determinedly and living strength enduringly.
In other words, when we strive for excellence, and make the
desire known to God, He not only provides the day-to-day strength (present
courage), but the steadfastness (continued courage) to see it through. Pretty
You see…far too often, we focus on just one end of the spectrum.
For instance, whenever I used to feel lost or challenged, my default would be
to ask God for endurance…to stay the course…to press on no matter what;
however, once I recognized endurance as the follow-through to what I wasn’t
asking for, my whole perspective changed. More specifically, once I realized my joy had latched on to a future hope as opposed to present striving, I was
able to re-center my faith into the “now”, which in turn, renewed my
commitment to be more excellent with the tasks God had given me (#gamechanger).
Of course, I still messed up from time to time; however, whenever obstacles came, I was able to conquer them more quickly since I had become more equipped to not give up/give in. How, you might ask? By believing I had been given the present strength to do all things through Christ...and the steadfastness to continue doing so! By His grace, I discovered I could be what I prayed in the moment…while giving others the opportunity to trust
in what I believe.
And it's this truth...this reality, dear ones, that captures the essence of excellence. To live as Christ (Philippians 1:21) is ultimately what being excellent is all about.
So next time you’re tempted to wave the white flag in the
face of adversity and/or apathy, consider the relationship between effort and
testimony. ‘Cause if to be excellent means to strive for the best, then that
best should point people to a better place. Thus, it makes perfect sense to be
excellent in what God has assigned for us considering it cannot be removed from
1)Bam! That’s what I call marrying the secular to the
A parental relationship is one of the greatest gifts we're given in this lifetime; unfortunately, it's one of the easiest to take for granted as well. While reasons may vary, no question, the majority of youth-parent dysfunctions feature some sort of breakdown in communication. The big question is: what's really driving it? Certainly, like any stronghold, there are roots feeding the heart of the issue...but though identifying them can feel like an insurmountable challenge, the process is undoubtedly freeing when fully dialed into.
What this post will seek to do is give credible, practical solutions on how young people can better communication with their parents for more holistic relational improvement.
1)Be quick to listen, slow to speak…
Being at odds with your parents is
never fun; however, if you think about it, what drives a disagreement has more
to do with a fear of being misunderstood than a difference in perspective.
Case and point: whenever I’d
disagree with my parents, especially when I was younger, the spark would often
come in the form of fear, whether it was a fear of disappointing (not meeting
their standards/not being in right standing), a fear of misinterpretation and/or a
fear of punishment. In almost every case, my greatest concern centered on a
‘what if’ (i.e. what if my parents don’t
understand, what if there’s no reconciliation, what if they stop trusting me…I
could go on).
However, as I’ve mentioned before,
fear doesn’t get us anywhere, considering it’s a paralyzing stronghold, a
toleration of pride…not to mention it’s the exact opposite of love and the greatest
“self-ed” concept known to man.
Thus, when we talk about a fear of being
misunderstood, especially with respect to our parents, we find it’s human
nature to speak out…to “will” our point across at all costs in hope to find a common
ground. The problem is we were never created to remedy an argument in this way
(i.e. forced, unprocessed speech). Contrarily, we were designed to be
other-centered (see Philippians 2:3-4) and to yield to one another in word and
in action. So when we fear being misunderstood and blast out as a result, we
risk creating a defensive, accusatory environment…counterintuitive to our
When we look at the book of James, we find
powerful solutions (as well as metaphors/illustrations) to the question of, “How do we bridge the communication dividewith those in authority?” But perhaps
none speak so potently as the following trio: “quick to hear”, “slow to
speak”, “slow to anger”.
How does this apply to our parents, you
might ask? Well, for starters, abiding by these themes gives God a significant
footstool into the interaction. Yes, it may take time for the personal wrinkles
to iron out, especially if bad communicational habits have been fostered. Yet,
if you are willing to go all in on James’ challenge, you’ll ultimately defuse
Satan’s ability to perpetuate disunity, even if you come from an abusive
background. Sprinkle in a little Colossians 4:6 (“Grace is the salt which seasons our discourse, makes it savory, and
keeps it from corrupting” (Matthew Henry Commentary) and suddenly you’re in
prime position to experience relational healing/improvement with your parents.
2)…but still say what you need to say
Although this is a tangent off the
prior point, I wanted to give it separate attention since it’s often underrated.
When it comes to being “slow to speak”, it’s important to have some sort of
game-plan established, considering a “listen first” approach is contradictory
to the flesh. For example, when my wife was a teenager, whenever she had
arguments with her parents, she found it helpful to hear her parents out first
and then write out her feelings in a post-processing letter (with the intentional
of giving the letter to her parents at the right time). This “self-editing”
practice ultimately allowed their relationship to strengthen, since it detached
offense from the communication. Furthermore, by using “I statements” instead of “you
statements” (i.e. “I feel
uncomfortable when…” versus “why did
you ______”), she was able to express appreciation and encouragement in
addition to her side of the story.
You see…far too often, if young
people aren’t blaring hurt out to their parents/authorities, then they’re
harboring it in. Granted, some will do the “write thing” (#punintended) and
seek to find clarity when chaos strikes; however, if pain and/or strongholds
are only dealt with by “Dear diary…”,
then the root of the issue is constantly avoided…not to mention emotions are continually
bottled up along with the opportunity to find agreement…peace…you get the
Remember…the truth must come out at
some point. You may think silence is the same as self-control. You may assume
holding it in/a lack of fighting is equal to victory; however, when we consider
what David says in Psalm 19:14 and 141:3, where he’s basically saying, “Lord, take control of what I say”…we
discover how real control is giving God control to help us live in control. See
In short, truth doesn’t deny
dialogue; it initiates it...at the right time. Thus, if you find yourself in the heat of a tense feud, pursue quiet time with God first, then once truth has replaced twilight, find your parents and actually talk to them (bonus points if you do this without an iPhone/headphones, etc.).
After all, it’s not like
you have anything to lose when you seek to cut tension with humility, while also setting yourself free from potential guilt at the same time.
3)Believe the best
Whenever I'd struggle to see eye-to-eye with
my parents, what deterred me from distrust more than anything was the belief
they had my best in mind…and that my attitude with respect to them, in large
part, reflected my attitude to God. Of course, my parents (like your parents) are
far from infallible; however, I found giving them the benefit of the doubt was always
the better move, even when I had a hard time believing their intentions.
Like me, there may be times when you question
your parent’s discernment and disagree with their final calls; however, if
you’re quick to render their wisdom obsolete, then you'll risk extending such
cynicism to other authorities who may also have your best in mind.
At the end of the day, you got to remember:
your parents want what’s best for you...just like God does. Will they slip up every
now and then? Absolutely. But even when this happens, it doesn’t mean they’re
not pursuing God’s best for you. So why not pray into the situation, tap into
the heart of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, and see where God takes it as opposed to
1)i.e. how one approach is passive-aggressive and the
other is active-aggressive
Well, folks. We’re only one week past the autumnal equinox…and
I think we all know what that means…
…break out the fall
décor, have yourself a very merry pumpkin space latte, and check Cameron’s blog
for yet another preliminary winter weather forecast.
Now, I’m not gonna lie...my winter weather forecast for middle Tennessee last year held up rather well. Granted, I normally
don’t toot my own horn considering I’m just a humble, amateur meteorologist in it
for the love of the science; however, after the multiple ice storms and ankle-biter snow events we experienced between January 23 - February 21, I’d have to say my “B+” grade, in
terms of activity and magnitude, was the correct call.
So as the leaves start changing and the days grow shorter,
I’m sure many of you are wondering: what can we expect this winter. Well, I’m
so glad you asked.
Last year, I itemized and graded certain atmospheric
criteria to obtain an overall grade for the winter. This year, I’ll follow a
similar approach (with slightly less technical jargon and definitions) so you
can better see how each teleconnection works together.
ENSO – We
start off by checking the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean where
things have really heated up since last winter. Note the extensive coverage of
red (which represent positive SST anomalies (departure from average) in °C) on the animation below.
underachieving ElNiño episodes in recent years (i.e. the neutral
ENSO winters of 2012-13 and 2013-14, plus the borderline weak ElNiño episode of last year), it’s impressive to see this one maintaining its intensity. In fact, the CPC (Climate Prediction Center) has
already issued an ElNiño advisory with a 95% chance of El Niño continuing through Northern Hemisphere
winter before weakening next spring. Thus, with a strengthening moderate ElNiño already in play, it’s no question Mother Nature has
reshuffled her deck.
Of course, you’re
probably wondering what this all means. Well, for starters, a moderate to strong ElNiño can provide more emphatic impacts for various regions, such as more
rainfall in California, more persistent drought in the northwest and Great
Lakes, and stormier, unsettled weather in the southern plains and southeast.
But as the case with snowflakes, no two ElNiño’s are ever
alike and as the 2015-16 ElNiño comes into focus, it’s becoming clearer this
year’s version will be far from typical.
Perhaps the most
pressing ENSO-related issue right now is if
and when the warmest water in the
Central Pacific will shift west over the coming weeks. While it may seem
trivial, the retrogression of the warm core goes a long way in determining
winter weather impacts in the lower 48. As the case with an ElNiño Modoki, if waters off the coast of Peru cool in comparison to the Central Pacific and a
west-based ElNiño establishes itself (west-based meaning the
progression of above average temperature anomalies move westward along the
equator, rather than eastward), then the probability of a cooler winter for the southeast and mid-Atlantic will increase. If an east-based ElNiño wins out (though based on SST progressions, it's looking more likely we won't be seeing a 1997-98 repeat), then we could be looking at a warmer winter.
As for now, we play
the waiting game and monitor trends in each of the four ElNiño regions (Niño 1+2, Niño 3, Niño 3.4 and Niño 4) in hope to unlock
clues as to how ENSO will influence the 2015-16 winter weather landscape.
PDO/PNA – I’m
linking these two telecoms together due to their interconnectedness in this
setup. While ENSO (ElNiño)and the AO/NAO hog the winter
weather headlines this time of year, perhaps the most under-appreciated
telecoms in recent memory have been the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation)/PNA
(Pacific North American) pattern...as well as the EPO (Eastern Pacific Oscillation), which I won't harp on in this post since its a better short term indicator as opposed to a seasonal forecasting tool.
For those keeping score at home, the PDO has
been quite positive the past couple winters after spending the majority of the
90’s and 00’s in negative territory. With the new regime in its third year, odds
are, the positive trend will continue, considering the PDO shifts in decadal
oscillations, as opposed to the PNA, which operates on a more mesoscale level.
At any rate, the ramifications
of an established +PDO/+PNA (note the +PNA signal for January/February coming off the Canadian SIPS) for our part of the world is huge as they can
boost our snow chances,even when
the Atlantic telecoms (like the AMO) are unfavorable.
Take the past two
winters, for example, where a generous +PDO/+PNA combo and afavorable Northern Pacific Mode helped
offset the lack of Greenland/Arctic blocking, as well as the brisk nature of
the long-wave pattern.
In both cases, western
ridging (which unfortunately deepened droughts west of the Rockies) fueled by
warmer-than-normal waters near the Gulf of Alaska promoted troughing in the
eastern states, paving the way for polar plunges into our neck of the woods. Yet,
despite the arctic intrusions, the lack of blocking ultimately kept the cold
air in check by allowing it to propagate quickly into the Atlantic without any resistance.
If anyone in middle Tennessee is curious why it has been hard to capitalize on
snow opportunities during this stretch, no doubt, it’s been the transient
nature of the cold air.
At least as long as
we can hold to a +PDO/+PNA, hope lives…specifically in the form of a cold-air
delivery mechanism. ‘Cause at the end of the day, you can’t have snow with
cold…and you can’t have cold without a blazed trail for it to follow. With a +PDO acting as a dominant driver in the overall winter weather
pattern, I’m fairly confident in the idea of this winter NOT being a
blowtorch (i.e. above-normal in temperature), which isn’t a bad place to start
if you’re a snow-weenie like me.
Note: The only reason I'm not giving this telecom an 'A' or 'A+' grade is due to the possibility of the warm SST anomalies in the warm +PDO region backing off some by winter's arrival (though how much this happens remains to be seen). My prediction, however, is that the +PDO will hold serve and mitigate north Pacific SST cooling/Aleutian Low influences (which didn't in 1997-98 and one of several big reasons why the eastern two-thirds blowtorched).
AMO – The AMO
(Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation) is basically the cousin of the PDO with
positive (warm) and negative (cool) phases occurring every couple decades or
so. While the main drivers of the AMO aren’t entirely known, the thought is the
AMO is a major influence on the behavior of northern blocking.
With a positive AMO,
the tendency for blocking lessens as areas of low heights set up south of
Greenland; contrarily, in a negative regime, high heights build in, which can
ignite the blocking needed for cold and snowy weather in the east.
transition between phases can occur rapidly, the direction of the AMO has
trended in a cool direction, which means an enhanced chance of blocking this
winter. Now, as we’ve learned the past few winters, you can experience a
colder-than-normal winter without blocking; however, if anyone remembers the
brutal winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11, northern blocking can trap cold shots
over the same area for an extended period of time. If you prefer mild winters,
then you’ll want to hope the AMO reverses course soon.
QBO – Like the PDO and AMO, the QBO (Quasi-Biennial
Oscillation), the mean zonal winds of equatorial stratosphere, has a positive
phase and a negative phase, with a positive phase favoring the progression of
westerly winds and a negative phase favoring easterly winds. Since a -QBO
typically weakens the polar vortex with easterly winds promoting a -NAO setup
with high latitude blocking, it’s no surprise a -QBO is often linked to cold,
snowier winters in the US.
Last year at this point, the QBO was trending negative, which lined up
well with the developing ElNiño Modoki (an ENSO feature driven
by easterlies which allows the greater positive temperature anomalies to move
westward (or from the east,
hence the term, easterlies), away from Region 1.2.
This year, the QBO is trending positive, an unfavorable signal for cold, snowy winter prospects since it triggers an increase in westerly winds
and helps strengthen the polar vortex (i.e. keeps it locked near the poles as opposed to dislodged away from it in times when a -NAO moves into northern Canada/Hudson Bay).
As some of you may recall, back in January 2014, a -QBO helped unleash the polar vortex southeastward into the Great Lakes region, which drove multiple arctic shots into in the eastern half of the conus, resulting in many states experiencing a "Top 10 coldest January".
Will this happen again in 2015-16? Honestly, your guess is as good as
mine. But while my expertise with
respect to this telecom is limited, I do expect the QBO to fluctuate throughout
the winter as the ElNiño begins its descent from near-record
territory down into the moderate to weak range.
AO/NAO – I know I said I wouldn't dive heavily into definitions, but due to the importance of the AO/NAO with respect to winter weather forecasting, I'll make an exception.
Just to review, the NAO, as defined by NOAA, is defined as a
“large-scale fluctuation in atmospheric pressure between the subtropical high pressure
system located near the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean and the sub-polar low
pressure system near Iceland...where the surface pressure drives surface winds
and wintertime storms from west to east across the North Atlantic affecting
climate from New England to western Europe as far eastward as central Siberia
and eastern Mediterranean and southward to West Africa.”
In large part, the NAO is tethered to the AO, “a pattern
in which atmospheric pressure at polar and middle latitudes fluctuates between
negative and positive phases. The negative phase brings higher-than-normal
pressure over the polar region and lower-than-normal pressure at about 45
degrees north latitude. The negative phase allows cold air to plunge into the
Midwestern United States and Western Europe [often helped by some measure of
high latitude blocking], and storms bring rain to the Mediterranean. The
positive phase brings the opposite conditions, steering ocean storms farther
north and bringing wetter weather to Alaska, Scotland and Scandinavia and drier
conditions to areas such as California, Spain and the Middle East.”
So how does this apply to the upcoming winter? Honestly, we
won’t really know until November. ‘Cause generally speaking, forecasters can only know
how the AO/NAO will behave a few weeks in advance; however, knowing the trend
of AO/NAO phasing can have a substantial impact on predicting temperature
trends in the 8-14 day range.
Looking at the latest AO results from the CPC, we can see
recorded observations going back to June 1, which tell us the AO has been
slightly negative for the majority of the summer, only recently rising into
positive territory. Interestingly, this is how the AO behaved last year, with
an above average spike occurring just in time to issue in the fall season;
however, as one can see on the graphic below, a crash back to below average
territory looks likely for the first half of October. With all the hoopla going
on concerning the strong Mid-Atlantic low colliding with Hurricane Joaquin,
it’s no surprise the AO will drop some as an unsettled pattern sets up, in turn, setting the
stage for below-normal temperatures for much of the east (though I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a couple more warm spells between now and November 1).
The Intangibles (Polar snow pack, solar
activity, TNH, etc.)
As far as
intangibles go, I’m going to wait and address these issues in greater depth in
a later post. What I will say for now is I’ll be carefully
monitoring the October Siberian snowpack to note any anomalies in its coverage
throughout the month. While Siberian snowpack isn’t a primary driver of winter
weather in the US, it can enhance the intensity of any arctic air that decides
to move our way (Think of it as a cool filter when air masses interact with the
activity, there is evidence of a decline this winter; however, this doesn’t
mean a flare is out of the question. Granted, I don't have much knowledge in the area of solar forecasting. Yet, with below normal solar activity on the docket, I'm not concerned about a brief spike affecting the trajectory of the upcoming winter weather pattern as a whole. Again, we simply note trends and see
how they correlate to the present state of other telecoms, such as the westerly (positive) QBO’s
mergence with a potentially negative NAO.
Real quick, let me say a few things about the TNH pattern. While the strongest +TNH pattern helped magnify the arctic outbreaks of 2013-14, I don't expect the TNH to be as prominent this winter. For those who may be wondering what the shrek a TNH pattern is, remember earlier when I mentioned how a +PNA helps promote ridging in the west, troughing in the east? Well, with a +TNH, the axis of ridges and troughs shifts westward, which results in a ridge peak in the eastern Pacific (not the west coast), a mean trough over the plains/Midwest (not the east), and a parked southeast ridge east of Florida (which keeps the southeast rather mild).
All that to say...with a moderate to strong ElNiño and a warmer presence of eastern Pacific waters, I believe the ridge/trough axises will resemble positions closer to last winter, as opposed to 2013-14. So if you don't hear much about the TNH this winter, this is why.
Factoring in the information above, overall, I believe this winter will
go down as the fifth coldest and fourth snowiest since 2000, with
Nashville seeing more “pure” snow opportunities than last winter (and less ice…fingers crossed); however, as we’ve seen in recent winters, hope must
be tempered given each storm is unique and carries the potential to whiff at
the last minute.
With that said, I'm still confident we'll see our fair share of cold (apparently, NOAA agrees; see graphic) and snow this winter, given the decent blocking potential, a weakening ElNiño (by the time winter arrives), and an amplified longwave pattern driven (and a latter half split flow?) by warm eastern Pacific waters.